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November 15, 2010

In Winslow, students salute service

Randy Worthley, a Marine who fought in Vietnam, honored with video tribute

Randy Worthley tribute video, created by Linda Voss

By Scott Monroe smonroe@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

WINSLOW -- Junior high students didn't gather in their school auditorium Wednesday morning to honor military service in the abstract.

It was real, right before their eyes, when about 60 local veterans -- hailing from the Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy -- marched in and were honored with songs, essays, and video tributes from students. Other hometown heroes who had lost their lives were honored, too.

Among those was Randy Worthley, of Winslow, who died May 8 this year at age 64. Worthley, a Marine who served in Vietnam, had helped junior high teacher Linda Voss start the school's veterans programs and assembly a decade ago.

Voss, who organized the assembly, said she took a course this summer to learn how to use the computer program iMovie so she could create a "heartfelt" video tribute for Worthley, "a man who helped to forge the bonds that exist between students in this school and veterans in our community and beyond." Worthley was also VFW State of Maine Commander in 2004 and commander of the local VFW in Winslow.

Voss said she poured "my heart and soul" into the tribute, and noted that Worthley's wife, Carol, and two daughters, Lori and Amy, were at the assembly.

The movie includes video of Worthley speaking to students about his war experience during the school's first veterans panel, "Learning History Through Those Who Have Lived It," in 2001. He recalled a grisly battle during the siege of Khe Sanh.

In a video clip, Worthley is asked by a student if he had ever told his family about his war experiences. The camera is zoomed in on Worthley, who swallows before answering.

"I have two children, two daughters; one graduated from Winslow High School in '88 and one graduated from Winslow High School in '92," Worthley says. "And I've never talked to them about it."

After the tribute video finished, Voss embraced Carol Worthley and her two daughters.

Students said Winslow Junior High created the assembly as a way of thanking veterans for their service to the country and protecting the nation's freedom. It also marked the 235th birthday of the Marine Corps.

The assembly also featured a video of a "hometown hero," created nearly a decade ago, in memory of Carlton Frost, a 19-year-old from Winslow who was killed by enemy fire in Vietnam.

Eighth-grade students said they visited the Cole Museum in Bangor on Sept. 30 to interview veterans in small groups and then later write essays. On Oct. 7, the school hosted a panel featuring nine local veterans.

Student Alyssa Wood, who was also announced as the first-place winner in the local VFW's essay contest, reflected on the veterans panel by saying, "all together it took over a million lives to be lost for us to be happy and where we are today."

"The people who served and gave their lives in the war are my heroes," Wood said. "Not the sport heroes who get paid millions of dollars to show off their talents, but humble, gallant men and women who were willing to die for me. And that should mean something."

Wood paused, holding back tears, said, "I will never forget the panel day for the rest of my life."

C.J. Kelley presented an iMovie that honored his father, Chris Kelley, who was in attendance and served in the Marines in Operation Desert Storm.

The assembly's guest speaker, Peter Ogden, director of Maine's Veterans' Services, praised the school for their efforts, saying "every veteran has a story and we need to tell them."

The students also presented $100 to Ogden to support homeless veterans and said they would mail a $60 check, in honor of Worthley, to the chairman of the Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association.

(Continued on page 2)

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