By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 16, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker honored the service of the nation's veterans with a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum Nov. 9 as a way to say 'thank you' to those who have served.
Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory M. Chambers, command sergeant major of the Aviation Branch, presided over the ceremony to thanks not only those who have served, but their families, as well.
"I just want to personally thank all of our veterans who have served our country -- you are what makes our country an absolutely phenomenal place to live," he said during the ceremony. "Today we pay tribute to those who have served across all components of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
"We know that freedoms come at a cost," Chambers continued. "The tremendous acts of courage and sacrifice brave men and women have to answer the call to go wherever and whenever they are needed -- the service of all of our veterans and their family members is not forgotten."
During the ceremony, veterans from every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces were recognized as the band played their respective songs. A wreath was also laid by Chambers and CW5 Joseph B. Roland, chief warrant officer of the Aviation Branch, to honor past and present service members.
For Willaim Voth, a veteran who served 27 years in the Army, the ceremony was an opportunity to show proper honor to those who have sacrificed throughout their lives to provide the freedoms people enjoy today.
"This is a day that our country recognizes veterans for what they did … and a ceremony like this kind of reinforces your faith in your country," he said. "There are many sacrifices that Soldiers make in addition to risking their lives -- they're on call 24/7, they have to leave their families, they miss a lot of activities that their kids are in and it can be a difficult situation, but I wouldn't trade my time in the Army for anything."
Voth flew scout helicopters in Vietnam and retired as a lieutenant colonel, and said he was proud of the time he spent in the armed forces, so honoring those who have served is something he said the nation needs more of.
Veterans Day marks the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, said Chambers, but significance of the day didn't hit home for him until his time in service.
"As a young private in my first duty assignment, I can remember one Veterans Day event that stayed with me for the rest of my career," said the command sergeant major. "I came to work one day before Veterans Day and was informed that we would have to work on (that day)."
Chambers said at the time he felt it was no big deal, but a group of his fellow Soldiers were upset at the prospect of working on Veterans Day.
"I asked my best friend what the guys were so upset about and he simply stated if there's one day throughout the year that we should have the day off, it's Veterans Day," he said. "I didn't really know what Veterans Day really meant as a private, but later that day my company first sergeant explained it to me, and from that day on I understood what the day represents."
Chambers said that although having a day set aside to honor those who have served is well deserved, people should remember to honor veterans not just during the holiday, but every day.
"We owe all our veterans so much more, and the best thing we can do is to just take care of them and thank them for their service," he said. "Our great veterans have given us a lasting legacy of service. They have set the example and lived out our Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
"They show us time and time again what those values look like, fight like, and how those values ensure we win every time There is a proud unbroken line of brothers and sisters in uniform that stretches out across American history." He continued. "As we look into the future, we need to seek out our veterans because we need their mentorship like never before. We must make sure the baton of wisdom and experiences passes from era of war fighters to the next."