EDA Veterans Day 2020

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November 2020


A Special Supplement to The Daily Advance • Chowan Herald • The Perquimans Weekly


"The Funeral Home of Choice for ALL Veterans in Northeastern North Carolina"

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WALL OF HONOR 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"

Thank you, Veterans!!!

Sincerely, Twiford Funeral Homes

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Veterans Day November 2020

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Toppin, Vietnam Era Vet, Dedicated To Ser ving Vets, Community BY REGGIE PONDER, STAFF WRITER | PHOTO BY REGGIE PONDER/THE DAILY ADVANCE

E.C. Toppin has spent half a century doing everything he can think of to support military veterans and make Chowan County a better place to live. Toppin joined the American Legion in 1972 after the U.S. Department of Defense reclassified its definition of Vietnam era veterans. Previously the Vietnam War had been dated from 1966 but the timeframe was later extended back to 1962. Toppin’s father, who at the time was commander of the American Legion post, paid E.C.’s dues for the first year and he became a member of the Legion. “I have been involved ever since,” Toppin said in a recent interview as he sat behind his desk in the office of the Chowan County Regional Fair. The fair was canceled this year because of COVID-19 but Toppin and others are already busy planning for next year’s event. Toppin said what has kept him active in the American Legion is that he believes in the mission of the organization. The American Legion has good programs to help veterans in need and help children, he said. Toppin joined the Air Force in March 1961 after spending six months at East Carolina University. “I figured out real quick that me and college weren’t going to get along,” he said. Toppin trained in San Antonio, Texas, and Biloxi, Mississippi, and became a radar technician in the the Army. For 11 months he was stationed in Aiken, S.C., and then he was stationed in Texas for about three years. Toppin served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era but never deployed to the war zone. He said at that time Air Force radar techs only went to Vietnam if they volunteered — and those returning from combat deployments urged others not to go. “All the guys that went over there, when they got back they said, ‘don’t volunteer to go over there,’” Toppin said. One of the warnings issued by the returning technicians was that they had not been allowed to carry loaded weapons. They had to carry ammunition separately and could only load their gun if they were fired upon.

“At least that’s what they told us, and that was good enough for me,” Toppin recalled. Toppin left the Air Force in 1965. He worked in an oilfield in Texas for three or four months before coming back home to Chowan County. Back home he worked with his father in the country store for a few months before taking a job at Carters Inc., where he worked for more than 21 years. Today, the obstacles he faced in Vietnam drive Toppin to do everything he can to ensure other veterans who return from combat are treated with respect. He also works to ensure their health care and other needs are taken care of. Toppin has worked in every part of the American Legion Post 40 program. He has been especially active in keeping the fair running from year to year. Chowan County held an agricultural fair every year in the early part of the 20th Century, Toppin said, but it had become dormant sometime before the Great Depression. Veterans returning to Chowan County after World War II restarted the fair, which is how the fair became intertwined with the American Legion, he said. The American Legion formed a committee to operate the fair, and then about 30 years ago the Chowan County Regional Fair Association was established, Toppin explained.

Toppin said his father-in-law, William A. Perry, was one of the World War II veterans who helped restart the fair. Perry was the fair manager for many years and taught Toppin the ins and outs of running the fair. In 1990 Toppin was elected president of the N.C. Association of Agricultural Fairs. Six years later, he took over as manager of the Chowan County Regional Fair. Toppin also is active in the American Legion, becoming state commander in 1981. A year later, he became active in the Legion’s national leadership. He’s the current national chairman of the Legislative Council for the American Legion. The council lobbies members of Congress on issues the Legion has identified as important to the organization’s mission. Those issues include improving health care for veterans, maintaining a strong national defense, strengthening education, and preventing the desecration of the American flag. Attendance at Legion meetings and participation in projects has decreased sharply in recent years. “There’s so many more activities now than what there were 20 or 30 years ago,” Toppin said. Toppin said he urges people to maintain their Legion membership even if they aren’t able to participate in activities. That’s because Legion membership dues help fund important programs to help veterans in need. “They’re talking about the suicide rate (for veterans) going up — people can’t get help,” Toppin said. “You better be dying now if you want to get into the emergency room up there (at the VA Hospital).” Toppin said American Legion Post 40 has items ready to take to the VA Hospital once volunteers are again allowed onto the campus. Right now the storeroom if full of items ready to take to the hospital, he said. “There are people who need it,” Toppin said.

