Rank and file: Salisbury Academy chapel service celebrates Veterans Day

Published 12:05 am Friday, November 11, 2022

By Chandler Inions


SALISBURY — At Salisbury Academy, Veterans Day is always commemorated with a special chapel service. On Thursday, that event featured a local honor guard and a presentation by keynote speaker Army veteran Robert Belle.

During his time in the Army, Belle completed two tours in Korea, where exposure to a vastly different culture shaped his view of the world, and he shared those stories with the students at Salisbury Academy.

“My officers requested volunteers, but no one volunteered, so I was volun-told, to be a part of a program that they were trying to connect with the Korean people,” Belle said. “I had to spend two weeks with a Korean family.”

What happened to Belle during that time opened his eyes.

“I worked with their animals and in the rice paddies,” Belle said. “One of the most special memories I had was when the little children would follow me around and laugh every time I jumped at something.”

Belle maintains that his real claim to fame is that David Robinson dunked on him. The U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team competed in the 1988 games in Seoul. Before enlisting, Belle was a competitive basketball player and said he turned down an offer to attend Wake Forest University to play in the 1970s.

Belle is originally from Greensboro and joined the U.S. Army in 1983, entering basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. He was trained as a supply specialist/armorer and qualified as a master fitness trainer.

The veteran currently works with other formerly enlisted individuals as a whole-health coach at the W. G. (Bill) Hefner V.A. Medical Center in Salisbury, where he assists veterans in developing goals for living healthier lifestyles. Belle also works in the homeless department and helps to get veterans off the street.

“It’s challenging and rewarding to work with other veterans, and I understand some of the barriers they experience transitioning from military life,” Belle said. “All in all, I love what I do and appreciate the opportunity to help others live healthier life.”

During the presentation, the Rowan County Army Guard from the American Legion Post 327.

Mickey York, a Rowan County Honor Guard member, indicated that his group likes for the people in the community to see their presence.

“We do this all year long. We go to rest homes and events where people ask us to be there, but our primary function is to do military funerals,” York said.

While he is proud of their work, York added that as a veteran, it’s also significant to him. He was deployed during the Vietnam War and came home in 1969.

“It serves me well to serve others, and I appreciate everybody’s service,” York said.