Local veterans service director’s story shows how call of duty can happen
By Ed Runyan
The Trumbull County director of the Veterans Service Commission wanted students at Lordstown High School on Monday to see that military service isn’t just for people who grew up knowing they would serve in the armed forces.
Herman Breuer, lead speaker at the school’s Take A Vet to School Assembly, didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life when he was in high school.
When he was a student in Easton, Pa., he was like most students, who listened to military veterans speak about their experiences and learned that Veterans Day was established to remember Nov. 11, 1918, the end of World War I. The holiday will be celebrated Friday.
“For me, I don’t remember paying that much attention to it,” he said of such presentations, adding that he was an “average student, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in life, didn’t know if I wanted to go to college, didn’t know if I wanted to join the military.”
He went to college, but soon discovered how much money he was going to owe when he graduated. Some friends were in the National Guard and using their education benefits to help pay for college.
Military service wasn’t extremely popular among people his age when he graduated from high school in 1986. One reason he would have given then for not joining the military would have been, “I don’t like taking orders from anybody,” he said.
“But if you think about that, that’s a pretty silly notion, because there’s probably not very many of us here who really like taking orders from anybody. But you have to make a decision at some point in life. And that is: ‘Do I like to take orders, or do I like to eat?’” he said.
He joined the National Guard.
“I began to learn how to help other people, that it wasn’t always just about me,” he said.
When he was in boot camp, he gained confidence in himself. And then in August 1990, the United States invaded Kuwait, the start of the Iraq-Kuwait War.
Many in his boot camp went to war. He “wanted to be with my brothers” from boot camp. But he was sent back home and The National Guard. He put his name on the volunteer list, but 650,000 others were on the list ahead of him, and he was not chosen.
Then came Sept. 11, 2001. A husband and father of one small child, Breuer re-enlisted and left for Iraq in December 2003.
“On the morning of March 24, 2004, a roadside bomb ripped through our Humvee, and I was wounded. I was lucky. After being knocked out and [coming] to with some minor shrapnel wounds, I was able to finish my mission while I was there,” he said.
Breuer told the students that the 30 military veterans who assembled for Monday’s annual veterans assembly exemplify the reason why voting on Election Days such as today is important.
They “fought to maintain the idea that we are free to choose our leaders, and we must never let anyone take that from us,” he said.
The event included the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” by the Lordstown High School Band, a POW/MIA remembrance and the playing of taps.