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Gabbi Tomaselli – Mustangs Ahead 

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – There will be no school on Monday, Nov. 12 in recognition of Veterans Day. Veterans day originally commemorated the end of World I in 1918. It has since come to honor military veterans that have served the United States at any time.   

LRHS has several veterans on its staff, among them are Spanish teacher Lillian Martinez, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) instructors Master Sargent William Cassidy and Lt. Col. Richard Roller, and athletic director Shawn Trent.  

Mustangs Ahead (MA): What was it like serving for our country? 

Wiliam Cassidy (WC): Serving my country for me was very satisfying.  I got to see the world and experience many different cultures.  Serving in the military is very rewarding but also involves sacrifice.  The soldier will miss anniversaries, children’s birthdays, etc., while deployed and this puts tremendous strain on families.  Overall, the military was a good experience for me and I would do it all over again if I could. 

Lillian Martinez (LM): It was fun but back then, in the 70s, women weren’t given many roles and I dint get to do as much as I would have liked. 

Richard Roller (RR): It was an honor to belong to the 1% of the nation willing and able to protect and defend our freedoms. 

Shawn Trent (ST): It was great, got to travel all over the world and see a lot of things I would have never had a chance to see. 

MA: What was your role? 

WC: My role is the military changed over the years.  When I first went in service, I was an infantryman and scout in the 82d Airborne Division which translates into being a paratrooper.  I loved it and it forced me out of shell and helped prepare me for future assignments.  I then volunteered to become a Special Forces (Green Beret) soldier. I was then considered an elite soldier in an elite unit.  I trained and operated on a special operations team and travelled extensively.  After spending years on Special Forces teams, I became an instructor and helped train future Special Forces soldiers.  It was gratifying and challenging but very fulfilling knowing how important that job was.  My last assignment was as an advisor to the Commanding General of the Special Operations Command I advised the commander on all aspects of parachuting within the Special Forces community.  

LM: I was a secretary in coast guard.  

RR: I was an Armor/Cavalry Officer responsible for training, maintaining, maneuvering, and integrating Abrams Tank and Light Reconnaissance Organizations. 

ST: I was an Aviation Electronics Technician, worked on all the electronics systems on jets. 

MA: How long did you serve for our country? 

WC: I served 20 years on active duty.  I served from 1979 until 1999. 

LM: Six years. Four and a half years on active duty and one and a half of a year on inactive duty.  

RR: Twenty years 

ST: Four years 

MA: What does Veterans Day mean to you? 

WC: Veterans Day to me is a time to remember.  I use that time to remember and contemplate what the military did for me and my family.  I also replay many of the military operations I was involved in and evaluate the importance of these activities.  

RR: It is a reminder to our country to acknowledge, respect and honor those who served our nation in the Armed Services. 

ST:  I’m not sure it means anything different to me other than a country saying thank you to all our service men and women.  I think it is great that we make such a big deal about it now.  My father was in the national guard during Vietnam and hearing the stories that those guys came back to is much different than what happens now. 

MA: How did serving impact your life? 

WC: The military absolutely made me the person I am today.  It is in my make-up and is displayed daily in how I conduct my life.  I am now and will always be a soldier first and a teacher second.  I try to portray the basic values taught to me by my parents and the military to my students daily.  I’m trying my best to pass the mantel on to the next generation.      

RR: Service solidified my values to put others first, to realize the team is more valuable than the individual and that in order to lead others you must drive them to achieve things they never thought possible; leveraging individual strengths and talents for the betterment of the organization, while acknowledging individual contributions. 

ST: I think it made me have even more pride for our country, just knowing firsthand what our young men and women go through every day that protect all our freedoms.