Sunday, May 19, 2013

Medal of Honor Assembly- What an Honor!

The 7th graders at WJHS were treated to a once in a lifetime opportunity on Friday, May 17 when an assembly was held for three Medal of Honor recipients.

The ceremony started with the Pledge of Allegiance being led by 7th grader, Jackson Thompson.

Then, members of the 7th grade Choir sang the National Anthem.

Principal, Tim Sparacino introduced, welcomed, and thanked Joe Quinn from Wal-Mart Corporate Affairs for the opportunity to host the assembly.

Each Medal of Honor Recipient was introduced and had time to address the 7th grade student body.

After their speeches, the Medal of Honor recipients presented Mr. Sparacino with an autographed copy of the book Medal of Honor- Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty.

A brief question and answer session followed the presentation.  Students were allowed to ask questions and the Medal of Honor recipients responded to each question.

Cash Zimmerly then performed a moving rendition of Taps.

Mr. Sparacino made closing remarks and then the students honored our guests with their second standing ovation of the assembly.

There were chill bumps and teary eyes throughout the gymnasium.

WJHS would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our service men and women for what they have done and are doing to keep our country safe.  We extend a very special thank you to the courageous Medal of Honor recipients that graced us with there presence on Friday.

Donald Ballard, Harold Fritz, and Joe Jackson, you are great American heroes and a true inspiration.  Thank you for visiting WJHS and enriching the lives of our students.

Pictures by Tina Geske.

The three Medal of Honor recipients that we had the pleasure of meeting are in the picture below (from left to right):  Harold A. Fritz, Donald E. Ballard, and Joe M. Jackson.

Harold A. Fritz, U.S. Army, First Lieutenant.
When his armored column came under intense fire from a reinforced enemy company, Fritz was seriously wounded.  However, with his platoon surrounded, outnumbered, and in danger of being overrun, Fritz jumped to the top of his burning vehicle and directed his remaining vehicles and men.  Running from vehicle to vehicle, he repositioned his men, assisted the wounded, distributed ammunition, and directed fire.
When the enemy assaulted, Fritz manned a machinegun and routed the attackers.
When a second enemy force closed with his position, Fritz led a daring charge against the enemy.  When a relief force arrived, Fritz deployed it against the enemy.  

Donald E. Ballard, U.S. Navy, Hospital Corpsman Second Class.
When Ballard’s platoon was ambushed by enemy forces with automatic weapons and mortars in South Vietnam in 1968, Ballard unhesitatingly moved across the fire swept terrain to render medical assistance to a wounded Marine. As he was directing the evacuation of the wounded, an enemy grenade landed in their midst.  Ballard shouted a warning to his comrades, and then leapt upon the device. The grenade failed to detonate, so he arose and continued treating other casualties.

Joe M. Jackson, U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel.
In South Vietnam in 1968, Joe found himself landing his cargo aircraft under heavy direct fire.  With the embattled airstrip littered with debris from exploding ammunition dumps, Jackson rescued a three-man Combat Control Team and carried them to safety.

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