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Veterans Day honoring all who served

NOVEMBER 11, 2020

The Rocky Mount Telegram is proud to celebrate our local veterans in this commemorative special section. We hope you will enjoy the stories and photographs that have been collected to honor our local heroes.


ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM | NOVEMBER 11, 2020

Edgecombe County Veterans Military Museum BY JOHN H. WALKER R ocky Mo u n t Te le g ra m

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” and wondered what it meant. Most older Americans know because even though it was a little more than 100 years ago, many of them knew of someone who served in World War I. And that’s where the “11th-hour” phrase originated because even though the treaty ending the war wasn’t signed until seven months later, the “11th hour” was when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice — on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 to end the war. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices and was originally called Armistice Day. In Edgecombe County, veterans are remembered through the efforts of the Edgecombe County Veterans Military Museum,

founded in 2004 through the efforts of the late Joel Bourne. The museum, located at 106 W. Church St. in Tarboro, has nearly 150,000 artifacts and is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring the men and women of Edgecombe County who have served their country in the military. Consider some of the collection: 1,065 military portraits of those who served Hundreds of uniforms from all branches and carrying all ranks, including that of Gen. Hugh Shelton, the highest-ranking soldier ever from Edgecombe County and the state of North Carolina. Shelton served as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under presidents Clinton and Bush. Shelton’s final check from the 82nd Airborne, for 82 cents. A collection of awards and badges, including bronze and silver stars and the Purple Heart A World War II-era Jeep, now 80 years old, that still runs and is used in parades in the community. “We feel like our col-

lection is noteworthy,” said Herb Whitehurst, president of the museum that is governed by an all-volunteer board. He also noted that the museum works to have displays that are relevant to the community and its veterans. In 2019, as the museum was preparing to bring The Wall That Heals to the community, volunteers had erected a replica of a Vietnam-era forward observation post inside the front of the museum. After that, the museum had a representation of the 38th Parallel as part of a 70th-anniversary observance of the Korean War. The museum is also responsible for the military murals on the wall of the circa 1919 Colonial Theater and maintains a brick walkway at the base of the wall with memorial bricks dedicated to Edgecombe County veterans. Museum volunteers also participate in the first Monday flag raisings held by the Golden K at the Edgecombe County Veterans Memorial on the Town Common where the memories of

local veterans who have passed are honored. To date, 167 veterans have been honored. The observance has been temporarily halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Persons who have driven by the museum may have also seen the new, 35-foot flagpole and signs as well as the cutouts depicting a variety of military scenes. Additionally, the front of the museum is ringed by sandbags, as a bunker would have been. And helping out-oftown visitors find their way, new signage has been placed on both the east and westbound lanes of US 64 at Exit 285. The signs incorporate the museum’s logo. The museum is manned totally by volunteers and is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. While the museum is normally open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, it is temporarily closed to protect volunteers from possible exposure to the coronavirus. For more information, call 252-823-0891 or email museum@edgecombevet.com.

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Above, this display memorializes David Gatling, who sank an enemy ship with one bomb. At left, Among the museum’s artifacts is this bound copy of “Home Front News,” which was edited and circulated by the Tarboro Rotary Club to keep local soldiers informed on the comings and goings at home while they were away at war.


ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM

ALLEN Doris R.

ARRINGTON Tony R.

AVENT Luther N.

BATTS, SR. David W.

BATTS George Dennis

BATTS Phillip David

BEDMON John C.

BRYANT James E.

CAUDLE John

CLARK Kenneth A.

DAVIS Bobby

EVANS Henry Kelly

EVANS James Melvin

EVANS James Palmer

EVANS Velma R.

FREER James A.

FRYE Wilford “Wimpy”

HUNTER JR. Paul

JENKINS Percy

JOHNSON James Earl

KNIGHT, SR. Forrest E.

LEE Jerry

MILLS Murzie

MORRIS Willie

PARKER Donald Ray

PHILLIPS Harvey L.

PHILLIPS LEE VERNE

PITTMAN Jacoby

RICHARDSON Danny Ray

RICHARDSON John T.

