Veterans honored at Centre

Staff writer

Larry Jenkins, 64, of Lost Springs was one of the veterans in attendance at the Veterans Day program Monday at Centre High School. He served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 as a motion-picture filmmaker.

He said he was a 20-year-old driving a tank truck in Germany when he learned that his unit was being sent to Vietnam. In an attempt to avoid that deployment, he re-enlisted in photography school. However, after the 14-week course, he ended up in Vietnam, where he was sent to record movies of service members in action.

Jenkins said he relied on soldiers around him to keep him safe. He could choose which unit to accompany each day, usually traveling by helicopter. The environment was either jungle or rice paddies.

Jenkins used a Bell and Howell 16 mm camera with three turn lenses. He submitted his completed film once a month at Saigon and received new film. He said he filmed some of the footage now shown in documentaries of the war on television.

Jenkins has a wife and four children. His youngest daughter, Tia, is a junior at Centre High School.

Matt Keesling, 38, also of Lost Springs, is an active duty Army captain who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he learned when new troops arrived, it took them two weeks to adjust to the new environment.

Keesling has a wife and five children, the youngest of which is a fourth grader at Centre Elementary.

Veteran Bruce Hedstrom and service member Joe Towey, both of Burdick, presented the U.S. and American Legion flags.

The program consisted of several choral and band numbers, along with readings by students. The kindergarten students sang, “Veterans, We Love You,” and “Wave it High.”

Seven veterans introduced themselves, including Warren Fike of Ramona, a World War II Navy veteran, and Ron Jirak of Lost Springs, a Vietnam veteran.

The fourth-grade class closed the program by leading the audience in singing, “The Grand Ole Flag.”

The program was directed by music teacher Robert Mitchell.

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