As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, the Charger interviewed several former and current military service members in the community about their experiences. Illustration by Katelyn Glotzbach.
Lucus Standefer, WHS Parent
Challenges: Being away from family, not being able to watch my nieces/nephews grow. Just missing out on all the family time/experiences
What does Veterans Day mean to you? Celebrating/honoring all military members of every branch that have served, sacrificed their lives, fought for our freedom, no matter how many years they gave.
Enlisted: August 2005-September 2014
Job: I was a Squad Leader which is the manager over eight guys, two team leaders and six soldiers. I was also a Senior Section Sergeant which means I was in charge of all the Bradleys and tanks for the platoon. I was also a stand-in platoon sergeant for a while, who is the go-to for soldier training to get them ready for combat so they are ready to face whatever they need to face in that time.
Rank: E6 Staff Sergeant
Honors: Five or six ARCOMs (Army Commendation Medals), five different CIBs (Combat Infantryman Badge), Cap Scout Combat Spurs, a few AMs (Achievement Medals).
Reason for enlisting: I was a young man that was not really going anywhere and we were in a time of war so I went ahead and joined up.
Biggest benefit: I got to see other countries, I was stationed in Europe for about five years, so I got to experience forgein life and found that brotherhood that you create with combat experience. Being in combat with somebody has this bond that is unbreakable. I am still in touch with quite a few of them.
Biggest challenge: We had some bad leadership and that’s always challenging to deal with. Loss of brothers in your deployment through combat is always a tough one. Physical injuries that you get from combat and dealing with those afterwards and trying to get better that way you can still serve Combat is pretty addicting, it’s quite a rush. I’ve been blown up a few times. I carry a chunk of plastic on my right ribs from a mortar round that went off too close to me. I was lead breach man in Baghdad for my platoon so I have a bad shoulder and issues with my back. The mortar round is the only physical wound from an enemy projectile. It’s a lifestyle.
Veterans Day meaning: It’s a time to reflect on the past and hope that your kids will never have to do anything like that. You also hope it was enough and you hope and pray it was enough. As addicting as combat is, it’s not something you want anybody else to have to go through.
Bryce Tharman, ‘20 WHS graduate
Enlisted: April 30, 2020
Job: Pavement and heavy equipment civil engineer. I maintain, inspect, repair and build concrete and asphalt runways. On the airfield I will do sidewalks, parking lots and taxiways. The coolest part is repairing and building runways so the planes can fly off.
Rank: Enlisted Rank 3. For short it’s A1C which stands for Airman First Class.
Honors: When I was deployed I won Airman of the quarter for the Civil Engineering Squadron. That would have been between July 2022 through October 2022.
Reason for enlisting: I wanted to pay for college. I didn’t want to go into debt if I could avoid it. I wanted to be able to save all my money and graduate and get a good-paying job out of college with money in my pocket to set me up for a successful career.
Biggest benefit: The tuition assistance. It has allowed me to attend K-State and I hardly have to pay a dollar out of my pocket to afford the tuition. Emotional benefit was the bonds that I have made with everyone and the friendships that I’ve made.
Biggest challenge: Time away from my loved ones. When I went through tech school and was deployed I missed a lot of school and I was afraid that when I came back I wouldn’t be as sharp. I was afraid I was going to lose all the knowledge that I learned last year.
Dan Wurtz, WHS parent
Enlisted: August 18, 1989
Rank: E8 Senior Master Sergeant
Job: I was a jet engine mechanic (18 years) and aircraft maintenance scheduler (14 years).
Reason for enlisting: I chose to join because I wanted to learn a good trade and it helped pay for school.
Benefits of military service: The biggest benefit would definitely be traveling and getting to see different parts of the world.
Challenges: The biggest challenge for me was going on deployments and being away from my family.
What does Veterans Day mean to you? I would say Veterans Day is a remembrance of all those who serve — dead or alive — our country. I think it takes a special type of person to enlist knowing that you and your family’s life can change with a moment’s notice when you’re called to duty. Veterans Day to me also is to celebrate the freedom that the service men and women have fought for, for our nation.
Brent Jones, WHS Parent
Enlisted: Army 2003-06
Rank: Specialist (E-4)
Job: Topographic terrain analyst (survey and map maker).
Honors: Basic training top physical fitness honors, only one in my class to get one an Iraq deployment honors tab.
Reason for enlisting: I chose to join because at the time I needed a sense of purpose and belonging. I felt like I was doing exactly what everyone else was doing — college and working — and didn’t feel as if I was getting anywhere.
Benefits: I was able to find similar-minded individuals, also to be challenged in ways that broadened my understanding of how certain tasks can be done alone or with others, but of course I’m most proud of my time in the military because I got the opportunity to meet my future daughter’s mom.
Challenges: Seeing my family again after basic training and after being in a war environment. Both changed me in my ways of thinking, reacting, responding to the smallest of challenges to biggest setbacks in life.
What does Veterans Day mean to you? Being accountable and respectful to others by their actions and decisions and of their sacrifices.
Amanda Woods ‘04 WHS Graduate
Job: Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE)
Reason for enlisting: To travel and move out of a small town for a bit. Now ready for some country life.
Benefits: To be able to serve/travel/and overall experience.