E.C. Toppin, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served during the Vietnam War era, is shown on the fairgrounds at American Legion Post 40 in Edenton. Toppin has managed the Post’s Chowan County Regional Fair since 1996



Over the next few years, Copeland served twice at U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay, in the Philippines, and a stint playing basketball for the Marines in Hawaii. The Subic Bay facility was closed in 1992. In 1966, Copeland re-enlisted for the first time and a year later he received orders to “OCS,” which he said, while laughing, stood for, “Over choppy seas to Vietnam.” He had just made sergeant and achieved an E5 rank when he was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, tasked with defending Hill 22 in South Vietnam. Serving as both platoon commander and platoon sergeant, Copeland participated in patrols as part of his lead-by-example philosophy. During one patrol, a security dog attached to his platoon tripped a booby trap, causing an explosion that killed the dog and gravely injured the animal’s handler, Copeland said. He, too, was injured when he was struck in the face by shrapnel, but he recovered soon and returned to his Marines. For his injury, Copeland was awarded a Purple Heart medal for an injury suffered in combat.

Michael Copeland, a retired Marine Corps master gunnery sergeant who served in Vietnam, poses alongside the national ensign at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060, Friday, Oct. 23. Michael Copeland wore the uniform of a U.S. Marine for 44 years.

“I stayed in because it became a way of life for me,” he explained.

Thirty of those years he spent on active duty, and the remaining 14 years he worked as a Navy Junior ROTC instructor.

When asked about his favorite memory from his decades-long career, he didn’t hesitate to respond.

The retired master gunnery sergeant’s career included tours in Vietnam and a few years as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, in South Carolina. He also played sports for the Marines.

“All of them,” he said, smiling. “Everything I’ve done has been a favorite memory.”

He chose a life in the Marines after considering the state of unrest in the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Civil Rights Movement was beginning to wind down, but antiwar sentiment was growing. Copeland, who also was good at being a Marine, said he asked himself at the time, what was he going to do for work if he got out?


Copeland, who stands about 6 feet, 3 inches, was 21 when he enlisted in the Marines in 1962. Three years earlier he had been living in his native Decatur, Illinois, where in high school he earned All-State honors as a student-athlete in football and basketball. While still in basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Copeland learned the base had a football team. He inquired about it and a year later, after completing infantry school, he was assigned to play football and basketball for the MCRD San Diego Devil Dogs. Veterans Day November 2020

Copeland returned to the United States and after re-enlisting a second time in 1970 he married his wife Grace. He spent the next few years as a drill instructor at Parris Island and then shipped out to Okinawa, Japan. Over the next several years he completed additional tours at Camp Pendleton, in California and in Quantico, Virginia, plus return assignments to Okinawa. Copeland retired Aug. 1, 1992, but it wasn’t time to pack away his uniforms. In 1994, he earned a certificate to teach Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets. Back again in uniform, this time as a U.S. Department of Defense employee, Copeland was ordered to Naples, Italy, where he served as an instructor to Junior ROTC students at the Defense Department’s high school for dependents. He retired from that job in 2008. Today, he and his wife Grace live in Moyock. They have three children. “I’m enjoying retirement,” Copeland said.



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Sid Stickles volunteered for the Army Air Corps in 1943, and volunteering has continued to be a mainstay in his life. During a recent interview at American Legion Post 40 in Edenton, Stickles said one of Post 40’s most rewarding projects is collecting toiletries and other items to take to VA hospitals.

Stickles was an elder in the Presbyterian Church in North Plainfield, N.J., for more than 20 years, and also has served as an elder at First Presbyterian in Edenton.

“It’s always stuff that they can use,” he said.

His involvement in the American Legion has come since he retired. When Stickles left the Army Air Corps in 1945 he worked with his brother for a few years installing formica countertops, and then he drove a truck for American Bakeries Company for nearly 40 years.

Stickles served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943-45. He was recruited to be a pilot for the Air Corps, which was a forerunner of today’s Air Force, in anticipation of the need for a protracted air war with Japan.

Stickles said he enjoyed driving the bread truck but the hours were 4 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m., six days a week. That didn’t leave him much time for volunteering, and what time he did have he spent mostly with his family and church.

Although there was draft in place, Stickles said he and many of his friends volunteered as soon as they were old enough.

He joined the American Legion when he came to Edenton in 1987. He retired from American Bakeries Company in 1985 and in 1986 eight families from his church in North Plainfield, N.J., took a trip to North Carolina and visited communities across the state to decide where they wanted to retire.

“There were those of us just like me who went in when we were 18,” Stickles said. “They were drafting then, too, but we volunteered right out of high school.” In 1943 the U.S. military was worrying about Japan and thought it needed to ramp up its air warfare, he said. Stickles trained in Texas to be a pilot and served stateside for two years, continuing to train for an expected combat deployment in the Pacific theater.

