November 6, 2016

SALUTE TO

VETERANS
HHHHH

2 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016

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The Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce
Thanks our Veterans!

TriniTy Place

Join us for the

662-327-6716 • 300 Airline Road • Columbus, MS 39702

2016 Columbus Veterans Day
Parade and Ceremony

Honoring Those
Who Served

In honor of those who have fought for our freedom

Saturday, Nov. 12

Parade begins at 10am
at Columbus Municipal Complex
1501 Main Street
and proceeds down Main Street

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Join us at 11am for a wreath-laying ceremony
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Thank
You

to all our
veterans for
your service
and sacrifice.

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Past,
Present,
And Future

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SALUTE TO VETERANS

SALUTE TO VETERANS

To these veterans and the many
others who have and continue to fight
for our freedom, we say THANK YOU
Corporal John Brown
U.S. Army
Master Sergeant Johnny Buster
U.S. Air Force
Master Sergeant Willie Byrd Jr.
U.S. Army
Corporal Willie Todd Byrd
U.S. Army
Senior Airman Linda Crook
U.S. Air Force
Roz Cunningham
U.S. Marine Corps
James Curto
U.S. Army, U.S. Navy
Staff Sergeant Carol Hunt Damron
U.S. Air Force
Bert Coleman Gerhart Jr.
U.S. Navy, Navy Reserve
James Christian Gerhart
MS Army National Guard, U.S. Army
Philip Nace Gerhart
MS Army National Guard, U.S. Navy
Robert Stuart Gerhart
MS Army National Guard, U.S. Army,
U.S. Air Force
Sergeant Floyd M. Hegwood
U.S. Air Force
Staff Sergeant Jimmy E. Helton
U.S. Air Force
Lieutenant Bill Henry
U.S. Marine Corps
Sergeant Jonathan Hewett
U.S. Army
Private First Class Edwin Humphries
U.S. Army
Specialist Teanna Jefferson
U.S. Army
Specialist Treanna Jefferson
U.S. Army
Sergeant First Class Floyd H. McIntyre
U.S. Army, Army Reserve,
MS Army National Guard

Private First Class Johnathan D. Orr
U.S. Air Force
Private First Class Torrey L. Petty
U.S. Army
Staff Sergeant William L. “Bill” Plyer
U.S. Air Force
Major William E. “Skip” Pratt
U.S. Army
A.J. Price
Army Air Corps
Petty Officer E-4 Henry Randle
U.S. Navy
Timothy Read
U.S. Marine Corps
Chief Master Sergeant David Rose
U.S. Air Force
First Sergeant Paul E. Russell
U.S. Army
Master Chief Petty Officer
Richard Schmidt
U.S. Navy
Trenton R. Sheffield
National Guard, U.S. Army
Senior Airman Toni Petty Singletary
U.S. Air Force
First Lieutenant Patsy Smyth
U.S. Air Force
Petty Officer Third Class Bill Taylor
U.S. Navy
Master Sergeant Joe J. Terry
U.S. Air Force
Sergeant Buddy Thrasher
U.S. Army
Master Sergeant Paul Vega
U.S. Air Force
Corporal Earnest Oneal Woolbright
U.S. Army

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6 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016

John Brown
Vietnam

awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple
Heart and Vietnam Cross of Galantry with
Oak Leaf. Aside from the bad memories
of Vietnam, he recalls an enjoyable 11year tour in Europe.

Willie Byrd Jr.

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SALUTE TO VETERANS

father’s footsteps in service to his country.
He was proud to serve with the 193rd
Military Police Company and worked in
the Commision Trials while stationed in
Guantanamo Bay. His fondest memory was
when he returned home and saw his picture
on a billboard that said “Welcome Home.”

the Iraq Enduring Freedom campaign.
Cunningham joined the military to serve
and protect his country.
He recalls serving with men and
women from all races, religions and
nationalities focusing on one common
goal: to complete their mission.

Linda Crook

James Curto

Germany, Vietnam

Vietnam

W. Byrd
Brown

Corporal John Brown, 69, served in the
U.S. Army in 1968 in Vietnam.
Brown recalls being wounded in 1969
with 26 days left in Vietnam. He hung
onto a helicopter for 20 minutes before
being pulled inside. His doctor had given
up on his recovery.

