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November 10, 2016 • Headline News
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American Legion Veterans Day activities:
• Versailles American Legion Veterans Day activities
The Versailles American Legion has announced activities for Thursday, Nov. 10 and Friday, Nov. 11 for Veterans Day. All veterans, members of the military, legionnaires, their families, and the community are invited to participate in the activities.

Thursday, Nov. 10: At 7:30 p.m. a free dinner will be served at the Versailles American Legion Post #173 located at the corner of Water St. and Washington St. in Versailles.

Friday, Nov. 11: There will be a breakfast at 8 a.m. at South Ripley High School located on Benham Rd. in Versailles. Following breakfast at 8:45 a.m., South Ripley students will present a Veteran’s Day program. At 10:30 a.m. a veteran’s memorial service will be held at the Ripley County Veterans Monument on the Courthouse Square in Versailles.

Everyone is welcome to participate in these events and help celebrate this important day.

This weekend:
Tri Kappa bazaar is Saturday
Just in time for the upcoming holidays, the annual Tri Kappa Winter Wonderland bazaar will be held this Saturday, Nov. 12. The works of artisans and vendors throughout the area will be featured at the annual arts and crafts bazaar that will be at the South Ripley Elementary School on Benham Road in Versailles from 9 to 3 p.m. Read the details on the front page of the Osgood Journal. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand.

• Lions host pancake breakfast

Let the Versailles Lions Club make you breakfast Sunday. The club is offering a pancake breakfast at South Ripley Jr.-Sr High School cafeteria from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The proceeds go toward the school’s student council. There will be pancakes, along with sausage, biscuits and gravy, juice, milk and coffee. It costs $6 for adults, and preschool children are free.

Next week:
Vietnam War recognition event
The Ross’ Run Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will recognize Vietnam War veterans on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the American Legion in Versailles. All veterans will be recognized for their service, and a special Vietnam War Veteran Recognition Pin and Commemorative Proclamation from the President of the United States will be presented to Vietnam veterans. Call 812-689-5767 or 812-534-3608 with questions. LOCATION: Versailles American Legion, 119 S. Washington St., Versailles.


A pioneer in military
JCD graduate is first woman from Osgood to retire from US Air Force

Mary Mattingly

Connie Mozingo Ritter of Osgood didn’t set out to be a pioneer in the military, but 32 years ago when she signed up for the Air Force, women were a very small percentage of our armed services. She was just 5’1” and 17 years old, so she needed her parents, Ruth and Stanley Mozingo’s, permission to enlist. Fast forward a quarter of a century, and it’s not so unusual to hear of women joining the military. However, women make up just 14.5 percent of the 1.4 million active duty members.

Pictured left is Connie Mozingo Ritter when she was working personnel in the Air Force.

“I’m the one no one ever saw going into something like this,” the 1985 Jac-Cen-Del graduate said. Despite her small stature few accounted for her big spirit. At basic training, it wasn’t the physical challenges that overwhelmed her but the homesickness. It was her first time away from home. Ritter served in active duty for six years, and then enlisted in the Air Force reserves at the Charleston, South Carolina AFB where she worked in the military orderly room and unit training assembly. She left on an honorable discharge and worked with the Tennessee Air National Guard.

Her full-time civil service job was connected to the military when she was employed with the 118th Mission Support Squadron in Tennessee. Born and raised here, Ritter is the first woman from Osgood to retire from the military. “I’m proud and blessed,” she said. “Without God opening doors I wouldn’t be here.” Her faith has kept her strong through life’s journeys. Now an Osgood First Baptist Church member, she was actually baptized while at basic training at the Lackland Air Force Base in 1985. Ritter is honored at a request to submit some of her military memorabilia for the Osgood Historical Museum. She might hand over her old military purse…”It was pretty ugly though,” she says, smiling.

Ritter held the highest grade level of master sergeant, E-7. Her service was primarily in human resources and administration. “I have worked every position within military personnel arena, from gaining new enlistees into the military personnel system, awards and decorations, customer service, military benefits and entitlements,” she said. She summarizes it by saying she worked with new enlistments to casualties. That meant casualty notifications, providing assistance to next of kin for military benefits, along with separations and retirements. She also processed the “dog tags” the military receives upon enlistment.

In 2002, Ritter helped process the orders for the troops sent overseas in response to 9/11. It was especially hard for her when she had to send out notifications to next of kin of casualties of her two friends. While overseas for a stint in Germany (she also worked in Alaska and Hawaii) she recalls icing down bodies for departure to the Dover base. “Death is part of war. I’ve seen the direct effects of war and terrorism,” Ritter said. Again, her faith was her strength. One assignment she enjoyed was Operation Patriotism, because she got to see how the different countries, the English and the Canadians, for example, work together with the U.S. on a mission.

Always a task-oriented individual, she was recognized for her work through the Tennessee military, and considered the ‘go-to” person on base. “I worked side by side with generals, wing and unit commanders for many years,” she commented. Her unit commander used to say she was the “conscience” of the unit. She loved it, she said, and missed the people when she retired from the military in 2009. They used to get a kick out of her country stories from Osgood, she added.

Ritter met her husband, Robert, a 22-year veteran of the Air Force while in Tennessee. He is from Nuremburg, Germany, but became a US citizen. The two moved to Osgood after they married in 2013. “He may have traveled all over the world, but I outrank him,” she likes to remind him!

Although a minority in the military, her gender was never an issue. “Because I was in uniform, I got noticed. I wanted to be noticed for my performance, not for my gender,” she said. Ritter laughs though at telling the story of being pregnant with her daughter. She was so used to wearing a uniform, and did so even to doctor appointments, but got teased by the nurses when she came to the hospital in labor and in uniform!

A mother of a 27-year old daughter who lives in Smyrna, Tennessee, two grandsons and step-mother to three, she advises those who go into the military to “learn as much as you can.” It also helps to have a desire to serve others, and a love of country. She has both. “And if you join, stay in for the long haul, and make it a career. I’ve heard of too many who regret leaving.” Today, after hanging up her Air Force Blues and battle dress uniforms, Ritter is thrilled to be back living in the town she left over 30 years ago and being near her three sisters, Cheryl Bowing, Bonnie Billman and Julie Kirkland. She participates in local events, and will be at Jac-Cen-Del for Veterans Day programs.

Connie Ritter is now consumed with being back home and recently started a Facebook All Things Osgood page. She can’t help but notice there is no woman in the Osgood American Legion at this point, only in the auxiliary. Perhaps she too could be a pioneer there!

See our salute to veterans section in today’s The Versailles Republican, dated November 10.

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