Stickles has been married to Betty Elizabeth Graves since 2018. He married his first wife, Doris May Flor, in 1947, and the couple had two daughters and a son. She died in 2004 and he was then married to Jan Fabish for five years, he said. He continues to work at the hospital gift shop on Tuesday nights and he helps out with bingo at the American Legion and serves on the board of the Chowan County Regional Fair. Very few younger veterans join the American Legion, Stickles noted. “It’s a different generation,” he said. Stickles said he remembers when Post 40’s membership numbered more than 400 and it was not unusual to see 200 or more people at a Post meeting. He has always enjoyed the opportunity to participate in Post 40 projects.

They chose Edenton.

“I just wanted stuff to do, and to meet people,” Stickles said.

Since then he has kept busy working with American Legion Post 40, his church, and the gift shop at Chowan Hospital.

He said he hopes more veterans will discover the joy and fellowship he has found in the American Legion.

That deployment never came, he said, because Japan surrendered more quickly than had been expected. He noted that when he became a pilot aviation was still relatively young. After all, only four decades had passed since the Wright brothers had pioneered powered flight on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Aviation held a special fascination for Stickles when he was young. “I was always drawing airplanes,” he said. As he grew up he would sometimes go to the airport near his home in New Jersey to watch airplanes take off and land. Church also has always been an important part of his life.


“Most of my time has been volunteering,” he said.

Veterans Day November 2020


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Veterans Day November 2020


L N t b Johnnie F. Layden, a Navy veteran of World War II, poses in the office of his home on Body Road in Pasquotank County, Saturday, Oct. 24. Layden helped train Navy pilots to learn to land on aircraft carriers during the Second World War. (Photo by Julian Eure/ The Daily Advance)

WWII Navy Vet Layden Got Taste For Militar y Life Ser ving In CCC BY JULIAN EURE, MANAGING EDITOR

Johnnie F. Layden knew he wanted to do something more with his life than the “farming and chopping corn” he had grown up doing in 1930s Weeksville. So Layden, who will turn 98 in December, first signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corps in spring 1939 when he was 16. He would go on to spend a year at several CCC camps along North Carolina’s coast, including in Manteo, New Holland and “Little” Washington, working on projects like beach erosion and road building. The CCC was one of the most popular New Deal programs during the Great Depression. Between 1933 and 1942, it recruited hundreds of thousands of unemployed young, unmarried men across the U.S., putting them to work on conservation and natural resource development projects on public lands. The CCC not only paid for the young men’s shelter, food and clothing, it also sent their wages — $30 a month (the equivalent of $590 today) — home to their families. Though the work was hard and sometimes dangerous — one of his jobs was placing dynamite to blow up tree stumps — Layden recalls his CCC service fondly.


“I was learning to do something that I could use in the world. It was helping me get out and do something,” he said. Layden still keeps the yearbook of the CCC company — Company 436 — he served in, and says that year helped prepare him for the life he would go on to lead. “It gave me a picture of the outside world,” he said. “It gave me the idea that I could do more than farming and chopping corn.” Layden soon got his second chance to “go out and do something.” Less than a year after returning to school, he decided to leave and join the U.S. Navy, signing up in December 1940. After receiving training in Norfolk, Layden was sent to Jacksonville, Florida, where he was on hand for the commissioning of what would become Naval Air Station Jacksonville. Layden said he had “always wanted to fly,” so after an aptitude test showed he was “mechanically inclined,” he signed up to train as an aircraft mechanic. He would go on to work on all parts of Navy Corsair aircraft — everything from engines to wheels, he said.

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Layden recalls being on duty the morning Naval Air Station Jacksonville received word the Japanese had bombed the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Everyone at Air Station Jacksonville was on edge in the aftermath of the attack. Even though it had happened on the other side of the country, Layden recalls being ordered to carry a .30-caliber machine gun up to the roof of a plane hangar. He would stand guard there for much of the rest of the day, he said. “We thought the Japanese were coming,” he said. In 1942, Layden saw an opportunity to advance in his career so he signed up for training at the Institute of Instrument Beam Flying to become what was known as a “link trainer.” In that role, Layden’s job was to train Navy pilots to fly planes using only their instrument panels. The skill was particularly necessary for landing a Navy plane on an aircraft carrier at night in the middle of the ocean. “We called it flying blind,” Layden said. To become certified to teach that skill, however, Layden first had to learn it himself. He did so flying in the seat behind a pilot in a Navy SNJ trainer plane. The plane had a retractible plastic “hood” that could be pulled over the cockpit, forcing the pilot to use the instrument panel in front of him. Otherwise he couldn’t see where he was. Layden said none of the pilots he helped train were involved in any accidents or crashes and all managed to learn what they needed for him “to check them off” — certify their skills. Although took the link trainer job because he thought it would advance his Navy career, he grew restless.

