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Conroe ISD community unites for veterans

Courier of Montgomery County

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Washington, November 11, 2017 | comments
By Meagan Ellsworth

More than 1,000 Conroe ISD students in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps honored veterans at the district's annual salute Friday, including one senior who almost lost his life last year.

World War II U.S. Navy veteran Mo Sims, 91, struggled to hear and talk; but he managed to walk embraced by two cadets within a formation of JROTC officers who lowered their guidons for he and about eight other veterans to place streamers as bagpipes played "Amazing Grace."

The ceremony, which commemorated Conroe ISD's Veterans Day program, was a special moment for the veteran. He and his wife Lisa teared up after the program as she mentioned he survived a stroke last year. It's a positive first-time experience for the man who served his country aboard the USS Gandy (De 764).

"I thought it was great," Mo Sims said wearing the hat bearing the warship's name. "I enjoyed seeing all the people … I think we all like to stick together for our country. It was neat seeing all of the people."

The cadets stretched across the Woodforest Stadium's football field where The Woodlands High School hosted this year's program, which was held last year by Conroe High School at Buddy Moorhead Stadium.

The event featured a flyover with the "Missing Man" formation maneuvered by the Lone Star Freedom Flight, National Anthem and patriotic performances by the TWHS choir, a written message from President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and recognition of veterans in the stands.

This year TWHS hosted the special Veterans Day event, which featured former Montgomery County judge and retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jimmie Edwards III as the guest speaker. He shared the story of legendary U.S. Marine Corps sniper Carlos Norman Hathcock II nicknamed White Feather for the one he wore in his hat. The feather became a clue when he was being hunted down by Vietnamese snipers, but they faced countless Marines suddenly wearing the same white feathers.

The message was unity.

"It's good to see everybody as a unit," Edwards said describing the experience as the guest speaker. "All across this land, all across this country we are all band together. Here today signifies that unity between everyone in the community, these military units, the Junior ROTC units, and the people that come here together."

"Like I said in the speech about the white feather," he added. "When one is down or in trouble, we all unite. We've done it in hurricanes, storms, natural disasters, you see it all the time. The white feather lives throughout this country, and this day is a great example of the white feather."

Edwards, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient who served in Vietnam from 1968-69 before losing his legs in a bombing, thanked the community for the support and discussed the upcoming decommissioning and relocation of the Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Park.

A ceremony will be held Sunday at 4 p.m. to honor the fallen and to decommission the park, which honors those from all military branches from World War I to present. Edwards, who led the effort to build the small park at the Montgomery County Tax Office is pushing for his vision of a better park to honor all veterans at its new location at Texas 105 and Interstate 45.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, County Attorney JD Lambright, and County Commissioner Charlie Riley were among the elected officials to attend. Several Conroe ISD members of the board and administration, including Superintendent Don Stockton were also present for the ceremony.

Stockton commended Edwards.

"I think that's a great imitative to honor our veterans," Stockton said. "Veterans are why we are here, why kids go to school, why we get to realize our dreams that our parents have for our us."

Stockton, who will retire this year, also expressed pride in the program that included Caney Creek HS,

"I'm really proud of not only this program, but all of our JROTC programs. It's unique for districts to have so many programs and we have five of them and they are just wonderful to have. I'm very, very proud of that," he said.

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