Charles “Gusher” Smith celebrated his 93rd birthday at a Veterans Day program at Ticonderoga Elementary School. From left are veterans Nancy Paquette, Smith, Mike Arthur, Tom Provoncha and Craig Cassidy.
continued “It was a really great experience,” Paquette said. “I enjoyed my 20 years. I’ve never regretted a moment of it.”
Arthur spent 22 years in the Navy as a cook. At his retirement he was serving aboard the USS Ticonderoga. During his career he visited all seven continents.
“The Navy provided me with so many opportunities,” Arthur said. “How many people can say they’ve been to all seven continents? I can. The Navy really gives people a chance to develop their assets.”
Provoncha has also been to all seven continents, as well as 52 countries. He has circled the world 13 times as an Air Force air combat crewman and then as an Army infantryman. The military is a great career, he told students.
“There are a lot of things that go into making a soldier that people don’t think about,” Provoncha said. “The military needs all kinds for people, all kinds of skills.
“There’s nothing in the military you can’t do,” he said. “Anything you can do in civilian life you can do in the military.”
Cassidy went into the Army as a private and eventually became an officer. He recalled growing up the Port Kent area.
“I could hunt, fish, swim, do anything and I never had to worry about someone dropping a bomb,” he said. “I could do that because of the servicemen at the Plattsburgh Air Force Base and around the world. I decided I wanted to do that.
“In the military it’s our job to keep the bad guys out so you can have a good 18 years to grow up,” Cassidy added. “Then you can return the favor.”
The Ticonderoga Sons of the American Legion sponsor a number of veterans and patriotic-related events at Ti Elementary School. Besides the Veterans Day program, the sons offer students presentations on Pearl Harbor, World War II in Europe and World War II in the Pacific.
The Sons of the American Legion also sponsor a school-wide patriotism essay contest each spring. Winners receive cash awards and certificates. All participants receive free ice cream courtesy of Stewarts.