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VFW HONOR GU AR D POST 6060 Although Americans celebrate Veterans Day each year on November 11; we, at Twiford Funeral Homes honor veterans and appreciate their sacrifices every day, not just one day each year. We pay homage to our veterans throughout the year in various ways; whether through local veteran programs held at our Sam A. Twiford Veteran's Memorial Park, supporting our local Honor Guard from VFW Post 6060 through fund raisers, supporting the Patriot Guard Riders, or simply honoring the life of a veteran who may choose cremation, by draping an American flag over the casket and cremating it with the veteran through our "Retire Your Flag with Honor" program. Veterans Day, November 11 or every day? We, at Twiford Funeral Homes say, "Every day is Veterans Day"
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Reggie Ponder/The Daily Advance James Young Jr. enjoys spending time at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060 in Elizabeth City. A U.S. Army veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, Young believes it was right for the U.S. to get out of the latter Middle Eastern country but wishes the withdrawal had been planned and carried out better.
Young still recovering from war wounds but 'would do it again tomorrow' By Reggie Ponder – Staff Writer James Young Jr. is still recovering from wounds he suffered in Afghanistan but he said recently that he has never regretted his service or sacrifices he has made. "I would do it again tomorrow," Young said in an interview at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060 in Elizabeth City. "I stayed in until they told me I had to get out." A native of Portsmouth, Virginia, Young served as an Army reservist in Norfolk, Virginia, from 1996 until 2004. In 2004 he began active duty as a forward observer with a field artillery unit. "I observed the enemy," he said, explaining that the role is similar to what use to be called "scout" but now is called "forward observer" because "scout" now has a very specific association with the cavalry. He served in Iraq from December 2005 through January 2007 and in Afghanistan from June 2008 through June 2009.
The forward observer role is extremely dangerous. "In Vietnam they gave us a 17-second life expectancy, and that really hasn't changed much," Young said. "Any time you have a radio on your back and nobody else does they shoot at the radio guy first." But Young survived dozens of improvised explosive device explosions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The four most severe explosions, which led to his retirement on disability in 2011, all occurred in Afghanistan. Young said he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Young, 45, joined the Army when he was 20. He retired as a staff sergeant. He still has headaches and continues to see a psychiatrist for mental health issues. Recovery is a continual process.
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"I'm still working on it," he said. For a while he operated a lawn care service and he may start that again depending on how his recovery goes. Young said he believes his transition back to civilian life has gone a bit better than it has for some others because he began his service as a reservist. Young said people in Elizabeth City and other smaller towns have been especially appreciative of his service in Iraq and Afghanistan — something he said he hasn't seen quite as much of in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. "It seems like the closer you are to most military bases people don't care about your service, because everybody served," Young said. But Young said he has never been overtly disrespected as he knows some Vietnam veterans were. Young's own father served in the Army during the Vietnam era. Young sees some similarities between the war in Vietnam and the recent war in Afghanistan. In both cases it was time for America to withdraw from the conflict, he said. But in both cases the withdrawal was not done in the best way possible, he added. He said as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan he has been especially troubled that military equipment was left in Afghanistan that can now fall into the hands of the Taliban. "I personally think it was a good move to get out of Afghanistan," Young said. "They don't really want us there and we don't want to be there, so why should we be there? It was time to get out of there." But he wishes the withdrawal had been planned and carried out better. "My concern is that my grandson is going to have to go over there and fight another war that we could have prevented by
getting our stuff out of there," Young said. "And I think our politicians tied our hands behind our backs a little bit with the rules of engagement." He said he understands the need to identify a target before shooting. But he said there were rules of engagement that prevented troops from even detaining people who had been shooting at them just moments before. "As soon as they put the weapon down we were no longer allowed to engage them," he said. Even worse than the injuries he suffered was the time he had to be away from his family and the loss of friends who never came home, he said. Young has been able to stay connected through social media with friends he served with. Young has been married twice. He has three children with his first wife, and met his second wife after his retirement from the Army. He has lived in Pasquotank County about 3½ years. He said he has a sister in Perquimans County and he likes northeastern North Carolina. A life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, he said he tries to help out with VFW activities as much as he can. He also belongs to a Masonic Lodge in Portsmouth and also collects and donates bicycles for children every Christmas. He hopes to incorporate the effort as a nonprofit within the next year. So far he has donated bicycles to children in the Portsmouth area but he hopes to expand into Pasquotank for Christmas 2022. Young explained that he was born on Christmas Day and that as the oldest of five children being raised by a single mother he often didn't get much at Christmas. He's happy to help other kids have a bright Christmas, he said.
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U.S. Army and Army National Guard veteran Donald Spencer holds up a photo of himself from the 1990s when he was serving in the U.S. Army. Spencer, who served 11½ years, says "the military made me a better person. It gave me a better outlook on life. I got to help my country and pave the way for the next generation."