RICHARDSON Russell

RICHARDSON Stephen

MASSENBURG Sorell

THORPE Hugh

TISDALE Robert Lee

VEALS Joseph

WALKER Robert

WATSON William

WHICKER, JR. Donald E.

WHITEHEAD Donald

WHITEHEAD Marcus

Army Sgt. E-5 9 Years of Service

Army 6 Years of Service

Army National Guard 37 Years of Service

Air Force 4 Years of Service

Air Force Master Sergeant 24 Years of Service 7/6/2020

Air Force MSE8 22 Years of Service

Army 2 Years of Service

Air Force Sgt. 2 Years of Service

Army Sgt. 2 Years of Service

Army E4 1975-1979

Army Staff Sergeant 14 Years of Service

Army

Air Force Tsgt 23 Years of Service

Air Force 4 Years of Service

Army Army Private 1942-1945 WWII Veteran (Purple Heart)

Army 20 Years of Service

Air Force Airman 2nd Class 1957-1961

Army Sgt. 11 Years of Service

Army Corporal 2 Years of Service

PD_0001.JPG

TISDALE Roy Lee

Army Private First Class 2 Years of Service chrome-extension://nlkncpkkdoccmpiclbokaimcnedabhhm/gallery.html

WILLIAMS Robert McKinley Army Sgt. E5 1969-1971

Army SSGT E-6 57 Years of Service

Air Force Senior Master Sergeant 26 Years of Service

Marines 5 Years of Service

Navy Master Chief Petty Officer 1940-1969

Navy

Army Spec 5 1967-1970

Navy 4 Years of Service

Marine Corps GySgt 1982-2002

Marines Corporal 2 Years of Service

Air Force Sgt. 6 Years of Service

Army E4 3 Years of Service

Army Sgt. 1st Class (E7) 3 Years Active Duty 24 Years Reserve

Navy SK 2 4 Year of Service

Army Sgt. 2 Years of Service

Navy 26 Years of Service

Army E3 101/2 Years of Service

Army 1969-1971

USMC LCPC

Army 4 Years of Service

Army Sergeant 3 Years of Service

Army 12 Year of Service

1/1

WINTERS Jimmy G.

Army SP4 1964-1966 Vietnam Veteran

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. - jfk

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THANK YOU! THE ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR LOCAL VETERANS AND THOSE WHO SUBMITTED PHOTOS.

ALSTON Nathan

ANTHONY SR Malton R.

ASHLEY Margo Whitaker

AVENT, M.D. John T.

AVENT, JR. Willie Leader

AVENT Madylin Hinton

BASS Samuel Manin

BATTLE Camryn A.

BATTLE Crait M.

BATTLE JR. Claude

BATTLE II Frank Gorham

BATTLE, JR. Rayvon

BATTLE SR. Samuel K.

BEDGOOD Eddie Lee

BETHUNE Richard F.

BLACKMON William B.

BRASWELL James H.

BRASWELL Lonnie

BRASWELL Thomas

BRIDGERS JR Luther Ernest

Army Artillery 1st Lieutenant 1961-1963 - Cuban Missile Crisis

Marine Corps Sgt. 1968-1972

BODDIE Sam Leon

BROUGHTON Wm. Earl “Bill”

BROWN JR. Earnest L.

BROWN JR. Thurman Lee

BRYANT William A.

BULLUCK Howard

BULLUCK Johnnie Lee

BULLUCK Willie J.

BUNN JR. Benjamin

BURTON Doris

CALHOUN Raymond Cecil

CAMERON Talmond

CARPENTER Bobby

CHERRY David

COKER, JR. Theodore

COOPER Reginald Carlton

COOPER Roy Rogers

DAVIS Bobby Ray

DAVIS Donald Ray

DEATON John

DEMPSEY William H.

DICKENS, JR. Felton

DICKENS Odell

ESTELLE Chalonda J. “CJ”

ESTELLE Davon E.

EVERETT Donald T.

