HOISINGTON — This Veterans Day, Hoisington is welcoming back one of their own for its annual program.
For the last several years, the leadership class at Hoisington High School has served lunch to local veterans after a patriotic program that usually included a veteran as honored speaker.
The exception was last year, when pandemic restrictions limited the traditional event to a sack-lunch meal prepared for pick-up or delivered to veterans’ homes.
This Thursday, the full program is back on schedule with a hot soup lunch following an address given by one of Hoisington’s own.
SCPO Shannon L. Thomas, Ret., will be the featured speaker for the HHS program which begins at 10 a.m. Nov. 11, notes Marcia Willams, program coordinator. “We had to scale back last year, but this year we are looking forward to a full program,” said Williams, an instructor at HHS, who with instructor London Reif serves as sponsor for the HHS Student Leadership group. “It has been a pleasure to help organize this event,” Williams added.
This year’s program opens with performances by HHS band and vocal groups, followed by “Thank You” letters to veterans read by third-grade students.
A Medal of Honor short video follows Senior Chief Thomas’ address, and the event is concluded with a candle ceremony honoring veterans who have passed, Williams said.
Preparation for the event begins about two weeks in advance, with invitations mailed to veterans from a list obtained from the Hoisington American Legion. Flyers are printed and placed around town inviting the public to attend.
The program has become a community tradition, now in its seventh year, Williams noted. Prior to that, the event was organized by the KAY group at Hoisington Middle School.
About the speaker
Engineman Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon L. Thomas is a 1996 graduate of Hoisington High School. He is the son of Margaret Thomas, Russell, and the late Larry Thomas.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 1996. Following completion of basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill., he attended Engineman “A” School.
During his career, Sr. Chief Thomas served at sea on board the following vessels: USS Constellation; USS Comstock; USS Pearl Harbor; USS Rushmore; Amphibious Squadron Three and onboard USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth, Crew 101 as “Top Snipe.”
His shore tours included Engineman “A” School Instructor, Center for Naval Engineering Learning Site, Great Lakes, Ill.; LCS Mine Warfare Detachment Two and Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One, San. Diego, Calif.
He is also a graduate from the Coast Guard Senior Enlisted Academy, Class 082 and has earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University.
Decorations include: five Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals; six Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; Master Training Specialist and various unit and campaign awards. Sr. Chief Thomas is a combat war veteran, serving during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, where he earned the Global War on Terrorism Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
He and his wife Josephine have three children: Kyle, Kent and Keith, residing in San Diego.
After a 21-year Navy career, he still serves as a Federal Government Civilian Readiness Engineer, for the Littoral Combat Ship Program Office in San Diego.