Spencer: ‘Military gave me a start’ By Julian Eure – Managing Editor Today, Donald Spencer is a sought-after auto mechanic who owns his own repair shop in Elizabeth City. But more than 40 years ago, he was a teenager looking for a way out of what looked to him like a life headed nowhere fast. The Engelhard native was just 16 when he decided to join a delayed entry Army Reserves program that would put him on a path to an 11½-year career in the military, first with the U.S. Army
National Guard and then the U.S. Army. Spencer, who's now 58, said having two older brothers who had served helped make up his mind to join the military. But all these years later, he also believes something else helped drive his decision. "Besides serving the country, it was part of growing up and becoming a man," he says of military service. "It was a challenge
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and I always loved a challenge." All these years later, Spencer also believes joining the military helped save his life. "If I had not done it (joined) when I did, I probably would have been dead and gone now," he said. "The lifestyle I was in at the time was one where I didn't care. It (joining the military) helped me push myself and find my place in the community." Spencer joined in 1983 and initially served with the Army National Guard 167 MP Battalion in Washington, N.C. Seven years later, he decided to go active duty with the Army. Spencer's first assignment was overseas in South Korea. He was stationed at Camp Stanley, an Army camp just east of the city of Uijeongbu. His assigned MOS, or "military occupational specialty," as a light wheel vehicle mechanic would have a tremendous impact on his future life after the military. Spencer recalls he and other U.S. soldiers stationed at Camp Stanley in the early 1990s having a good, respectful relationship with their peers in the South Korean army. "They taught me a lot and I feel like we taught them a lot. We had everyone's back," he said. Spencer's next tour of duty was at Kaserne Babenhausen, a now-closed U.S. Army base that was then near Frankfort, Germany. He served with the 545th Ordnance Battalion there from 1993-94. Spencer said he decided to leave the Army in 1994 for personal reasons. His wife had accompanied him to South Korea but then had to return back to the U.S. when one her siblings was killed. She also accompanied her husband to Germany but because of their inadequate housing, again decided to return home with their growing family. After receiving what he described as "sad letters from home," Spencer said he decided to "push through" his two-year deploy-
ment in Germany and then leave the service. He was honorably discharged in 1994. When he returned home, Spencer and his family lived in Tyrrell County and he worked for several construction companies. The skills he had learned in the Army came in handy. As a heavy equipment operator, he could drive everything from an excavator to a dump truck. After a number of years, he decided to put his mechanical skills to use on cars and trucks. He went to work for several Manteo car dealerships, becoming an "all-around" technician and working on everything from engines to transmissions. After about eight years working on the Outer Banks, Spencer was hired by the Perry Automotive Group in Elizabeth City to work for the company's Toyota dealership. By then he had moved to Elizabeth City. He would go on to work for the Toyota dealership's new owners after the Perrys sold it, and then left to work for Biggs Buick GMC Truck. Spencer then moved to Fayetteville, where he worked for a Chevrolet dealership for several years before again moving back to Elizabeth City to work for several more auto dealers, including Alliance Nissan. In 2009, Spencer finally decided to strike out on his own, working mostly from his yard. After about nine years, he rented a building to work from before moving into his current location, Westover Automotive, at 410 B. South Hughes. "No job is too big or too small for Murdoch," is his business's motto. Spencer said he got the nickname "Murdoch" while in high school because he once wore a garbage bag to a school event — much like the character "Murdoch" did in an episode of "The A-Team," the 1980s hit action-adventure TV show. Does he ever regret not making the military his primary career?
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"If I could turn back the hands of time, I'd have stayed in and gotten my 25 years," he says. "The military made me a better person. It gave me a better outlook on life. I got to help my country and pave the way for the next generation." Spencer said he never pressured his own children to join the military. And while none did, they've gone on to be successful in different fields. And two have followed his footsteps into the automotive business. One is a detailer at Biggs and another is a technician at Performance Chevrolet. Asked what advice he'd give to a young person considering a military career, Spencer says it'd be to make sure they talk to someone who's served in the military before signing up. "Also make sure you're not being pushed or forced into something you don't want to do," he said. "Make sure it's your decision, not someone else's, and then give it your all. Always aim high, as
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the Air Force says. Be all you can be, as the Army says. I highly recommend any branch of service if someone wants to join and serve." Spencer gets to do a lot of recruiting himself these days — not for the military but for the American Legion. In fact, he's the recruiting officer for Division I, District I of the American Legion as well as vice commander of Litton J. Sutton Post 223 in Elizabeth City. In his role as an American Legion recruiter, Spencer said he reaches out to veterans and ex-service members but doesn't employ high-pressure tactics. He asks potential recruits to come by and see Post 223's facility on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and then sit in on a meeting "before deciding whether or not to become part of us." The Post currently has 200-some members, of which 125 are active members. The group meets the third Wednesday of each month starting with dinner at 7 p.m. "We don't turn away any veteran," he said.