EZZELL Charles

FARLOW Jesse Quinton “Buck”

FREER JR Arthur

Army E4 1954-1961

Navy E-3 2 Years of Service

Army PFC 3 ½ Years of Service

Army Sgt 2 Years of Service (KIA)

Marines 2 Years of Service

Marines PFC 1 ½ Years of Service (KIA)

Army 6 Years of Service

Army E-5 5 Years of Service

Marines PFC 1959-1963

Air Force E4 Sergeant 4 Years of Service

Air Force E8 26 ½ Years of Service

Army PFC 1949-1952

Army & National Guard Staff Sgt 7 Years of Service

Air Force Sgt 4 Years of Service

Army 4 Years of Service

Army Captain 8 Years of Service

Army E5 1977-180

Air Force Colonel 30 Years of Service

Army Captain 9 Years of Service

Air Force Major 1968-1975

Army PFC 1945-1947

Army Private E2 1969 (Vietnam Veteran)

Army Staff Sgt. 24 Years of Service

Army Administrative NCO 1944-1946

Air Force Airman 1st Class 1965-1969

Army / Army National Guard Lt. Colonal / Commander 1965-1968 (Vietnam Veteran)

Army SFC Quartermaster Corps 20 Years of Service

Army Staff Sgt. 2005-2012

Navy 1940-1944

Army Master Sergeant 26 Years of Service

Marines Cpl Vietnam Veteran

Army E-5 2 Years of Service

Army SFC 1956-1977

Army LTC Nurse Corps 16 Years of Service

Army E-8 24 Years of Service

Army 1940-1944

Air Force Staff Sergeant 24 Years of Service

Army PFC 1961-1964

Army E2 1950-1953

Navy Petty Officer 1941-1982

FIND US ONLINE AT ROCKYMOUNTTELEGRAM.COM

Army Specialist 4 1967-1969 - Vietnam Veteran

Navy GM3C 8 Years of Service

Army 1st Lieutenant 2 Years of Service

Army Sergeant 10 Years of Service

Army Cpl. 3 Years of Service

Army Cpl 1975-1980

Army Sergeant 2 Years of Service


ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM | NOVEMBER 11, 2020

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM

FREER James A.

FREER James R.

GAGLIANO Charles

GONZALEZ Silas

GORDON-BRAY Arnold N.

GREGORY, JR. Dolphus L.

HAMMOND James A.

HARGROVE Ronald

HARPER Boice

HARRIS Harvey Lee

HART Benjamin

HART William K.

HAWKINS Linda Powell

HEDGEPETH Keith L.

HENDRIX Kenneth R.

HINTON, JR Jesse J.

HOBBS William L.

HOWARD, JR. Joe Louis

HUNTER Julius

JEFFERSON, JR. George

JOHNSON Bryson

JOHNSON Leenae

JOHNSON Reginald

JONES Dennis

JONES J.B.

JOYNER Alton F.

JOYNER SR Harold C.

JOYNER JR Harold C.

JOYNER Zy’Keith M.

KENNEDY Andrew Jackson

KENNEDY JR. Andrew (Jack)

KENNEDY James Henry

KENNEDY Robert Dean (Bobby)

KENNEDY Theodore

KING John

KING Kenneth Albert

LAMM James Ray

LAMM John T.

LEE Eugene

LEGGETTE L. Nelson

Air Force/Army Col. 24 Year of Service

LEWIS, JR. Antonio D.

Army (Airborne) Private E2 March 2019 - Active Duty at Fort Bragg

LEWIS Clarence H.

LEWIS Levern N.

LEWIS Micheal E.

LONG SR. William L.

LONG JR. William L.

LUCAS Brandon

LUCAS Brandy

LUCAS Raymond

MANN Calvin Q.

MANN Reginald A.

MANZEL Charles H.

MATTHEWS James W.

