LHS Class of 69 Presents Honors to Veterans

Honors for the Flag



We’re faced with career choices when we graduate from high school.  Some are off to college, others to trade school while some enter the work force and wind their way up the ranks of their selected profession.  And some, as was the case across the country in 1969, eventually find themselves serving their country in the military, by design or in the U.S. Army by way of the draft.

The Class of 1969 from Lamar High School honored their classmates who served in the military at the school auditorium on Wednesday, May 11th with a morning and afternoon assembly to accommodate school classes.

Organizer, Judy Turpin, said class members presented a commemorative plaque bearing 18 names from students who served their country as well as an American flag which was folded with honors and presented to Lamar Schools Superintendent, Dr. Chad Krug.

Smith and Dr. Chad Krug

Jason Tice, a teacher at LHS, said the event was a collaborative venture that tied into current courses in the school’s social studies classes. A number of students were on hand to observe and to ask questions of the veterans regarding their military service.

Jason Tice

A video highlighting the year Lamar was honored as one of several towns across the nation to be selected as the “all-American” city in the late 1950’s as well as a tribute to the six young men from Lamar who lost their lives during the war, was also shown.

Elmer Grett, Gary Mason, Louie Torrez and Robert Smith

Tice and Turpin spoke to the audience of students, some veterans and family members, that the event was scheduled to be held three years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic put those plans on a holding pattern, absent, but not forgotten.

Class of 69 Veterans consisted of former Air Force Master Sergeant Robert Smith who emceed most of the event and offered letters from former classmates and friends regarding their military experiences, sometimes struggling against memories and emotion as he read their words to the audience.  Other Class of 69 veterans on stage included: Louie Torrez, Gary Mason and Elmer Grett.

Viet Nam Veterans: Jack Turner (L), Doug Harbour (R) and Pete Hernandez from Operation Desert Storm (Center)

Vietnam Veterans on stage, but not representing any former class at the school were Jack Turner and Doug Harbour.  Harbour originated and directed the annual 9/11 Tri-State Tribute which holds annual observances for military and first responders every September in Lamar.  Other veterans in the audience for the morning event included Pete Hernandez and Kett Winson.

The audience was also reminded the Lamar VA clinic on South Main Street, which has served the medical needs of local veterans since 2014, has been recommended for closure by 2026, along with other similar clinics in Burlington, Salida and La Junta.  The general public is asked to petition with letters, the National VA office as well as the facility in Eastern Colorado to remain open.  The more servicemen and women who register at the VA Clinics, if only to have their name counted among the participants, will help bring to light the need to have these clinics remain open.  Gary Harbert, Prowers County Veteran’s Service Officer can provide more information from his office at 336-2606.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarEducationFeaturedHistorySchoolYouth

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