Memorial Day observed
by MARY L. KIRBY
May 30, 2013 | 1185 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby<br>
LAYING THE Memorial Day wreath during ceremonies Monday, Mrs. Huelene Strong, a 96-year-old grandmother, does the honors with the assistance of her granddaughters, Natalie Webb, left, and Nadra Murphy.
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“As long as men have worn the uniform and faced the enemy, the prospect of being injured, maimed, killed, or captured has been hidden somewhere deep inside the inner thoughts of every combatant,” Steve Dean told the audience gathered to commemorate the fallen at the annual Memorial Day Service at the south side of the Upshur County Court House. Dean, himself a Vietnam-era veteran who lost a brother, John Mack Dean, during pilot training, brought a personal element to the speech often missing as the attendees have been aging and Upshur County has been fortunate enough not to lose more of her sons in our recent wars.

Dean went on to explain that until hundreds of Americans became prisoners of war in Korea and were tortured, the United State had no Code of Conduct for Military Personnel. Signed into law by Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955, Dean swore the oath when he enlisted in 1965. It outlines that he is prepared to lay down his life for his country, will not surrender while he can resist, and even after being captured will resist the enemy and help his fellow prisoners.

Within this code comes the famous instruction just to share ones name, rank, and service number.

Dean went on to explain that after the anger vent upon the troops during the Vietnam conflict, a new code has been developed for civilian conduct which emphasizes that the troops be respected for their service to defend the Constitution and not criticized for the policy they did not create.

In conclusion, Dean showed the audience items from the Flight of the Phoenix Museum including a “Blood Kit,” an item carried by pilots into combat in case if they were downed behind enemy lines.

He also had a flag carried by an A-10 Warthog pilot of the 47th Fighter Squadron into combat in Afghanistan. The 47th was once Dean's outfit and is today commanded by Gilmer native, Col. John Breazeale.

Gary Adams, Commander of VFW Post 6715 served as the Master of Ceremonies.

Mrs. Hulene Strong, a 96-year old laid the wreath which honors the county's fallen. She was assisted by her granddaughters, Natalie Webb and Nadra Murphy.

The Rev. Huey Jones both led the invocation and sang “America” before Dean started his remarks.

Lynn Alexander, a retired US Army trumpeter, performed “To the Color” as members of the Gilmer High School Air Force Junior ROTC raised the flag, continued with the National Anthem, and concluded the ceremony with “Taps” as the ROTC lowered the flag to half staff.

Dan Miles gave the closing prayers.

Working in conjunction Monday were members of VFW Post 6715, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 204, and the newest member of the group, American Legion Post 320.
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