Ironically, it would be a training exercise that cost him his Navy career. Layden said he was standing on the wing of an aircraft one day in 1943, explaining some detail of the plane to pilots, who also were on the wing, when he misstepped and fell to the concrete below. The fall was only 6 feet, so Layden didn’t initially think he had seriously hurt himself. “I straightened up and continued doing what I was doing,” he said. “You didn’t stop. Not in the Navy. In the military you worked. So that’s what I did.” At least Layden did until one of his legs went numb and he suddenly found himself unable to walk. Layden said he finally sought medical attention at the base dispensary. He eventually would end up in a Navy hospital for eight months. Doctors initially tried non-surgical methods to help relive the pain and numbness, even putting his leg in traction. They eventually told him he needed surgery. Layden declined to have the operation, however, saying someone on the medical staff at the hospital had discouraged him from doing so because of the surgeon’s track record with other patients. That refusal left him with few options. “I had wanted to go back to the squadron. But they wouldn’t let me do it. I was supposed to be up for (promotion to) first class petty officer. But they wouldn’t let me take it (the exam),” Layden said. “I refused to have the operation so they discharged me.” Even some seven decades later, the sudden end to his Navy career still nags at Layden.

“I didn’t like the job,” he recalls. “It was too much sitting-downness. You were sitting at a desk all day. I was a mechanic. I liked to be outside.”

“I wanted to go higher,” he said. “I wanted to put in to go to (the Naval Academy at) Annapolis to go to flight school. I wanted to get my wings. I wanted to fly. But my career ended when I fell. They wouldn’t let me go any further.”

Plus it didn’t pay as well because he was no longer getting flight hours on aircraft. In his job as a mechanic he could hitch a ride on a plane and build up flight hours. As a trainer chained to a desk, however, he didn’t get to do that. Layden said he eventually went back to working as a mechanic.

Discouraged, Layden came home to Weeksville in 1944 and got a mechanic’s job with R.C. Abbott, a local farm implement dealer. He then decided to try his hand at what he initially had left home years ago to avoid doing: farming. But the pain from his injury in the fall would eventually catch up with him. Veterans Day November 2020

Johnnie F. Layden is shown in his photo from his service in the U.S. Navy from 1940-44. (Photo courtesy Johnnie F. Layden) “I bought a farm in Weeksville and did that for three years until I just couldn’t farm anymore,” he said. “I sold out and went back to Jacksonville.” Layden took a civil service job as an aircraft mechanic at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in 1948. He would later be transferred to Norfolk, Virginia, before switching over to work for the U.S. Coast Guard at the base in Weeksville. He would return to Jacksonville again, however, in 1952, going back to work at the Navy air station until his retirement there in 1970. He would make the first of two trips back to Weeksville in 2008, when he married his third wife, Margie, a Nixonton native whom he had known since she was a child. “She was just 9 when I married my first wife,” Layden said. His second wife and Margie’s husband had just died, so they reconnected and decided to get married. They would return to Florida, where they lived in retirement in Callahan for six years until they decided to come back to Pasquotank County in 2014 where both still have family. The couple now reside on Body Road.



A documentary video featuring four World War II veterans is the first result of Elizabeth City State University’s collaboration the N.C. Department of Military and Veteran Affairs on a project to document the stories of African-American veterans and service members from North Carolina. Sharon Raynor, dean of ECSU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, who heads up the project, said the World War II documentary includes interviews with three male and one female World War II veteran. Most of the veterans were in the 90s and the oldest was 99, she said. Raynor said she hopes the World War II documentary, which runs 50 minutes, will premiere at the N.C. Museum of History. Later it might also be shown in schools, military installations and other museums, she said. Raynor said the project to document the stories of AfricanAmerican veterans and active-duty personnel began in February 2019. ECSU became involved because of the working relationship Larry Hall, secretary of the N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, had with ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon, who previously worked with the University of North Carolina System office. Hall reached out to ECSU and asked the university to help tell the stories of African-American veterans in the state, Raynor said. ECSU Provost Farrah Ward asked Raynor, a professor of English and dean of humanities and social sciences, to assemble a team of students and faculty to work on the project. Currently there are six faculty involved in the project and typically there are three to four students working on it as well, according to Raynor.