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After Coast Guard career, Knowles finds new ways to serve By Reggie Ponder – Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Ken Knowles Ken Knowles, a retired Coast Guardsman who currently works in civil service at Coast Guard Base Portsmouth in Virginia, serves in the Patriot Guard. He said he participates in Patriot Guard rides as a way to show respect to those who have served in the armed forces.
Ken Knowles has found in the Patriot Guard a way to continue the service he began as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. And Knowles also continues to serve with the Coast Guard as a civilian, working in facilities engineering at Base Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Virginia. Knowles joined the Coast Guard in 1978. His father had been in the Coast Guard in his earlier years and he grew up in New England, where he said the service was ever-present. Growing up in Rowley, Massachusetts, near a Coast Guard station in Newburyport, Knowles used to notice the small boat station on the Parker River when he went tuna fishing. He was interested in small boats and had that in mind when he joined the Coast Guard — but ended up serving on cutters.
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Photo courtesy Ken Knowles Ken Knowles is shown aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Decisive during 1983-84. Knowles, who is now retired from the Coast Guard and working in civil service in Virginia, says his most memorable service was in the 1980s when the Coast Guard helped save people from drowning during the mass exoduses from Haiti and Cuba.
After working for his father's printing company while he was in high school, Knowles wanted to do something different and found that opportunity in the Coast Guard. "I grew up on boats from as early as I can remember," he said. When he came out of basic training he was assigned to a base in Portland, Maine, serving aboard a 378-foot cutter performing North Atlantic fisheries patrols and searchand-rescue missions. The unit enforced fishing regulations and also focused on safety. After that initial service doing fisheries patrols in the North Atlantic Knowles trained as a chef. Knowles said he learned buoy maintenance and a number of other skills, allowing him to become a "jack of all trades" during his time in the service. "I think that's why I liked it," he said. Over time Knowles learned emergency medical service and firefighting. "You can do a lot in 21 years of service," he said. Although the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Defense in time of war, Knowles never was deployed on combat missions. He noted that the war in Vietnam had just ended when he began his service. His most memorable and rewarding service, he said, was saving people from drowning during the mass exodus from Haiti and Cuba during the 1980s.
Knowles recalled that in 17 years of service on cutters he was usually gone two to three months, then was back for maybe four or five weeks before heading back to sea. He said he wanted to serve on a polar cutter but never had a chance to. That service is sought after because you get to see polar regions. "You get to see things most people don't see," he said. During his time aboard a 210-foot cutter in the Caribbean and South America Knowles participated in a lot of drug enforcement incidents, as well as hurricane rescues. "I would have loved to have done some of the small boat services," he said. But he was glad to do what he did, he said, and enjoyed his time at sea. Knowles' biggest regret was getting older and having to retire. But he has worked civil service in Portsmouth for two decades since retiring from the Coast Guard. The base there supports one of the largest fleets of cutters, with nine currently stationed there. Knowles and his wife, who retired from a civilian career with the Coast Guard, live in Moyock. "It's a Coast Guard family," he said. One of their daughters is in the medical field and another is a firefighter/EMT in Currituck. "The family stayed with first responders," he said. Knowles said he didn't encourage his daughters to join the Coast Guard because he didn't think women were treated well there. But he added that has now changed for the better. He said what he enjoyed most about the Coast Guard was "the humanitarian aspect of it" when he was helping Haitians and Cubans in the '80s. "The humanitarian part of the Coast Guard in my opinion is the best thing there," he said.
Knowles participates in Patriot Guard rides as a way to show respect to those who have served in the armed forces. "Some of the Vietnam vets are forgotten and some of our vets coming from Afghanistan now are forgotten," he said. "It's a matter of respect." The Patriot Guard is all volunteer and not political. "Honor and respect is all it is," he said. Knowles said there are also volunteer opportunities through Patriot Guard for people who are not motorcycle riders. The group is especially interested in getting more teenagers involved in volunteering, he said. "We would love to see the kids involved," Knowles said.
