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The Grundy County Veterans Historical Society hosted the Second Annual World War II Veterans Appreciation Luncheon on December 6 at the Coalmont Community Center.
World War II veterans that were in attendance included Mr. Earl Rigsby of Gruetli-Laager, Mr. William R. Curtis of Pelham, Mr. Thomas Rollins of Altamont, Mr. Fernando (Tony) King of Beersheba Springs, Mr. Hershel Curtis of Tracy City, Mr. Marcus Hill Jr. of Beersheba Springs, Mr. Ralph E. Burnett of Gruetli-Laager, Mr. Carlton Thomas of Monteagle, Mr. R. B. Lawrence of Tracy City, Mr. Jamie Winton of Altamont, and Mr. John Bohr of Beersheba Springs.
Mr. Ray Winton (Korean War Veteran) led the ceremonies of recognition and allowed the men to share anything that they wanted about their experiences. Mr. L B Lawrence was thankful for the opportunity to share a special time with his fellow veterans. Mr. William R. Curtis stated that he was drafted in 1944 and went to Fort Bragg and from there was sent to the Philippines Island and Japan in 1945. Mr. Hershel Curtis stated that the Good Lord was with him or he would not be here today and said he still has nightmares about Omaha Beach.
Mr. Marcus Hill Jr. stated that he knew that some would make it and some would not. He also said he enlisted with the Navy in 1944 and came out in 1969, serving with Admiral Nimitz in the Pacific. Mr. Carlton Thomas said he was with the 79th Infantry and was a Prisoner of War in Austria from August 23, 1944 to May 8, 1945. Mr. Jamie Winton volunteered in August 1942 with the United States Navy and he said he was like Minnie Pearl, “I’m just so glad to be here!” Mr. Ralph Burnett served with the 37th Special Navy Seabee Unit in Pearl Harbor and served as a supplier loading and unloading supplies.
Mr. Thomas Rollins went in at the ripe age of 18 and had the honor of serving with some of the nation’s finest men in the 28th Division for two and half years. He fought at the “Battle of the Bulge.” He stated that the Lord had a hedge about me and protected me throughout the entire war and even to this day. Mr. Fernando “Tony” King went in during 1943 and served in the 44th Infantry and was stationed at St. Louis and Washington. Mr. John Bohr said he did the Cadet program in high school and joined with Mr. Eugene Phillips and Mr. Gene Nunley in the Army Air Corp. He considered his service to be during the more peaceful part of the War, serving in Paris, France and Casablanca. Mr. Rigsby entered on December 10, 1942 and said he saw some terrible things, including American soldiers lying across each other. He also said to the group of men “I love you guys, YOU ARE MY BROTHERS!”
Mr. Marcus Hill, Jr. also stated that he was so thankful for everything Mr. Y. B. Ashby did for veterans and called for a moment of silence in memory of Mr. Ashby. He also thanked Mr. Ray Winton for stepping up to the plate to continue Mr. Ashby’s work for veteran recognition and support!
Mr. Winton thanked the ladies of the community for preparing the meal. Penny, Doris, Judy Gail, Jessie, Debbie, Betty, Betty Jo and Gayle all pitched in to prepare and serve the honorees a nice hot lunch. Mr. Winton also gave certificates of thanks sent to each veteran from Senator Janice Bowling.
“Today we honor these men of the GREATEST generation!” said Ray Winton.