These are stories that are not well known but need to be told, Hall said in a press release. “In the early conflicts, despite being given inferior equipment, less training and serving in a segregated and a biased military, African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos served with valor and courage,” he said. “We hope this project will address the lack of information regarding the roles, responsibilities, triumphs, and heroism minorities played in the military.” During last winter’s North Carolina African American Veterans Lineage Day Ceremony, many of those veterans and service members were honored, in part, with a documentary produced by students and faculty from ECSU involved in the larger project. During that ceremony, Raynor was presented The Old North State Award. Presented to “individuals who have shown dedication and service beyond exception and excellence,” Raynor received the honor not only for being an advocate for military veterans, but also for two decades of service as an educator. “It has really been a great experience,” Raynor said. “I really have a passion for working with veterans.” The veterans project’s future plans include work on the Iraq-Afghanistan era. Work on that project has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Raynor said. The team has been thinking about how to do socially distanced interviews, Raynor said. It probably will be sometime in 2021 before the team gets to work on Iraq and Afghanistan, she said.

Students have come mainly from graphic design and military science backgrounds, and there are plans to involve students from digital media and history as well. The main products of the effort are short documentaries about veterans from different eras. While the first documentary focused on World War II veterans, the next will explore the KoreaVietnam era. Raynor said interviews for the series so far have lasted about an hour. The interviews are then edited to 10-15 minutes for each veteran. The project recently received a $20,000 boost with a grant from the NC Humanities Council. As a result of the grant, the ECSU team and Hall’s agency are now working with the N.C. Office of State Archives and the N.C. Museum of History to share the stories of African-American service members and veterans across the state. “This project honors the men and women who took the oath of enlistment to serve our country in times of war and peace,” Raynor said. The $20,000 grant will help the project collect the stories of African American veterans and current military personnel who served in World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. The stories will also include segments on how those interviewed returned to North Carolina to serve in their communities.


Members of an African-American fighter squadron ground crew of the 15th U.S. Air Force in Italy place a loaded wing tank on a P-51 Mustang before the group takes off on another mission escorting bombers over enemy targets. A new documentary video series that’s been produced by a partnership that includes Elizabeth City State University is telling the story of African-American war veterans.

Veterans Day November 2020





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Leaver, Navy Vet, Still Looking Out For Other Veterans At Post 6060 BY CHRIS DAY, MULTIMEDIA EDITOR | PHOTO BY CHRIS DAY

When Graham Leaver joined the U.S. Navy, he figured he’d do four years and get out. He enlisted because he believed everyone should serve a stint in the nation’s armed services. “It seemed the right thing to do,” said the retired master chief boatswain’s mate. “I felt that serving your country was the best thing you could do.” That sense of patriotism led Leaver to pursue a 34-year Navy career, almost all of it spent at sea. “I enjoyed it,” Leaver said of his time in the service. “My biggest thing was I enjoyed taking care of people.”

He said that each time before his ship got underway, he had one goal in mind: the safety of his crew.

“That battleship tour was probably the best tour I ever had,” Leaver said.

“They’d all come home with their fingers and toes,” he said.

Leaver and the New Jersey saw their most serious action in 1983, when, while patrolling the coast of Lebanon on Oct. 23, terrorists attacked a building that housed U.S. service members.

Of the more than three decades in the Navy, Leaver served just one shore billet. His remaining assignments were all at sea, including a tour on the battleship USS New Jersey, which he helped recommission. The New Jersey was an Iowa-class battleship originally commissioned in 1943. The ship is now decommissioned and serves as a maritime museum in Camden, New Jersey.

A suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives near the compound and killed 241 US personnel, most of them Marines, who were in Beirut as part of an international peacekeeping force. President Ronald Reagan had deployed the service members as part of a global response to a deadly civil war raging in Lebanon. Leaver, who lives in Elizabeth City with his wife Rhonda, was 20 years old when he enlisted in the Navy in 1969. Originally from Alabama, Leaver attended basic training in Orlando, Florida. His first assignment out of basic was aboard the USS Milwaukee, an underway replenishment oiler that was decommissioned in 1994.

Graham Leaver, a retired master chief boatswain’s mate who spent 34 years in the Navy, most of it at sea, poses with the national ensign at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060, Friday, Oct. 23.


Veterans Day November 2020


6060 Another assignment early in his career was aboard the USS Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides.” The Constitution was commissioned in 1797 and is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel. It is homeported in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in Boston Harbor.

Honoring All Who Served in the US Military


The Elizabeth City Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee thanks you for your service.

