Area service men, women and veterans welcomed back by WP

| 10/18/2016 |

Wauneta-Palisade graduates and service members (left to right) Specialist Army National Guard William Werner, Marine Corporal Douglas A. Wickizer, Private Army National Guard Joseph Sramek and Sergeant Army National Guard D. Ray Hunt served as color guard at WP’s football game Friday against Eustis-Farnam. Veterans from both schools were asked to stand along the sidelines during the National Anthem. Pictures of Barrett and Sramek’s visits to WP schools are included on page 6. (Diane Stamm | Johnson Publications)
Wauneta-Palisade graduates and service members (left to right) Specialist Army National Guard William Werner, Marine Corporal Douglas A. Wickizer, Private Army National Guard Joseph Sramek and Sergeant Army National Guard D. Ray Hunt served as color guard at WP’s football game Friday against Eustis-Farnam. Veterans from both schools were asked to stand along the sidelines during the National Anthem. Pictures of Barrett and Sramek’s visits to WP schools are included on page 6. (Diane Stamm | Johnson Publications)

By Diane Stamm

The Wauneta Breeze

Honoring the nation’s flag held special meaning at Friday’s Wauneta-Palisade homecoming football game.

Not only had approximately 20 local veterans gathered on the sideline to be honored, the four members of the color guard were WP alumni. Specialist Army National Guard William Werner, 2012 graduate; Sergeant Army National Guard D. Ray Hunt, 2013 grad; Private Army National Guard Joseph Sramek, 2016 grad; and Marine Corporal Douglas A. Wickizer, a 2003 graduate who has served two tours of duty in Iraq, presented the colors for the national anthem.

With the help of Patty and Jon Anderjaska, WP schools invited all veterans to the homecoming game and offered free admission to veterans.

The Anderjaskas called Wickizer, Werner, Hunt and Sramek and asked them to take part. All agreed to help without hesitation.

Billy Smith with VFW helped with the rehearsal and provided the flags and rifles. WP junior Alejandra Almanza sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Homecoming “was a great time to invite alumni plus all veterans to the event,” said P. Anderjaska, adding she was happy with the turn out.

“Our football boys were so respectful when they went through the line shaking hands with all the veterans,” said P. Anderjaska. Players and coaches from Eustis-Farnam came across the field to also shake hands with the veterans.

Servicemen return home

Currently only 0.5 percent of the American population serves in the armed forces, putting the color guard quartet in elite company.

Barrett and Sramek, 2016 WP graduates, returned home this fall after training to speak to the WP fifth and sixth graders and teachers Jane Lenners and RanDee Barger.

Barrett was back in Wauneta for 10 days after his Sept. 9 graduation from his Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Barrett left an impression on the classes as he talked about his training in San Diego.

Details that stood out with students were how the Marine trainees carry 60-100 pound packs, only get four to six hours of sleep and may have to make one meal stretch three days.

Stories of the Crucible and the Reaper during training exercises also left an impression. Barrett’s stories of jumping off an 80-feet high tower into water and hikes up steep and long hills fascinated many students.

The favorite story of many students was when Barrett woke to find a tarantula on his chest.

“I thought it was really generous of him to spare time to come and talk about” his training with us, said Cali Cox.

“It was very impressive,” said Angyelina Keenan. “When he was here he looked very formal.”

Sramek took part in National Guard training this summer. During his visit he encouraged the students to take their schooling seriously and do their best.

Sramek detailed a typical day of training and how important it was to be physically fit. Sramek told the students his time playing football and wrestling for WP made him better able to withstand boot camp.

Barger said the students asked many questions.

“The boys were especially interested in his gun and any combat experience he had. That was probably their favorite part,” Barger said. “The kids were extremely interested in all he had to tell them. “

Barger was especially proud of Sramek’s visit.

“I taught him as a first grader and have watched him grow into a brave, responsible young adult, ready to serve our country as a National Guardsman and pursue a college degree,” Barger said.

“What a positive role model for our students,” Barger added. Lenners agreed, “What great boys this community produces!”