I have to say that one of my earliest thoughts of what a hero is and how they impact a local community, I think of Ross Pile of Laverne, OK. Ross grew up in the small town of May, OK and graduated high school with my mother. I remember looking up to him as a young child and always wanted to hear what he had to say. Mr. Pile had a strong influence in my hearing the Call to Arms. I chose a different route, preferring the Army Infantry. Below is my tribute to Lt. Ross Pile, recipient of the Purple Heart medal and many others.
As the start of autumn settles over Harper County, we at Buffalo Feeders and I, in particular, pause to honor the valor of our veterans this Veterans Day, with a special homage to one of our own, Navy Lt. Ross Pile. With Veterans Day upon us, it’s a time to remember and celebrate the courageous spirits who have donned the uniform of our armed forces.
Lt. Ross Pile's tale is one of extraordinary bravery and resilience. Flying 54 combat missions over the treacherous skies of Vietnam, his service was a testament to the unwavering spirit of our military personnel. Shot down over North Vietnam, Lt. Pile’s survival story is nothing short of miraculous. Stationed on the Kitty hawk aircraft carrier, his F4B twin jet intercept and attack bomber was shot down while he was in a steep dive, crashing into a rice paddy, leaving him with a broken back and multiple injuries—a situation that would spell the end for many. Yet, for Lt. Pile, it was the beginning of an incredible fight for survival.
With the enemy close and his body failing, Lt. Pile faced the gravest of dangers until a rescue helicopter braved the gunfire, lifting him from the jaws of almost certain captivity or death. The first rescue helicopter had to leave him in a Vietnamese village while another rescue helicopter later come to retrieve him. The men of the village protected him in his injured state until he was loaded onto the final trip to safety and to military hospitals in the Philippines and then on to a hospital in Japan.
His journey of recovery was marked by the dedication of surgeons who worked tirelessly to mend his broken frame. Despite the pain and the long path to healing, Lt. Pile’s spirit remained hopeful.
Lt. Pile’s story goes beyond the Purple Heart he was awarded; it's a narrative of grit that continued long after the war. Reflecting on his experiences, Lt. Pile reminds us of the harsh realities of conflict and the enduring brotherhood forged in the crucible of war. His humility, focusing on the collective sacrifice rather than his individual accolades, is a poignant reminder of the selflessness that characterizes our armed forces.
This Veterans Day, Buffalo Feeders stands in profound gratitude, not only for Lt. Pile’s sacrifices but also for all those who have served with equal valor and commitment. We are reminded of the freedoms we enjoy and the peace we cherish, which are safeguarded by the bravery of our veterans.
As we continue our daily lives, let’s carry the stories of our heroes like Lt. Pile with us. Let their tales of bravery inspire us to giveback, to remember, and to honor the sacrifices made in the name of liberty and justice. Let us never forget that each day of peace we enjoy has been purchased at a steep price by the courage and determination of veterans like Lt. RossPile.
I want to say thank you Ross, once again, not only for your commitment and service to your country during the war, but as a gentleman and example of how to be an honest leader and example in our community. Also, thank you for buying the premium for my show pig at the county stock show in 1978. It was the first time I had ever had the opportunity to place high enough to make the sale and you were there to support my project. Obviously, it made a huge impact on my future.
To all our veterans, we salute you. Your legacy is our liberty.
Sidenote: We had the great pleasure of having Lt. Pile's grandson, Ethan Kendall, as a college intern here at Buffalo Feeders in the summer of 2021. Ethan is currently getting his masters at the University of Arkansas in Agriculture Economics!