Our Community Salutes: Appreciating future military members

Dozens give their oath of enlistment at ceremony at Skyview High School

VANCOUVER — A ceremony to honor future military service members Thursday night changed the perspective of at least one of the honorees.

“When I first enlisted, I didn’t think I deserved any kind of praise,” said Chase Walsh, a Ridgefield High School senior. “I hadn’t earned the title of U.S. Marine yet.”

But after listening to the guest speakers talk of duty, honor and sacrifice, after witnessing the colors being presented by veterans, and after hearing the national anthem and “God Bless the USA,” Walsh opened up to the idea.

 

Larry Smith, co-chair of the Community Military Appreciation Committee, introduces the guest speakers at Thursday’s “Our Community Salutes” event at Skyview High School event honor future service members. Photo by Mike Schultz.
Larry Smith, co-chair of the Community Military Appreciation Committee, introduces the guest speakers at Thursday’s “Our Community Salutes” event at Skyview High School event honor future service members. Photo by Mike Schultz.

 

“Not everyone is willing to do this, to join the military,” Walsh said. “Personally, I haven’t earned anything yet but I appreciate it.”

Logan Benavides, also from Ridgefield, said the ceremony was motivating.

“It makes me happy to be a future Marine,” he said. “I’m excited to do something, to make a difference.”


Oath of Enlistment:

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United State and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”


Walsh, Benavides, and more than 80 others from Clark County, Cowlitz County, and some from Oregon, gave their oath of enlistment at Skyview High School. It was the highlight of an “Our Community Salutes” presentation for future military members. The unofficial count: There were 32 Army recruits, 30 from the Marines, 10 from the Navy, and and 17 from the Air Force.

A representative from the governor’s office, the mayor of Vancouver, and the superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools praised and thanked the 89 stepping forward, for volunteering, for serving.

“When you take the oath of enlistment, your life will change. You will be a different person,” said Schuyler Hoss, representing Gov. Jay Inslee. “In my mind, you become a hero.”

It is that first act, of raising a hand and making a commitment that is “true heroism,” he said.

U.S. Army recruits take the oath of enlistment Thursday night at an “Our Community Salutes” event to honor future service members. The Navy, Air Force, and Marines were also represented at the ceremony, held this year at Skyview High School. Photo by Mike Schultz
U.S. Army recruits take the oath of enlistment Thursday night at an “Our Community Salutes” event to honor future service members. The Navy, Air Force, and Marines were also represented at the ceremony, held this year at Skyview High School. Photo by Mike Schultz

Anne McEnerny-Ogle, the mayor of Vancouver, said it was an honor to “be in a room full of so many selfless men and women,” adding she was filled with pride and a new sense of hope “not only for our community, but for our country.”

She also acknowledged the family members of those who were enlisting, especially the parents.

“You have raised them well,” she said.

Dr. Steven Webb, the superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools, reminded the young women and men that only about 1 percent of their age group are willing to serve.

“Your friends, your family, your community are proud of you,” he said. “We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.”

He ended his speech: “Thank you for making the commitment to defend and serve our country.”

Each enlistee was presented with a certificate of appreciation as well as a coin.

The “voice of Vancouver,” Rey Reynolds of the Vancouver Police Department, performed the anthem and God Bless the USA. He also told parents in the crowd that he knew what they were feeling. He has four children who are serving.

Close to 90 young men and women took their oath of enlistment the “Our Community Salutes” event Thursday at Skyview High School. Photo by Mike Schultz
Close to 90 young men and women took their oath of enlistment the “Our Community Salutes” event Thursday at Skyview High School. Photo by Mike Schultz

This was the eighth Community Salutes event in Clark County, a cooperative effort between the armed forces and the Community Military Appreciation Committee. Larry Smith, former director of Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department who served 26 years in the U.S. Army, is a co-chair of CMAC and was the master of ceremonies at Thursday’s salute.

“That was awesome,” said Michael Walker, a Battle Ground senior will work in satellite communications for the U.S. Army. “I wasn’t expecting anything super big like this. Those people spoke from their hearts. I greatly appreciate everybody’s support of us.”

Christian Whitney, who graduated from Hockinson High School last year, is joining the U.S. Navy to go into nuclear engineering.

“I didn’t expect anything like that,” he said, also appreciative of the ceremony.

Whitney added that he joined the Navy in order to “serve the country, travel, and grow up.”

 

Before taking their oath, future service members walked the stage to receive a certificate of appreciation and a coin and meet with state and local officials. Photo by Mike Schultz
Before taking their oath, future service members walked the stage to receive a certificate of appreciation and a coin and meet with state and local officials. Photo by Mike Schultz

 

Isaac Harvey, a 2016 graduate of Washougal, is joining the U.S. Air Force. He said he appreciates the structure that the military offers, that each mission has a goal, and he wants to be part of the team that reaches a goal and then moves on to the next challenge.

Orion Macy, a senior at Prairie High School, said he joined the Air Force because his father was in the Air Force.

“I look up to him,” he said. “I wanted to continue the family tradition.”

The auditorium at Skyview High School erupted in cheers after the men and women gave their oath.

“I’m proud to have joined the Marine Corps,” Walsh said. “Hope I’ll do the country proud.”

He and the dozens more who raised their right hand Thursday night already have made the community proud.

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