Despite being online currently, Anamosa students were able to provide a tribute to veterans as they have for more than two decades.
The guest speaker was John Chesire, who went through his history and his circuitous route into the Air Force.
He graduated in the 1960s and went to Creighton University as a pre-law student as continuing the family farm east of Anamosa didn’t seem to be a fit for him.
“My father said, ‘Don’t become a farmer,’ because farmers were having a terrible time at that point in time,” Chesire said, encouraging him to go to college. “He said, ‘Besides, you probably wouldn’t be a very good farmer anyway.’ Well, he was right, I probably would not have been. I was a much better pilot.”
Chesire’s military career ironically began somewhat by accident. When he and his roommate, also pre-law, were snowed in by a blizzard that shut down classes, and he was looking for something to do. He asked his roommate what his plans were, and he said he was going down to take the Navy’s flight school test. Chesire decided to tag along, as it seemed a good way to waste some time.
“I learned later that I had passed the test, and my friend did not,” Chesire said.
After being accepted, he was trained as a pilot, before seeing two tours of action in Southeast Asia, with a trip to the prestigious TOPGUN school in between. The two tours could not be any different.
“The first cruise was kind of quiet, mostly flew down south flying close air support for our troops on the ground,” he said.
The second cruise coincided with more aggressive bombing attacks in the north, trying to bring the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table and an end to the conflict.
“Up there, I got shot at every day,” he said. “It was pretty scary at sometimes.”
After his tours, he spent some time as a test pilot, flew in the Philippines and did some top-secret flights in Area 51. After 12 years in active duty, he switched to airline pilot and did some flying for the San Diego Padres and other sports teams for charter flights.
He returned to active duty after that in Texas in a jet training school and later flew reserve duty on the weekends in between commercial flights before retiring in the late 1980s.
The virtual ceremony also featured a tribute to Anamosa grad and veteran Shad Myers, who passed away recently in a motorcycle accident. Myers had begun the tradition of flying chinook helicopters to the annual event, which will continue in his honor.
Anamosa High School Student Council Executive Officer Tristan Weers thanked everyone who took the time to view the video and addressed the oddity of the format.
“We would much rather be with you in person, but until we return to a time where this can be done safely and responsibly, we are proud to be able to present this version of the 26th Annual Anamosa Veterans Day Assembly,” he said.
The video of the event includes many of its usual hallmarks, the playing of the branch songs, reciting the branches’ creeds and the always poplar thanking of veterans. Instead of going out into the crowds this year, students and staff recorded some video segments thanking community veterans for their service.