The Morning News â€” Bob Hudson
U.S. Marine Corporal Phillip Baldwin talks with a well-wisher during the Red, White and Blue tribute to veterans in Pocatello on Saturday. Baldwin, of Fort Hall, is a veteran of Afghanistan where he lost his legs in an explosion this past year.
POCATELLO â€” Veterans from Twin Falls to Soda Springs and Rexburg to Preston received praise for their service at a Red, White and Blue gala on Saturday.
"I think it's great," said Max Rowberry of Blackfoot. "I'm honored to be a part of it.
"We did what we had to do at that time," added Rowberry, a Vietnam vet.
"It warms your heart, I'll tell you that," said Roland Wright, a World War II veteran who graduated from Blackfoot High School. "It stirs my memory of a lot of warm experiences. It causes me to think of some of the heroes of my time."
One of Wright's heroes, he said, was Great Britain's Winston Churchill, whose support enabled Americans to use that nation's air bases to battle Hitler's Germany.
"It's a very special feeling," said Phillip Baldwin of Fort Hall, a veteran of Afghanistan who lost his legs in that war.
"It's really good getting together and showing respect. That means a lot to me."
Organizers of the gala had planned a short parade with the veterans riding about two blocks to Don Aslett's Museum of Clean. But the weather didn't cooperate. A mixture of snow and rain forced those in attendance inside, but didn't slow the festivities.
Master of ceremonies Roger Chase introduced about 20 of the veterans before Col. Don Blunck, the incoming commander of the Idaho National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, gave a few remarks.
"Today we are surrounded by exceptional people," Blunck said. "Theirs wasn't a 9 to 5 war. Something had to be done."
Blunck likened the veterans' service to that of the 88 men who stood against 700 British regulars at Lexington Bridge in Concord, Mass., in 1775.
"That day ordinary people did extraordinary things and started this nation on its path," he said.
"Each of you have contributed to the success this nation has had," Blunck continued. "Collectively you and people like you defeated Hitler, checked communist expansion and have provided the opportunity for millions to decide for themselves.
"Veterans have cheerfully accepted all self-denials," he said. "The debt we owe you can never be paid in full."
Following the opening ceremonies, veterans and their families and friends enjoyed a day of activities including music and a celebration dinner.