The Veteran’s Day celebration at William Blount High School had a distinguished guest at its helm on Tuesday, Nov. 10, as the students honored veterans and the sacrifices made for the country.
Retired Brig. Gen. Norman Gaddis was the special speaker for the event. Gen. Gaddis was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, surviving for almost six years in the “Hanoi Hilton.” A native of Knoxville, Gen. Gaddis joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 as a mechanic and ended up flying combat missions for most of his distinguished career. When he rejoined the Armed Forces, he became a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He was captured after a massive firefight on a mission to Hanoi in 1967. When his plane went down, Gen. Gaddis was captured by the Vietnamese, who tortured him for 67 hours and then put him in solitary confinement for 1,000 days. He was one of the last prisoners to leave the camp in 1973.
Celebrations of Veteran’s Day at William Blount included presentations by the William Blount Band, the William Blount Singers, a flag ceremony and the recognition ceremony for visiting veterans. Gen. Gaddis was the highlight of the day with his talk to the students.