Starting at 11:00 am, President David welcomed everyone who attended the Veteran’s Day celebration at the Central Union Mission. President David described the meaning of Veterans Day as not only honoring those who served during times of war but also to those who maintained and continue to maintain peace in our nation. He described the United States as a peaceful nation. President David described when Veterans Day was established as a holiday after World War I and asked the audience to recognize the veterans present. Veterans were sitting at the front tables.
President David welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests:
  1. Norihiko Tanikawa from our sister Tokyo Rotary Club
  2. Takeshi Konishi, also a visiting Rotarian from our sister Tokyo Rotary Club
  3. John Amundsen from Tacoma, WA
President David gave a special welcome to our guests from Japan and expressed how far we have come since World War II.
President David introduced Pastor James Lewis as the pastor who leads the church at the Central Union Mission every Sunday, who then led a prayer of thanks for Veterans Day.
President David introduced LTC Washington, who led the star spangled banner with the assistance of Mr. Wright who was playing the piano in the background. Mr. Wright is the President of the Central Union Mission board.
President David invited all Rotarians present to raise their hand and introduced them to the audience.
Some Rotarians present were:
  1. Kenneth Brown
  2. Paula Buena Abdala
  3. Mike Carmichael
  4. Lisa Cohen
  5. Pat Cunningham
  6. Marilyn Cruz
  7. Buz Gorman
  8. Ross Grantham
  9. May Gwin
  10. Dr. Sam Hancock
  11. Jennifer Hara
  12. Lynn Holec
  13. John Jackson
  14. Ken Kimbrough
  15. Eugene Massey
  16. Ellen Moore
  17. Lisa McCurdy
  18. Dan Mullin
  19. Sheldon Ray
  20. Max Salas
  21. Russ Savage
  22. Donnie Shaw
  23. Hal Vaughn
President David asked all the Veterans to introduce themselves and name which branch of the military they served. Their were veterans from all five branches, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and National Guard. Some veterans, in addition to President David, included:
  1. Q. Johnson, U.S. Air Force
  2. Steve Powell, U.S. Marian Corps, Beirut 1982
  3. LTC DC Washington, U.S. Army
  4. Pastor Rutherford Cooke, U.S. Air Force
  5. Rotarian John Jackson, U.S. Army, Cuban Missile Crisis
  6. Rotarian Mike Carmichael, U.S. Air Force and Georgia Air National Guard
  7. Rotarian Dan Mullin, Tennessee Army National Guard
  8. Rotarian Hal Vaughn, U.S. Army 1945-47
President David introduced speaker MAJ (Dr.) “Rocco” Rich, USAR (Ret.) who is an eighty-nine year old World War II veteran. He enlisted in the Army shortly before he was eighteen years old. In his ninth week in the Army he was in France as a member of General George S. Patton’s Tenth Armored Division. He is the recipient of the Combat Infantry Man’s Badge, awards for valiant service and a Purple Heart. Upon returning to the US he re-enlisted and was recruited into the US Counter Intelligence Corps. He was trained and spent eighteen years in clandestine missions in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA and two three-year tours in Germany. On the day of his twenty-year retirement he received the Good Conduct Medal. Dr. Rich said he was saved during a Baptist church revival and immediately felt the call of God to preach His gospel. He studied and received a master’s and doctorate degree from Baptist seminaries in Texas and Georgia. He was the pastor of two churches for sixteen years, and the Executive Director of the Central Union Mission for thirteen years. He is the author of the Mission’s basic Bible and discipleship courses. Dr. Rich continues to preach, teach and travel on occasion. He has a wife, Ruth, three sons, Robert, Leslie and James, and a daughter, Susan. He presently resides with his wife in Laurel, Maryland.
Dr. Rich’s key points, paraphrased:
  • Described the meaning of the word veteran.
  • It started in the year 1500s. Comes from Latin word veteranus, in French it means old man.
  • According to the Department of Defense World War II statistics, 16 million veterans went to Germany, in which about 1/3 of the 16 million are still alive today.
  • The average age of a surviving World War II veteran is 80 years old.
  • Dr. Rich is still alive himself.
  • Dr. Rich is sad to say 1,000 World War II veterans die every day.
  • Dr. Rich enlisted into the Army when he was 17 years old.
  • Dr. Rich was suppose to go for basic training in Florida but training got cut short and on his 9th week he was in combat, sometimes riding on a half-track, but mostly marching or in fire-fights.
  • Dr. Rich was sent over with a bunch of other guys at a replacement in France.
  • Dr. Rich explained what a replacement was.
  • Dr. Rich stated a Sergeant in France came up to him and called him, first sight, head track, solider.
  • Dr. Rich shared several stories during his time in combat, some dealing with death, others with humor
  • Dr. Rich can’t believe he’s still alive. He came home after he was wounded.
  • Dr. Rich ended with a prayer about his thoughts and what he shared to the audience.
President David asked everyone to accompany LTC Washington in singing America the Beautiful. Mr. Wright once again played the piano in the background.
President David reminded all Rotarians about Movie Night, Thursday November 12, 2015.  The meeting adjourned at 12:15 pm with a lunch blessing led by Pastor Cooke. Pastor Cooke is the director of ministry at the Central Union Mission. President David welcomed everyone to sit in the back tables where lunch would be served.