MITCHELL, JR. Kester

MITCHELL Roy

MITCHELL Warren

Air Force Sgt. 2 Years of Service

Army SP-4 1986-1992

Army Colonel 1964-1988

Air Force AIC 4 Years of Service

Army 14 G Air Defense 2015-Currently Serving

Army Corporal 1953-1955 - German Occupation Forces

Army Sgt. 2 Years of Service

Navy E6 1979-1983

Air Force Sgt. 4 Years of Service

Navy GM3 4 Years of Service

Infantry/Airborne/Special Forces 23 Years of Service

Army National Guard SGT (Ret) 1976-1996

Army World War I 1918-1919

Air Force Sgt. 8 Years of Service

Army/Air Force Sgt E7 20 Years of Service

Navy E6 1980-1985

Army 22 Years of Service 1959-1980

Air Force 22 Years of Service

Army E4 2 Years of Service

Army Reserve 1980-1985

Army CPL 3 Years of Service

Army Private, Company L, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division , 1942-1944 (KIA)

Army PFC 1941-1945

Navy HTC 20 Years of Service

Air Force July 2018-Currently Serving

Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Marines & National Guard PFC 1988-1993

Army Staff Sergeant 20 Years of Service

Army Corporal 1944-1946

Army 1940-1944

Army Sgt E5 1966-1968

Army Sgt 221 Aviation Company 1 ½ Years of Service Vietnam Veteran

Army BG 34 Years of Service

Navy 1940-1970

Air Force 30 Years of Service

Marine Corps 2 Years of Service

Air Force Airman 1st Class 1951-1955

Navy Lieutenant 6 Years of Service

Army E3 1944-1946

Army E-6, SSGT 20 ½ Years of Service

Army Reserve SFC 1980-2000

Army SFC (Ret) 23 Years of Service

Army Spec 4 1966-1968

Air Core PFC 1942-1945

Navy Lieutenant 8 Years of Service

Army 1942-1945

Air Force E6 1959-1979

Air Force Lt. Col. 21 Years of Service

Navy Petty Officer 4 Years of Service

Air Force Senior Airman 1996-2000

Army 1954-1961

Navy 1 Year of Service

Army Sgt 2 Years of Service

Army Tuskegee Airmen WWII Veteran


ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM | NOVEMBER 11, 2020

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM

MOORE Donald O.

MOORE Ronald L.

NEAL Harold

NICHOLSON George Thomas Army MP 4 Years of Service

NOEL Reginald

Marines E6 1981-1991

NORFLEET Brian

NORFLEET Norris

OWENS Cecil R.

PANARESE Adam F.

PARKER Alton

PARKER Darrell

PARKER JR. Harry

PARKER Jimmy

PEELE Leon

PERSON Arthur Lee

PINCKNEY Carl

PITTMAN Storkey T.

POWELL Clarence G. Army Cpl 1944-1949

POWELL John G.

Navy 1950-1954

POWELL Otis C.

POWELL Walter B.

POWELL Willie

PURVIS Elbert

PURVIS Michael

PURVIS Tina

QUIGLEY Thomas

RHODES Bobby D.

ROBERSON Ronald

ROBINSON William M.

ROSE James C.

SEARS Earl O.

SESSOMS Isaac Solomon Army PVT 2 Years of Service

SESSOMS, JR. Isaac Solomon

PFC 1 Year of Service (WWII Veteran)

SHARPE Jackson T.

SHARPE Milton A.

SHAW Ellis Mack

SHERROD Charlie J.

SHERROD Daniel Willie

SHRAGO Harry I.

SHRAGO William

SILVER Mark

SILVER Melvin

SMITH, JR. Earl

SMITH James L.

SMITH William Thomas

SPIVEY Derrick

TAYLOR Edward L.

THOMPSON Ronald

THORPE Joseph

THORPE Russell

TILLMAN Herbert B.

TILLMAN, JR. Willie C.

UNGER Peter E.

WALLACE Lawrence “Larry”

WARD JR. Willie H.

WATFORD Heyward W.

