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Community comes out for Warrior's Weekend flag ceremony

By JR Ortega
May 21, 2010 at 12:21 a.m.

Wounded veteran Bryan Ball, of Grapevine, listens as Col. Michael Petrash talks about the 600 flags in the Field of Honor. Ball was wounded when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan on Dec. 22, 2009.

Donned in a white "American Hero" polo, Jerry Reynolds stepped off the tour bus to a crowd of smiles, tears, cheers and hand shakes for the dedication of the Field of Honor at Faith Family Church.

The field is part of the weekend's Warrior's Weekend, Friday.

"It's something else," said the amazed 39-year-old from Tennessee, who retired Thursday as a staff sergeant from the U.S. Army.

Reynolds, along with 160 to 170 other wounded soldiers from across the U.S., came out to kick off the third Warrior's Weekend fishing trip in Port O'Connor on Saturday.

At the dedication, 600 sponsored flags placed across the field of honor, planes flew overhead, the national anthem was sung and guest speakers talked about the importance of Warrior's Weekend.

Col. Michael Petrash, the guest speaker and head coordinator of the Field of honor, said at least 50 more sponsored flags will be added to the field.

Reynolds knows first-hand the importance the trip has on soldiers and their families, he said.

Last year's trip was not so great for him because of a surgery he had just undergone, but this year, it will all be different, he said.

"I want to catch the big one," he said laughing. "I was here last year, but couldn't do much."

Across from the church, Howell Middle School students lined the sidewalks with hand-made signs and screamed and applauded in support.

Emily Richter, a sixth-grader, held up a simple poster with a red, white and blue filled word "Thanks" and a camouflage backdrop.

"I feel patriotic," said Emily, as she held up the sign and waited for the tour buses to pass down Mockingbird Lane. "I think it's important because they fought for us."

Those sentiments circulated through the minds of the more than 500 people who showed up to the event.

Linda Ardoin traveled from Inez with her husband, Frank, to share the pride and show the respect the soldiers deserve, she said.

Frank, who was helping with Warrior's Weekend, was involved in Vietnam and his father and Linda's father were both in World War II. Linda's father was also in World War I.

"We have to support our troops, we didn't in the past, and we need to as Americans," said Linda, shedding a couple of tears. "We have to support each other."

Reynolds stood tall as he walked down to the reserved seating for the dedication.

A pride line formed and a continuous collaborative applause kept its steady pace.

"It's a different sense of pride," he said. " It makes you feel like you're worth it."



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