MEMORIAL DAY PRIDE:
Serving their country is a family affair for two
families in McKenzie. Dana Deem (left) and his wife
Tan-Gee (far right) are veterans of the Air Force while
Henry and Diane Carter are Army veterans. Both families
are active in veteran, church, and civic activities in
CLICK HERE FOR VETERANS BREAKFAST & VFW WALL OF HONOR
CLICK HERE FOR HUNTINGDON SERVICE
Hubbard Honors Fallen Comrades,
Veterans, Soldiers on Memorial Day
Former Special Forces soldier and Vietnam veteran Hugh
Hubbard, his voice tense with emotion, paid homage to
the family of Capt. Brent Morel Memorial Day morning at
the third annual "A Day of Remembrance" service held at
the downtown park in McKenzie.
"There's no words I could come up with to express my
deep sorrow," he said, the sincerity of his voice a
fitting substitute for eloquence.
He also praised the accomplishments of the soldiers of
the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, among
whose number four served as honor guard for the event.
Of those four, two have completed tours of duty in Iraq
and the other two are destined to follow in the
footsteps of their fellow soldiers. All four are
members of the division's 311 Military Intelligence
"You did a great job and made us all proud," Hubbard
advised the men.
He made short shrift of those who view Memorial Day as
the gateway to summertime fun unmindful of the true
meaning of the holiday.
"Today I stand here honored to represent those who have
gone before me," he said.
Searching for the right words to represent his fellow
soldiers who never made it back to U.S. soil, he said
he read through a packet of old letters and the diary
of a soldier of the 30th Infantry Division who "gave a
vivid description of going over the top with a 1903
Springfield rifle with fixed bayonet. Although half the
troops were wounded or killed, he wrote, "Our doughboys
did us proud."
He spoke of a Mexican compatriot who wanted so badly to
be a paratrooper that he gorged himself on bananas to
gain enough weight to meet the requirements for the
He recalled the day Esteban came to him saying,
"Gringo, I'm not going out anymore - no more recon -
I'm going home in ten days; I want to see my wife and
But he volunteered for the next mission and never again
stepped foot on American soil.
The surgical team who fought to save him, though
toughened by the spectre of death that is war's
constant companion, broke down and cried when their
efforts proved fruitless.
Hubbard recalled Fred Taylor, a guy who could make him
laugh "just by opening his mouth." The friends were
somber when they met on July 12, 1965, however. Their
visit was brief, Fred was heading out early the next
morning on a reconnaissance mission.
"Keep your head down," the men said to each other in
parting, the standard words that substituted for their
heartfelt plea, "Man, take care of yourself, because if
you get killed you're going to break my heart."
"Fred's body was never recovered," Hubbard shared
emotionally. "Today I wear his (MIA) bracelet," he
continued, reading its inscription: SFC Fred Taylor,
U.S. Army, 13 July 1965, South Vietnam.
An Internet source expounds on his story, relating the
sergeant first class was "no ordinary foot soldier."
Last seen moving into dense jungle after being cut off
from their unit, Taylor and Master Sergeant Henry
Gallant, who was said to be wounded, were highly
trained Special Forces soldiers. The two are among many
feared to be held by their possible captors many years
after the war's end.
Known to be captured was Colonel Nick Rowe, a West
Point graduate who was held in a three-by-four feet
cage for five years and two months, resisting enemy
demands that he cooperate.
"When he couldn't resist anymore he would write the
most convoluted statements," Hubbard said, describing
statements impossible to follow that were full of the
"biggest words in the English language."
One of the most powerful weapons used by his captors to
whittle at Taylor's resolve was propaganda,
unfortunately accurate, from the homefront; items like
the "anti-American statements" of Senator J. William
Fulbright of Arkansas.
"An American senator wouldn't do that," Taylor
stubbornly resolved when faced with the evidence,
countering his enemies' efforts.
Rowe escaped his captors and was nearly gunned down by
gunners in U.S. helicopters before they notice the
tell-tale beard that distinguished him, clad in black
pajamas, from his captors.
Having been promoted from lieutenant to major during
his captivity, Rowe was a full colonel by the time he
was assassinated in Manila on April 21, 1989. He shared
his prisoner of war experience at the hands of Viet
Cong guerillas in his book, "Five Years to Freedom".
Hubbard recalled he was seven years old on December 7,
1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. His dad,
who, he declared, had an English major from Tumbling
Creek Elementary School from which he graduated in the
fourth grade, called the Japanese "various types" of
common curse words.
And though Hubbard then protested that "today is about
the present and future," the implication was clear:
Japan was the enemy of the United States.
