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The City Journals

Midvale Celebrates Veterans Day

Dec 07, 2015 08:08AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Rachel Hall

Midvale - Honoring the men and women who have defended and protected the United States of America by serving in the military was the focus at the Veterans Day program held at the Midvale City Cemetery on Nov. 11. 

“It’s very important that we have a day that we recognize the veterans, the peace keepers, the heroes, the fathers, the brothers, the sisters, all of those people who are willing to stand up and say, ‘We will represent America. We stand for freedom. We stand for peace. We stand for partnerships that will allow all people to be stronger and to have a government or a society that gives people an opportunity to succeed,’” Midvale City Mayor JoAnn Seghini said.

Unified Fire Authority Honor Guard and Bagpipers helped to open the ceremony with the posting of the colors followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a solo of the “Star Spangled Banner” performed by Andrew Walker. First, Deacon Stan Stott of St. Therese Catholic Church offered an opening prayer.

“We ask for your blessing on all those who have served the country in the armed forces. We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded in body and soul in conflict around the globe,” Stott said. “May their calling to service continue in their life in positive ways.” 

Seghini invited the veterans and their families, along with the audience, to attend a free pancake lunch immediately following the ceremony at the old senior center, and encouraged everyone to talk with one another and celebrate how thankful residents of the community should be for the services offered by the men and women in uniform.

“This is a day that is very important for all of us to recognize and to sincerely thank all of the families that watched and waited and all of the people who served –  who did their duty for their country,” Seghini said.

Veteran Roger Robinson

Roger Robinson grew up in a small town in Utah. His dad owned a small farm that provided the family of eight children the food that they needed, and his dad also worked in the coal mine while his mother was a homemaker.

“He took me into the coal mine one day, and that made up my mind that I didn’t want to go back,” Robinson said.

His family had several members who served in the military, and he was raised to be grateful for freedoms as well as to show respect for the flag, the country and fellow men. With this upbringing in mind, Robinson signed up for the selective service right out of high school. He then served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before returning home and checking back into the selective service.

“The lady at selective service says, ‘Roger, your name just went from the bottom of the list to the top, and within two months you’ll be receiving your draft notice.’ So I checked around different places, and I went to a recruiter and enlisted for three years to go and five years as an inactive,” Robinson said.

Within one month after returning home from his mission, Robinson was in California in basic training learning how to protect himself and to protect others for 10 weeks. Then, he went to Oklahoma for 12 weeks of specialized training before receiving his orders to go to Vietnam.

“I will never forget my mother’s face as she had to tell me goodbye,” he said.

Robinson knew there was a chance that he would never return as he was leaving, but thankfully he did. He spent one year in different parts of Vietnam where he learned it was very hot there and recalled the smells of the country being very different. 

“The most shocking part was to see the war-torn country that was there. Otherwise, Vietnam is a beautiful place,” he said.

After returning from Vietnam, Robinson and his wife went to North Carolina. It was during this time that racial riots broke out in different parts of the country. Robinson was commanded to head to Baltimore, leaving his wife and baby behind, in order to search cars and try to keep the peace in the city. Soon after, he returned to his family and waited for his discharge. He contemplated what freedom meant after all of his service, and decided it was the power and right to act, think and speak as one feels about a subject as long as one acts appropriately while doing so.

“We, as fellow veterans, fought for freedoms, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We need to learn to love our fellow man and respect our flag and our country. The American flag stands for the United States of America and the struggles it has endured and the people that have fought for its freedom. There is so much more to appreciate than just a few stars and stripes. There is the blood and sweat and tears that have been shed for all our rights to be free and I say God bless America,” Robinson said.

Veteran David Rohde

“I don’t normally do these things. There’s one thing veterans don’t like to do on a daily basis and that’s to stand here and talk about what we did, because to us what we did was very personal to us, our families and it’s a special feeling that we have -- that we did for our country. It’s something that we hold inside of us since day one when we entered service,” David Rohde said.

Rohde signed papers to join the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18, despite the fact that other family members had served in other branches of service. When he returned home, he met and fell in love with his wife of 19 years. It wasn’t until 2003 that his unit was activated out of Salt Lake and was sent to Iraq.

“We were there for the invasion of Iraq, and then we turned around and did a unit deployment package out of Japan that same year,” Rohde said.

He left behind his pregnant wife and 3-year-old daughter when deployed, but knew his family appreciated his service and stood by his side every day that he was away.

“My oldest boy was born while I was deployed and I did not see him until I came back, which was about a year later,” he said.

When Rohde returned to Utah, he was part of the reserve unit and worked for the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office. In 2007, he was activated again to go back to Iraq as a combat mission. 

“I was tasked with another small group from the unit to actually be embedded and work daily with Iraqi police – to teach them the rule of law within their country, to teach them how to be policemen, to teach them how to patrol and how to run an administration within a police unit and how to run their logistics,” he said.

Rohde worked with Iraqi police every day from the time of his deployment in 2007 until April 2008 when he again returned to his family. One year later, the company was activated again and told they were going to Afghanistan. This time it was to help the Afghan police stop drugs from entering and exiting the country.

“On March 3, 2010, while doing a combat reconnaissance patrol where the heroin was being produced out of, my vehicle with my fellow Marines was hit by a large IED which is an improvised explosive device. When I came to, I couldn’t move my leg. My hip was hurting. My back was hurting,” he said.

A great field of Marines stood by his side during this time and helped to safely remove the individuals from the vehicle that had been hit by the IED.

“I am grateful for the Marines and for the two Navy Corpsman who saved my life; that helped me get medevacked out of Afghanistan,” he said.

For over two years, Rohde went through a limb salvage as doctors tried to save his leg. The daily pain and inability to walk for more than a day ultimately led to the need for a leg amputation.

“It is one thing to stand up for our freedoms, but it is also to stand up for another’s freedoms; even within the face of adversity, to do what is right,” Rohde said. “I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to do that every time that I’ve been asked to do that. I’m grateful for the American people and for their gratefulness that they’ve shown me when I returned home.”

Volunteer Colleen Costello

She has never been in a war or had to fight, but Colleen Costello has taken care of veterans when they returned home for many years.

“For the past 37 years, I have been a volunteer with the Chaplin service up at the VA hospital and it’s given me a chance to really get to know what life is all about,” she said.

Costello’s dad was in the Navy and an uncle was in the Army. When Vietnam came, she watched many of her close friends and family go off to Vietnam – some never returned. Later in her life, her dad was asked if he would do volunteer work up at the VA hospital.

Little did she know that she would end up spending more than half of her life helping veterans and seeing the types of things that affected their minds and bodies. Costello recalled being able to be with people in their time of need, especially when they underwent operations and were afraid. Others told her their minds would never be the same. 

“I think a lot of times people take for granted what the military do. They read about it, unless they have somebody in their family. You know some people don’t relate to this, but when I see my veterans, men and women, [and] the sacrifices that they have been through – what their families have been through – you start to realize what these brave men and women have gone through and what they continue to go through,” Costello said.