By Bree Collar, Sentinel Staff Writer
In a unique display of honor, Fannin County Middle School ushered in its Veteran guests Nov. 8, paying honor to those no longer with us, soldiers
who fought as far back as the War of 1812, to present day battles at their
annual Veterans Day Ceremony.
Special guest speaker Dale Dyer, a veteran who fought in World War II, spoke after the posting of colors and the national anthem was sung by the Fannin County Middle School Chorus.
Fannin County High School band performed an Armed Forces salute to each branch of the military, giving all Veterans present a chance to stand and also time for memories to be recalled of those who never made it home.
Really, “We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the service members who died in battle or were wounded,” Emma Pittman said.
“The price of freedom is high, we cannot afford to forget those willing to pay it. Today, we celebrate America’s veterans for keeping this nation the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Pittman added.
“The year was 1942. Japan was taking over the Pacific. Germany was taking over all of Europe.
The security of the world was under threat,” Principal Keith Nuckolls said.
It was at that time the United States called on its citizens to join the war effort and Dyer, like many others, answered the call.
Whether it was the 26 bombing missions and numerous refueling missions, the training he provided to dozens of Army Air Corps cadets to prepare for their wings, or the historical mark he makes on Fannin County with his research and recording, Dyer is a veteran with strong patriotism and strong Christian faith.
Born in 1919 and set to celebrate his 100th birthday next month, Dyer served in ROTC in college. “After four years they handed us our second lieutenant commission in one hand and orders to report for duty in the other hand,” Dyer said.
It was 1941 when Pearl Harbor was hit and 1942 when Dyer finished school and moved straight into the Army. As a child Dyer said it was country living, having never road a bus anytime throughout his early education. Once he moved to Fannin after World War II, he remembers seeing the kids walking to school even in the 1950s.
Veterans are so proud to see the standard that has been set and the teachers dedicated in the area, Dyer said.
He first joined infantry but moved to Air Corps, maneuvering to a position where his flight training during the last year of college could be utilized.
In Montgomery, Ala. Dyer attended his first training camp where he was in a plane with a copilot learning maneuvers to prepare for future missions.
The funny and close-call tales he told of landing in a cotton field and finding a way to report where he was because there were no radios at the time, to moving to bomber training where he kept a B-24 from flipping in midair, Dyer said his faith has always seen him through.
Flying at 23,000 feet on the majority of missions, there was a time when he flew at 60 degrees below zero.
With a crew made up of American, Mexican, Italian, Polish and German men, the challenges and rewards led Dyer and his crew safely through to the end of the war.
While Dyer talked about events in his career, he asked all gathered to remember that Veterans Day is to recognize and remember all who served, those who never returned and those missing in action.
“I know our veterans have similar stories and experiences of a lifetime,” Dyer said.
“Whether it was a long time ago or a short time ago, when you signed on the dotted line the commitment was made. We thank you (all) for that and only now may some of us begin to understand that true commitment,” Nuckolls said.