Rare is the occasion when a ranking officer will initiate a salute to a soldier of a lesser rank.
The exception is when the lower ranking of the two happens to be a Medal of Honor recipient.
That's why retired Lt. Gen. Bill Caldwell and Fort Benning commander Maj. Gen. Walt Wojdakowski saluted retired Col. Bob Nett this afternoon at the annual National Medal of Honor Day ceremony at the Government Center.
"We can never be thankful enough for a soldier like Bob Nett," said Caldwell. "Clearly, he's a distinguished soldier, just like the other four from Columbus who couldn't be with us today."
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Caldwell was referring to the five plaques in front of the Eternal Flame recognizing the accomplishments of Nett, and Freeman Horner, Charles McGaha, Donald Johnson and Jackson Pharris, all of whom are deceased.
Nett, nearing 86 and wheelchair bound, said he was honored to be at the event but as he so often does he wanted to pass the praise to the men he served with in the Philippines in December 1944.
"I wish I could stand here and tell the people about those wonderful soldiers," said Nett, who was recently admitted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame. "They trained hard and they fought hard."
The local chapter of the Gold Star Wives placed a wreath at the memorial to the Medal of Honor recipients.