By Mr. Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRATJune 26, 2012
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Local veterans were honored as members of the community came out to support those who have sacrificed to protect and defend the nation.
Members of the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the United States Army in conjunction with the Military Officers Association of America, the Sergeants Major Association and the United States Army Warrant Officers Association hosted a barbecue at the Floyd E. "Tut" Fann State Veterans Home June 23 to show their appreciation for all that veterans have done throughout the years for the country.
"Today is a wonderful way for our guys to interact with other veterans in the community as a whole, and they just enjoy it tremendously," said Charlotte V. Eason, veterans home department representative. "Several organizations got together and decided they wanted to do something for our veterans, so they came out to host this barbecue. Add on top of that, all of the other things going on today and I think it is significant for these veterans, because so many of our World War II veterans are leaving us so quickly. And we are seeing more and more of our Korean and Vietnam veterans coming in here and it is really special to have people come in and support them.
"Our veterans love this," she added. "It is wonderful for them to interact with the younger generation because they learn from each other. They always enjoy it when our Soldiers come to visit them."
Soldiers and leaders from Redstone Arsenal were there to show their support for the veterans and remind them that they are never forgotten.
"Today is great," said Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "It is always a great opportunity to come visit the veterans here at the "Tut" Fann Veterans Home. I am so impressed with the care they receive -- provided by the state of Alabama -- and the support this home gets from the local community. And anytime you get a chance to look these veterans in the eye and thank them for their service and let them know that their service has not been forgotten, it's a good event.
"This is a great opportunity to come out and to serve them and remind them that they will never be forgotten," he added.
The general's wife also spoke of the importance of military spouses and families, and the role they play in supporting America's veterans.
"It is important for Army spouses to be here because we know how our husbands have served and we see these veterans here with their spouses and we see them still supporting them and it is important to be able to see that," said Diane Formica. "It is a wonderful event. This is a wonderful facility and you can see it in our veterans' eyes that they appreciate everyone coming out and supporting them. It is fun to come out, even when there isn't an event, and just spend time with the veterans.
"I have met a lot of interesting characters," she continued. "They are always wonderful. They always amaze me that no matter when they served, they never forget where they served, who they served with and what they did. They are all very proud of what they did, whether they served two years or 32 years.
"I would encourage anyone to come down here and visit," Diane added. "These men and women served our country proudly and it is always a blessing to see them."
Making a presence were several members of the local Rolling Thunder Alabama Chapter 2. Rolling Thunder is a group that seeks to bring full accountability for prisoners of war and missing in action service members from all U.S. wars.
"I am here to honor these fine ladies and gentlemen who served their country to help keep the peace and make us safe and the lives of our children safe," said George "Butch" Cross, a member of Rolling Thunder from Hazel Green. "They deserve our support and it is the right thing to do to support them.
"I became a member of Rolling Thunder to honor and support veterans as much as possible," he added. "I served in the Navy myself, and I think we need to have more recognition for all of our veterans and hope people are more honorable to all of our veterans because they deserve it."
As the day proceeded, the Army Materiel Command Band performed for the veterans and guests. Guests were also able to enjoy some pulled pork, ribs, chicken, potato salad, baked beans, cake, ice cream, buns and rolls and drinks.
Members of the Floyd E. "Tut" Fann State Veterans Home team talked about why they worked there and about the success of the day.
"I love taking care of my veterans," said Trinity Prude, CNA/activities assistant at the veterans home. "There are a whole lot of characters here. You never know if you are going to meet someone who has flown an airplane or worked with a general, and they all have a million stories. It is never boring and you learn a lot being here.
"Today was a great success," she added. "The support we have received has been perfect. It is a fantastic day and I know all our veterans appreciate everyone coming to visit them."
During the event, the Veterans Memorial Board presented a short program on a time capsule to encourage the veterans and their families to share some of their military artifacts that will be opened in 50 years. The time capsule will be located at the Veterans Memorial in downtown Huntsville.
"Today is important and this time capsule is a way we can show the next generation what great things our local veterans have accomplished," said David Carney, member of the Veterans Memorial Board. "The time capsule will provide the people of Madison County the opportunity to recognize all veterans: past, present and future.
"Our veterans are what our nation is all about," he added. "Where would we be without our veterans? Our nation is built upon the strength or our veterans. Too often, people look at our older veterans and they don't really give them the respect they deserve. These people are awesome and we owe them our respect."
As the event continued, numerous veterans spoke about how special the day was and how they appreciated everyone who came down to spend some time with them.
"Today has been wonderful," said William B. Martin, who served as Gen. George S. Patton's personal mechanic in World War II. "General Patton would approve of today. He was always good to me, but he was always 'The General' and he said what he meant."
He served in the Army from 1941-1946 and again served in the Korean War from 1951-52. After fighting in two wars, Martin worked at Redstone Arsenal for 32 years and has been a guest at the veterans home since 1996.
Martin was recently named an honorary command sergeant major by the local Sergeants Major Association.
"This is a great place and they treat us good," Martin said. "I want to thank everyone for coming. It is always good to see our Soldiers. Patton would like this place."