Vietnam vets get special welcome in Lighthouse Christian program

DAGSBORO – Lighthouse Christian School in Dagsboro certainly goes all out to salute America’s veterans.

All military veterans were recognized, and Vietnam veterans received a very special “welcome home” Friday, Nov. 17 during the school’s annual Veterans Appreciation program.

The two-hour program at the K-8 school at the Dagsboro Church of God featured patriotic songs, stage performances by students and testimonials from veterans Ed Carmine (Navy, 1970-86, USS Enterprise), Frank Bolen (Marines, infantry, 1968-69), Phil Diluzio (Army, assault helicopter company, 1969-70), Robert Corsa (Marines, infantry, 1966-67) and Laurie Corsa (Army, helicopter mechanic, 1981-86).

The staging venue was decked out with large flags of five branches of America’s Armed Forces: Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. Veterans from those five branches stood to cheers and applause of the large audience as the song of their particular branch was played.

Kindergartener Benjamin Warrington offered this opening prayer: “Dear Jesus, we love you. We thank you for our veterans. They are our superstars. Please keep them safe and don’t let bad people come and tease them. We pray that our program is a blessing to all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Eighth grader Niomi Leimbach delivered a spirited rendition of the National Anthem.

Bob Valentine, who earned two Purple Hearts serving with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam, was in attendance. Several weeks earlier the 68-year-old Ocean View resident visited Lighthouse Christian School for an informative presentation.

“I gave a talk on Nov. 2 right here to all of the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders. I talked to them about the Marine Corps. I talked to them about Vietnam. I told them about Armistice Day … 11-11-11, the day, the month and year,” said Mr. Valentine. “I showed them C-rations.”

His presentation included the “hole” story about Vietnam.

“I talked about how an infantryman lived over there,” said Mr. Valentine. “In the monsoon season, you dig a hole. You sit in the hole. You lay in the hole. You live in the hole and it’s like a swimming pool. And you stay wet for three months in a row. And I mentioned that all the while there are people around you that actually want to kill you.”

“I never had so many good questions,” Mr. Valentine added. “That’s what is really nice about something like this here today. They really open it up. And I actually had some of the students remember me. And they started talking to me about it, again.”

Counting active and reserve duty, Mr. Valentine served 37 years, five months and four days. He also saw duty in Desert Storm, was activated for Bosnia and spent two months in Afghanistan. He served in Vietnam from January 1968 to March 1969. He experienced the bloody siege at Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive in 1968.

“I got wounded twice. I had three operations on my shoulder to reconstruct it,” he said. “But I stayed in the Marine Corps. When I got out of active duty I went in the reserves.”

His message to students is to learn about America’s history and the wars it has fought. “I told them there are always going to be wars, as hard as it is to think of,” he said. “You have to know a little bit about something of the past. If you don’t know the past you are really going to be shocked by the future.”

The Veterans Appreciation program featured presentation of colors by the Sussex Central High School JROTC, presentation of the gifts, the White Table POW/MIA Remembrance, moment of silence/Taps, closing remarks by Dagsboro Church of God Pastor Jason Matthews, reflections by Lighthouse Christian School Director Terri Menoche and a ceremonial handshake of thanks highlighted by a receiving line for veterans and active military.

Veterans, family members and active military were treated to a buffet luncheon provided by local restaurants.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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