“We just want to say thank you,” Alba-Golden High School Principal Michael Mize said as he greeted the veterans who attended a breakfast preceding the school’s program recognizing them Friday morning.
“Again, we just want to say thank you. God bless each of you here today and what you have done for our country,” Mize told the veterans.
A-G School Board Member Jason Stovall blessed the meal, giving thanks for the men and women who were being honored and their sacrifice, time and duty.
Among the veterans attending were Joe Melvin of Alba, an Army veteran of Vietnam. He and another Army veteran, Terry Patton from the Mineola area served in Korea and they were visiting with one another. Benny Albers of Mineola, another Army veteran, who was in Germany in the Armor Division, visited the Alba-Golden school.
Jim Weddle of Alba was among those who attended the breakfast and planned to go to the program. He served in the Marines from 1996 to 2001. This was his second Veterans Day program he had attended at the school where his daughter is a student. “I think it’s awesome. My daughters pretty excited about it.”
Also among the veterans being honored was Delton Graves, a 2009 Alba-Golden graduate, who served in the Army in Afghanistan. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010 to 2011. This was his first veterans program to attend at his alma mater. “It really is awesome,” he said of his school hosting the program.
Jerry Cave of Golden was also one of the veterans who enjoyed the Alba-Golden school’s hospitality as school board member Jason Stovall refilled his coffee cup for him. He served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in 1964 to 1967. “I graduated from Alba-Golden in 63, went in the Army in 64.”
Golden resident Eli “Red” Leone, an Army veteran, went o the breakfast hosted by the school district to honor veterans. “I think this is wonderful that they have been doing this all of these years.” Leone’s service in the Army was during peace time. “Elvis and I was in together,” he said and laughed.
Julie Cole, A-G’s culinary arts teacher, said all of the teachers went together to provide the dishes for the breakfasts. “My classes, we might make a couple of dishes the day before. But typically, all of the teachers want to come together for our veterans – take ownership,” Cole said. Photographs of A-G school alumni veterans and staff members’ veteran relatives were on display and included high school algebra teacher Kim Thomas’ father’s bomber jacket on display. His name was Clarkson Gray Stevens, Jr.
“We always have a good turnout. But we’re all thinking there are so many more this year than in years past and a lot of them younger service members than we’ve had in years past,” Cole said.
Kimberly Czupryna, who works in the school library, said that many of the veterans who attend have students in the school district. She said that “We just kind of go together and help.”