Army Staff Sgt 2 Years of Service

Army Cpl WWII Veteran

Army SSG (Retired) 1976-1999

Army 1950-1955

Army Sgt 1968-1970

Army Sgt. 2 Years of Service

Marines Private 4 years of Service

Navy 2 Years of Service

Marines 3rd Recon E5 2 Years of Service

Navy CDR 30 Years of Service

Army 1969-1971

Army SP-4 1969-1971

Army PFC 1944-1945 WW II

Army/ Marines Communication 6 Years of Service

Army Specialist First Class 1951-1952

Army Sgt E5 (Air Borne) 1963-1966

Army E2 1969-1971

Air Force MSGT 1955-1978

Army Sgt. 2 Years of Service

Army PFC 2010-2014

Army Cpl 2 Years of Service - Korean War

Air Force PFC Military Police 6 Years of Service

Coast Guard/Army TTC 23 Years of Service

Army PFC 1963-1966

Army Staff Sgt. 1990-2008

Army SP1 2000-Currently Serving

US Army WW I

Marines Sgt. 1991-1997

Navy 1967-1972

Army Sgt. E5 4 Years of Service

Marines Sgt. 8 Years of Service

Air Force 1st Lieutenant 1950-1953

Army SFC 1952-1953

Air Force Staff Sgt 1956-1960

Marines Lance Corporal 1986-1990

Air Force E3 1970-1974

Army Spec 5 1970-1971

Army Cpl. 1949-1952

Air Force AIC 4 Years of Service

Air Force 21 Years of Service

Army Command Sergeant Major 1969-1999

Army SFC 20+ Years of Service

Army E5 1950-1953

Army Spec 4 E4 3 Years Active/3 Years Reserve

Marines 1969-1972

Army Sergeant 9 Years of Service

Air Force E4 4 Years of Service

Air Force 21 Years of Service

Army 2 Years of Service

Army Specialist E4 1966-1970


ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM | NOVEMBER 11, 2020

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM

WATSON Audrey L.

WATSON McKinley C.

WATSON Milton

WEAVER Lester Eugene

WEST Alvin T.

WHITAKER James

WHITE Edith

WHITEHEAD Dan A.

WHITEHEAD Elbert S.

WHITEHEAD JR George

WHITEHEAD Selesta

WHITEHEAD, JR. Selesta

WHITEHURST Allen Kyle

WHITEHURST James Allen

Army Reserve 1993-1999

Air Force Master Sgt 22 Years of Service

Navy Army CS3 Sgt. 1st Class 1967-1999 (Vietnam Veteran) 22 Years of Service

Army Sergeant 1985-1989

Air Force SMSGT 28 Years of Service

Army Sgt. Major 43 Years of Service

Army SPC 3 1944-1946

Air Force SP4 3 Years of Service

Air Force Tec/Sgt 20 Years of Service

WILLIAMS W.T.

Army E3 2 Years of Service

WILLIAMSBEASLEY Robert

Army Lieutenant General 15 Years of Service

Hedgepeth_ Jeremiah

Army PFC 3 Years of Service

Hill Sr._Archadle Alston_Robert L. Air Force Sgt 27 Years of Service

Anthony_Malton Ray Army Sgt 4 Years of Service

Arrington_Kenneth Army SP4 2 Years of Service

Arrington_Russell Army SP4 3 Years of Service

Avent_Bronis

Army SP4 2 Years of Service

Battle_Anothy Marines Sgt 8 Years of Service

Battle_Garfield Army E5 2 Years of Service

Battle_Willie G. Army 3 Years of Service WW II Veteran

Beaufort_Clarence

Army SP/5 3 Years of Service

Navy 4 Years of Service

Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Hines_Michael A.

Crews_Otto M.

Gray_Richard E. Army Sgt 2 Years of Service

Cooper, Jr._James E. Gray_Courney

Navy

Daniels_Clarence Air Force Master Sgt. 24 Years of Service

Gray_Rodney

Daniels_Waverly

Gray_William Eddie

Army 1st Sgt Master Sgt. 24 Years of Service

Dancy_Larry

Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Davis_Petronee Air Force Sgt 4 Years of Service

Dickens_Bobby E. Army Sgt 2 Years of Service

Dickens_Harry

Army SSG 3 Years of Service (Vietnam Veteran) Purple Heart

Dickens_Kary

Army Sgt

Army 1st Sgt. 24 Years of Service

Boone_Horace

Draughn_Kendra T.

