Patriotic emotions filled Bronco Field Friday night as the Denton High School Air Force Junior ROTC honored two World War II veterans during halftime of the Broncos’ football game against Byron Nelson High School.
For the past few weeks, students collected money to send the veterans to Washington, D.C., with Honor Flight DFW, an organization run solely on donations to send veterans on all-expense-paid trips to the nation’s capital.
A community member challenged the school to raise $1,000 to send one North Texas veteran on the trip to see war memorials and meet with other veterans.
The challenge resulted in the group raising $3,000, enough to send three veterans, said Denton High Principal Dan Ford.
“This accomplishment is great for not only the ROTC but for Denton High School as a whole,” he said.
The two men honored Friday night were World War II veterans Tom Carlisle and Bennie Snider. The third veteran to go on the trip will be determined later.
“This will be my first time to visit the World War II Memorial,” said Snider, who graduated from Denton High in 1944. “My grandfather is buried at the Congressional Cemetery, so I will visit him. I am looking forward to the visit.”
Snider, 86, joined the Navy in 1944 and took part in the invasions of the Philippines and Iwo Jima.
Cadet Bobby Simpson, a sophomore, said the ROTC wanted everybody in the school to know that what they have been doing is for a good cause. A few of his family members have served in the military.
“This does hit me emotionally, and these veterans we are giving these checks to are going to be very, very happy we did this, and we really want them to feel that way,” he said. “They deserve it.”
Donna Sedota, Honor Flight DFW chairwoman and treasurer, was there to accept the check during the presentation.
“We will send another veteran from the list,” Sedota said. “Whenever you have school-age kids do something like this, it means a lot. It shows the younger generation cares for the older generation and what they fought for then really means something.”
Carlisle, 88, became a radio operator in the Merchant Marines after graduating from O’Brien High School in 1942. He served in the Pacific Theater and had the good fortune of delivering the news of Germany’s surrender to his crewmen after he intercepted radio traffic about it.
This will be a return trip to Washington for Carlisle.
“I have been there. It’s always a good atmosphere,” he said. “At least I hope it still is — we just had an election.”
Lt. Col. Robert West, the leader of the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC, said the evening wasn’t about the kids, him or the game.
“It’s all about those two brave men and what they did for our freedoms,” said West.
He said the Junior ROTC would have a similar fundraiser again.
Carlisle and Snider will be joining several other WWII veterans next spring for an experience that everyone involved hopes they will never forget.
“Thank you for everything,” Carlisle said.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.