The Navy still maintains a crew aboard the Constitution, which serves as a national historic site. The crew is responsible for upkeep and repair of the famous frigate. Except for the New Jersey and Constitution, most of Leaver’s sea tours were aboard replenishment vessels. The underway resupply field was an aspect of Navy work in which Leaver excelled and became a respected source of knowledge and experience. Leaver retired in 2003 during a ceremony at Joint Expeditionary Base-Little Creek, in Virginia Beach.

For re information on the Military Affairs Committee, please contact the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce at (252) 335-4365, or check our website at www.elizabethcitychamber.org.

Although no longer in the Navy, Leaver continues his work helping people by serving as the service officer at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060 in Elizabeth City. In this capacity, Leaver helps other veterans apply for their service-related benefits, and with other serviceconnected issues. “I just like helping people,” he said. Five years ago, Leaver and his wife relocated from Virginia to Elizabeth City. They have three children, and several grandchildren.

Veterans Day November 2020


Legion Leader Perr y Recalls 1983 Bombing Of Marine Post In Lebanon BY PAUL NIELSEN, STAFF WRITER | PHOTO BY CHRIS DAY/THE DAILY ADVANCE

On an early Sunday morning 37 years ago, Elizabeth City resident Scott Perry was in a concrete moat in Lebanon with a fellow U.S. Marine when the two heard a blast and a saw a huge mushroom cloud rise in the air. Seconds later the two Marines where on top of each other as the blast wave hit their company-sized outpost some “three clicks away” from the blast, Perry said. Click is military slang for kilometer, which is about .62 miles, so Perry and his fellow Marine were less than 2 miles from the explosion. The blast was the result of a suicide bomber destroying the U.S. Marine headquarters near the Beirut International Airport on Oct. 23, 1983. The 19-ton truck was laden with the equivalent of 21,000 pounds of TNT. The FBI would later call the blast the largest non-nuclear blast since World War II. The blast killed 241 U.S. service members, including 220 of Perry’s fellow Marines in what is the Marine Corps’ single-day loss of life since Iwo Jima during the Second World War. At the time of the suicide attack, Perry, then a lance corporal, had been in Lebanon since May 1983 as part of an international peacekeeping force trying to help end the country’s civil war. “We were a considerable ways away and it was first thing in the morning,” Perry recalled recently. “We were staring at the mushroom cloud and then all the sudden we felt the blast and it knocked him (the other Marine) down on top of me. It was a pretty significant blast.” Perry’s unit then came under attack from Muslim militia as a second suicide bomber destroyed a building housing French peacekeepers. Sixty-eight people were killed in that attack. But firefights with the militia were an almost every day occurrence for Perry and his fellow Marines. Perry’s platoon commander and platoon sergeant were both killed in one those firefights in August 1983.


Scott Perry (left), commander of American Legion Post 84, speaks at a memorial ceremony for Cpl. Seth E. Perry, Pasquotank County’s only casualty of World War I, Tuesday, Sept. 29, outside the Pasquotank Courthouse. Post 84 is named for Seth Perry. “They started coming after us,” Perry said of the time after the bombing. “We were getting in significant firefights as early as September. But after the blast, the intensity increased of course. We were an isolated outpost and we had to get resupplied from what was left of the command headquarters. We were sitting there hanging on.” Perry’s unit left Lebanon in early November and the Marines completed a final withdrawal in February of 1984. And the last night was no different than most nights as Perry’s unit was again engaged in heavy combat against an enemy that included a battalion of Syrian tanks. “They dropped everything they had on us the last night we were there,” Perry said. “The Cold War was still in play so you had some East Germans there, Chinese snipers there, and there was the Iranian influence. They had their own gallery of multi-national forces there.” Perry’s reference to the “Cold War” was the global confrontation between the U.S. and the then Soviet Union and their allies between roughly 1947 and 1991, when the Soviet Union broke apart. Veterans Day November 2020

Perry was born in Suffolk, Virginia but grew up in Hertford and joined the Marines out of high school. “I was looking to do something different with my life and I decided that may be a way for me to travel and see things,” Perry said. Perry spent four years in the Marines and then 17 more in the North Carolina National Guard. He was deployed three times on hurricane relief missions while with the National Guard. “That really is the National Guard’s domestic role,” Perry said. Perry is the current commander of the American Legion Seth E. Perry Post 84 in Elizabeth City. He said the post continues to grow and is “alive and healthy.” “We have a membership mission every year of 100 percent and we are at 138 percent mission,” Perry said. “That means we are over our requirement of members that the state and national American Legion requires of us. The post has done a lot of good things and we have been involved in the community a lot more than we have been in the last few years.”

Thank You For Your Service!


phone: 252-339-2357 rhondatwiddy@gmail.com LONG AND FOSTER REAL ESTATE

Thank You to all Veterans for your Service!

