By Brad Hicks
Robert Bess told those gathered at the Unicoi County Veterans Memorial Park that upholding the oath each serviceman or servicewoman takes upon entering the military so often leads to the ultimate sacrifice.
“The men and women who have given their lives in service to this nation are indisputably our heroes,” Bess said. “When their country called, they answered. Some volunteered and, yes, some were drafted. But no matter how they found their way into the military, I believe each one of them took it upon himself or herself to faithfully serve to the fullest of their capacity. This is commendable in a nation where so few among our citizenry have actually donned the uniform and accepted the inherent risks that go with that.”
Bess, a 14-year veteran of both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army and senior pastor at Love Chapel Christian Church, was the guest speaker for a Memorial Day service held Sunday, May 28, to remember the men and women who paid the ultimate cost to ensure this nation’s freedom.
The service, which was coordinated by the Town of Erwin, Unicoi County Veterans Memorial Committee and Unaka Post 25 of the American Legion also featured the National Anthem and several patriotic songs from Allan Foster. World War II veteran and Erwin Nine member George Hatcher led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The POW/MIA Ceremony was conducted by members of the American Legion Post 25 Unaka. Ray Tipton with the American Legion read the names of the 100 service members from Unicoi County who have lost their lives in battle since World War I.
Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley, Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch and Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch placed a wreath in front of the plaque and eternal flame honoring the Unicoi Countians who have perished in service.
Unicoi County Superintendent of Roads Terry Haynes provided closing remarks. Among the names read by Tipton was that of Bobby G. Haynes, Terry Haynes’ brother who was killed during the Vietnam War.
“After 50 years you’d think you’d get over losing a loved one in service, but it is a very, very sad time on this day,” Haynes said. “I remember Sept. 6, 1969, just like it was this morning. We went through that like so many people went through it.”
As he ended his speech, Bess urged those in attendance to honor the memory of the fallen military servicemen and servicewomen while keeping the loved ones suffering with their losses in mind.
“Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, it is a day of reverence, and it is a day that belongs to the memory of those have given their all,” Bess said. “I would ask that as we all leave here today and continue into tomorrow’s celebration of Memorial Day that you would keep the fallen in your minds and keep the families and friends in your hearts and in your prayers. The sacrifice that was made to keep our country free was very, very costly indeed.”
Along with the Unknown Soldiers, those Unicoi Countians who have given their lives in service are: Harm K. Adkins, Robert Bailey, Richard W. Bannister, Charles B. Baxter, Bob Beam, Oscar J. Bennett, Robert L. Bennett, Eugene Bowman, James J. Britt, Lewis Ray Callahan, Bernard Chapman, Curtis D. Clark, Donald R. Cook, Hubert D. Copp, Gus Cousins, Charles E. Duncan, Dallas P. Edmund, Mills Edmunds, David L. Edney, Garrett Edwards, Mark O. Edwards, Plen Edwards, Kelley L. Epley Jr., Paul E. Farmer, James H. Foster, William T. Gilbert, John Green, Donald L. Grubb, Dwight L. Guinn, Vernon C. Hardin, Hobert Harris, Woodward Harris, Elmer C. Harvey, Bobby G. Haynes, Donald Hensley, Luther E. Hensley, Orville F. Hensley, Doyle Holcomb, Fred B. Howell, Howard W. Hurt, Howard Huskins, Bruce Johnson, Douglas L. Jones, William A. Jones, Dwight L. Keever, Donald C. Keplinger, William A. Ledford, Harley E. Lewis, Robert E. Martin, Harley G. Masters, Paul Masters, Albert C. May, Deanah R. McCurry, Lina McCurry, Ralph C. Macintosh, Reld C. McInturff, Thomas S. McInturff, Wade H. McLain, Joseph P. McLaughlin, Johnie J. Meadows, Robert N. Moon, William M. Moore, Rufus S. Moore Jr., Lee R. Morgan, James R. Nichols, William F. Niemeyer, Johnny W. Ogle, Ivan A. Osborne, Glen W. Pack, Millard F. Parsley Jr., Douglas Penland, Clark Peterson, Cecil Poore, James H. Price, Hugh P. Prince, Lester L. Pulley, Walter L. Rice Jr., Earl D. Ryburn, Bobby J. Shelton, Simon P. Shelton, Clarence C. Stockton, Eugene H. Street, James E. Strickland Jr., Leonard W. Taylor, James W. Teague, Carroll B. Tilson, Roy C. Tinker, Lattie Tipton, Michael Tolley, Jack M. Turner, Edward M. Vogel, Hugh L. Waldrop, Allen E. White, Benjamin D. White, Marvin L. Williams, Paul Williams, Eugene Wilson, Jack Wilson, Ralph Wilson, Clyde R. Wishon.