Veteran Bennie Brookins, above, puts out hundreds of flags Friday on graves of veterans in preparation for Veteran’s Day — something the local chapter of VFW does each year.  -- Ashley Johnson
Veteran Bennie Brookins, above, puts out hundreds of flags Friday on graves of veterans in preparation for Veteran’s Day — something the local chapter of VFW does each year.
Photo by: Ashley Johnson

What Veteran’s Day really means to Bainbridge

Published 12:39am Saturday, November 9, 2013

Veteran’s Day in Bainbridge is a time of celebration. As tradition, Willis Park will be filled Monday morning with veterans and residents there to honor them.
Bainbridge serves as a home to veterans from all eras of war, from World War II to wars as recent as Iraq and Afghanistan. Commander Hill Yates of VFW Post 4904 is making sure each and every one of them will be recognized come Monday.
He and other members of VWF travel to the homes and cemeteries of deceased veterans, placing small American flags on their properties and lots to show the community’s respect for their service.
“We as members of VWF try our best to mark every veteran we can. It’s my obligation to make sure all veterans have a flag, because they served for that flag,” Yates said.
Yates was one of the many Bainbridge resident to be sent to the Vietnam War, where he served for 19 months and 23 days. He said he is proud of the effort the city puts into making the Veteran’s Day special.
“They bend over backwards to put things together,” Yates said. “It makes me proud that they show that kind of respect for veterans.”
Yates shares his passion for patriotism with his wife, Susan, who is president of Ladies Auxiliary in Bainbridge.
“Both of us have personally gotten support from the city if we need anything,” Susan said about celebrating Veteran’s Day. “All the service organizations in town help, too.”
Susan said it’s overwhelming to think of the amount of people who have died while serving. The support Bainbridge shows on Veteran’s Day means a lot to her and Yates.
Decatur County Administrator and former Air Force Col. Gary Breedlove also finds pride in Veteran’s Day in Bainbridge. Breedlove spent a total of 50 years in uniform, from his high school ROTC days until the day he retired from the Air Force.
For 16 years, he worked as the Program Director of the Air Force Junior ROTC program and Bainbridge High School.
“I don’t look forward to being recognized myself,” Breedlove said. “I’m from the standpoint of looking to other veterans in town and appreciating what they have done.”
One of the veterans Breedlove is looking forward to honoring is Bainbridge native Chad Smith. In three weeks, Smith flies home from Colorado where he served in the Air Force. He sent a flag to Breedlove to be raised at the County Commission Office Monday to commemorate his return.
“For me, Veterans Day means everything,” Smith said. “The Air Force has been incredibly good to me. They’ve helped with my education and will hopefully help me with finding a job. It’s humbling that our nation recognizes us.”
Breedlove didn’t wait to raise the flag, choosing to fly it at BHS during the days approaching Veteran’s Day.
“Here’s a guy that graduated about the time I moved to Bainbridge, and now he’s retiring from the Air Force and coming back home,” Breedlove said.
Yates said he likes seeing Bainbridge go all out on Veterans Day.
For him, one of the biggest joys is having everyone come by and show their thanks.
“I just wish everyone would, when they see a veteran, thank them,” Yates said.

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