A moving Veterans Day program

Presentation of colors at Colman-Egan School’s Veterans Day program last week: from left, SFC Robert Godes, PFC Walker Olivier and SPC Sam McKay, all members of the US Army National Guard and TSGT Cody Bowman, US Air Force.

It is rare during Veterans Day ceremonies that there aren’t a few tears shed, both from those who have served, and by family and friends amongst them in the crowd. So often it can be hard to believe the years that have passed, the experiences had, the trauma that still lingers, the friends lost and the miles in-between with those who remain, and just overall the pride felt during ceremonies like those that come around each Veterans Day.
This year, for Colman’s Roger Fritz, some of those tears were of pride.
“Carter is my grandson,” he said with tears in his eyes.
 Carter Schmidt was again the emcee for this year’s services. Fritz appeared grateful that his grandson came back to be such an integral part of the ceremony, and for the respect Schmidt continues to show him, and our country.
Fritz, an SDSU graduate, was commissioned into the Army in 1960 and after a long career in the Army, he’s spent most of the rest of his career helping to teach others that have followed in his footsteps at both the US Army Reserve School in Sioux Falls and as an employee for 42 years with the Colman-Egan School District. Fritz Field behind the school is named in his honor.
Fritz also was part of the committee instrumental in making the Colman Veterans Memorial a reality. He said the committee can’t thank the community enough for making it happen.
“This day,” said Schmidt, “It’s an honor to be asked back. And, it’s just special to me, knowing some of the things that these Veterans have gone through, including my grandfather...and the best thing that we can do is thank them, both service members now and veterans that have served in the past.”
Phil Schaefer, who only recently moved to Colman, was also in attendance. Schaefer, as soon as the service was over, quickly moved to thank everyone involved for making the day possible. Proud of his service and loyal to our country, Schaefer said he would go right back and do it all over again.
“I enlisted in 1973 and was at Aberdeen, Maryland, in training for systems out at Redstone. The ones that know about that know what that means…” he said.
The Redstone Arsenal in Alabama was established during World War II as a chemical manufacturing facility, in the immediate post-war era the Arsenal was used for research and development by German weapons rocket scientists who were brought to the U.S. It has since also been designated a Superfund site after chemical weapons were found to have been drained, burned or buried in 17 different sites.
Schaefer continues to work in the private sector in security.

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