Keynote speaker Wayne Smith, right, speaks to Herb Savage and Lois Bolin before the event. The Christmas Island Style Salute to Veterans took place Tuesday evening at the Rose History Auditorium at the historical museum. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
The keynote speaker at the Christmas Holiday Veterans’ Salute was himself a reminder of the sacrifices our military veterans may be called on to endure when they serve our country.
Naples resident Wayne Smith was a young Air Force fighter pilot flying his 90th combat mission when he was shot down over North Vietnam on January 18, 1968. He spent five years and two months 1,882 days as a prisoner of war, sharing time with John McCain in the “Hanoi Hilton” and enduring physical and psychological torture. Smith spoke to the gathering at the Veterans’ Salute, a Christmas Island Style event, in the Rose History Auditorium Tuesday evening, an event blending patriotic spirit and Christmas spirit.