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VFW 6060 to host Veterans Day ceremony, NCWorks hosts vets job fair By The Daily Advance Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060 will host its annual Veterans Day ceremony at 1433 N. Road St., Elizabeth City, Thursday at noon. The post will serve refreshments to attendees after the ceremony. The ceremony follows a veterans job and resource fair the NCWorks Career Center in Elizabeth City hosted for veterans held on Tuesday. The event, held at the NCWorks Career Center at 111 Jordan Plaza, featured employers, career advisers and community agencies and was designed to assist veterans as they transition to civilian employment. Career advisers and veteran representatives were available to help veterans with job openings, resume writing, and interviewing techniques. Employer representatives were able to discuss available job positions with veterans. The community resource agencies discussed the type of resources available to veterans, including counseling, tuition assistance and training. The participating employers included Telephonics, Aerotek, Olam, Daedalus, Currituck County, Elizabeth City State University, and the city of Elizabeth City. Agencies providing advice about resources included the Veterans Administration, the Economic Improvement Council, River City Community Development Corp.,
The Daily Advance U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Brook Sherman, commanding officer of Base Elizabeth City, speaks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060’s Veterans Day ceremony, Nov. 11, 2020.
and Vocational Rehabilitation. “This is an excellent opportunity for veterans to learn more about the services of the NCWorks Career Center and let us help veterans begin or change careers”, Sheryl Stevens, interim NCWorks Career Center manager, said prior to the event. For veterans seeking to learn more about the NCWorks Career Center in Elizabeth City, call 252-621-6350.
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Morris served at Ground Zero, took part in Baghdad invasion By Chris Day – Multimedia Editor Shawn Morris was a reservist with the U.S. Army when terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, he had been working as a manager at the McDonald’s on West Ehringhaus Street in Elizabeth City. As a reservist, Morris was a motor transportation specialist attached to a unit at Fort Story, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. During the assignment his status was elevated to active duty, with orders to Ground Zero in downtown New York City. That was just the beginning of his military involvement in the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks. Morris, 41, grew up in the Debry community off Peartree Road and attended Northeastern High School. He enlisted in the Army Reserves under the delayed entry program while still a student, and after finishing high school attended basic training at Fort Benning, in Georgia. Morris’ reserve military job designator was 88 Mike, or motor transport operator. For this role, he completed more than a month of advanced training at Fort Leonard Wood, in Missouri. He returned to Elizabeth City, and commuted to Fort Story to fulfill his monthly reserve obligation. While on assignment at Ground Zero, Morris’ unit pulled guard duty around the still smoky ruins of what had been the Twin Towers. During this period, his reserve unit was undergoing the process of decommissioning. That’s when he decided to re-enlist to active duty. “Our unit was disbanding during this time,” he said. “That’s when I went active duty.” Morris went active duty in 2003 and changed his military job specialty to infantryman. He returned to Fort Benning, where he completed advanced infantry training, and upon completion, received orders to the 396th Transportation Company of the 3rd Infantry Division. “They rock,” he said proudly of the 396th. “They really rock.” Morris was with the 3rd ID when the United States’ launched its invasion of Iraq. His unit departed from Kuwait and convoyed north to Baghdad as part of the first U.S. forces to enter the Iraqi capital. “We were right there with the Marines,” Morris said. He also saw duty in Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah, which at the time was a stronghold for al Qaeda-backed insurgents. Fallujah is located west of Baghdad and was the scene of two major battles in 2004, which resulted in about 130 U.S. casualties. “We lost a lot of people over there,” Morris said, recalling the loss
of U.S. military personnel. Morris recalled something he witnessed in Iraq that still makes him proud today. He said he watched many soldiers whose jobs did not involve direct combat, such as support units, bravely engage in fighting alongside more the combat-experienced soldiers like it was second nature. “It was an honor” serving alongside those soldiers, he said. “I’m just grateful for my experience and to be alive.” Morris achieved the rank of specialist and completed two tours in Iraq before exiting the Army in 2008. While no longer a soldier, he still takes pride in having served and in being an American. “I’m really patriotic,” he said. “I really want everybody to live in peace and harmony.”
Photo courtesy Shawn Morris U.S. Army veteran Shawn Morris is seen with his grandmother Phyllis Barrington in this photo from the mid-2000s when he was still serving.
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Photo courtesy Shawn Morris Veteran Shawn Morris poses for a photo while discussing his experiences in the U.S. Army at Waterfront Park, Tuesday, Oct. 19.
