TWO CREW MEMBERS from the future USS Michael Monsoor watch the Morse High School Shipbuilders play the Freeport Falcons at Military Appreciation Night in Bath on Friday.

TWO CREW MEMBERS from the future USS Michael Monsoor watch the Morse High School Shipbuilders play the Freeport Falcons at Military Appreciation Night in Bath on Friday.

On Friday, dozens of military veterans and service members turned out at McMann Field in Bath for Military Appreciation Night and to watch the Morse High Shipbuilders play the Freeport Falcons.

“Military Appreciation Night is something we’ve done for several years now, and it basically entails us bringing folks in from the Navy (and) the National Guard and really showing some appreciation for our military, past and present,” said Morse High School Athletic Director Nathan Priest.

“I THINK THE COMMUNITY here really appreciates the military services,

“I THINK THE COMMUNITY here really appreciates the military services,” said Commanding Officer of the Thomas Hudner Nathan Scherry.

As part of Military Appreciation Night, any past or present service members were given free admittance and a free meal organized by the Morse High School All- Sports Boosters.

BATH-BORN VETERANS Walter Coombs and John Williams sit in the bleachers at McMann Field, waiting for the game between Freeport and Morse High to begin.

BATH-BORN VETERANS Walter Coombs and John Williams sit in the bleachers at McMann Field, waiting for the game between Freeport and Morse High to begin.

“It’s just absolutely a family effort,” said Boost- ers Vice President Pam Solo, who has been known by the moniker “Grammy Pammy.”

“Last year we had, like, 95 military, and they ran us out of food,” said Solo. “So this year I decided to solicit all homemade crockpots, homemade desserts, homemade bread.”

Solo served in the military herself, mostly at Brunswick Naval Air Station until it was closed, and married a military man. While Military Appreciation Night might be personal for her, it’s especially important to show appreciation to those currently serving, she said.

“It’s important to appreciate our military, the ones who have passed before us and the ones who are serving now, especially today with how volatile situations are all over the world,” said Solo. “You just can’t say enough or do enough for them.”

“It’s an honor. It means a lot,” said Bath resident John Williams, who was watching the game with Brunswick resident Walter Coombs. Both men are from Bath originally, and both served time in the military during the Vietnam War — Coombs in the Navy and Williams in the Army.

According to Williams, the connections between MHS and the military run far deeper than one single night. For the last year the Bath VFW, of which they are members, and some Morse students have been fostering a relationship between veterans and the school. After Williams and Coombs were interviewed by some students, the veterans have become an larger presence in the district.

Volunteers from the VFW helped construct small, free libraries at Dike-Newell Elementary and Fisher-Mitchell Elementary schools. This school year, they plan to build four more mini libraries at area schools. In return, MHS students have served the VFW breakfast and over the past year, the veterans and students have fostered a real, ongoing relationship that connects the next generation with the military community in the Midcoast area.

In between rallying students to cheer their team on with a bullhorn, MHS junior Tom Warren explained why Military Appreciation Night was so important.

“My grandfather fought in Vietnam, so it kind of hits close to home. It’s really nice to see,” said Warren. “This isn’t out of the ordinary, we do stuff like this all the time.”

A significant presence at the game were the crews of the DDG 116 Thomas Hudner and DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor. The national anthem was sung by STGCS Thomas Vanhemel of the Thomas Hudner and EMFN Cody Marcom of the Michael Monsoor. A color guard from the Thomas Hudner presented the flag.

Events like Military Appreciation Night are an important part of connecting the Navy personnel in Bath with the community, said Nathan Scherry, commanding officer of the Thomas Hudner.

“I think it’s important for our taxpayers to know what we do is not just on the ship, but also in the community where we can help out. And so we’re doing the Brunswick Naval Museum and other events like this one to help with all that,” said Scherry.

Scherry added that as the Thomas Hudner crew size increases in Bath leading up to its commissioning, he expects the crew to be more visible and active in the community.

“I think it’s important for us to get out into the community, and I think that the community reciprocates that and invites us out for Military Appreciation Night,” said Scherry. “I think the community here really appreciates the military services. I haven’t found that everywhere I’ve been, but it’s very special here.”

“The deep ties that the Bath community has to Bath Iron Works and to the Brunswick Landing — there’s such a rich history of military families in the Brunswick-Bath communities that it just makes sense to hold something like this and continue to do this,” said Priest.


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