Quilter Betty Todd served as emcee with Ramona Thompson leading the Pledge of Allegiance, Roger Evans in charge of the music and Shirley Albritton blessing the food.
The veterans recognized for their service included three from WWII, two from the Korean Conflict and five who served in Vietnam. Two of the veterans were in the U.S. Marine Corps, one was in the Navy, five were in the army and two were in the Air Force. Some served in more than one war and some were in two branches of the service.
A short paragraph about each of the veterans follows:
Lee Parker McCurley was in the U.S. Army during WWII. He sailed to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth in 1943 and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He turned 95 years old in June 2014.
John S. Dean Jr. is a veteran of three wars--WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He was in the Army in the Pacific during WWII. After his tenure in the Army, he joined the Air Force for both the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts.
Bill Rowe joined the Air Force and entered battle just before the end of WWII. He stayed in the military service for 20 years and participated in both the Berlin Airlift and the Cuban Blockade.
James Berg enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict. He deployed from California on a Destroyer and sailed to the Far East. "It got really scary at times," he said. "I'd like to forget dodging the torpedoes, chasing submarines and firing on the coast." In 1974, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and served his country another 18 years.
Jesse Jackson Jr. was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954 during the Korean Conflict and served as a medic in a field hospital, where he drove an ambulance.
Joseph M. Hanna joined the U.S. Navy in 1960 and served 21 years before retiring. He was in Vietnam from '61-'68 and then was stationed in Thailand for three years.
John H. Massey enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1957, serving on standby during strife in Lebanon, Turkey and Cuba. He completed two tours of duty in Vietnam and was wounded by rocket fire and discharged in 1970. At age 75, Massey still is plagued with PTSD. He received many medals and plaques during his military service, but, he said, "I packed them all up and put them away. I put all that behind me and put church before me."
Joe Carr, U.S. Army, was commander of a tank company in the Armored Division in Vietnam, 1969-1971. His tour of duty was "no picnic," and when he got home, "there was no welcome party, either," he said. Carr still suffers with PTSD.
Ray Spencer was in the Marine Corps, stationed at DaNang during the Vietnam War. He said of his experiences, "The enemy was not the only thing feared there. There were snakes and water buffalo and tigers, one of which was killed after it had taken one of our Marines," he said.
Lloyd "Draco" Pursley was in the 101st Army Airborne Unit. He was a handler of the highly trained canine unit whose mission was to track Viet Cong and to recover wounded American soldiers (His nickname comes from his favorite dog, which he had to leave behind when he returned home.) Today, Pursley serves his fellow veterans as the District Ride Captain for the Mobile Unit of the Patriot Guards.
The Sassy Stitchers have honored several groups of veterans on Memorial and Veterans Day, always presenting them with a beautiful red-white-and-blue quilt to show appreciation for their service to their country. The quilters meet at the Senior Center on Wedmesdays at 9 a.m.
In the photo above, from left are John Dean, Jessie Jackson Jr., John Massey Sr., and Lloyd Pursley