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Old soldiers give their stories to middle-school students
A lot of good humor and camaraderie were shared among the more than dozen veterans who told their stories and answered questions from Egling Middle School students on Friday — part of the fourth annual Veterans Day event at the Colusa school.
Those who enlisted or were drafted into the Marines and Army had a chuckle or two on the behalf of the "softer service branches" of the Air Force and Navy.
In the end, though, former Navy Seal Jason Wines, now a police officer in Butte County, was given the honor of toughest of them all.
There were scary tales of shaved-to-the-scalp haircuts, countless push-ups, little sleep and drill instructors who made Attila the Hun seem like Attila the Nun.
But there were also glory tales of travel, the cultures experienced, the friendships made, and the pride of serving the United States.
And still more.
Kent Kagehiro was 5 years old when he and his family were taken from their Colusa home and shipped off to a internment camp for Japanese Americans in Colorado during World War II.
But even that treatment was not enough to keep many in the camps from joining the military and later others — including Kagehiro — so they could serve their country during times of war and peace.
Kagehiro would go on to also serve the community of Colusa as a police officer.
Walter Hansford was shot on March 29, 1945, while serving with the US Army in Germany during World War II. The injury has been a health problem his whole life, but there are no regrets.
The group represented all the branches of the service, and included veterans from World War II to the war in Iraq.
One man was there to represent his father, who served in the Merchant Marines during World War II. More than 6,000 merchant marines and close to 800 ships were lost in what has been an almost forgotten part of the service.
Another talked about how his father was part of the liberating forces of the Nazi death camps, where more than 6 million Jews were killed.
Across the street in the park, the students were able to get a close look at a Army Huey helicopter on Thursday, and a variety of jeeps and other vehicles on Friday.
Not to be lost in any of it, however, was the knowledge many of the veterans carry about their buddies who never came home.