Johnny Buster
Vietnam

Master Sergeant Willie Byrd Jr., 74,
served in the U.S. Army for 24 years, with
a 10-year tour in Germany and two-year
tour in Vietnam.
Byrd was drafted in 1961 and made a
career in the military.
He is honored to have been part of the
team that stood shoulder-to-shoulder for
the freedoms we enjoy today. He often
thinks of the wonderful years he spent
with his family in Berlin.

Willie Todd Byrd
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Crook

Curto

Senior Airman Linda Crook, 49, served
in the U.S. Air Force from 1990-98.
She joined the military to serve her
country.
Crook recalls serving at George Air
Force Base in California, where she had the
opportunity to visit Los Angeles, Hollywood
and numerous other exciting places.

Roz Cunningham
Iraq

W. T. Byrd

Corporal Willie Todd Byrd served in
the U.S. Army for four years with a tour in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Byrd joined the military to follow his

Carol H. Damron

Vietnam
Staff Sergeant Carol Hunt Damron
served in the U.S. Air Force for seven
years with tours in Vietnam and England.
Damron joined the Air Force to travel
and learn a trade.
She recalls the opportunity to travel
around the world and meet many
wonderful people, including trips to Berlin
in 1968 and Vietnam in 1971. She said
joining the Air Force was one of the best
decisions she ever made.

Buster

Master Sergeant Johnny Buster, 70,
served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years,
10 months with two tours in Europe and
one in Vietnam.
He served 18 months in Vietnam
with the Military Assistance Command,
Vietnam-Studies and Operation Group, a
black ops recon team.
Proud to serve his country, Buster was

James Curto, 69, served in the U.S.
Army from 1967-69 and in the U.S. Navy
from 1974-76. He served two tours in
Vietnam and saw combat in Khe Sanh
and Hue.
Curto joined the military to serve his
country honorably in times of war.
He recalls how rough combat was and
thanks God for the B-52s.

Cunningham

Roz Cunningham, 37, served in the U.S.
Marines for eight years and participated in

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e

Bert C. Gerhart Jr.

James C. Gerhart

Vietnam War

Korean War

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016

7

B. Gerhart
J. Gerhart

Bert Coleman Gerhart Jr. served in the
U.S. Navy for three years, 10 months from
1956-59. He also served with the Navy
Reserve for three years, seven months
from 1959-63.
Gerhart served aboard the USS Rowan.

n

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James Christian Gerhart served in the
Mississippi Army National Guard, 31st
Division, in Columbus for one year, nine
months from 1951-53. He also served
with the U.S. Army from 1953-55.

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Our Debt To The Heroic Men and
Valiant Women In The Service Of
Our Country Can Never Be Repaid.
They Have Earned Our Undying
Gratitude. America Will Never
Forget Their Sacrifices.

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- President Harry S. Truman

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Tronox Salutes Our Veterans.
Thank You For Your
Past, Present, And Future Services.

8 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016

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Helton recalls Vietnam, service with USAF
By Alex Holloway | aholloway@cdispatch.com

Photograph by Luisa Porter

J

immy E. Helton has seen a little bit of
everything.
Helton, 73, is a retired staff sergeant
in the U.S. Air Force. He joined the
military after graduating from Ohio State
University in 1962, and served until his
retirement in 1982.
Helton said he felt the need to do
something after college. The military
seemed a good option, so he enlisted. He
spent four years at Blytheville Air Force
Base — known today as Eaker Air Force

Base — in Arkansas, before deploying to
Vietnam in 1966.
While in Vietnam, Helton worked with
a transportation squadron. The work
involved moving people and supplies
around as needed to support the war
effort. He said he did that for six months,
then transferred to a port in Saigon to
help ensure equipment and supplies
reached the right places.
Helton served in Vietnam in 196667. He said he had good and bad times

during his deployment. But on the whole,
he said he wasn’t thrilled about the
deployment — especially with a family
back home.
“I didn’t want to be there,” Helton said.
“You sort of get used to it, but there was
always shelling somewhere nearby and
some loud noises. I was always counting
the days to get out, because I had a wife
and two kids. It was tough trying to live in
a tent, and when you’re out there in the
jungle, you just sleep where you can.

