An assembly was held at the Rock Port R-II schools on Wednesday, November 11, 2016 to honor our Veterans and recognize Veterans Day.
The assembly began with Student Body President Trenton Oswald welcoming those in attendance followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the 8th -12th Chorus sang “God Bless America”, directed by Mrs. Palmer.
American Legion Ralph Greer Post #49 of Rock Port then presented the ceremonial folding of the American flag.
Student Body Vice-President Jackie Bradley then introduced the Veterans Day assembly guest speaker, Ken Lucas.
The assemble concluded with Taps by Mrs. Palmer and Jared Thomas.
Following is in part, what guest speaker Ken Lucas had to say.
Good Morning. My name is Ken Lucas and I have been Farming in Atchison County since 1969. I married Donna Leigh Wolf in 1970 and Dan and Jon Lucas are our sons. Dan is married to Melanie Howard and Jon is married to Kristen Sprague and Joshua, Benjamin, Rebekah, Ethan, Caleb, Ryan, and Levi are our grandchildren.
I enlisted in the Navy on October 31, 1963, after attending one year at Northwest in Maryville. I had no clue as to which major to pursue and while I was doing well at subjects I enjoyed, I was doing not-so-well at those I didn’t. It seemed the military might give me the opportunity to figure things out. My father was a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Army and I had been an Army brat for twelve years, starting school in Japan and living on several Army bases. There was never any question in my mind that I would serve in the military. My younger brother, Harry was in the Army for nine years; little sister, Barbara, retired from the Air Force, and when he was refused entrance by the armed services because of his knees, my older brother, Ray, served in the Merchant Marine. It was, in part, my father’s suggestion that I chose the Navy. He felt that both the Air Force and the Navy offered better educational and advancement opportunities than the Army at that time. And–I always liked stories of the sea.
I was inducted in Kansas City and flown to San Diego for boot camp. Boot camp was probably not as difficult for me as for others because my Dad was military, but it still wasn’t pleasant. I remembered Dad’s words–about the drill instructors–” They can chew, but they can’t swallow. ”
Electronics Technician “A” School was located on Treasure Island, in San Francisco Bay. This would be my home for about 40 weeks where I learned about electronics theory and communications equipment. I spent two of my six years of service in schools from Guided Missile School in Dam Neck, Virginia, to Crypto School in Vallejo, California, to Loran on Ford Island, in Hawaii, to Sperry Gyroscope, on Long Island, New York, and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland. If you have the aptitude, the military will train you.
I reported aboard The U.S.S. Ranger CVA-61 at Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco Bay. She was my home (on and off) for the rest of my time in the Navy. Ranger was over four and a half football field’s long, and a football field wide at the flight deck and displaced 80,000 tons. She carried 80 aircraft, more or less, some of which weighed upwards of 40 tons. We were home ported in Alameda across the bay from San Francisco, my favorite city. I loved liberty in that city and I walked and rode all over on their fantastic public transportation system. You could transfer back and forth on buses, street cars and cable cars. There were always new things to do and places to see. The USO, a home away from home for servicemen, was a special blessing to me, with a place to relax and snack, free tickets to movies and concerts–and a 19 foot sailboat, which I qualified to sail on Lake Merced.
We visited the Philippine Islands, Hong Kong, in China, Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as well as San Diego (from which I visited Mexico) and Bremerton, Washington across from Seattle (from which I visited Canada). Had it not been for Vietnam, we would have visited Australia and New Zealand, as well. I was aboard for three long WesPac cruises during which we sailed and flew missions against North Vietnam. I don’t know how much ordinance we dropped but underway replenishments were in the hundreds of tons of bombs and millions of gallons of jet fuel and Navy Special Fuel Oil for the ship, not to mention all the food and supplies for the 5,000+ crew and air wing. We lost aircraft, pilots, and ship’s company–and not all to combat-some were to take-off and landing accidents. The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the most dangerous place in the Navy, but one of the most exciting. Even after five years aboard, I never tired of watching the action there.
I was proud to be a Blackshoe, or part of ship’s company. My primary responsibility was electronic navigation. I had the highest and the lowest antennas on the ship. The Tacan dome at the top of the mast told our airplanes how far away and in which direction the ship was when they were heading home. The fathometer, with its sensor on the bottom of the ship, gave the depth of the water–even to seven miles deep. My first duty was the Ships Inertial Navigation System which let the ship know where it was at all times and was also used to align the inertial systems on aircraft. As we needed reliable position fixes I worked on the SRN-9, an early GPS device. Later I learned about crypto or code machines.