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After USCG duty near home, Garrish went on to see the world By Chris Day – Multimedia Editor Joe Garrish grew up in Ocracoke and enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard with hopes of shipping out and seeing the world. So guess where the Coast Guard sent him after completed basic training? Ocracoke. “I didn’t want to go,” said Garrish, recalling his reaction when he received orders to his hometown. “I left there to get away.” Garrish, 80, was a chief boatswain’s mate when he retired from the Coast Guard in 1980. In his retirement photo, Garrish is sporting beard, something he still wears today. Nearly a decade later the Coast Guard banned members from having beards. Garrish was 19 when he enlisted in 1960. After completing basic training in Cape May, New Jersey, he was ordered to Ocracoke. He was told his knowledge of the Outer Banks coastline was too good of an opportunity for the Coast Guard to ignore. Much of Garrish’s career, like his second assignment, was spent in the southeast. Following Ocracoke, he was transferred to U.S. Lightship Chesapeake, commonly known as the Chesapeake Lightship. The Chesapeake was later decommissioned is now under the care of the National Parks Service and serves as a museum at dock in Baltimore Harbor. The lightship was basically a floating lighthouse positioned about 15 miles offshore in the Chesapeake Bay. There, Garrish performed standard shipboard duties, stood watch, collected water and wind samples and honed his seamanship skills. Shifts aboard the Chesa-
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peake were rotated 30 days aboard ship and 10 days off on land. “It was a boring job,” Garrish said. He didn’t sleep well because the ship “rocked and rolled” when the winds kicked up the surf. That didn’t make eating easy either, because the meal plates would slide back and forth on the table as the ship swayed. One of Garrish’s favorite assignments was aboard the Cutter Kukui, which at the time was the Coast Guard’s only freighter, he said. Based in Hawaii, the crew of the Kukui traveled all parts of the Pacific Ocean tending to the Coast Guard’s LORAN station facilities. Long before GPS, mariners navigated using a system supported by LORAN station transmitters positioned around the globe. LORAN was an acronym for long-range navigation. As a member of the Kukui, Garrish helped build LORAN stations and crew barracks and performed other construction duties throughout the Pacific. Once, in Pulao, he helped build a new hospital for the U.S. Peace Corps. Because the Kukui involved so many aspects of the boatswain’s mate trade, it was a great learning opportunity for Garrish. “If you sailed on her you could do the job anywhere they sent you,” he said. Garrish’s career also included tours on a buoy tender, at search and rescue stations, at a lighthouse in Michigan, as well as in Puerto Rico and two stints as the officer of in charge. “I had some pretty good tours,” said the father of five children. “I’ve done a lot of traveling and I enjoyed it all.”
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Chris Day/The Daily Advance Joe Garrish joined the U.S. Coast Guard to get away from Ocracoke where he grew up. So what was his first assignment in the Coast Guard? Ocracoke. He said he was told using his knowledge of the Outer Banks was too good of an opportunity for the Coast Guard to pass up.
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Photo courtesy Chris Perkinson Chris Perkinson, a Currituck native who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq, now performs folk music at venues around the region under the name Dr. Perkins.
Photo courtesy Chris Perkinson Chris Perkinson, who was a trained combat medic in the U.S. Army, got to put his medical skills to work in the field when he was deployed with the 5th Engineer Battalion to Iraq in June 2008. He was stationed at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, which was about hour and half north of Baghdad.
Perkinson served as combat medic, worries about changing military culture By Julian Eure – Managing Editor Like a lot of veterans, Chris Perkinson was looking for a challenge and had family members who had served when he signed up for the military at age 22. A Currituck County native who already had experience providing emergency medical care through his work with emergency medical service units, Perkinson also knew what he wanted to do in the Army: serve as a medic. Perkinson got a chance to pursue his goal when he was assigned to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and
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stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, a large Army garrison near St. Robert, Missouri, in 2006. As a member of TRADOC, Perkinson was part of the command responsible for training all incoming troops. At Fort Leonard Wood, Perkinson's job was to teach a life-saving course to "permanent parties" at the base. Permanent parties are non-deployable units, and include Army personnel such as military police officers, doctors, nurses and drill instructors. Perkinson's job also required medical coverage at all live-firing
