Veteran’s Day Tribute Story

I have always had an appreciation for our military and those who serve. Meeting with a veteran at Sheridan high school last week and learning about his story has only strengthened that appreciation. To be deployed and away from your family is a sacrifice in my eyes, one that I don’t believe I could be strong enough to make.The man I spoke to was Charles Garnes from Gallipolis, Ohio. He spoke about his time serving in the military.  He told his story in a unique way by changing hats; each hat represented all the military roles he has taken part in.

 Charles Garnes was a sophmore in high school when he decided that he was going to join the military. He decided to enlist in the military because of his admiration for the strong men and women of the military. Shortly after finishing high school, he was sent to Fort Knocks for basic training. “What have I gotten myself into,” were Charles’s first thoughts when arriving at basic training. The emotions of missing his mother were setting in. Quitting was not an option in his mind though as he had never quit anything before and so he stayed and trained to serve his country.

Serving in the military paid around 60 dollars a month. Serving as a paratrooper earned a soldier an additional 55 dollars a month. This extra pay intrigued Charles and persuaded him to sign up and become a paratrooper. There he learned to safely jump out of an airplane. Charles has approximately jumped out of 30 planes in total.

In 1966 Charles voluntarily left the United States to fight in Vietnam. There he spent a year assigned to an artillery airfit. In Vietnam time moved slowly for Charles’s and everyday was a a work day. He was never shot at and never shot at someone except for the artillery. He was discharged in May of 1968 after spending a year in Vietnam. After returning home Charles’s perception about the military changed. He believed that soldiers like him were not in Vietnam to protect America, but rather for political reasons. When he returned home, he left the military because he felt like he was fighting for the wrong reasons.

Charles Garnes is now a member of the DAV (Disabled, American, Veterans). Being a member means that he puts flags on graves on memorial day, raises the flag at football games, and gives talks to schools.

After finishing up listening to Charles’s story, I asked him what hat was his favorite. He told me that his favorite hat is his Vietnam hat because only those soldiers that were there can wear that hat. There are no more Vietnam hats being given out to current soldiers so it makes the hat more meaningful. Charles’s is most proud of that hat because he “earned the right to wear it.”