Veterans capture students’ attention at middle school
Northwestern Middle School joined the rest of the country in commemorating Veterans Day by hearing stories told by four veterans who make this district their home, and a young recruit who attends the high school.
Bill Tritt and Alfred Stirba IV joined school board President Willard Dellicker and two members of his family — son Kevin and grandson Will — speaking with the youngsters and their teachers.
Willard Dellicker told the students he documented many of his military experiences in a book titled, “Tailhooker.”
“I wrote the book after I retired and I wrote it for my grandkids while I could still remember,” Willard Dellicker said.
“It’s in your library, if anyone is interested in reading it.
“Even though my father served in World War II and I served much later, he never told me about his experience.”
Now, he was eager to share some of these experiences with the middle schoolers.
“I flew in combat in Vietnam,” Willard Dellicker said. “September 1967 is when I got my wings.”
Willard Dellicker said when this country was in Vietnam, there was also a Cold War going on.
“It was called the Cold War because there wasn’t a shot fired,” he explained. “There were enough nuclear bombs to destroy the entire world.
“The weapons were so destructive, the U.S. hoped no side would use them.”
Willard Dellicker said he had two targets, one in Russia and one in China.
“We had nuclear bombs on the carrier and it was a suicide mission,” he explained. “Thankfully that threat is diminishing.”
Kevin Dellicker also had stories to share.
“I’ve been to 25 states and 15 different countries,” he said. “You get these fantastic experiences such as touring the Tower of London.”
“Most of my jobs were on Air Force bases. During Iraqi Freedom, we didn’t have bases in Iraq, so we went to neighboring countries and would fly in.”
Kevin Dellicker said there was danger anywhere outside the bases.
“But we did our best,” he said. “There were times I felt in danger but I did something to help my country.”
Kevin Dellicker said in many of the countries, they did not want the military there even though they were there liberating some of these countries.
“But we saw plenty of people who wanted us there, especially in Eastern Europe, because these people felt like victims of Soviet oppression,” Kevin Dellicker said. “I never saw so many people who loved America in some places.
“People were grateful we were there. We talk a lot about democracy and freedom, but it is dependent on the people who elect their leaders.”
Kevin Dellicker also shared some personal stories of his time with the military.
In one instance, he was supposed to go to Turkey, when there was a change of plans.
“The night before, I got a call,” Kevin Dellicker stated. “I packed a huge duffel bag with everything I had.
“We arrived in the middle of an eastern European country where we would go from the cold mountains to the high desert where it was 140 degrees. In other places, it was so cold I felt like I would freeze to death.”
“The military has just about any job,” he said. “Right now, if you join the National Guard, you go to college for free.”
Following in his dad and granddad’s footprints is Pfc. Will Dellicker, who is currently serving in the Pennsylvania National Guard as he completes his high school education.
“I enlisted when I was 17 years old,” he said. “I was able to go through basic combat training.”
“I really wanted to do this so I found a Schnecksville recruiter.
“You take your oath of enlistment, and basically pledge to defend the Constitution.”
“Right now, I currently drill with Charlie Company in Kutztown.
“I come from a long line of military men. My great-great-grandfather was a machine-gunner in WWI. It’s kind of a tradition for me.”
“Picture living with the people on your sports team for about 12 weeks,” he said. “It’s the absolute basics of being a soldier.”
Will Dellicker told the students the army is all about specialty.
“Eleven bravo is basically my Army job,” he said. “I basically have a rifle and my job is to blow stuff up.
“You’ve got to go in and do the dirty work. “
The presentation was all about history for Bill Tritt, who was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.
First, he gave a brief history of Veterans Day itself.
“Congress authorized Armistice Day in 1926,” Tritt explained. “In 1938 Armistice Day became a federal holiday. President Eisenhower made Armistice Day Veterans Day.”
Tritt also related how war even affects society during peace time, citing several examples.
“The EMT system came directly out of Vietnam,” he explained. “Emergency room doctors I was working with in Fort Indiantown Gap and everyone also advocated the importance of tourniquets for first responders.”
“During WWII, radar became a game changer.
“Radar enabled people to see over the horizon. It saved Britain.”
Tritt also described how much improved fighter planes’ aircraft carriers changed the entire concept of naval tactics.
“That’s how Pearl Harbor got attacked in the first place, but then we destroyed four or five of their carriers in the Battle of Midway,” he said
He discussed other military changes that occurred over the years, including “much improved tanks and atomic weapons.
“We obliterated two cities in Japan which ended the war and saved American lives,” he said.
Tritt then said this nation has been involved in other wars following World War II.
“From 1950-53, we had Korea, and from 1955-1975 we had Vietnam,” Tritt said. “After that we had Grenada, Panama and the war on terror, mostly with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Veterans are living history of what happened to our country.
“Every war is fought by individuals. Go seek these people out. Ask them about their stories. They’re the ones who shaped our country.”