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ranges. Every life fire exercise required the presence of certified medical personnel, just in case a soldier was accidentally injured. In June 2008, Perkinson got to put his medical skills to work in the field when he was deployed with the 5th Engineer Battalion to Iraq. He was stationed at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, which was about hour and half north of Baghdad. As a member of the 5th Engineer Battalion, Perkinson worked as part of a 14-member team helping train Iraqi soldiers with the 5th Iraqi Army Engineer Battalion. The U.S. team included combat engineers, construction engineers, electrical engineers and other Army professionals who taught their specialized skills to their Iraqi counterparts. "I was in charge of teaching them medical training, teaching them our practices for first aid, how to stop bleeding, splint broken bones," Perkinson said. He describes his experiences in Iraq as "eye-opening." "It was eye-opening seeing how other people in the other parts of the world live and view western culture," he said. "It was also eye-opening to see the lengths that people will go to hurt other people." Perkinson did see combat up close and the units he was assisting did take casualties. Asked what it was like to serve in a war zone, he said both his Army training and prior background working for EMS were great preparation for what he encountered. "It's sort of second nature" by the time you have to respond in the field, he said. "It's something I had already done, and at the end of the day, your training takes over." Perkinson himself suffered injuries during his deployment: nerve damage to his legs and torn ligaments in his shoulder. He suffered the latter while pulling an Iraqi soldier out of a disabled vehicle and lifting him onto a stretcher. Perkinson said he "powered through" the remainder of his year-long deployment in Iraq. After returning to Fort Leonard Wood in June 2009, he would go on to have five surgeries. In 2010, he switched over to the 183rd Cavalry Regiment of the Virginia Army National Guard, which is headquartered in Portsmouth, Virginia. He served until 2012 when he was medically discharged. Perkinson says it was "sad to see my military career come to end." "Serving in the military was one of the most satisfying things you get to do in life. Some of the people you meet are some of the best people you'll meet in your life," he said. Now 37, Perkinson said he lives with chronic pain and poststress traumatic disorder but chooses to see the positive of his service. "I survived and made it home — that's all that matters," he said. When he got out of the Virginia Army National Guard, Perkinson first moved to Elizabeth City before eventually settling in Camden. He worked for a few years but his disabilities made
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it difficult. He now plays folk music under the name Dr. Perkins, performing at venues around the region. Perkinson said there are plenty of negatives about military service, "but the good outweighs the bad when it comes down to it." Asked if he'd recommend military service to young people, he said there was a time he would have but not anymore. "The military doesn't train people for the mission they're being sent to do," he said. Perkinson said he "still loves the Army" but worries about top leaders' efforts to change traditional military culture. Instead of molding civilians into soldiers, he believes the military seems more focused on making sure soldiers don't lose their connections to civilian life. "Some people are meant to be soldiers, sailors or airmen and some aren't," he said. "Instead of weeding out those people not best equipped for military service, the military has made the job easier and the rules laxer so everybody can feel good, safe and appreciated. They've made it (military service) easier, softer. ... But they've also made it dangerous for everybody." He said he's spoken with current soldiers who've told them their basic training "was easy" and that they were allowed onceunheard-of privileges like weekend access to their cellphones. He recalls being allowed two letters during his own training — one at the beginning and one at the end. "Basic training is supposed to tear you down and build you back up. It's not doing that anymore," he said. Perkinson said he recognizes there are problems in the military with racism and sexism. But he points out those problems exist outside the military as well. Perkinson doesn't believe the Army needs to compromise its mission to build the world's greatest fighting force by catering to a need to make military service more accessible to larger segments of society. "You're supposed to be strong, supposed to be tough. You're not supposed to be like everyone else. You're supposed to be a soldier," he said. Perkinson believes the change in culture is why military casualties are rising. "It's why so many people are getting hurt, so many are getting killed — because they weren't weeded out. The military is setting them up for failure," he said. Perkinson also worries the change in military culture will show up on the battlefield. "If we ever go into another conflict, this generation of soldiers will be severely overmatched in many ways and not be trained to handle combat like the previous generation was," he said. "We're supposed to be the world's greatest fighting force, but now we're not." Perkinson said he doesn't blame anyone at Army operational levels for what's happened. "These directives are handed down from the top," he said.
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The Associated Press Gaston College officer Crystal Todd helps lead blind Gaston College alumnus Angus Kola during the inaugural Stampede for Student Success 5K Run held on Oct. 2 on the campus of Gaston College in Dallas.
Blind former combat medic competed in Gaston College's first 5K run By The Associated Press DALLAS — The sound of Angus Kola’s feet striking the pavement as he runs helps remind the blind former combat medic he can achieve anything. And Kola doesn’t fret if he bumps into a car or two because he runs with the purpose of motivating even those with little-to-no vision to lace up their running shoes and give it a try. The Gaston College alum competed Oct. 2 in the inaugural Stampede for Student Success 5K run on the college’s Dallas campus. “It makes me feel good,” Kola said after the race. “It helps me to inspire and encourage others that they can do anything they put their mind too.”
