John Mensinger was shipped to the Vietnam War in 1968 at the age of just 22.
While most people fear going to war, Mensinger said basic training taught him to be prepared and to face the challenge head-on.
“You have to be open to everything that happens,” said the Dubliner.
The Marine was a sergeant for the 1st Maintenance Battalion, which operated HAWK missiles. But the mission was short-lived as Mensinger returned home after 20 days.
Now 76, he served in the Marines for three years before returning to college and pursuing a career in merchandise.
Mensinger was one of the listeners at a Veterans Day ceremony at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus on Friday.
Originally named Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I, the federal holiday’s name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all who served in the US military.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, president and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, said everyone should honor and celebrate veterans because “freedom doesn’t come free.”
“My call to action is to honor a veteran,” Ferriter said. “Call someone, text them, see them tonight. Maybe you are the one who saves a life.”
Ferriter also mentioned a recent visit to Olentangy Berlin High School in Delaware, where he spoke to students about the military. He said he has 500 students and 150 veterans at the school.
“Hope is in our youth; our hope is in the Constitution and our hope is in America,” Ferriter said.
Ferriter was followed by Eagles and James Gang guitarist Joe Walsh.
In town for this weekend’s VetsAid concert at Nationwide Arena, Walsh said his father, a US Air Force flight instructor, was killed in a 1949 plane crash in Okinawa, Japan. Walsh was only two years old.
“He died before I could even remember him,” he said.
“He probably would have told me to cut my hair,” Walsh added, referring to his long blonde hair. “Probably would have told me to get on with my oboe lessons. I switched to guitar because it occurred to me you’re not going to get girls to play oboe.”
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Walsh came to Columbus at the age of 9 when his stepfather took a job with Nationwide Insurance. His family lived in a small house on Summit Street, he said.
Walsh said his father’s military service prompted him to start VetsAid, a nonprofit and benefit music festival that raises funds for veterans’ groups across the country.
“I’m an example of … if you never forget your father, a Gold Star kid can grow up and make a difference,” he said.
“What a blessing it was for me and my family to do this in the city that nurtured my young spirit and introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll.”
Ferriter then awarded Walsh a Navy coin for his work in the military.
Keynote speaker and Army veteran David Kim then spoke about his organization, the Children Fallen Patriots Foundation, which provides college scholarships and educational counseling for military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.
His community service for Gold Star families earned him the Military Times Foundation’s 2022 Veteran of the Year award.
Kim said the nonprofit was inspired by Army Sergeant William Delaney Gibbs, who left his wife and unborn daughter behind when he was killed during the US invasion of Panama in 1989.
Since 2002, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation has given $61 million to thousands of 2,700 students, he said.
“Our fallen heroes will live on forever as we gather to honor their service,” Kim said.