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Breakfast Rotary honors veterans

Kimberly Jordan kimberly.jordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Nov 8, 2013 at 12:17 AM

Lebanon Breakfast Rotary invited veterans to join in its meeting Thursday at Lebanon Golf and Country Club. The guest speaker for the morning was also a veteran, Air Force Col. Sherry Hemby.

Program Chair Gordon Bone addressed the veterans in attendance, saying, "Lebanon Breakfast Rotary can't tell you how much we appreciate you and what you have done for our country."

The fourth annual program drew a packed house, and Col. Robert Carver Bone recognized all the veterans in the audience by asking them to stand when their war or conflict was called.

Gordon Bone introduced Hemby, who began her presentation by thanking the veterans present.

"I want to say thank you, thank you for being here."

Before beginning her keynote speech, Hemby said she wanted to find the oldest serving veteran present that morning. There were several Korean War veterans in attendance, and the oldest was William Strawbridge, who is 85. Hemby presented Strawbridge with a Commanders Coin in appreciation of his service. 

Hemby told the audience a bit about herself and how she ended up in the Air Force.

"I started out in Waverly, Tenn. When I was in high school, there was a train derailment in Waverly and there was a big propane tank they were trying to move, and when they moved it there was a huge explosion. I as at my grandmother's and we heard the explosion and went running - at that time I always knew I wanted to help people, i just wasn't sure what. And then I thought, if I was just trained and had some type of skill to help those people. I decided I wanted to be a nurse."

She told about her years studying nursing in Memphis and mentioned a program that she found interesting, traveling nurses.

"I heard about this program called traveling nurses, where nurses could go for short-time assignments. At one of these assignments she met a colonel who "told me what it was like to be be a flight nurse." Hemby has been a flight nurse with the Air Force for more than 21 years.

In closing, Hemby said she gets asked a lot of questions about being in the service. The most common of those, she noted, is "What's it like to be in a war?"

"I always had to be in a state of awareness. My people lived in plywood huts, that's where my crews were. There was one night, I was sitting at my desk - there was a strange noise. My chief nurse looked at me and said, 'What was that?'

"About that time I heard this noise. It was a missile going over our squadron, and it impaled a bus the next street over. The initial noise we heard was a missile that had hit the other side of the base and had set the base on fire."

Hemby then thanked everyone again for attending the program.

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