HUNTINGTON, TX (KTRE) - The annual Huntington Veteran's Day program has become a time to honor and listen to stories of veterans that survived the wars of the past.
"This is great," Marine Veteran Dorsey Walker said. "I thank the high school for really honoring us."
Walker is a regular at the event. Walker served in the Marines during World War II. He recalled being under constant attack during the battle of Iwo Jima.
"I was on the island for 28 days and 28 nights," Walker said. "I prayed every day."
Walker was one of nearly 200 veterans that showed up for the annual event that gives each veteran their own individual standing ovation.
"This year we set a record," program director J'Nelle Short said. "It's something that has grown and when veterans come they know they are going to be honored sincerely,"
"It's one of the best programs they put on every year," Army veteran Ross Johnson said. "It seems to get better with each year."
One of those honored was a former Huntington student and West Point Graduate Ashley Bratton. Bratton served as an MP during the Iraq War.
"I was in West Point when the Trade Center was attacked," Bratton said. "it kind of sped up my deployment to the Middle East. There was one time in Iraq that we were 50 yards from an IED going off. Another time, a rocket landed on the building that we were in. It wasn't directly over where I was sitting"
For some the event was a time to talk with old friends they had not seen for years.
"I use to come all the time to the event but then my buddy died," Bill Beaver said. "His widow convinced me to come back this year so I did. It has always been a good program."
Beaver survived the battle of Saipan.
"I had 90 mm [shells] exploding up above us," Beaver said. "They were after an airbase being constructed. They weren't after the ships, but they would get desperate and drop bombs on us."
He said prayer kept him and his navy shipmen safe as they laid covering fire for troops.
"I would pray get me through this; Get me to another day," Beaver said.
The keynote speaker for the event was radio personality Danny Merrell. Merrell has been part of the event for the last 12 years. On stage, Merrell talked about the sacrifice veterans make.
"Veterans go to places you don't want to see," Merrell said."[Places] That you don't want to experience, that you would rather just say, 'No, no let somebody else have it.'"