“It was tough, but it was just what you
had to do,” he added.
Though Helton wasn’t a front-line fighter,
he still faced danger. He sometimes flew
on C-130 transport planes, which attracted
enemy fire. Even in Saigon, safety wasn’t
always a sure thing.
“You never knew what would happen
from day-to-day because the Viet Cong
would come in on the base at night,”
Helton said. “They wanted to blow up the
ammo dumps and stuff. You just didn’t
know when your time might be up. I saw
a lot of caskets moving.”
Helton returned from Vietnam
in 1967. He was assigned to bases
across the United States, including
Massachusetts, Delaware and Colorado,
and internationally in Germany and the
Philippines.
He joined the Civil Service in 1983,
after retiring from the Air Force. The
work brought him to Columbus in 1990,
when he started working as a traffic
management officer at Columbus Air
Force Base. In 2002, he was named the
director of logistics for the base, where he
worked until he retired in 2005.
Since then, he’s volunteered in quality
control roles at CAFB.
Despite the Vietnam War’s hardships,
Helton said he enjoyed his time with
the military — especially the chances to
see places he wouldn’t otherwise, such
as when he was stationed in Europe.
However, he said one of the hardest
things for Vietnam veterans was often just
coming home from the war.
“Nobody really wanted us over there,”
he said. “So there was nobody to meet
you at the airport when you came back.
It was just — you were on your own, and
had to just get along. I really thought the
government or the people owed us a lot
more than they were willing to give.”

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May we never forget
freedom isn’t free...
God bless
each and
every one of
our military
servicemen
and women.

RV

JOHNNY
BISHOP

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662-434-6501 or 800-569-9847
Hwy. 45 North • Columbus, MS

JOHNNYBISHOPRV.COM

Owned & Operated by a Retired U.S. Army Veteran

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Philip N. Gerhart
Korean War

years, four months from 1951-55, in the
U.S. Army for eight years, three months
from 1955-64 and in the U.S. Air Force in
1964.
With the Army, he served tours in
Italy and Germany. With the Air Force
he served tours in Korea, Turkey, the
Dominican Republic, Okinawa and the
Philippines.

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016 13

Jonathan Hewett
Iraq

Teanna Jefferson

Floyd M. Hegwood
Korea

Jefferson

P. Gerhart
Hewett

Philip Nace Gerhart served in the
Mississippi Army National Guard, 31st
Division, in Columbus for 11 months in
1957 and in the U.S. Navy for two years,
nine months from 1957-60.
Gerhart spent time aboard the USS
Saratoga.

Sergeant Jonathan Hewett, 45, served
in the U.S. Army for five years, including
two years of foreign tours.
Hewett joined the Army to serve his
country and did so as a combat medic in
Adhamiya, Iraq.
He recalls, “Trying to keep your
brothers alive is the taxing part of war.”

Robert S. Gerhart
Korean War

Hegwood

Sergeant Floyd M. Hegwood, 86,
served in the U.S. Air Force for 23
years, six months with foreign tours in
Japan, Korea, England, Taiwan and the
Philippines.
Hegwood joined the military because
his brothers had participated in World
War II and he wanted to help with the
war in Korea.
He recalls the camaraderie he
felt with his unit and cherishes the
friendships that continue today.

R. Gerhart

Robert Stuart Gerhart served in the
Mississippi Army National Guard for four

Specialist Teanna Jefferson, 20, is active
in the U.S. Army after joining three years
ago.
She joined the military out of a desire to
do something more for her country.
She fondly recalls training with her
battle buddies in Fort Lee, Virginia, and
Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Treanna Jefferson

Edwin Humphries

South Pacific
Private First Class Edwin Humphries, 90,
served in the U.S. Army 32nd Division from
1944-46.
The 32nd Infantry’s campaign was centered
upon trying to drive the Imperial Japanese
forces out of the Philippines. The infantry was
among the first to enter combat and the last
to leave. They slashed and crawled their way
through the steamy jungles.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army at the
age of 18 in June 1944. He spent two years
fighting in the Pacific Theater, becoming an
expert rifleman and machine gunner and
doing his best to stay alive.
Two days before the Japanese
surrendered, deep in the jungles,
Humphries woke up rendered totally blind
by an eye infection. He returned to the
Army field hospital where he contracted
hepatitis and returned home with the first
American prisoners of war.

