Rick Williams' service during the Vietnam War did not send him to the jungles where so many Americans lost their lives, but his mission for the U.S. Air Force was critical to those on the front lines.
Williams, commander of Canal Winchester Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10523, provided aircraft maintenance to Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules planes that delivered ammunition to troops in the field.
He spent a year in Vietnam, but his Air Force career spanned 30 years before he retired in 1994. He was stationed at many air bases across the U.S. and Europe.
"For me and a lot of my Vietnam buddies, we were scorned and never got a welcome home," Williams said. "We were blamed for what was going on in society. When you're in the military, you don't have a vote on what you're doing ...You're told to do something, and you do it."
Time has helped heal those wounds for many Vietnam veterans and Williams is appreciative that today's military members are treated with respect and dignity for their sacrifices.
Williams hopes many Canal Winchester residents line the streets on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, for the city's annual march and ceremony, which is supported by Post 10523 and Canal Winchester Senior Citizens Inc.
The march begins at 11 a.m. at the Frances Steube Community Center, 22. S. Trine St., and will proceed onto East Waterloo Street between Trine and High streets, turn at South High Street and end at Stradley Place.
The ceremony at Stradley Place, 36. S. High St., will include remarks from Williams, Mayor Mike Ebert and keynote speaker Warren Motts of Motts Military Museum in Groveport. It also will include a rifle volley and the playing of taps.
Prior to the march, a free pancake breakfast will be served to veterans and their families at the community center from 8:30 to 10 a.m.
"Warren Motts is very patriotic and he arranges every (piece) in that museum," Williams said. "He's a veteran, and he knows a lot of history about our country's fighting forces. He's likely going to be talking about John Glenn, a veteran and American hero."
Glenn, the former astronaut, U.S. Marine Corps aviator and U.S. senator from Ohio, died in December 2016 at the age of 95.
The city's salute to veterans also includes photos of military members in uniform on display at the municipal building.
"Veterans Day is important for any service member, whether they were in combat or not," Williams said.
"It's all about sacrifice, because you're away from home and you're not getting paid the greatest money in the world. If it was just about the money, I wouldn't have stayed 30 years."
It was an honor for me to serve this country," Williams said.
Other local Veterans Day observances will be held at:
* Reynoldsburg at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at Silent Home Cemetery on Lancaster Avenue, conducted by members of Reynoldsburg American Legion Post 798.
* Groveport at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at Veterans Park, 421 Main St. The program, under Motts' direction, will include remarks from Roger Dyer, a board member for Honor Flight in Hilliard and a former U.S. Army combat engineer. A reception will follow at the museum.