Best Breakfast in the area! ...Served Anytime! 913 W Ehringhaus St. | Elizabeth City, NC

Friendly Family Atmosphere, Smiling Faces with Great Food & Prices! 104 Tarheel Court | Elizabeth City, NC 27909 ••••

Take-Out Orders Welcome! 335-4700


Hours: Sun. 7am - 3pm • Sat. 7am - 9pm • M-F 6am - 9pm

Office: 252-331-1069


Barber Shop “Service with You in Mind”

Glover Shannon

APPOINTMENTS ACCEPTED WALK-INS WELCOME 514 S. MCMORRINE ST. 402 SHEPARD ST. Elizabeth City 337-6363 Elizabeth City 335-5536

10% Off

Any Initial Services Offer valid for past & present military personnel

Veterans Day November 2020

Expires 12/31/20 Reference Code - VETERANS DAY

Does not include existing services or estimates


Currituck Advisor y Board Responds To County Veterans’ Needs BY PAUL NIELSEN, STAFF WRITER | IMAGE COURTESY CURRITUCK COUNTY

The board is unique to the region and was the brainchild of current advisory board member Eugene Smith, a U.S. Army veteran. Smith approached then Board of Commissioners Chairman Bobby Hanig about creating such a board.

With its veterans population continuing to grow, Currituck County decided to form a Veterans Advisory Board two years ago to respond to the needs of former military service members. Each commissioner on Currituck’s seven-member governing board appoints a county resident to the advisory board, each member of whom is either a veteran or still on active duty. County Economic Development Director Larry Lombardi is the county’s representative on the board while Commissioner Paul Beaumont is the board’s representative. Veterans Advisory Board members solicit information and provide updates about community-based activities honoring veterans. “The purpose of the board is to advise the Board of Commissioners on the issues facing veterans in the county and how we can help them create a business,” Lombardi said. “That is the main focus.”


At the time Smith brought his idea to Hanig, four commissioners — Hanig, Beaumont, Bob White and Mike Payment — were veterans. “When it was brought up, the Board of Commissioners jumped on it,” Lombardi recalled.

The county has also approached Currituck businesses about offering a veteran’s discount, Lombardi said. Participating business are then given a sticker that says “We Support Currituck County Veterans.” About a dozen businesses have signed up, Lombardi said. “That could be a free cup of coffee, or a 10-percent discount,” Lombardi said. “It’s a good thing that the Board of Commissioners went through with this. The advisory board is very committed in what they are doing. They have done a lot of work in a short period of time.” Currituck is also working with the Currituck Historical Society to compile a list of county war veterans. The first two phases of the project — a list of veterans who served in the Civil War and the War of 1812 — were completed by local historian Barbara Snowden. The plan is to post a war veterans list on the county’s website. To submit a veteran’s name for the list, visit https://co.currituck.nc.us/veterans.

Currituck currently is home to more than 2,200 veterans. Lombardi said that number is expected to grow in the coming years. “A lot of the homes being purchased up in Moyock are being bought by active military personnel,” Lombardi said. “They will then retire and stay here. Other veterans will move to Currituck because it is a great place to live.” Lombardi said almost 200 veterans have signed up on the county’s website Currituckvets.com.

Currituck County formed a Veterans Advisory Board two years ago to respond to the needs of former military service members.

Veterans Day November 2020

Bembridge Insurance Agencies, Inc. Nationwide Insurance

PO Box 26 197 US Hwy 158 E. Camden, NC 27921

Lynn L. Merritt, LUTCF


252-330-9988 NC LICENSE # 27045

Associate Agent Lyneth@bembridgeinsurance.com Cell: 252-333-2073

Dana D O’Neal

Agent dana@bembridgeinsurance.com Cell: 252-312-9000

Tel: 252-331-7774 • Fax: 252-331-7877

We Salute You, Veterans, Thank You For Your Service!