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Kola was working in Afghanistan as a United Nations traveling combat medic through the Department of Defense in 2006. On a trip to pick up medical supplies from Bagram Airfield, Kola and a group of Marines were ambushed as their Jeep was riddled with bullets. Kola was shot in the head. Glass and other sharp materials penetrated his eye. It would be the last time he would see. Two others lost their lives. “I lost my friends permanently,” he said. Kola thinks bandits looking for cash, machinery and medical supplies targeted his vehicle. While recovering in Germany, he had to come to terms with the loss of his vision and his friends. Kola, 35, of Gastonia, relies on a buddy system while running. But every now and then, he gets the courage to explore the world around him on his own. His training leading up to the race was not as rigorous as others because running blind can be unsafe. “I try to go walk by myself,” said Kola. “I can’t really run by myself because it can be quite dangerous. I do a lot of brisk walking in the neighborhood, so people have seen me walking every day. I do anywhere from two to three miles by myself. I did a lot of walking, trying to get my diet on par. I’ve been going to the gym, trying to get my cardio going.” Still, Kola does not mind taking on the streets alone. He is simply thankful to be able to touch and hear things. In his mind, he visualizes a picturesque setting. The sunshine hitting his back tells him of a new season coming. “I like to get a nice breath of fresh air,” said Kola. “That is one of my favorite things to do. I like the smells and sounds of the birds. Where I walk is nothing but woods. The birds are very interesting in the sounds they make. You may hear a screeching owl. Some of the birds sound like sirens. I can tell when fall is coming because I can feel the sun on my face. It peaks through the trees because the leaves are falling.” Gaston College Police Officer Crystal Todd volunteered to help usher Kola through the course. The two participated in a practice run a couple days before. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Todd. “It’s a good thing to help the community and help him to meet his goals.” Todd used a tether so Kola could have some freedom while running,
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but could usher him back to safety if a deep pothole or big speed bump was nearby. The race served as a test for Todd, too. She broke her leg two years ago and has worked to get back into running shape. “It’s been tough,” said Todd. “I’ve been trying to get motivated and this has motivated me to get out there. Luke Upchurch, executive director of the Gaston College Foundation, said the run was a great way to invite the community to get a closer look at the school and all it offers. “We wanted an opportunity to raise money and to showcase our campus,” said Upchurch. “A lot of people don’t get to see the Dallas campus. We want people to see the fire center and other areas. All of these areas are important to the community. They are seeing all the different training aspects we have. “ Upchurch said the Gaston College community has been supportive of Kola and said his decision to tackle the course embodies the school’s perspective on persevering through adversity. “Angus is a wonderful reflection of what we do at Gaston College,” said Upchurch. “We are here to make everyone successful. This is what we are looking for in a student. When people heard he was going to run, they were excited.” More than 200 people were at the starting line to compete. Robert Collea finished first with a time of 19:20. Proceeds from the run will benefit the Gaston College Foundation Fund to support scholarships, emergency funds and needs on campus. Kola described the run as “absolutely fabulous” and thanked Todd for assisting him for the 3.1-mile trek. “It feels incredible having to complete your first race,” said Kola. “It feels amazing. Being tethered by a pilot gives me a lot of respect because they are the ones that have to help you. And you are inspiring each other along the way.” Kola finished 94th with a time of 54:27. He succeeded his goal of completing the course in less than one hour. “I just want to show people I am here, and I love everybody,” said Kola. “Here in America, they believe in freedom and giving people chances. I am not blind for any reason. Even if I would have died, it was for the freedom of everyone else.”
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EDENTON | ELIZABETH CITY| KINSTON | KITTYHAWK | WASHINGTON