General Colin Hubbard related General Colin Powell
conducted a tour of the nation's capital with his
Russian counterpart, beginning at the Jefferson
Memorial. There, he referred to an inscription that,
Powell advised, according to Hubbard, referred to
values all Americans share, taken from the Declaration
of Independence: "We hold these truths to be
self-evident that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness, that to secure these rights governments
are instituted among men... And for the support of this
declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of
divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our
fortunes, and our sacred honor."
And "in two feet high letters," Hubbard said, he
pointed out another inscription: "I have sworn upon the
altar of God eternal hostility against every form of
tyranny over the mind of man."
"Like Washington and Jefferson and all our founding
fathers, America is ready to fight and die for all
these inalienable rights," Hubbard declared, referring
to the current conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and where
ever terror leads.
Calling the soldiers fighting against terror "a
lifeline for us," he stressed, having earlier asserted
America's fighting force is the finest army that has
ever been fielded anywhere in the world. "It is
incumbent upon us to support them in every way we can."
He decried political factions who are "screaming and
hollering about what we're doing in Iraq."
"That should be left to the generals and the secretary
of defense," he said.
He lifted Pat Tillman up as an ultimate hero, a man
who, told he was too small to play in the NFL,
nevertheless persevered to play "the kind of football
that brings everybody to their feet."
Having surpassed his limitations in that regard,
Hubbard says, "he left a 3.6 million dollar contract on
the table" and joined the Army, keeping a low profile
so as not to call attention to himself.
"Better men than me are dying for me," Hubbard said
Tillman told a friend. So he endeavored to become one
of the best, joining the famed Army Rangers.
Then, like Marine Capt. Brent Morel, whose wife Amy,
sister Marcy, brother-in-law Rick, and parents Mike and
Molly Morel were in the audience, Tillman was killed in
the line of duty.
Somewhere in America, someday, there will be another
young man who will triumph over seemingly
insurmountable odds to play NFL football, Hubbard
predicted. A young man will enter a recruiter's office
and declare he wants to be a Ranger.
But it won't be the same kid," he declared. "There's
only one Pat Tillman. No one I know would ever do what
He predicted victory over terrorism will not be quick,
and will require sacrifice. In World War II, he
reminded listeners, everybody sacrificed and nobody
complained. Women, formerly homemakers, went to work.
Ration books controlled everything from sugar to tires,
gasoline and shoes.
The war will be fought on many fronts, he warned. "It's
going to require strong leadership and brave hearts;
people who have the will to stick it out."
He warned listeners to ignore negative reports from the
(liberal) media and to concentrate instead on good
reports coming from the soldiers who are getting the
job done. He warned against politicians seeking out
negatives to further their own ends.
"Make sure our troops don't fight in vain," he said,
referring to one naturalized citizen-soldier who
informed a senator on a "grip and grin" visit of the
hospital where the soldier was recuperating from
wounds, "I willingly went to Iraq; I'm proud of my
country and you'd better not let the troops down."
"Please continue to support them," he said. "And honor
your fellow Americans who have given the last full
measure of devotion to the freedom we all cherish."
Mayor Walter Winchester thanked Hubbard for his moving
Memorial Day tribute with a gift of a key to the city
after which he presented to the Morel family a
beautifully framed and matted copy of a resolution
honoring the late Capt. Brent Morel for his dedication
and service to a grateful community and nation.
The mayor had earlier recognized special quest Vernon
Bobo of Trezevant, who during World War II received
four purple hearts, two bronze stars and the silver
star. Also recognized was state Senator Don McLeary and
County Mayor Kenny McBride.
Placing the wreath on the war memorial was Korean War
veteran and former U.S. Army Master Sergeant Carl Smith
and U.S. Army Reserve Major Foster Hudson, who recently
returned from duty in Iraq as a member of the 461st
Personnel Services Battalion based in Decatur, Georgia.
Performing taps were McKenzie's own Christy Lowe and
Following the retrieval of the colors by the 101st
Airborne Division, 311th Military Intelligence
Battalion Honor Guard, red, white and blue balloons
were released alongside the park in patriotic
celebration. The balloons were donated by Nanney's
Guests enjoyed a community picnic made possible by
donations from Carroll Bank and Trust and the city of
McKenzie. Mr. Jerry Chandler of McKenzie donated the
canopy under which the food was served.
Entertainment was provided by celebrated local talent
"Cruise Control" featuring the vocal talents of
Kimberly Faye, who also performed a moving rendition of
the Star Spangled Banner as the program began.
A highlight of the group's performance was the song,
"Welcome Home" written by band member Argel Reynolds.
Other band members are Larry Logan and Patrick Steele.