Air Force Sgt 3 Years of Service

Army Sgt 13 Years of Service

Brown_Joseph

Evans_David W.

Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Marines Sgt. E9 30 Years of Service

Bryant_James E.

Fox_Johnnie

Army SP4 6 Years of Service

Army Sgt 8 Years of Service

Bunn_James

Fox_Lorenzo

Air Force

Coley_John

Army SP4 1 Year of Service (KIA)

Army Sgt 2 Years of Service

Fuller_Joseph F.

Coley_Thomas

Grant Jr._Claude

Air Force

Army Sgt 2 Years of Service

Army Sgt 2 Years of Service

Cooper_David

Gray_Chester T.

Navy Sgt 25 Years of Service

Navy E5 3 Years of Service

Navy 4 Years of Service

Army PFC 4 Years of Service

Hagwood_L.B. Navy MoMM2 1943-1945

Hagwood_Lawrence M. Marines 1st Lieutenant 1976-1980

Hagwood_Nathan B. Marines CPL 2005-2009

Harper_Weldon Ray Army SP4 2 Years of Service

Harris_Jerome Marines Sergeant 2 Years of Service

Harris Sr._Marice B. Army 2 Years of Service

Harris Jr._Marice B. Air Force 2 Years of Service

Harris_Nathan Navy 2 Years of Service

Harris_Odessa Bryant

Army Sgt 20 Years of Service

Harrison_Donald A. Air Force Master Sgt. 18 Years of Service

Harrison_Robert M. Army E4 2 Years of Service

Army SP 4 2 Years of Service

Army Staff Sergeant E6 26 Years of Service

Navy IT2 7 Years of Service

Army E8 Master Sgt. 1977-1997

Army Spec4 4 Years of Service

Thank You For Your Service!

Harrison_Ronald A.

WHITEHURST James Cecil

Army SP-4 3 Years of Service

Navy / Army E4 / Sgt E5 4 Years of Service / 5 Years of Service

Hines_Thurman L. Army - 101st Airborne Sgt E5 3 Years of Service (Vietnam Veteran)

Hines, II_Thurman L. Army Spec 4 6 Years of Service

Horne_Larry

Army SP4 2 Years of Service

Hunter_Julius

Air Force Master Sgt 30 Years of Service

Johnson_Elvin U.

Lewis Sr._Robert B. Pullen_Phillip Marines Sergeant 8 Years of Service

Lynch_Glandus

Air Force S.M. Sgt. 22 ½ Years of Service

Lynch_Thomas Air Force Sgt. 4 Years of Service

Mann Sr._Calvin Navy Sgt 4 Years of Service

Mercer_Debra

Air Force Sgt 20 Years of Service

Mercer_William Air Force Sgt 10 Years of Service

Milbourne_Rodney Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Modlin_Ray A. Army Sgt 11 Years of Service

Moody_Willie Army Sgt 1966-1968

Army Sergeant 20 Years of Service

Moore_Malachi

Jones_Lorenzo

Morgan Sr._Leodus

Army SP4 2 Years of Service

Jones_Percy Army

2 Years of Service

Jordan_Curtis Marines 4 Years of Service

King_Charlie

Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Knight_Ernest Air Force Sgt 4 Years of Service

Knight_Joe A. Marines Sgt 4 Years of Service

Knight_William Marines E5 5 Years of Service

League_Bob

Air Force 4 Years of Service

League_Will

Marine Corps 8 Years of Service

Army 2 Years of Service Army

Noel_Richard

Army Sgt 2 Years of Service

Norwood_Edward Army 82nd Airborne Paratrooper 20 Years of Service

Parker_Debra Army E4 3 Years of Service

Army Served in the Battle of the Bulge 1945-1946 (WWII Veteran)

Randolph_Dennis Earl Air Force Sgt 25 Years of Service

Randolph_Edgar Ray Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Randolph_ Raymond

