Local Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans honored Tuesday: Doug Vaughn, Vance Shuler. William D. Brown, Richard Preston, Larry Turner, Bobby Van Brackle, Donald Singleton, Roger Jones, Phillip Jones, Al Payne, Robert F. Proctor, Dan Thompson, David M. Lovell, Ernest Harold Fowler, Jay C. Volker, Glen Dale Williams, Gary W. Jahn, Jimmy McLeod, Rick Gardner, Richard Hall, Harry Lee Boles, Sausto Tenen, Duane Swope, Larry S. Lucas, Ervin Nelson, Carlton Cooper, Robert Sharpe, Lowry Taylor Cuthbert, Alvin V. Thompson, Charles Henderson Jr., Bill Reed, Michael Stabach, Darner Carmichael, William B. Helms, Max Spencer, Charles Parsons, Elmer Glen Hickey, Lewis W. Gill, Russell Teet, Ray Carter Sr., Jim Carter, Tommy Carter, Bill Acebes Deborah Haymans, Jimmy Hurd, Donald Bennett, Albert George, Michael Wright, James Yawn, E. Paul Brodner, Mike Harden, William M. Fillers, Phillip Hodges, James M. Baumgardner, James D. Hostetler, James Francis Clark, Karen Odell.
Hundreds gathered for separate events Tuesday at J.F. Gregory Park to say thanks to veterans and honor the memory of Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman, who was killed Aug. 7, 2009 in Afghanistan.
The day began with the run named after Freeman, the fifth annual Matthew Freeman Memorial 5K, which drew 121 runners to the park.
Freeman’s mother, Lisa Freeman, thanked runners and sponsors and Mark Foldowski from Legacies Alive, a group which works to help those who’ve lost someone in the Global War on Terror.
“That means so much to us as Gold Star families, who may be feeling forgotten after 13 long years of war,” Freeman said. “Mostly, I want to thank the wonderful town of Richmond Hill, which helped raise Matthew.”
Among those who ran in the race was Roger Olsen of Hinesville. Olsen, 50, won his age group by running the 3.25 miles in 24 minutes and 2 seconds. He called it a perfect day to run.
“It’s my third year running this race,” Olsen said. “I’m here to support what Matthew Freeman was fighting for and it’s just an excellent way to come out and enjoy the day.”
Mohamed Sankoh won the run with a time of 18:41. Sara Maltby was the top female finisher with a of 20:44.
Freeman also awarded a scholarship to Rachael Strader, a teacher on Fort Stewart, through the Matthew Freeman Project, a nonprofit group for which the 5K is a fundraiser.
The run set the stage for Richmond Hill’s annual Veteran’s Day observance, and Mayor Harold Fowler said the day couldn’t have been more perfect.
“I’ll tell you what, the Lord has blessed us with a beautiful day,” he told those gathered at the park near Veterans Memorial.
Fowler introduced both speakers — retired Lieutenant Colonel Phil Jones, a former Bryan County Administrator who is from Richmond Hill, and Lt. Colonel Brett Forbes, commander of the 1stBattalion, 41stF ield Artillery Regiment on Fort Stewart.
Both praised the role of veterans in keeping the U.S. free and the importance of Veterans Day in giving something back to the men and women who put on their country’s uniform.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them,” said Forbes, who has deployed a number of times. “Live each day to the fullest, be the best you can be and live a life worth sacrificing for, thereby earning what all veterans have given us.”
Jones, a decorated Vietnam veteran, read the names of more than 50 Vietnam-era veterans with ties to Richmond Hill, several of whom he knew – and gave each a welcome home as JROTC cadets from Richmond Hill High School presented those who attended the ceremony with a certificate, gift and salute.
He ended his remarks by quoting from General Douglas MacArthur and then asked those in the audience to remember something.
“These guys have given up everything they can give for you,” Jones said. “Remember without their selfless service, there’s no telling where would be today, so please take that opportunity to say thank you to a veteran.”
The event included prayers by Pastor Steve Lane, the dedication of several bricks to World War II veterans by Exchange Club president Laura Evans. It ended with the laying of a wreath by Fowler and Forbes at the Veterans Memorial, then taps by Richmond Hill Police Officer Tim Saia.
Monday, Pembroke City Council held a moment of silence to honor veterans. Friday, Richmond Hill High School held an event to honor veterans as well.