Municipal Spotlight 10th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony Slated for Nov. 11
Staff Sergeant Kyle J. Reitnauer of the Natick Soldier Systems Center will deliver the keynote address.
By KEN HAMWEY,
Bulletin Staff Writer
The 10th annual Veterans Day program is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. at the Bellingham Public Library.
The number 11 dominates the timing of the holiday, which was originally called Armistice Day. A peace treaty ending World War I was signed in 1918 and the agreement occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
“Although our country has been experiencing challenging times, we must not forget the service and sacrifice of Bellingham veterans, past and present,’’ said Jim Hastings, who’s been the Chairman of the Memorial and Veterans Day Committee for the last 16 years. “On Nov. 11, we can pause, reflect and honor their service, courage and commitment.’’
Hastings, a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, will be in Washington D.C. for Veterans’ Day, attending a ceremony for the Marine Corps birthday (248 years), and he also will be visiting the Vietnam Memorial. Sam Cowell, an Army veteran and a 15-year member of the committee, will fill in for Hastings.
The program will begin with the Bellingham VFW and Boy Scouts posting the colors followed by Robbie and Joe Oliver singing the National Anthem. After the Pledge of Allegiance, Rev. David Mullen, the pastor at St. Brendan Parish, will offer an opening prayer.
Speakers include Chris Condon (Navy), Margaret Johnson (Army) of Bellingham, and Staff Sergeant Kyle J. Reitnauer of the Natick Soldier Systems Center who will deliver the keynote address.
Condon, a 58-year-old native of Bellingham, joined the Navy and served for six years (1983 to 89). After recruit training boot camp and service school, he was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64). Assigned to engineering in the Aft Group Propulsion Division in an engine room, his home port was in the San Diego area at Naval Air Station North Island.
“In my time aboard the ship, we deployed and sailed throughout the Pacific (Indian Ocean and the China Sea),’’ Condon said. “Over time, I learned and qualified on each station in the engine room and served as a top watch for my last year. I also held the position of Petty Officer in charge of lube oil quality management.’’
Johnson served in the Army National Guard for 26 years and had two deployments, one to Kosovo in 2005-06 and the second to Kuwait (2003-05).
Johnson, who’s lived in Bellingham for 18 years, attended basic training in 1992 at Fort Lenordwood , Mo., and throughout her military career attended multiple training courses. She’s received awards, citations, coins and recognition for dedication to her mission and mentoring of soldiers.
“I’m proud to be a veteran, and I’m very grateful for all of my family and friends’ support throughout my military career,’’ she said. “And, I’m very proud to have served in the Army National Guard and to live out the Army values each and every day of my life.’’
Currently the Adjutant for VFW Post 7272 in Bellingham, Johnson is married to Master Sergeant Karl Johnson, who also served in the Army National Guard for 36 years.
Reitnauer was born on Misawa Air Force base in Japan. He moved every few years of his childhood while his family was in the Air Force, living in New Mexico, Montana, Germany and North Carolina, where he graduated high school and attended East Carolina University.
He enlisted in the Army in February 2013 and attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Okla. Afterwards, he attended Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston, Tex., and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., earning the military occupation specialty of medical laboratory technician.
Reitnauer later was assigned to the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., where he conducted research to provide medical countermeasures for chemical warfare agents. While assigned, his research work was published twice in the Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.
Reitnauer was later assigned to C Company 703rd Brigade Support Battalion in Fort Stewart, Ga., where he served as a squad leader. Within six months of his arrival, his unit went on a rotation to Poland in February of 2019 that was supposed to be three months, but due to COVID-19, lasted 10 months. The only lab tech assigned to his brigade, Reitnauer traveled across Europe, performing COVID tests and establishing quarantine sites for patients.
At the Natick Soldier System Center, Reitnauer, a highly-decorated and awarded non-commissioned officer, is in charge of the Military Performance Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM). He oversees multiple human performance research projects, and his research has resulted in lasting changes to the Army physical fitness test as well as the Army body composition program.
His military education includes Hospital Management of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Emergency Incidents, Field Management of Chemical and Biological Casualties, Medical Management of Chemical and Biological Casualties, Field Sanitation, Combat Life Saver, Clinical Operations with Infectious Diseases, Basic Leaders’ Course, Transportation of Biological Material, Technical Transportation of Hazardous Material, Advanced Leader’s Course, SHARP Foundation Course, and Master Resilience Training.
Retired schoolteacher Lori Fafard encouraged students from the Memorial Middle School to write poems about veterans, and the three winners will honor veterans by reading their poems at the ceremony.
The program will also feature the Oliver Brothers and remarks by State Representative Mike Soter prior to heading outdoors for posting of the colors, a prayer, wreath presentation, a moment of silence and a conclusion with Taps.