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1/22/2020 12:12:56 PM
Posted: 9/15/2009 6:11:20 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/15/2009 4:08:49 PM EST by Mastadon]
[Was "Anyone near Laurens, SC needs to be in Laurens, SC this Saturday - bring family!"]

Alright, I've been waiting a long time to post this here and I'm very excited about this. For the past three months, I've had the amazing privilege and honor of being a member of the Laurens County Hall of Heroes Committee. As a member, I have had the pleasure of interviewing and writing about a number of the local World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans who will be inducted into the Hall of Heroes this Saturday, September 19. This year's inductees are largely World War II veterans because we want to honor them while they are still with us.

I have also developed the Laurens County Hall of Heroes website, which went live yesterday. There are still a few rough edges with the site, but it's a work in progress. Hit the above link to read about this year's inductees, who include some incredible men. Here are some examples:

  • Gene Burns was a company commander in the renowned 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was wounded twice and received two Bronze Stars. Burns also commanded, and recommended for a battlefield commission, Sen. Daniel Inouye, the senior senator from Hawaii.
  • Charles Cooper led a battalion in the 65th Infantry Division during World War II. His valor earned both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. Mr. Cooper will be inducted posthumously.
  • John Merril fought the Viet Cong in the Chu Lai area as an M79 grenadier with the Americal Division. He was shot in the chest with an AK-47, and his immediate reaction was relief that he hadn't lost his legs to a VC booby trap.
  • John "Bo" Cox was a BAR man who entered World War II as a replacement in the 29th Infantry––one of the units that hit Omaha Beach on D-Day. While Cox wasn't in Europe on D-Day, he did make it over in time for the last days of the Battle of the Bulge and the advance into Germany. In the town of Julich, he single-handedly charged a German machine gun position.
  • Rawlinson "Smiley" Martin was an enlisted man who was drafted into the Army during World War II. His service brought him face to face with the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. He witnessed first-hand the massacre at Gardelegen and the "hospital" at Hadamar, where Third Reich doctors carried out human experiments and implemented Hitler's notorious Aktion T4, or euthanasia program. He stayed in the Army Reserve after the war and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
The 2009 Induction Day is an all-day, family event. Military vehicles, including a Paladin howitzer, an M1 tank, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, humvees, and possibly a helicopter or two will be on static display at the fairgrounds. The kids are welcome to crawl all over them, and soldiers of the Clinton National Guard unit will be on hand. They have already spent a year in Iraq and are to deploy to Afghanistan next year. Saturday will be a great time to thank them for their service and sacrifice. Kids will also enjoy firetrucks, police cars, snow cones, popcorn, and plenty of room to run around.

At noon, the vehicles, the 2009 Hall of Heroes honorees, and others will parade through Laurens to the historic courthouse in the town square. Here, local officials will lay wreaths at the four war memorials on the square and address the crowd, the soldiers, and the inductees. Then, it's back to the fairgrounds for more family fun. That evening is the highlight and primary reason for the day, the Hall of Heroes 2009 Induction Ceremony. All twenty veterans will be honored, and all of the sixteen living veterans will be present. This will be a fantastic time to meet some of the men who shaped our country's history and preserved the freedoms that we enjoy today. This will be the perfect opportunity to introduce your kids to some true heroes, including the World War II heroes who, sadly, will not be with us much longer. The night will end with a fireworks display.

You can read the full schedule of events at the website.

Also present at this, the fifth annual ceremony, will be past inductees. They include Ed Ernst, a torpedo man who served aboard the submarine that rescued President George H. W. Bush after he was shot down over the Pacific. Hopefully, we will also see John Dakers there. He was a Special Forces command sergeant major who served as a Green Beret pretty much since the beginning in the early '60s. He served in Vietnam and participated in many operations after the war. He can tell you about some of them. The list goes on and on. This will be a truly awesome opportunity to meet and to help honor some real heroes, to teach your children what it means to be an American, and to show them what kind of sacrifice it takes to maintain our freedom.

Come on down to Laurens Saturday––I can't wait to be there, and I hope you'll join the fun!

ETA: There is no admission charge for any of the events.

Also changed title.
Link Posted: 9/15/2009 6:32:29 AM EST
I'm just down the road from you (about 8 miles outside of Whitmire). I'll talk to the spousal unit & see what our schedule looks like this weekend.
Link Posted: 9/15/2009 6:48:21 AM EST
Hope you can make it –– there will be some great people to meet there. Good time will be had by all!
Link Posted: 9/15/2009 4:08:10 PM EST
Bump for night crew and added info to OP...
Link Posted: 9/17/2009 10:21:06 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/17/2009 10:21:23 AM EST by scootr29]
I am in Greenville...my wife and I will try to make it...thanks for the heads up
Link Posted: 9/17/2009 12:11:23 PM EST
Great! I'm in Greenville, too, and will be there all day. If you go, ask around for the guy who developed the website. That's me, and I'd love to meet a fellow Arfcommer. Depending on when you show up, I'll try to introduce you around to the inductees –– they're some very impressive guys.

Just this morning, I interviewed Thomas L. Wilson, who served with "Dowd's Dirty Half-Dozen," a Ranger team that operated in Quang Tri province during Vietnam. Believe me, he has some stories to tell. Here's his entry on the Hall of Heroes website, but I won't have the full writeup posted until later this evening.

Hope you can make it out!
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