BMGH staff honor veteran patients with celebration

BMGH staff honor veteran patients with celebration

BMGH staff honor veteran patients with celebration

On Thursday, Nov. 9, Battle Mountain General Hospital’s (BMGH) long-term care department, recognized military veterans currently in their care. Veterans told stories of their time in the service and reflected on those close to them who they lost to war.

Long-term care nurse Billie Dorning kicked off the morning event by singing the National Anthem and "God Bless America," while the American Flag was raised by former US Marine Del Gallegos. Gallegos is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. 

BMGH long-term care activities director Ana Cortez said, “Veterans Day is significant for us. We appreciate all that our veterans have done for us.”

“I joined the Marine Corps when I was 19 years old, then Vietnam at 21,” said Gallegos as he shared memories of his time in the service. He said that right after the ship let them off in Vietnam, they were fired on by a sniper. “I looked at that big ship and wondered if I could swim to it. They wouldn’t let me do it anyway,” Gallegos reflected, “I spent 13 months there and thank God every day that I came back without a scratch.”

Gallegos touched on the rude “welcome” Vietnam vets received upon their return to the United States, “Since we were Marines, we were called baby killers and spit on. There was a lot of anger back then. It was not like World War II, where they celebrated them. At least we are thanked and appreciated now.”

U.S. Army and fellow Vietnam War veteran Bob Phillips spoke after Gallegos,  about his own time in Vietnam. He said he joined the Army National Guard because he still wanted to rodeo and thought joining the Guard would guarantee he wouldn’t have to go overseas. 

While he was able to continue rodeo competition to some extent, often the rodeos would conflict with his guard meetings. His other assumption that he wouldn’t be sent overseas didn’t work out very well, either.

“One day I received the letter that the U.S. Army had drafted me to full time. The army re-schooled me and in six months time, shipped me off to Vietnam,” Phillips said.

“When we got off the ship in Vietnam, our sergeant loaded us in these trucks and we drove outside the base,” Phillips told the group. ‘Then the trucks stopped and our sergeant turned to us and said, ‘lock and load.’ All of a sudden this wasn’t a joke anymore.”

The final speaker was WWII veteran George Adams who served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946. “I got my training in San Diego. I was assigned to this tanker and hauled fuel oil to other ships which couldn’t make the larger trips. We originally traveled to Pearl Harbor and we made five trips across the South Pacific during my time in. We were fortunate to make it through, [we were] never hit with a torpedo or sunk. I went through the service without getting a scratch.”

The day of recognition and celebration for military veterans in the community ended with an offer of thanks for those who served. Cortes and the staff then provided food and drinks for the patients, guests and staff members attending. 

One veteran who was unable to attend the event but wanted to participate was Robert “Bob” Nelson, who joined the U.S. Army when he was only 17 years old. Nelson was in the service for four years during the Korean War. He took the time to pose with an old photo of himself before his time in Korea. “That picture was taken a long time ago, and I have seen a lot since that day,” Nelson said.