Jefferson

Specialist Treanna Jefferson, 20, is
active in the U.S. Army after joining three
years ago.
She was inspired by her aunt and uncle,
both military veterans, to join the Army.
She fondly recalls many great times
with the Okalona Unit and learning under
her sergeants.

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A platoon in combat: one veteran remembers six months in Vietnam
By ISABELLE ALTMAN | ialtman@cdispatch.com
in the Marines. Ten months of that were
spent in hospitals.

Photograph by Luisa Porter

A

t 23, Marine Lt. Bill Henry was one
of the oldest members of his
platoon in Vietnam in the fall of
1967 and winter of 1968.
The Carthage native grew up on a farm
in Mississppi hunting squirrels and running
through the woods. He could handle guns
from a young age and spent all the time
he could outside. So when Henry joined
the Marines right after graduating from
Mississippi State University in 1966, it
seemed like a natural fit.
But years of outdoor life and months of
training hadn’t prepared Henry for direct
combat against the North Vietnamese at
the height of the Vietnam War.
Henry served with around 60 Marines
at a time, most of them 18 to 20 years old.

They ate protein packs, which sometimes
came with poundcake or cheese and
caused Henry to lose about 50 pounds
in the six months he spent there. They
carried three days’ worth of rations,
weapons and gear through unfamiliar
terrain and slept about two hours at a
time, Henry said. And they killed.
“Youth is good for a lot of things,”
Henry said. “But it doesn’t prepare you
for very hard things -- death.”
When Henry arrived in Vietnam in
November of 1967, he and his platoon
were south of Da Nang, close to
Vietnam’s eastern coast. Over six months,
the platoon moved gradually westward,
traveling about four or five miles a day,
though between the packs they carried

and the unfamiliar terrain, Henry said it
usually felt like much farther. In late April,
they were sent to relieve the seige at Khe
Sanh.
“It was gruesome,” he said.
He saw Marines who had lost limbs and
had burned faces. That’s also where, on
April 21, Henry was hit by shrapnel from
artillery fire out of the mountains across
the border with Laos.
“I lost a lot of blood,” he said. “I had
damage to my foot, ankle, back, (and)
burned up my arms.”
At the hospital in Memphis, he met a
nurse from Minnesota. She’s now his wife,
he said with a grin.
From joining to his medical discharge,
Henry served two years and one month

Compiling a record
Now 72, Henry still keeps close contact
with many of the Marines from his
platoon. About 15 years ago, he decided
to put together a record of their combat
experience to give to each of the surviving
members. Using letters their families
had kept, old Marine manuals, other
memorabilia, and memories and stories
of the Marines with whom he served, he
put together a pamphlet called “A Platoon
in Combat,” which gives a daily chronicle
of what the men went through. It includes
where the platoon was, what they did and
what happened -- from attacks, ambushes
and booby traps to the day a helicopter
delivering supplies also delivered news of
Martin Luther King Jr.’s death.
Each day and event listed in the record
is numbered. Henry worked with a
professional mapmaker from Columbus
Air Force Base to create maps that have
corresponding numbers to match events
with the areas where they occurred.
Henry is extremely proud his project
includes only facts. He wanted his
buddies to be able to make whatever they
wanted out of the records.
“I said, ‘This can be a guide for you to
use to organize your photographs if you
want to or to write anything,’” Henry said.
“‘You can editorialize. You can tell any
story you want to tell’.”
For Henry though, the project was a
way to put to bed all the memories he
had of the war.
“Once I wrote this, it allowed me
to forget it,” he said. “I quit trying to
remember. I knew once I had it down that
I had it captured.”
He doesn’t talk about the war much
anymore, he said. When he does, his
stories center on his unit and how proud
he is of them.
“It was the highest level of trained
individuals I’ve ever known in my life, and
they were 18, 19 years old,” Henry said.
“But they could do their job.”