Army Sgt 25 Years of Service

Richardson_Charles Army Mst. Sgt. 30 Years of Service

Tucker_Alvin Army

4 Years of Service (KIA)

Washington_Coley

Marines 2 Years of Service (KIA)

Whitaker_Alvin Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Whitaker_Anthony Army Sgt 3Years of Service

Whitakers_Garvin Army Sgt 4 Years of Service

Whitakers Sr._ Walter

Air Force Master Sgt 20 Years of Service

Whitehead_ Richardson_Woodrow Alexander Army Army Mst. Sgt. 25 Years of Service

Sgt 2 Years of Service

Royster_Alton

Whitehead_Donald

Air Force Master Sgt 12 Years of Service

Sessoms_Carmillus Air Force Sgt 22 Years of Service

Silver_Floyd

Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Spaton_Donald Army/Air Force Sgt 19 Years of Service

Speight_James E. Army Sgt 20 Years of Service

Stevenson_Bruce Army SP4 3 Years of Service

Stokes_Elton

Air Force/Army Sergeant Parker_Donald Ray 20 Years Air Force Airman 2nd Class Taylor Sr_Melvin 1957-1961 Air Force Sgt Parker_Harold 8 Years of Service Army Sgt Taylor Jr._Melvin 3 Years of Service Air Force Sgt Phillips_Colbert 4 Years of Service Army Sgt Thorne Sr._Robert 2 Years of Service Air Force Sgt Phillips_Milton 4 Years of Service Air Force Sgt Thorpe_Hugh 4 Years of Service Army Sergeant 2 Years of Service

Army Sgt 20 Years of Service

Whitehead_Donald Navy Sgt 25 Years of Service

Whitehead_Frank D. Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Whitehead_James D. Army Sgt 3 Years of Service

Whitehead_Marcus Army Sgt 10 Years of Service

William_Albert Air Force Sgt 15 Years of Service

William_Daryl

Army E6 20 Years of Service

William_David Army Sgt

William_Otis T. Army Sgt 7 Years of Service

William_Robert Air Force Sgt 4 Years of Service

William_William H. Army Sgt E7 23 Years of Service


‘I’d go back in a heartbeat’

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM | NOVEMBER 11, 2020

BY WILLIAM F. WEST R ocky Mo u n t Te le g ra m

Steve Pridgen regularly wears caps proudly showing he served the nation in uniform. Pridgen is president of a family business, Pridgen Tire and Auto Center, which is located along Sunset Avenue, and he was in the U.S. Air Force as a security specialist who achieved the rank of master sergeant. In civilian life, Pridgen rotates what lid he chooses to wear personifying his having worked for Uncle Sam. When Pridgen recently sat down early one morning at the business for an interview with the Telegram, he had on a cap showing he was in Afghanistan. Pridgen told of one day wearing a veteran’s cap while in Raleigh with his wife and of people approaching, shaking hands with him and thanking him for his service. “I always reply back, ‘Thank you. It was an honor to serve — and I’d go back in a heartbeat if they allowed it,’” Pridgen said. Pridgen noted he is a retired reservist and could be called back up by the government if needed. “I’m 56. So it would take a little bit of retraining, but put me on top of a hilltop, I’d go back in a heartbeat,”

Pridgen said. “That’s one thing most veterans are going to tell you: If you had a chance to go back and do one final mission, would you do it? Hell yes.” Pridgen’s brother, Jeff, 59, served in the U.S. Navy and the Army National Guard. Steven and Jeff Pridgen run Pridgen Tire and Auto. The origin of Pridgen Tire and Auto can be traced to when their late great-grandfather, Foster Morris Pridgen Sr., was a blacksmith at about what today is the Edgecombe Community College Rocky Mount campus. With the advent of the automobile, the Pridgen family shifted to being in the tire and auto service business and operated along North Church Street, almost catty corner from Wholesale Paint Center. Steve and Jeff Pridgen’s father, M.H. Pridgen, 87, who served in the U.S. Air Force, relocated the business to along Sunset in 1972. Steve Pridgen was a senior in high school in 1982 and he noted President Kennedy saying in his inaugural address in 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Pridgen said he was not ready to go to college and said after talking to the re-

