Students say thanks: MHS holds 10th veterans appreciation ceremony
BULLHEAD CITY — Pamela Walker had a message Thursday morning for the Mohave High School student body:
“There are opportunities for you,” she said. “There are avenues open for each and every one of you.”
Walker, a retired Air Force master sergeant, told the students of her experiences serving the country during the school’s 10th annual veterans appreciation assembly.
Walker grew up extremely poor, and saw military service as they key to education and a career, she said.
“It wasn’t encouraged in my time for a woman to have a career,” Walker said. “I knew I wanted something more. I knew there was something out there for me.”
A test she took in high school indicated that a career as an aircraft maintenance technician would suit her.
“I had no idea what that was,” Walker said. “But I was qualified for it.”
Getting good at her job and working hard led to opportunities for advancement — and to the challenges that came with frequently being the only woman around, she said.
Walker worked on various warplanes and was named crew chief for Chuck Yeager, the test pilot who broke the sound barrier.
After proving herself, Walker said, she was among the first 10 women chosen as pilots.
“There’s not a continent I haven’t been on,” she said. “There’s probably not an emergency on an aircraft that I haven’t seen.”
Walker talked about missions where she ended up taking fire, various postings she had and her roles as a flight and ground-school instructor.
“Have I been in danger? Yes,” she said. “Has the service been very good to me? You bet.”
Walker served 21 years of active duty, then worked in training NASA employees, and was later a member of the Laughlin Town Advisory Board. She’s now the first vice president of American Legion Laughlin Post 60.
Military service teaches honor and discipline, she told the students in attendance.
“I hope someone in this room takes me up on my offer and joins one of the branches,” Walker said.
She and other speakers spoke of the importance of appreciating those who served.
“When you see a vet, don’t just thank them,” Walker said. “Ask them for a little bit of their knowledge.”
MHS Aerospace science instructor Earl Davis noted that Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the end of hostilities in World War I, nicknamed “The war to end all wars.”
Davis described the battle conditions and the exhilaration felt by many worldwide at war’s end.
“Many felt that there was no way another global war could take place,” he said.
President Woodrow Wilson designated Nov. 11 as Armistice Day; it later became Veterans Day.
Davis, a retired Air Force major, said that while not every veteran has been in a war, many have. Speaking for himself, he said that “the worst part wasn’t combat — it was being away from your family.”
Air Force JROTC cadet commander Abigail Brown said that the country owes a debt of gratitude to its veterans.
“We deeply appreciate your sacrifice for our country,” she told the veterans in attendance.
Joseph Lawrence, father of MHS Principal Steve Lawrence, received a standing ovation in recognition of his Navy service during World War II; Lawrence also asked his mother, Elinor, to stand and be recognized. He urged the students to honor veterans and current servicemen and servicewomen.
“Please keep in your thoughts those who never returned home from conflict, those now serving and those among you today,” he said.