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SALUTE TO VETERANS

Floyd H. McIntyre

Iraqi Freedom
Sergeant First Class Floyd H. McIntyre,
69, served in the U.S. Army for 35 years.
McIntyre enlisted in the U.S. Army
Reserve in May 1971 to fulfill his military
obligation. After his initial enlistment
ended, he re-enlisted with the Mississippi
Army National Guard because he had
developed a deep sense of pride in
service. When he re-enlisted, he knew he
would be going to Iraq.
He came to believe that he was making
a genuine contribution to his country,
and he was entrusted with more and
more duties. He stayed on to continue to
train and supervise the young men who
were entrusted to his care. Marching in
Veterans Day parades in Birmingham,
Alabama, and later working to coordinate
the parade, made him so very proud to be
serving his country in the Army Reserve.

Johnathan D. Orr

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training and getting to see her parents
with smiles on their faces and pride in
their hearts.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016 15

A.J. Price

David Rose

World War II

Thailand, Japan

William L. Plyler
Korea

Price

Rose

A.J. Price, 94, served in the Army Air
Corps infantry during World War II in the
European Theater and Germany.

Plyler

Staff Sergeant William L. “Bill” Plyler,
84, served in the U.S. Air Force in 1951.
He served a tour in Korea.

William E. Pratt
Korea | Vietnam

Henry Randle

Iran
Petty Officer E-4 Henry Randle, 57,
served in the U.S. Navy for six years.
Randle participated in an Iran
hostage rescue and received the Navy
Expeditionary Medal and Navy Unit
Commendation from President Jimmy
Carter aboard the USS Nimitz.
He joined the Navy with hopes to see
the world.

Chief Master Sergeant David Rose, 72,
served in the U.S. Air Force for 26 years
with tours in Thailand and Japan.
Rose joined the military in pursuit of
education and travel.
He fondly recalls the many wonderful
people he met.

Paul E. Russell
Vietnam War | Korean War

Timothy J. Read

Orr

Private First Class Johnathan D. Orr, 23,
is active in the U.S. Air Force after joining
10 weeks ago.
Orr joined the Air Force with hopes to
make the world a better place.
Pratt

Torrey L. Petty

Private First Class Torrey L. Petty served
one year in the U.S. Army.
Petty joined the military to make a
difference and protect her country.
She fondly recalls graduating from basic

Major William E. “Skip” Pratt, 77, served
in the U.S. Army for 22 years.
He served tours in Korea, Vietnam,
England, Scotland, Ethiopia, Laos, Germany,
Central America, Brazil and North Africa.
Pratt joined the military to serve his country.

Timothy Jay Read, 27, of Tampa,
Florida, served in the U.S. Marine Corps
for six years. He served a tour in the
Persian Gulf.
Read said he joined the military
because he wanted to jump out of
helicopters.
He was shot Aug. 31 and was
evacuated to Camp Leatherneck where,
through friendship with several soldiers
there, he learned that regardless of race,
they all fought together and all bled the
same.

Russell

First Sergeant Paul E. Russell, 84, served
in the U.S. Army for 30 years with one
tour in the Korean War and three tours in
Vietnam.
Russell served in the Air Defense
Artillery.
“Fighting a war is hard,” he recalls,
“Fighting with both feet frozen is really
trying.”

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SALUTE TO VETERANS

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Richard Schmidt
Desert Storm | Iraqi Freedom

Master Chief Petty
Officer Richard
Schmidt, 54, served
in the U.S. Navy
for 26 years with
combat experience
in Grenada, Panama,
Desert Storm and Iraqi
Freedom.
Schmidt
Schmidt joined the
military to serve his country and get a
focus on his life.
He had many shipmates, met many
friend and made memories for a
lifetime. He said, “The military gave me
experience, maturity and an education
that I could not get on my own.”

Trenton Sheffield
Germany

remained in the Army, except he wanted
a grounded life for his daughter.

Toni P. Singletary

South Korea
Senior Airman Toni Petty Singletary, 23,
served in the U.S. Air Force for five years
with a tour in South Korea.
Singletary joined the military to protect
her country and see the world.
She fondly recalls graduating from basic
training and getting to see her parents with
smiles on their faces and pride in their hearts.

