The city of Sherwood brought together military veterans, guests and well-wishers Monday to what has now become a Sherwood tradition, the annual Veterans Day celebration held at the Sherwood Center for the Arts.
Tim Rosener, a U.S. Air Force veteran and president of the Sherwood City Council, served as emcee of the event.
Rosener, said it's important to remember those who made sacrifices for this country who are no longer with us, as well as those who still are serving the United States in the military today.
Rosener said his great-grandfather — six generations removed — served in the U.S. Continental Army under Gen. George Washington, spending the winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where he lost both of his feet to frostbite.
When his ancestor was discharged, he left with a $2.96 pension and "walked" home to what is now West Virginia, said Rosener.
"He later married, had 13 kids and lived to be over 90 years old," Rosener noted. "Our veterans, then and now, are really made of tough stuff."
Rosener said he believes part of his great-grandfather's success was due to the honor and respect his community showed him.
Rosener introduced the honored guest speaker of the day, Debi Mollahan, who served almost nine years in the U.S. Navy Supply Corps. A Sherwood resident, Mollahan has spent the last 10 years as chief executive officer of the Tigard Chamber of Commerce.
"I'm here today both to honor and recognize veterans in our community who have served or are serving in all branches of our militaries," Mollahan said. "Without those who served in the military, we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today in our daily lives, enjoy our freedom of speech, freedom of choice, safety from foreign powers and other freedoms we share by our democracy."
Mollahan said her entry into the military was not initially part of her life plan.
When she graduated from college in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in business, during a time when the country was in a recession, she initially went to a job interview in downtown Portland with Arthur Andersen, a former "Big Five" accounting firm. However, when she left, she felt she might not be what the company was looking for. She walked across the street to a U.S. Navy recruiter to see what they had to offer.
"Three hours later, I walked out of the Navy recruiter's office after taking several aptitude tests and learning more about officer candidate school and the supply corps," said Mollahan. "Now you may say, why the Navy? Well, I was really familiar with the Navy, because my dad had served as an enlisted (electronics technician) on diesel submarines, including being on the commissioning crew for the USS Blueback, which is now a floating museum at OMSI."
Other family members served in the Navy as well, said Mollahan.
However, she had her mom sworn to secrecy regarding the fact she was considering joining the Navy and promised herself that if she did join up, she wanted to get training in three relevant jobs.
"At that point, I told my dad — who was thrilled — got sworn in, and I went on a delay entry program starting in July 1983," Mollahan said. "So at the tender age of 23, but looking like I was probably 19, I drove across country from Hillsboro, Oregon, to Newport, Rhode Island, in about five to six days by myself. This was in the days before cellphones, so I phoned home when I got to the hotel."
Mollahan said when she was in officer school, women only comprised only 10% to 20% of those there, and the limitations at the time made so women couldn't serve in combat roles.
Still, she said, "I learned to function as a unit and as a member of a team."
Mollahan's first duty station was on a submarine tender, the USS Orion, stationed off the island of Sardinia. On the Orion, she ran all the retail operations of the ship, ranging from overseeing the barbershops to laundry detail.
She said she was there when the United States was attempting to take out Moammar Gadhafi, the former ruler of Libya, in the mid-1980s.
"So our ship went into heightened security, 24 hours on and off watches for all chiefs and officers during that time," she said.
Mollahan said among the things she took away from her U.S. Navy experience was both how to survive in general as a minority (being a woman in the service) and discovering a heightened sense of patriotism for her country.
Monday's program also included performances by the Mixolydians, Sherwood High School's a capella choir, who sang The Star-Spangled Banner" as well as a medley of military songs; invocation and benediction by Wilson Parrish, a chaplain with the Sherwood Police Department; and a posting of the colors by the American Legion Post 56 color guard.
By Ray Pitz
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