By Kevin Jackson, AMCDecember 6, 2016
McALESTER, Okla. -- The commander of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Col. Sean M. Herron, spent Veterans Day talking to former service members who have participated in our nation's conflicts dating back to World War II.
Herron addressed 80 veterans and their family members during a luncheon observance at Veterans of Foreign War Post 1098 in McAlester, Oklahoma, Nov. 11.
He began by talking to them about the significance of the annual observance.
"President Calvin Coolidge said many years ago, 'The nation which forgets it defenders will itself be forgotten,'" Herron said.
"Well, America doesn't have that problem. Your attendance here today attests to that. We will never forget our veterans. Nor will we ever forget our POWs and MIAs who have yet to be accounted for. This is the solemn promise of a grateful nation."
Herron recounted the holiday's history, the current state of the Army, and the nation's commitment to its service members, both during and after their military service.
He singled out the "Soldier for Life" program, which support Soldiers and their families as they transition to civilian life. He also acknowledged how veterans continue to use their skills and experience to serve the nation and their local communities.
After concluding his formal remarks, VFW Post 1098 Commander, Bill Engleson, acknowledged four World War II veterans in the audience and asked them to join Herron.
"People of my generation and the younger generation don't really understand the scope of World War II," Herron said. "The numbers boggle the mind."
Approximately 16.1 million Americans served in WWII, according to Department of Veterans Affairs' statistics.
"I want to thank these gentlemen for their service. We are glad they are here with us today," Herron said.
One of them in attendance, John Lovelace, monitored a radar station in Alaska as a U.S. Navy Seabee.
"It was nice [to be recognized]," the 90-year-old McAlester native said. "It shows we weren't forgotten and are appreciated. And he got here in time while there are a few World War II veterans here, but we're getting scarce."
About 620,000 WWII Veterans were alive at the beginning of 2016, but an estimated 372 die each day, according to Department of Veterans Affairs' statistics.
Herron also told the audience that Vietnam-era Veterans from MCAAP would be honored by Brig. Gen. Richard B. Dix, Commanding General, Joint Munitions Command, during his visit, Nov. 28. The recognition is part of the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War.
The commander also shared an encouraging word about the nation's newest generation of heroes.
"These young Soldiers today are great," he said. "You think it all started with the 'greatest generation.' It's been a consistent trend over time. This nation always produces warriors and heroes when they are needed, so you don't need to worry about the younger generation. Support them and encourage them. You would be amazed at what they can achieve."
Herron finished the day riding in a Humvee with the U.S. flag in the 2nd Annual Veterans Day Parade in McAlester.
MCAAP is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial base facilities under the U.S. Army Materiel Command.