Patsy Smyth

Vietnam
First Lieutenant Patsy Smyth, 69, served
in the U.S. Air Force for two years.
Smyth joined the military to gain
nursing experience.
She recalls her wonderful comrades.
They were supportive of each other when
support for Vietnam was lacking.

Bill Taylor

Vietnam
Petty Officer Third Class Bill Taylor, 68,
served in the U.S. Navy from 1969-73
with combat experience in Vietnam.
Taylor was drafted into the military and
joined the Navy to see the world.
He served on the largest combat ship
to pass through the Panama Canal and
recalls participating in the rescue of B-52s
on New Year’s Day of 1973.

Joe J. Terry
Desert Storm

Sheffield

Trenton R. Sheffield, 80, served in the
National Guard from 1952-55 and in
the U.S. Army from 1955-57. He served
one tour in Kassel, Germany, where he
was tasked to guard the German border
against Communist intrusion.
Sheffield joined the military out of love
for his country and to make a living to
support his wife and daughter, the latter of
whom was born while he was in Germany.
He recalls returning home to see his
daughter for the first time when she was
a year old. He felt exceeding pride in
serving his great country and would have

Terry

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Master Sergeant Joe J. Terry, 51, served
in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years.
Terry joined the military to help the
country and “earn while he learned.”
He was a dedicated soldier who reenlisted after his initial four-year stint so
he could continue to serve his country.

SALUTE TO VETERANS

Earnest O.
Woolbright
World War II

Buddy Thrasher

Germany
Sergeant Buddy Thrasher, 80, served in
the U.S. Army from 1952-60.
Thrasher joined the military out of
loyalty and duty to his country with the
intention of protecting the United States.
He recalls his service time was a
very rewarding experience where he
developed teamwork skills. He also saw
the destruction war can cause in lives and
property damage that remained even after
eight years of recovery.

Paul Vega

Master Sergeant Paul Vega, 59, served
in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years.
He was an expert marksman, instructor
supervisor for air traffic control and
combat controllers, nuclear and nonnuclear weapons specialist, chief of air
traffic training and chief of control tower
operations at Columbus Air Force Base.
Vega joined the military because
he believes the freedoms we have are
a blessing from God. He said he was
inspired by the wisdom of the founding
fathers.
He wishes to salute his fellow airmen
who have passed on including those who
gave their lives in the line of duty. He
recalls attending a military class and the
instructor stating, “We are going to teach
you to do things that you never thought
possible.”
The military was an adventure, and he
said his accomplishments exceeded his
expectations.

Woolbright

Corporal Earnest Oneal Woolbright, 73,
served in the U.S. Army from July 1, 1943Nov. 10, 1945.
He served tours in Normandy, Northern
France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central
Europe. He decided to join following the
bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Woolbright completed basic training at
Camp Shelby. He served as a corporal in
the 4th Armored Division, Company C,
10th Armored Infantry Battalion as part
of General George Patton’s 3rd Army. His
military occupation was truck driver, and he
drove General Patton’s jeep.
One Christmas morning while he was in
Germany, he was asleep in a foxhole in a
clearing surrounded by woods. American
soldiers were hiding in the woods when
a German soldier walked up and found
Woolbright in the foxhole. The Americans
were afraid to shoot for fear Woolbright
would sit up and they would shoot him by
accident so they just sat back and watched.
The German soldier was pointing his gun
at Woolbright but didn’t shoot him. Maybe
he thought he was already dead. Although
he received no wounds in action, he was a
prisoner of war for three months in Germany.
He got detached from his battalion and fell
in with the Germans as they were marching.
They reached a bridge and asked for a
password. He didn’t know the password, of
course, and was captured. He remained a
prisoner until the war was over.
He was awarded an American Theater
Service Ribbon, European African Middle
Eastern Service Ribbon, Good Conduct
Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, Meritorius
Unit Award and World War II Victory Ribbon.

SALUTE TO VETERANS

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016 19

For your

bravery,
hard work
and dedication
to our country,

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thank all of our

servicemen
& women.

© The Dispatch

20 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016

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SALUTE TO VETERANS