A special Veterans’ Day chapel service was held at Harrells Christian Academy on Monday, November 12, 2012. All students in grades kindergarten through twelfth attended the program which recognized the sacrifices made by our United States veterans and celebrated the freedoms we are allowed because of their sacrifices.
The chapel service was opened with the Presentation of the Colors ceremony by HCA Eagle Scouts Walton Fisher, Matthew Allen, Ben Prestage, Bill Prestage, and Max Prestage. Following the pledges, the third graders led everyone in singing “God Bless America.” Next, guest speaker Colonel David Benton from Kenansville spoke about his life and military career. Benton is retired from the United States Air Force as well as a Vietnam veteran. He grew up in the Warsaw area and spoke about his fond memories of his James Kenan High School algebra teacher, Joseph Newkirk. “Mr. Newkirk is the one teacher I remember most because he was such a good teacher and mentor,” shared Benton. Newkirk was the first Harrells Christian Academy Headmaster and helped establish the school in 1970.
Benton explained that as a young boy and young man, he never thought about being in the military. It wasn’t until he became involved in ROTC at N.C State University that he even considered it. After graduating from NCSU, he entered the Air Force navigation training program as an officer, with plans to serve his four years and then move on to something else. However, he ended up spending the next twenty-six years serving his country and eventually retiring as Colonel from the U.S. Air Force. During those twenty-six years, Benton moved around quite a bit. He was selected as a navigator for B52s and volunteered to serve in Vietnam. After returning, he entered the pilot training program and was chosen to pilot the C5A which is a large cargo airplane. A few years later, Benton was selected to attend the Army War College in Pennsylvania. Colonel Benton retired from the U.S.A.F. in 1991.
In closing, Benton spoke about the wonderful friendships he made during his military career. “The camaraderie and friendships you make in the military are like none other; you become brothers.” Benton added that he keeps in close touch with those friends and that they have reunions on a regular basis.