By REID TUCKER
Walton Middle School’s annual Veterans Day Program, in its 39th year, honored the sacrifices and service of the local men and women who served in the United States armed forces.
The event packed out the school’s gymnasium as students local elected officials and members of the community came to honor veterans and their family members on Thursday, Nov. 10. The event was filled with performances from student groups such as the band, chorus and drama club while the duties of posting the flags of the U.S. and the individual service branches was handled by members of the Walton High School Air Force Junior RTOC.
The guest speaker at the event was Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Robert Newman, of Eglin Air Force Base’s 33rd Fighter Wing. Newman serves directly Eglin’s wing commander and is responsible for providing enlisted leadership training for members of the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force and eight coalition partners while they undergo training on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Newman enlisted in the Air Force in 1984 and his background includes various positions in aircraft maintenance and operational training squadrons. He served at bases in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and the Philippines. Newman has also deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Walton Middle School Principal Tripp Hope said that this year’s program was the best one yet, showcasing as it did the talents of the school’s students while also giving all due honors to the community’s veterans.
“It’s a great learning tool for our kids,” Hope said. “This is actually learning experience we use to get [students] to understand that the freedoms they have today, somebody had to make a sacrifice for them to have those things. They need to understand why we have these freedoms.”