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SPRING 2012 ISSUE (Partial Newsletter Story)
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This is the third and final installment about Donald Owens, James Ford Rhodes senior when he joined the Army to fight for his country.

Saying a final goodbye at Arlington National Cemetery is never easy, but for the specially selected James Ford Rhodes High School NJROTC cadets, intense feelings of pride and gratitude emerged as they were privileged to honorably welcome home one of their own, Pvt. Donald D. Owens.

The Rhodes Alumni Association was pleased to allocate $1,000.00 to allow six Rhodes ROTC cadets to attend the service at Arlington.  The Rhodes cadets, along with the rest of the student body, staff, and members of the community were fascinated upon learning the story of this brave young man, who in 1943, upon turning 18, chose to skip his high school graduation from Rhodes so he could enlist in the U.S. Army and serve his country. Donald Owens was a good student, played basketball and football, and was just two months shy of receiving his diploma when he enlisted in the Army, although he had enough credits to graduate. We have written about the story of Pvt. Owens and his service in previous newsletters, so this will concentrate on six cadets who were able to travel from Cleveland, Ohio to Washington DC to experience the burial services at Arlington.

On August 23, 2011, surrounded by devoted family and friends, Pvt. Owens was laid to rest with full military honors, including a flag draped casket on a horse drawn caisson, honor guard, a while rider-less horse, U.S. Army band, a twenty-one gun salute, and a presentation of the flag to the family. The United States Army returned the long sought dog tag to a tearful Joyce Owens Spann of Mobile, Alabama, oldest niece of Pvt. Owens.  Joyce Owens Spann of Mobile, Alabama, oldest niece of Private Donald Owens being presented the flag at the ceremony.

Pictured below: Top left to right: Norbert Vargas, Marquita Coleman,DanielWiliford, First Sgt. William Meisinger
Lower left to right: Amanda Rivera, Jeshua Adorno, Valerie Arnett

Below are the comments made by the cadets expressing their sentiments about attending the funeral and visiting our Nation's capital:

Cadet Amanda Rivera: "l felt really lucky to be one of the many candidates in the NJROTC unit to be chosen to attend. I'm proud of what Private Donald D. Owens did to serve his country."

Cadet Lieutenant Junior Grade Daniel Wiliford: "Do you know the places that are filled with memories, pride and honor for the men and women who served our country? Washington, D.C. is definitely that place."

Cadet Marquita Coleman: "As a cadet of the James Ford Rhodes High School, it was an honor and privilege to attend the funeral service for Pvt. Donald Owens. lt showed me a prime example of a dedicated young man who had pride and honor for his country. The closure for his family warmed my heart and his dedication inspired me to always challenge myself and dedicate my all to every activity I do in the future."

Cadet Lieutenant Junior Grade Norbert Vargas: "l am so grateful to have been able to be in Washington, D.C. for the funeral of Pvt. Donald D. Owens. I give all of my sympathy to the family of Pvt. Owens. Washington, D.C. was an amazing experience... Thank you for serving the United States."

Cadet Jeshua Adorno: "...Being able to attend and be a part of Pvt. Owens' funeral was an extraordinary honor and something that l will remember for a lifetime."

Cadet Valerie Arnett: "...What a privilege and honor to attend."

First Sergeant William Meisinger transported the cadets to Washington, D.C. and supervised them.  After the service, the First Sergeant stated: "lt was an honor to be here today. The Cadets and I are proud to be representing James Ford Rhodes High School and paying tribute to a great American hero."

Our sincere thanks to Myra Stone (Rhodes librarian) and Jerry Fill (Rhodes grad in D.C. for his photos

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