This training earned me trips to other ships, one was a fleet tugboat, the Munsee, ATF 107, where I became seasick after repairing their gear. The crew thought it was much more funny than I did. Even an ocean-going tug boat is too small to land a helicopter so you are lowered to the deck by cable and picked up the same way. ( While aboard the Munsee, I saw a Russian spy trawler, the Gidrofon, trying to interfere with the flight ops of one of our carriers. When I returned to Ranger I asked the quartermasters on the Captain’s Bridge (my general quarter’s station) if they had ever seen the Gidrofon. ” Only once,” they said. When the Russian ship deliberately steered into the Ranger’s path, our Captain refused to change course and Gidrofon was nearly rammed. ” Since then” , they said, ” we haven’t see the Gidrofon. “. Later I repaired crypto gear on a guided missal frigate, where gratefully, the chopper could land.
I experienced some great adventures during my Navy tour. We sailed in the Sea of Japan, off North Korea, during winter, a really unpleasant place, here we were warned how few minutes a man could survive in the frigid water and where the hydraulics on landing aircraft would freeze and they would have to be sent to land in warmer southern Japan. We also saw a large number of Russian warships during that time.
The Yellow Sea lies north between China and Korea. Ranger was ordered to test South Korean air defenses by sailing there, under electronic silence, to launch a mock Alfa strike. That is when an aircraft carrier launches a large number of airplanes at one time. One of our escort destroyers accidently rammed a South Korean freighter in the fog and was detached to make sure that ship reached port safely. No one was hurt. My main memory from the incident–the incredibly mournful sound of Ranger’s fog horn.
We sailed through a typhoon (that’s a hurricane in the Western Pacific) in the Philippine Sea, with blue water coming over the bow which was normally 60 or 70 feet above the sea. All of our aircraft which couldn’t be stored in the hangar deck were secured, in a diamond shape, on the flight deck, with 30 and 40 tie-down chains on each aircraft. These chains were constantly being checked during the storm by the air wing personnel. Did I mention I was proud to be a Blackshoe? I didn’t have to be out there. Some of our escort vessels were underwater as much as they were above it.
On another occasion, Ranger had many guests of the Secretary of the Navy aboard and our aircraft and escort vessels, including a submarine, gave a fire power demonstration. They used a decommissioned destroyer escort as target. Guns, missiles, and bombs struck the little warship and couldn’t sink her. It took torpedoes to finish the job. It was a great show for ship’s company, too. There were 4- 5” guns on Ranger, but I only heard them fired once in 5 years and normally we would not get to see our planes during an attack.
I had other experiences. On Grande Island, in the entrance to Subic Bay where we docked in the Philippines, there is an old fort, and for my first two cruises, there were 4 – 10 inch artillery pieces which were a great background for pictures. These were gone on our 3rd cruise and no one seemed to know what had become of them. After the cruise, I came across the guns laid out of a pier in San Francisco. When I asked I was told that the WWII guns were on their way to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Once, after taking liberty in Tokyo, Japan, I was on a train, returning to Yokosuka, where Ranger was docked, wondering how I was to know where to get off. All the signs were in Japanese and no one spoke English. As I worried about my situation, I saw, shining over the waters of Tokyo Bay, Ranger’s hull numbers, “61 “,forty feet high and illuminated by red, white, and blue lights, guiding me home.
Most Navy ships are at sea a lot and that time apart is tough on sailors and their families so when Ranger was scheduled for a long overhaul in Bremerton, Washington, the Navy stepped in to make the disruption as easy as possible. Ranger loaded all ships’ company families, their personal belongings; all their vehicles-cars, RV s, motorcycles, boats-you name it–and transported them from Alameda, Calif. to Bremerton, and when the in-yard period was over, transported them back again.
Overall I enjoyed my time in uniform. I saw beautiful parts of the world and met gracious people of different cultures–and made lots of memories. Many of you know my Grandson, Joshua. He completed Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Illinois and is now stationed in Groton, Connecticut, for Submarine training. I was frankly surprised at his decision to enlist, but proud, as well. I was born during WWII, and served during Vietnam, an unpopular and divisive war, and, since then, to me, the attitude toward the military in this country has wavered between a lack of interest and outright hostility. Recently there has been a resurgence of patriotism and I hope it lasts. Josh’s enlistment gives me hope that there will continue to be young men and women who are willing to endure the discipline and sacrifice of military service so that this nation will always have the means to defend the freedoms we hold dear. Wise men have written— and I believe with all my heart–When we are unable or unwilling to defend our freedoms, we will lose them. All we have, as a people, we owe to God and to those who have stood (and some who have fallen) in service to this country–our servicemen and veterans. I thank you at Rock Port School for recognizing and honoring them.