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American Legion in Colonial Heights honors veterans: 'We're brothers'

Posted at 12:58 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 12:59:39-05

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Dozens gathered at the American Legion in Colonial Heights for a ceremony honoring those who have served in the armed forces Wednesday.

The Colonial Heights Veterans Day Memorial services kicked off with the presentation of colors by American Legion Post 284, and the singing of the National Anthem.

Veterans who gathered inside, were recognized for their service.

One of those veterans, Major Richard Cole, served in the Vietnam War and was on the last airplane to leave Vietnam on April 30, 1975, as part of Operation Frequent Wind -- which was the evacuation of all the last Americans out of Saigon.

"We were in the second aircraft and the third aircraft behind us all of a sudden got hit by rocket and mortar fire, and the airplane exploded," said Major Cole. "The crew got off and came running onto our airplane and our aircraft commander at the time said, 'We’re out of here!' ... As it turned out, we ended up being the last airplane out."

Major Cole said there isn’t a day goes by he doesn’t think about that. He said when he's out at breakfast now and sees a veteran he always tries to buy him breakfast.

"We're brothers," said Major Cole.

Retired Army Colonel Michael Flanagan was the gust speaker at the ceremony. He serves as the Civil Aide to the Secretary of the Army, and said current generations were taking the flag and continuing that legacy of service.

"With COVID-19 coming in earlier this year, I think the entire nation saw the discipline and agility of our army," said Colonel Flanagan. "I mean immediately, the army sprung to action -- put up hospitals, you know mobile hospitals in New York City across the nation. They started immediately working to research vaccines for COVID-19."

The ceremony was part of a long-standing tradition that the city's veterans' organizations host with the Mayor.