Service heroes are many

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Memorial Day, my thoughts and prayers went out to all the brave men and women who served, and are currently serving, in our armed forces, and some who paid the ultimate price, so we can be free.

While I never knew my Uncle Tom Wight, a U.S Army officer who was killed in Salerno, Italy, in World War II, my dear late mother told me many stories about the brother she loved so dearly.

My cousin Ted Wight, who was raised in Cairo, Ga., and now lives in Jacksonville, Fla., wrote a book about Uncle Tom’s military service after doing extensive research.

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In his research, Ted talked with former veterans from around the country who served with Uncle Tom. They talked about what a great leader he was.

There is one passage in the book where one of his former men recounts the details of his death.

“Captain Wight was hit while we were going up a hill,” he recalled. “We went back to help him, but he was beyond help.”

I also recall another brave young man who went off to war and never returned.

His name was James Roland and he was a car hop at my dear late dad’s drive-in restaurant in Cairo. He was drafted into the Army and killed in Vietnam.

There were many others who served honorably and bravely in the wars our great country has been involved in through the years.

One of those men was the late Billy Simmons Sr., father of my dear friend Billy Simmons Jr., who served honorably and bravely in Vietnam.

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Cadet Adam Anderson, a senior cadet and Cadet Corp Commander in Lieutenant Colonel Dave Stewart’s Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC program. Adam recently received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

He was a very impressive young man who I am sure will make an outstanding officer  in the U.S. Army.

The Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC program, led by Colonel Gary Breedlove for 16 years and Lieutenant Colonel Stewart this past year, has produced many service academy appointees and  outstanding military officers.

They, along with Senior Master Sergeant Frank Gelslak, who has served with them, are my heroes.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure  of witnessing 2011 Bainbridge High School graduate Thomas Timmons, who I had the privilege of covering as a strong left-handed pitcher for coach Scott Miller’s Bainbridge High School Bearcats baseball team this past season, signing a commitment to join the United States Marine Corps. There were also several other students in the Class of 2011 who are planning to enter into the U.S. Armed Forces and I commend them, also.

People like Uncle Tom, James Roland, Billy’s dear dad, Adam Anderson, Colonel Breedlove, Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, Senior Master Sergeant Geslak and Thomas Timmons and their willingness to serve and defend this great country enable the rest of us to enjoy freedom.