WALES — Like so many, Christopher Wainwright remembers exactly where he was on September 11, 2001.

“I was in Augusta, and I was right near the airport and all the planes stopped flying,” Wainwright, an army staff sergeant, said. “It just seemed like everything was quiet, like everything stopped. Then we started hearing bits and pieces and found out what was going on.

“Your parents will tell you where they were when (President John F.) Kennedy was shot or when a man landed on the moon, and you’ll never forget where you were that day.”

The events of 9/11 led Wainwright to re-enlist in the army as soon as possible. As he put it, “it was easier to be in uniform than not.”

Wainwright — the father of Jon Wainwright, a freshman on the Dirigo High School football team — is just one of so many men and women that have risked their lives as a member of the United States armed forces.

On Saturday, Christopher Wainright was one of four honorary captains recognized prior to the Cougars’ game at Oak Hill as a part of military appreciation day.

David Frost — who served in the Air Force — was the other Dirigo captain, while Vietnam veteran Ray Voisine and Robert Richards — who was stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C. from 1961-64 — were the honorary captains for the Raiders. Voisine and Richards are the grandfathers of Oak Hill football players Kody Voisine and Alex Mace, respectively.

“It’s a great cause. We were totally surprised and the way the nation has come together for the military veterans is awesome,” Frost said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for Oak Hill and the way that they’ve handled themselves here. What a great day for all military veterans.”

“It means so much. I don’t know how to explain it,” added David’s son, Tyler, who rushed for 105 yards on 24 carries in the Cougars’ 14-6 win over Oak Hill. “It’s just you walk onto the field and you see the red, white and blue on midfield and they’re the reason we’re allowed to play this great sport, because they’re over there protecting us.”

Mace was also touched by the pregame ceremony.

“It felt great having (my grandfather) by my side. Going up there for the coin toss was amazing,” Mace said. “That’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had, knowing he’s by my side and he’s with me all the way.”

The honorary captains were just part of what the Oak Hill community and coach Stacen Doucette helped organize for Saturday’s game, as there were also two antique military vehicles stationed just past the end zone and the letters ‘OH’ painted at midfield in red, white and blue.

“We just wanted to recognize people who have worked hard for our country, veterans and current personnel,” Doucette said.

Doucette and the Raiders also helped raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, as well as took in $5 donations in the form of toiletry items, gas or phone cards to be donated to the Maine VA Medical Center at Togus. According to Oak Hill athletic director Jim Palmer, the event helped raise about $1,680 total for the two organizations.

“We have the Sabattus Legion and the Litchfield Legion, and we draw kids from both of those communities,” Palmer said. “A lot of our kids once they get out of school end up going into the military, so we just wanted to kind of pay back for what the military does for us.”

One of the most noticeable tributes was on the field Saturday, as the Raiders put their home blues away for a game and wore camouflage jerseys instead. The uniforms — which Oak Hill got on loan from Wells High School for the game — were a pleasant surprise to the players.

“We actually didn’t know we were getting these jerseys,” Mace said. “We came out in our blues and then (coach Doucette) told us to come back. We came back and he pulled out the camo jerseys. We were all psyched up.”

Both Palmer and Doucette said it was not their intention to have the event so close to the anniversary of Sept. 11, but rather it was just how things worked out.

Either way, it was a touching tribute.

“It was humbling (and) spectacular. It really was,” Christopher Wainwright said. “It was really humbling.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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