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Retreat means more to veterans

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tim Bazar
  • 314th Airlift Wing Strategic Information Flight
A father and son duo stood next to each other as sounds of the Star Spangled Banner filled the air during the Veteran's Day retreat ceremony last week - both veterans of the U.S. Air Force.

John and Jack Surghen, 24 and 52 respectively, from Pensacola, Fla., were in Little Rock visiting family when they heard Little Rock Air Force Base Airmen were holding a retreat ceremony to honor veterans.

"Some friends told us that the air base was holding a veterans ceremony, so we figured we'd see what it was all about, said the elder Surghen. "Seeing all those Airmen standing at attention took me back to my day."

In his day, Jack was only 18 when he was shipped off to Vietnam.

More than a year later, he came home, met his first wife, Francine, and had his first of three sons.

But going back to John's day isn't as far a journey.

John enlisted in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Not long after, he found himself next to other Airmen in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting the Global War on Terrorism.

"My dad has shared stories with me about his time in Vietnam," said John. "I'm just glad the general concept of war has changed. It's sad that so many troops are giving their lives for freedom, but it's a necessary evil."

His father agreed.

"I served 23 years in the military, and have watched the face of the Air Force change time and time again," said Jack.

"But I'm proud to see the men and women still have honor, courage and commitment. Every day that goes by, I thank God for the freedoms we've come to take for granted."

Although the two have ended their active-duty careers, they both agreed that they will continue to thank not only the veterans that came before them, but those that continue to serve today.