It started with Pete O’Hara just wanting to pay for his college education. So, he applied for and received an Army ROTC four-year scholarship at Ohio State University.
“The plan was do my four years, do my artillery thing, come out, go to law school, go into politics maybe,” O’Hara said. “Didn’t work that way.”
On a hill in Germany during military exercises as an artillery battery commander, he realized his calling.
“It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. It’s freezing. We had a snowstorm the night before,” O’Hara said. “I got a cup of coffee in my hand, trying to stay a little bit warm. I realized my friends back home don’t get to do this. I am good at this. I like it, and I stayed for 23 years.”
O’Hara, who retired from the U.S. Army in 2000 as a lieutenant colonel, teaches U.S. history and psychology at Carmel High School
O’Hara shared his story as keynote speaker at the City of Carmel Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 8 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. O’Hara served in the 1st Infantry Division during Operation Desert Storm after Iraq invaded Kuwait. He was one of the first on the ground as a military planner.
“We found out we were going to fire the largest artillery preparation since World War II,” he said. “I got 90 guns from all over the Army working under me and the 1st Infantry Division. I plan and execute this massive artillery barrage. It was successful.”
O’Hara closed by paying tribute to others who have served and are serving in the military. He noted his father served four years in combat during World War II.
“It takes great courage to stand up and risk your life for your country,” he said. “It takes great commitment to endure cold, rainy nights in the jungle or the hot burning sun in the desert. It takes great heart to leave friends and family and the comforts of home for extended periods of time. It takes unquestioned loyalty to the American way of life, to the American people to be willing to always stand up for your country. For millions of veterans, it’s a privilege to have served.
“Today, we take time to honor American veterans on the anniversary of the end of World War I, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. We celebrate American freedom and those who have served the United States of America.”
There were six Honor and Country poster winners from Carmel Clay elementary schools: Ostara Zajac, Carmel Elementary, kindergarten; Parnika Sapre, West Clay, first grade; Sophie Robisch, Towne Meadow, second grade; Pia Anderson, Towne Meadow, third grade; Hadley Wilkinson, Carmel Elementary, fourth grade; and Elise Kaster, Carmel Elementary, fifth grade.
The Honor and Country essay winners were all from Clay Middle School: Divya Ariyur, sixth grade; Jewel Wang, seventh grade; and Anna Kindsfather, eighth grade.