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Veterans React to Tragedy in The Tall City

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By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - As you would expect, not only are the communities in the area showing their support, but also people from across the state and the nation. Perhaps one of the most important times during a military members career is when they come home and Thursday was no different.

Even though these veterans were no longer active, they were still heroes and the parade was meant to reflect the support that the Tall City has for them. Unfortunately, it was a day that most will never forget, one local veteran says it was like 9/11 all over again.

"Mood was real solemn, quiet, just watching the television, it was kinda like 9/11 again, just watching the television," Veteran, Michael Conn, said.

Conn, who is quartermaster for the Odessa VFW, says around 40 people gathered Thursday night at the VFW and were glued to the television set only to find out that four of their own had lost their lives during a parade that was honoring them. Conn says he was speechless when he heard of the tragic outcome.

"It made me cry, I know what they went through, I was at a loss for words, I didn't know what to say, I didn't know what to do," Conn said. 

Merrell Schoenhoff has volunteered for the banquet "Hunt for Heroes." He says he was on his way to the event when he was informed of the tragedy. Schoenhoff says whether you have a military background or not, this is a time to show support for those who lost their lives.

"Anybody that has any kind of decency should be feeling somber about this cause this was a very bad tragedy. They went over there, they fought for our country, dodged bullets then something that was suppose to be really good for them, it turned horrible," Schoenhoff said. 

Conn tells NewsWest 9 that since Thursday they have been receiving calls from all over the U.S. asking ways they can help the families of the fallen heroes as well as the survivors.

"We've got people coming in and donating money and stuff here at the post. All the donations are going to the Complex Community Federal Credit Union, we are going to help in anyway we can as much as we can," Conn said.

Through the devastation an outpouring of support has been shown for the fallen heroes and their families.

Scott Davis, Chairman for Christmas For Our Troops says this shows that West Texans are coming together during hard times.

"I think what it says what we all know it that West Texas and Midland and Southeastern New Mexico are tremendously giving people. There is not enough that they can do to show these men and women how much we appreciate them and they will do whatever they can to help these families and ease their pain in any way that they can," Davis said.  

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