Closest Gas Station to our Coast Guard! Veterans Day November 2020



to the men & 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 | Sergeant 3 years

Byrum, R.W. U.S. Army | Sergeant Served 3 years


Veterans Day November 2020




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

DAVIS, Larry U.S. Navy | E4 4 years

Duquette, Philip D. U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander 1975 – 2002

ETHERIDGE, William E. U.S. Army, Sergeant 4 years

ETHERIDGE, Sierra U.S .Army | SPC 9 years

Furgerson, William U.S. Army | SCF 27 Active & Reserves

Ferebee, Theoris R., Jr. U.S. Army | SSGT 1992-2001

GIBSON, Greg U.S. Marines | E4 4 years

GIBSON, Lee Otis U.S. Marines | E3 2 years

GILBERT, Everett U.S. Navy | E6 20 years

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

Harris, Kris A. U.S. Army/Marines | E7 21 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

Veterans Day November 2020


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

MORGAN, William U.S. Navy | E4-HT3 US 4 years

O’Neal, Richard C., Sr. U.S. Army, US 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 Chief Petty Officer 20 years

Piles, Andree W. U.S. Navy | E5 15 years

Roberson, Percy U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. | 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 Command Master Chief | 23 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 MSgt. | 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


Veterans Day November 2020


Ward, Jack K. U.S. Navy | CPO 1963 - 1983

Watson, George J. U.S. Coast Guard AECM | 26 years

Vogel, Lucille U.S. Navy | E-5 1973 – 1976

WHITE, Ernest Bertise U.S. Army Pvt.

WILLIAMS, Roland U.S. Navy | 1st Class Boiler Maker

SNUG HARBOR COMMUNITY CHURCH 133 First Street, Hertford | 426-8488 Worship Hour - Sunday 9am

Thank you to all our Veterans!

We Salute Those Who Served.

Serving Elizabeth City For 25 Years

Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner

(252) 338-3060 • www.circleii.com

205 S. Hughes Blvd, Elizabeth City, NC 27909


CALL 338-5115

Veterans Day November 2020




Attorney At Law





(252) 331-7922


wmmorgan@embarqmail.com (252) 331-2277 (252) 331-2962 fax 410 E. Main Street - P.O. Box 160 Elizabeth City, NC 27907

Virginia Dare House -APARTMENTS-

“Affordable Housing for Senior Citizens” SECTION 8

108 S. McMorrine St. Elizabeth City, NC 27909 Office: (252) 338-3881


Aubrey H. Mitchell

Funeral Director/Embalmer Licensed in NC & VA

609 Hull Drive, Elizabeth City, NC 27909 Office (252) 562-6936 • Fax (252) 621-1456 • Cell (252) 581-0117

w w w . m i t c h e l l c a r e s . c o m



W E Nixon

elding & Hardware, Inc.

1331 Ocean H ., . Hertford, NC 279



Computerized Water Testing SueStokely,Owner MikeStokely,Co-Owner 22

"Your one stop hardware shop and more!"

3036 Rocky Hock Road | Edenton, NC 27932

252.221.4348 | 252.221.8343

Veterans Day November 2020

We do weddings

FULLY INSURED Todd Smith, Owner

NC Htg License #16969 930 Virginia Rd. • Edenton, NC 27932 (252) 482-7475 • Fax: (252) 482-1124

Fresh Flowers & Garden Shop Floral Arrangements, Garden Decor, Unique Gifts

WE REPAIR AND SERVICE ALL BRANDS! Gas piping & gas logs are a speciality

252-482-4043 We would like to thank all the Veterans who have served our country. Past, Present, and Future arpet onnection The Tile Shop


r n


C C&

809 Nort rth t Broadd St., Edenton, NC 27932 Debbie’s Pet Parlor

Happy Veterans Day!

“Professional grooming with a personal touch”

1009 Badham Rd.

Lawn & Garden, LLC

Hours: MON-FRI: 8-5, SAT: 8-4, SUN: 1-4

Serving Elizabeth City area since 1989


1502 West Ehringhaus St • Ste C Elizabeth City, NC 27909 Debbie Roberts, Groomer/Owner


Lisa Duncan, Groomer

Spruill’s Business Machines, Inc.

Potted Plants Decorative Planters Planting Tools Outdoor Decor and more!

No Loose Ends 252-333-6023

Theresa Harris 1805 Weeksville Rd Suite A Elizabeth City

Open 7 days a week! Monday-Friday 9-6 Saturday 9-5 Sunday 11-4 Veterans Day November 2020


Denice Seal Associate Degree Nursing Student United States Coast Guard 1999-2019

Kelvin Brown, Sr. Academic and Career Advisor United States Army 1991-2002

Patti Kersey Chair, COA Board of Trustees United States Air Force 1977-2000

By serving our country you have kept us safe, protected our shores and demonstrated the true meaning of bravery — each member of the COA family thanks you. At College of The Albemarle, active duty and retired military, as well as their dependents, can realize the promise of a college education. Whether you are looking to start a new career, improve on existing skills or complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, COA has a program for you. Learn more about the resources available to veterans and their families at www.albemarle.edu/military or contact Stacia Sparrows at 252-335-0821 ext. 2258 or stacia_sparrows41@albemarle.edu