Petal High School Army Junior ROTC Honors Veterans with Breakfast Ceremony


One hundred and two years ago – November 11, 1919 – President Woodrow Wilson declared this day Armistice Day to recognize the end of World War I, which ended at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918.

The holiday, now known as Veterans Day, was celebrated on November 11 with a Veteran Recognition and Appreciation ceremony at Petal High School to honor all veterans past and present in every branch of the US Army. The event, which is hosted annually by the Petal High School Army Junior ROTC, began with a high school cafeteria breakfast before heading to the school gymnasium for the ceremony.

“We really want today to be special for you (veterans); it’s all about you, and we appreciate your service, ”high school principal Zach Bost told Veterans. “I’ll never forget, years ago when I was a student my brother had just joined the military and we went to a soccer game in Jacksonville, Florida.

“As we were walking towards the game he noticed a few veterans across the road… and he stopped and crossed the road and said, ‘I want to thank you for your service”, and he shook their hands. It’s a great reminder that no matter how busy we are in our lives, every year on November 11, we stop and say “thank you for your service.” So this morning, from PHS to you guys, thanks for your service.

Following Bost’s remarks, the Petal High School JROTC displayed flags from every branch of the military, including the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard – United States Navy and United States Air Force.

The National League of Families POW / MIA flag, which honors military prisoners of war or missing in action, was also displayed. While displaying this flag, a recording of “Taps” was played in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the call of duty.

Also during the ceremony, three awards were presented: the Youngest Veteran Award, the Oldest Veteran Award and the Oldest Veteran Award. Each winner was awarded

The awards and recipients are as follows:

  • Youngest Veteran Award: Ziquan Gordon, 20. Gordon is an E-4 Single Support Systems Specialist for the 25th Infantry Division at Wheeler Army Airfield in Honolulu County, Hawaii. He graduated from Petal High School in 2019 and a former JROTC cadet at the school.
  • Longest-serving Veteran Award: David Ruffin, who has over 30 years of military service. Ruffin is a Chief Warrant Officer who entered the United States Army in July 1983. He currently serves at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center just outside Hattiesburg.
  • Oldest Veteran Award: William Sanford, 89 years old. Sanford entered the United States Air Force in 1952 and served in the Korean War, which lasted until July 1953.

Additionally, veterans recognition and appreciation ceremony attendees were treated to performances by the high school orchestra, choir, digital media, and speech and debate teams. The songs included “America the Beautiful” and “An American Trilogy”, among others.

The keynote speaker for the event was Master Sgt Edwin Williams, who is the senior military science instructor for the ROTC program at the University of Southern Mississippi. Williams enlisted in the United States Army in 2001 and graduated from unit training at a station in Fort Knox, Ky.

He was an M1A1 main battle tank driver, artilleryman and tank commander. Williams moved to 19 Delta Cavalry Scout in 2006, and served as a Cavalry Scout Section Sergeant and Platoon Sergeant.

Williams’ assignments included the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment in Germany; 1st Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Knox; 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia; 5thSquadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia; and 8th and 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division at Ford Hood, Texas.

His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Stars, the Military Service Medal, Korean Defense and the Order of St. George Leadership Medal.

“Today we won’t think about the past – although the past is important – but we will focus on those who are standing in front of us right now,” said Williams. “Let’s not forget that veterans come in all shapes and sizes, and of different military specialties.

“I realize that some of these specialties take us out of the comfort of home… and we all appreciate the specialties because they were all necessary to complete the mission. Don’t forget to thank a veteran – behind that smile tells a story, and also realize their sacrifices for the freedoms we take for granted today.


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