MEDWAY — Principal John Murray is pleased to share that 20 Medway High School students participated in the fifth annual Veterans Project, talking with local military veterans about their service, and then sharing those stories at a community event.
The fifth annual event was held on May 17 in collaboration with the Medway Council on Aging at the town’s Friends of the Elders senior center. The community was also invited to attend the event to hear the students’ presentations, which were followed by a small reception.
The annual Veterans Project is an intergenerational program coordinated by Medway High School social studies teacher Aubrie Rojee and Marcia Lombardo, the Medway Council on Aging’s outreach worker. Rojee works with the students, while Lombardo coordinates the veteran side of the project.
As part of the event, groups of students interviewed five different veterans about their lives and military service and wrote a summary to present at the event. A total of 20 students in grades 9-12 volunteered to be a part of the project, spending time interviewing the veterans about their life before joining the military, their years in service, challenges they faced and their life after the military; writing their summaries and practicing their presentations.
“We are grateful to the Council on Aging for their collaboration on coordinating this project. This is such a great opportunity for our students to be involved in each year to hear about the experiences and sacrifices of our local veterans, and the lessons they learned through their service,” Principal Murray said. “Aubrie Rojee and the students put a lot of time into the interviews, summaries and presentations, and our students do a great job sharing and honoring the stories of these veterans.”
Veteran Tom Carson
Students: freshman Zachary Arnpriester, senior Addison Thompson
Carson was drafted in 1966 and chose to enlist in the Navy for four years to get more training and experience working on mechanical equipment. He went to boot camp in December 1966 at the Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois.
After boot camp, Carson began several months training as a machinist mate and spent
approximately six months assigned to a cruiser out of Norfolk, Virginia. He attended one year of nuclear power training and was then stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise operating in the Tonkin Gulf, waters to the east of Vietnam. Between April 1969 and December 1972, he served three deployments to Vietnam, mostly spent on the USS Enterprise.
In December 1972 he was flown home from the Clark Air Base in the Philippines. He received medals for his time in Vietnam in a combat role and for volunteering to repair part of the steam generators which allowed the ship to remain at sea.
He later worked for Stone and Webster out of Stoughton and went to Northeastern University through the G.I. Bill.
Veteran Gilberto Alvarez
Students: juniors Sophia Barresi, Elyse Hetzel, Olivia Keniry, Erin Weafer and Bianca Zufriategui
Alvarez was born in Puerto Rico and worked at the local Air Force Base. Alvarez was drafted and joined the Army. He told the students about how he was smaller in size in comparison to other men, and how that caused others to doubt his abilities, but fueled his motivation.
Alvarez went to South Korea and was assigned to a company that transported materials. There, he received a stripe recognizing him for excelling in his position and showing leadership and determination. He was then put in charge of supply, and earned his second stripe, making him a corporal. He later earned two additional stripes and was named a sergeant first class.
After leaving South Korea, Alvarez remained in the Army Reserve and continued his training, then receiving his fifth stripe. He later worked in printing before retiring. He also shared with students the value in remaining devoted and motivated, even when people doubt you, and the importance of empathy.
Veteran Mike Powers
Students: freshman Maddie Marks, sophomores Annabella Diamandis and Elizabeth Kenney, junior Colin Roberts, senior Kirsten Downing
Powers grew up in a military family, with his father, uncles and brothers all having served in the Navy. Powers was drafted in 1963, joining the National Guard and heading to Fort Dix in Trenton, New Jersey.
While serving in the National Guard, Powers was a truck driver. His team was put on alert to possibly go to war in Vietnam, though they untimely were never deployed. Powers shared with the students his experience with the challenging political atmosphere at the time. He also shared the importance of treating others with kindness and learning from each other’s differences.
Powers was honorably discharged after serving in the National Guard for six years. He then worked as a salesman for Solo Cups for 38 years before retiring in 2010. He is now involved with the Medway Senior Center driving seniors to appointments and helps cook at Sunday morning breakfasts.
Veteran Kent Shorette
Students: freshman Mason White, sophomore Madelyn White, junior Katherine Evers
Shorette planned to attend the University of Maine to major in sports and become a basketball coach before deciding to enlist in the Army. He completed basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey. A year into his service, he became the chauffeur for a colonel, driving the colonel to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. five days per week and to different missile batteries to oversee the work being done.
Shorette retired from the Army in 1959 and completed four years of reserve duty at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. He later worked in steel sales and spent a lot of time on the road. He also worked at Dean College in Franklin and worked for the Town of Medway doing maintenance-related work. Currently, he drives local students with special needs to school.
Shorette also shared his philosophy about life with the students, which is, “laughter is the best medicine.” The students noted that he has a great sense of humor about life and can find good in any situation.
Veteran Sarah Bateman
Students: juniors Julia Evers, Katie Gage, Jaeda Gorman, Maeve McKean and Mark Murphy
After graduating high school, Bateman studied restaurant management and the culinary
arts, but the career path didn’t feel quite right. She decided to join the Air Force and took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) which assigned her to electronics. She attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas where she was assigned to be the clerk for the training instructors.
After completing training in Texas, Bateman went to Biloxi, Mississippi for technical school training in electronics and worked in Wideband Communications. She spent nine months in school before being stationed at Homestead Air Force Base near Miami, Florida toward the end of the Cold War. Her job there entailed setting up antennas, monitoring radar and locating aircraft debris.
Bateman also shared with the students the challenges and discrimination she faced as a woman in the military, and how that taught her persistence and confidence.
For the majority of her time in the Air Force, Bateman was a member of the 726th Tactical Control Squadron, a mobile combat radar and communication unit that used antennas to provide communications over distances. Their technology was used to provide secure/encrypted communications in Kuwait and Iraq during Desert Storm.
Bateman currently serves as the Director of Veteran Services for four towns where she helps veterans get benefits and works frequently with Korea and Vietnam veterans, as well as those returning from Afghanistan.