Annual District Event Honored Veterans on November 9

Pilot Rock School District staff and students honored veterans from around the region on Thursday, November 9 with their annual Veterans Day Breakfast and Assembly at Pilot Rock High School.

To view photos from the event, please visit the district Facebook page at

A hearty breakfast prepared by district cooks was served by FFA students at 9 AM. Dozens of veterans and their families enjoyed the meal and visiting with one another, students and staff.

Three members of the National Guard 41st Combat Brigade from Pendleton attended. Sergeant First Class Eric Smidt, who is Pilot Rock’s varsity boys basketball coach, invited two of his soldiers, SPC Walter Tygret and SPC Nicholas Azevedo. “These two guys are pretty young and haven’t yet been shown that appreciation for their service, so this is one good way to do that,” Smidt said. Tygret, who is from Washington, and Azevedo, who is from Connecticut, both seemed to enjoy the breakfast and the recognition.

World War II veteran Bob Michael attended with his wife, Shirley. Bob grew up on a farm about five miles outside of Pilot Rock and he and Shirley both graduated from Pilot Rock High School. Bob served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1946 in the South Pacific on a transport ship. He was 21 miles away from Hiroshima after the nuclear bomb was detonated there. Bob said the Pilot Rock Veterans Day event is a great time to socialize with other veteran friends and with high school students. “I believe we need to be teaching young people more about World War II, Korea and the Vietnam War,” said Bob.

Pilot Rock High School’s librarian Marion Schuening is also a veteran, serving in the Army twice in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the United States and Germany. She said the breakfast is a great opportunity for youth to honor veterans and have conversations with them.

FFA students Olivia Warner, Kylie Gaines and Mia Atkins served breakfast. They all said the veterans were really nice and this event is a small gesture for people who have done so much. “It’s great to show our respect to them since they risked their lives for our freedoms,” Warner said.

At the 10 AM assembly, a variety of American songs including “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “This Land is Your Land”, were performed by various grades, kindergarten through high school. Both band and choral students participated. Bob Deno, WWII Navy veteran, was the guest speaker and shared some of his experiences on four tours of duty aboard the USS Lexington air craft carrier. Deno said he was blessed to come home safe, but many of his friends did not, saying “Freedom isn’t free.”

Annie Tester, principal of Pilot Rock High School, said the district has been doing this event for five years, and the idea was brought by Superintendent Steve Staniak and his wife, Janis. Tester said, “We just want our veterans to feel like we love them, and I think they do.”