Veterans Day November 2021
TO THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED THIS COUNTRY!
BAILEY Derrick W. U.S. Army | E4 6 years
BAILEY Edmond A. U.S. Navy | E3 2 years
BAILEY Gerald A. U.S. Army | E7 20 years
BALF David R. CTOCM U.S. Navy 1956-1988
BANKS Chazz U.S. Army | SGT 6 years
BANKS Curtis L., Sr. U.S. Air Force Sr. Master SGT 21 years
BANKS Floyd U.S. Air Force Master SGT 2 years
BANKS Kelvin U.S. Army | SGT 7/78-7/82
BANKS Lester U.S. Army | SGT 18 years
BANKS Mark, Jr. U.S. Air Force | SGT 2/65-9/69
BANKS Nona U.S. Air Force
BANKS Walter James U.S. Marines CPL E-4 10/66-10/72
BOGUES Desean L. U.S. Navy | E4 2 years
BOGUES Douglas J. U.S. Navy | E5 7 years
BOGUES Linwood E., Jr. U.S. Navy | E6 20 years
BOGUES Luther, Jr. U.S. Army | SGT 4 years
BOYD Gail H. U.S. Army WAC E4 1977-1980
BRADWELL Dora M. Berry U.S. Army | E4 4 years
BUSH Raymond J. U.S. Marines | E-4 2009-2013
BUSH J.W., Jr. U.S. Navy | E-7 1954-1974
BUSH Laura Rae U.S. Navy | E-6 1983 – 2008
BUTLER Danial C. U.S. Marine Corps Private 1st Class 2 years, 2 months
BYRUM Wayne U.S. Army | SGT 3 years
BYRUM R.W. U.S. Army | SGT Served 3 years
CALLAWAY Holt F., Jr. USAF | A 1/C 1953 – 1957
CAFFREY David S. U.S. Army Vietnam Asiatic Pacific Theater
CAFFREY David S., Jr. U.S. Navy Commander 27 years
CAPLINGER Mark U.S. Navy | E6 1980-1986
Veterans Day November 2021
DAVIS Larry U.S. Navy | E4 4 years
DUQUETTE Philip D. U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander 1975 – 2002
GIBSON Lee Otis U.S. Marines | E3 2 years
GILBERT Everett U.S. Navy | E-6 20 years
HARRIS Kris A. U.S. Army/ Marines | E7 21 years
ETHERIDGE Sierra U.S .Army | SPC 9 years
FURGERSON William U.S. Army | SCF 27 Active & Reserves
GREEN Warren U.S. Navy | E3 1956-1960
GREGORY Teddie A. U.S. Marines CWO5 30 years
GRILLS George W., Jr. U.S. Army | E5 1965-1968
GRILLS George W., U.S. Army TEC5, 1945-1947
HARRELL Larry F. U.S. Marine Corps Army Nat. Gd. | E5 Served 23 years
HASSELL Ernest U.S. Army | E5 9 years
HORTON Jack O. U.S. Army 1950-1952
HORTON J. Don USCG 1950-1953 USMM 1955-1959
HORTON William L., Jr. U.S. Merchant Marine 1941-1942
HORTON Doris Jean U.S. Merchant Marine 1942
HORTON Sadie O. U.S. Merchant Marine 1941-1949
HORTON William Lee WW1 U.S. Army 1917-1918
IRWIN Nestler Infantry – WW II CPL 3 years
JENNINGS George R. U.S. Army - CPL 1951-1953 Pusan, South Korea
JOHNSON Clinton U.S. Army | E7 27 years
JONES Jeffrey M. U.S. Navy | E8 27 years
JONES Oliver, Sr. U.S. Navy | STM
JONES Warren R. U.S. Navy | E6 20 years
MCCULLOUGH Cheri E. Tolson U.S. Navy Reserve 20 years
MITCHELL Charles L. U.S. Army | E7 28 years
MOODY Danial C. U.S. Army Vietnam 1964-1970
MOODY William J. U.S. Navy Vietnam 1963-1966
MORGAN Irvin Thomas U.S. Army | PFC 1943-1946
ETHERIDGE William E. U.S. Army | SGT 4 years
Veterans Day November 2021
FEREBEE GIBSON Theoris R., Jr. Greg U.S. Army | SSGT U.S. Marines | E4 1992-2001 4 years
MORGAN William U.S. Navy E4-HT3 US 4 years
MORITZ, Charles W. US Army - CPL 1966-1968
My friend Kermit died in Vietnam on 4/26/67. “Forever Loved, Missed, and never forgotten.” – rosa e. hughes – KERMIT ANTHONY RAY
O'NEAL Richard C., Sr. U.S. Army/Coast Guard | PFC, SR 6 years
OVERTON Dennis U.S. Army Airborne Infantry 1973-1976
PARKER Melvin U.S. Marine Corps | SGT 3 years
PARKS Arlon U.S. Navy | E7 20 years
PILES Andree W. U.S. Navy | E5 15 years
ROBERSON Percy U.S. Air Force | E7 22 years
ROBERTS Robert J. “Bob” US. Navy Seaman 1st Class 3 years
ROBINSON Winnie J. U.S. Air Force A/2C 1951-52
SANDERS Lalani P. U.S. Army 2014 – Present
SAVAGE Shelton U.S. Army | E6 13 years
SAWYER Thomas M., Sr. U.S. Army 2 years
Simpson Eugene Spec 4 U.S. Army
SMITHSON Ulyss “Smitty” U.S. Army Corporal 1944-1953
SNIDER Denton E. U.S. Navy | E9 23 years
SUTTON Thomas T. U.S. Coast Guard | E9 Served 24 years
TANNER Fred U.S. Army | E9 U.S. Coast Guard, 1960-64, 1964-94
TEACHEY Danny U.S. Air Force SR Airman 3 years
THARPS Angela B. U.S. Air Force | E7 20 years
THARPS John T. U.S. Air Force 20 years
THARPS Morris (Morrie) U.S. Navy | LTCR 1965-1988
THOMAS Willie L. U.S. Air Force | E7 20 years
TODD Roy C. U.S. Army Spec. E4 1958-1960
TOLSON Robert M. U.S. Navy | E6 30 years
TOLSON Shawn D. U.S. Coast Guard W3 Currently serving
WARD Jack K. U.S. Navy | CPO 1963 - 1983
U.S. Marine Corps | LCPL Served 1966-1967
VOGEL Lucille U.S. Navy | E-5 1973 – 1976
WATSON George J. U.S. Coast Guard AECM 26 years
WHITE Ernest Bertise U.S. Army | Pvt.
WILLIAMS Roland U.S. Navy 1st Class Boiler Maker
Veterans Day November 2021