eParisExtra asked our local contributor and our veteran, JD Marrs, to write a Veterans Day article for our readers.
Marrs joined the Navy in the fall of 1986 after graduating from North Lamar High School in Paris, Texas. He had a very interesting career as an Electronics Technician working on a Guided Missile Cruiser in Italy, as an instructor in Hawaii, building and becoming a Plank Owner on a new Destroyer on the East Coast.
He then switched to the Special Warfare community as a Communications Support and Technical Adviser at SEAL Team Two in Virginia. He holds the distinction of being the only Non-SEAL Instructor at SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) teaching Tactical Communications & Tactical Electronics at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California.
He followed that assigned to a platoon at SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One in Hawaii as an SDV Supervisor, Technician, and Senior Technical Advisor. He retired in 2010 from a Joint Training command on Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS with 24 years of service.
Marrs said he was just a lucky kid from Chicota that got to see more than 30 countries, 37 of the 50 states, spend time working with the best Special Warfare Operators in the world, and then come back home to Paris to raise his family. He graduated in 2011 from PJC on the President’s List and in 2012 from Texas A&M University-Commerce College of Business with Summa cum Laude honors. He owns Paris Drafting which designs custom home plans in 3-D.
Here is JD’s article:
What is a Veteran? I asked that question to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students a few years ago while I was giving a Veterans Day speech at Blossom Elementary School. Here are some of the more humorous answers I received from the kids: A veteran is an old person that served for his country; I think it is a person that works at the vet to help animals; or, my favorite quote from one of the bigger kids at the ceremony (Jeff Morrison of Weezy’s): When you aren’t a rookie anymore!
According to the Veterans Administration, there are an estimated 19.2 million living veterans in the US, with 1,574,000 in Texas, and around 3,650 of those being here in Lamar County.
Like many in my generation, we were not drafted and did not join after an attack on the United States such as Pearl Harbor or the Twin Towers. Many of us joined to get a technical skill, to get out of a small town, or for the college money we would get after our service. After raising our hands and taking an oath, we learned so much more about ourselves as men and women. We learned the history and service of our branches. Learned of battles won and lost. We bled, sweat, and cried during our service. We missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and so many more special events because we were stationed afar. We made bonds with our brothers and sisters that are as strong as any family tie. We learned what service really is!
So what is a Veteran? Many people would sacrifice their own life for a spouse, a family member, or without a doubt for our own children. But how many will stand up to do that for a neighbor, a stranger, a person with different political affiliation, religious belief, or social life? I can tell you who would do that – a Veteran! First responders, Fire Fighters, and Law Enforcement Officers are the only other individuals that take that same calling to serve as a profession.
It is hard to find a veteran that has not lost a fellow shipmate, airman, soldier, or marine during the course of their time whether it was in training, in conflict, or even simply just an off-duty accident. I personally have lost too many close friends, students, and acquaintances during my 24 years in the Navy. But that is what Memorial Day is for, to Never Forget those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. But Veterans Day is not that day. It is a day to thank those that have stood up, took the oath to protect and defend, and served their years honorably.
So when you are out and about in Lamar County and see that old vet proudly wearing his hat or T-shirt with his branch of service or unit on it, when you see that Disabled Vet license plate tag, or if you have a friend or family member that served, tell them Thank You! They are not just a Veteran, they are our veterans and the reason why I am writing this article. All across the United States today there are events celebrating and honoring those that have or are currently serving in the military. Veterans are remembered this day; they are thanked for their honorable service in the military – both in wartime and in peace. But here at eParisExtra, we are honoring and celebrating our Veterans. I say our veterans because they are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, our cousins, aunts, uncles, and our neighbors. The only reason we have the freedoms in this country that we do is because of our veterans that have served and fought for that freedom, those that are now fighting to maintain that freedom and those that will continue to fight for it in the future. Each of our veterans have stories of service, sacrifice, bravery and accomplishment. Each story is as unique as the veteran that tells it. Today the story is for our veteran’s and is that of Thank You. I salute all my brothers and sisters and thank you for all you have done to make the United States the greatest country in the world. God Bless our Veterans and God bless the United States of America.
Like many of my fellow vets, if you thank me, my response will always be the same… “You are worth it.”