Veterans Day Assembly hosts Bradley E. Smith


Bradley E. Smith, retired Navy carrier pilot

Mrs. Reyes organized an exceptional Veterans Day Assembly this year at JMHS.  Guest speaker Bradley E. Smith’s was a prisoner of war but never gave up. Smith is a graduate of Jackson-Milton High School.

“I was so weak that I couldn’t do a single push-up,” the Bradenton, Fla., retired Navy carrier pilot recalled about part of what he experienced after being captured in North Vietnam shortly after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War as he conducted his 77th and final combat mission.

“All you have is you and your mind.”

Smith shared his story during a 90-minute Veterans Day program Friday morning at Jackson-Milton High School/Middle School set up to honor those of all military branches who have served and continue to serve the nation.

Smith, a 1957 Jackson-Milton High graduate, served 24 years in the Navy after having enlisted in 1961. For his service, he won two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

Smith told the JM students and community members about how several hundred his captors subjected him and the other estimated 560 American POWs to consistent physical and psychological torment that included food, water and sleep deprivation, denial of access to information and communications, and a series of interrogations.

In early 1973, Smith was released and taken away in an Air Force plane. It also marked the first time in seven years he saw an American flag.

Other speakers included Principal David Vega, students Ashley Cameron, Austin Caroline, Rachael Lanham, Jessica Lanham, Jonathan Lanham, Bryan Royea, Chloe Clear, and Grace Assion.  Performances by the JMHS Band were also included as well as a slide show created by Ms. Amendolara.