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2014-11-13

Local Vets serve country for 150 years

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The day couldn't have been more perfect for the 12th annual Bandera Honors Veterans celebration on the courthouse lawn. Presented by American Legion Post 157, the traditional homage to America's veterans took place on Saturday, Nov. 8.
As emcee, retired Marine Col. Marshall Considine noted, "One out of every six residents of Bandera County has served in the military."
Speaking about the holiday that officially takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 11, Judge Richard Evans observed, "America likes to celebrate holidays. Now that I've reached 'old fogey' status, I believe Veterans Day is the most important holiday. If it hadn't been for the commitment and sacrifice of our military to protect this country, we wouldn't have any other holidays."
During his keynote address, Retired United States Army Major General Robert "Ken" Guest of Pipe Creek enumerated the sacrifices Texans have made in the service to this country, beginning with the siege of the Alamo in 1836 where 189 patriots died defending a fledgling Republic. Of the 600,000 Americans killed during the Civil War, 70,000 were sons of the Lone Star State.
As Guest also noted, within 15 years of the end of the Spanish-American War, 348 residents of Bandera County registered for the draft - 23 of whom made the supreme sacrifice. "They were told their enlistment would be for just six months, but many became part of three years of continuous combat during World War I," Guest said.
A little known fact is that prior to WWI, the United States went from having the l7th largest armed forces - behind tiny Rumania - to become "greatest army on the face of the earth," mustering 10 million troops during WWII, Guest said. He especially singled out local Norman Rigsby, who, at age 17, stormed ashore at Omaha Beach. "Members of the 36th Infantry Division, a Texas unit, were awarded 14 Medals of Honor," Guest added.
Of the nearly 370 Bandera County residents who served, 20 never made it back to the Hill Country. One was Gabe Anderwald, who became the youngest Banderan to give his life at Iwo Jima.
Bandera residents also participated in wars in Korea and Vietnam and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. "For 150 years, Bandera has served the nation - and that's why we're here today," Guest concluded.