Hello to all my favorite folks!!!! Well ,I have my 4th duties and Honor Guard assignments all caught up & over with. Still need to mow the lawn but it is raining right now @ 0533 in the morning. Had a wonderfull time and have some killer photos if someone smarter at this than me at doing it wants to post them. As I heard thru the drums in the forest that all of you had been so great & good while I was gone I thought I would post my weekly column from the local paper and allow it to tell you all about my 4th!...Dan
Veterans honored in best Heritage Festival program yet
By Daniel Siler
It was as perfect of a day as anyone could have asked for here in the mountains. The sky was an absolutely beautiful Carolina blue, with just a hint of a breeze.
Graham County resident and World War II, 82nd Airborne Division, veteran Arvil Webster and wife Marie stood alongside the 82nd Division Operations Sergeant Major Curtis Regan and his wife Shelley next to a lowered American flag, while Zelerie Rose took their picture.
Yes, it was the Fourth of July in Graham County, and a perfectly executed veterans program by members of The Combined American Legion Post 192 & VFW Post 8635 Special Military Honor Guard was about to begin. This was one of the finest programs we have performed yet!
And also , before the day was over, it was one of the proudest and most honored events our band of brother veterans has taken part in, in my eyes. A day for veterans to honor veterans.
Rodney Nelson, a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm sang the National Anthem and Tom Livingston directed the firing squad.
Raising the colors was especially meaningful this year, as Sgt. Maj. Regan took over and gave us our commands. Everything was like clockwork. I felt honored and proud as I took my part.
For those who weren’t there, the introduction of our guest and co-marshall had special meaning to it and a historical touch. As the majority of those taking part were veterans from the Vietnam and Cold War eras.
Some 63 years ago, our co-marshall, Arvil Webster would exit the door of the C-47 Transport he was in, sometime after midnight on July 11th, and enter the annals of 82nd Airborne history in Gela, Sicily. The jump eventually saw the loss of 318 members of the 504th Parachute Infantry and 23 C-47's to friendly fire.
As Arvil will tell you, it isn’t any fun having tracer rounds going between your legs.
I did not know this until I met the Sgt. Maj., but America’s most highly-decorated soldier, Audie Murphy was turned down by the 82nd because he was too short. The 82nd is the last airborne division in existence, with 15,000 troopers.
In the 82nd, everyone from the lowest private to the highest general has to jump once a month, that’s cooks, clerks, doctors, nurses – everybody. They are deployable on two-hour notice, and are wheels up within 18 hours. Sgt. Maj. Regan explained that unlike any other unit in the Army, their method of departure flies away at 800 feet above ground at 200 miles per hour, so there is no way to return to the safety of friendly lines.
I had the honor to assist Sgt. Major Regan and Arvil Webster in retiring the old, worn and tattered colors.
Afterward, I do believe the entire crowd came by to shake our hands or say, “Job well done.” To make retiring the colors even more meaningful, veterans like Robert Parks, an 82nd veteran from Andrews and James Smith from Fontanna, came to help us.
As we were preparing for the parade, I walked up the street and found Sheriff Bob DeBruhl ,an Operation Desert Storm veteran, who was to lead the parade – my father, John Siler with him.
Dad was an armed guard radioman in the Navy during World War II. When I got to the line up, I found my old friend Sgt. Harold Phillips, a Vietnam War, Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with the Sergeant Major. Harold had World War II death march survivor Wayne Carringer in his Humvee.
So, all in all, the fourth turned out to be a great day!
Especially for this county’s veterans. Thank you to the organizers, and thank you to the fine folks of Graham County, who showed their support for us on this day.
As Sgt. Maj. Regan leaves to go to Afghanistan Friday morning, I would ask you to remember him and to remember all of our troops there and in Iraq.
We are in a situation there we simply cannot cut and run from, so remember to support all of them.