Above, U.S. Air Force veteran Steve Pridgen has memorabilia of his days in uniform, including an image of a North Korean soldier just out of one of the United Nations conference rooms in the neutral zone straddling the North Korean-South Korean border. Below, U.S. Air Force veteran Steve Pridgen shows an album he has on hand with photographs of when he served in Afghanistan. spective recruiters for the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marines, he approached the recruiter for the U.S. Air Force. Pridgen said he watched an Air Force promotional video and found out he could work as a security specialist, a law enforcement specialist or a firefighter. After completing basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, Pridgen served from 1983-86 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, with his jobs including helping guard the base and the aircraft, the bombs and the missiles. From 1986-88, Pridgen served at Osan Air Base in South Korea and volunteered to be on what was a version of a SWAT team and did joint exercises, including with the counter-terrorist Delta Force.

& Crematory

Honoring Their Service & Sacrifice

Additionally, Pridgen twice visited the demilitarized zone, more commonly called the DMZ and which remains a stark reminder of the Cold War. Although Communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea are supposed to be in a state of a cease fire, North Korean and an alliance of South Korean and U.S. forces are in a 24/7 eyeball-to-eyeball standoff. Pridgen told of having gone to what is called the Joint Security Area and having entered one of the well-publicized sets of blue United Nations neutral-zone conference rooms straddling the North Korean and South Korean border. Pridgen said the whole scene was bizarre, including with the North Koreans having a fake village on their side of the boundary, complete with a massive North Korean flag flying. “They try to impress everybody by making everything look so nice, but it’s not,” Pridgen said. Pridgen also told of being on constant alert while serving in South Korea. Specifically, Pridgen told of an alarm going off in the middle of the night, him running into the armory and going out to a bunker with an M60 machine gun and numerous rounds of ammunition at the ready, only to find out this was a drill. Pridgen said due to the vast numbers of forces on the North Korean side, “You knew if there was an invasion you were dead. There was no way we could hold them back — and it would take a few days for reinforcements from the states.” From 1988-89, Pridgen served at Malmstrom Air Force Base, which is adjacent to Great Falls, Mont. Pridgen told of Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles being spread out over approximately 10,000 square miles of the Big Sky Country and his job being to help provide

top side security. As for what he thought of being at a base with all of that firepower, Pridgen said it was pretty nice. “But then again, you knew you were a big target. If something happened, they’re going to blow us off the map,” Pridgen said. Pridgen told of Montana having much beautiful land that offered him quality time to fish and hunt — and he killed two deer while there. Pridgen said, however, that when wintertime arrived, the temperature plummeted to 35 degrees below zero, with a wind chill factor of minus 90. Pridgen said he subsequently entered the Palace Front program, which enabled him to transition into the reserves, in a security police unit at Seymour Johnson, and he returned to work at Pridgen Tire and Auto. Pridgen’s life changed with 9/11 and his telephone ringing with a call to go to Seymour Johnson. Pridgen told of going to get a haircut, packing up extra gear and refueling his vehicle. And Pridgen told of his minister, John Check, asking whether he was going into service and his replying in the affirmative. And Pridgen told of Check asking, “What do you need?” and telling Check,“Just prayers, John.” Pridgen eventually ended up at MacDill Air Force Base in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., area and back at Seymour Johnson before he and fellow service members volunteered to go to a base in Oman in the Arabian Peninsula region. Pridgen said those he was assigned to at the base in Oman directed him to go to Afghanistan and said he and two fellow service members he picked replaced a three-man team. Pridgen served at Bagram Airfield, which is the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan, and his job was to help provide security and he told of the location

coming under attack from time to time. And Pridgen told of an aircraft crash at Bagram that claimed the lives of four of his fellow service members, three of whose bodies he carried in body bags. The Telegram asked Pridgen about how he felt about being there and coming under fire and whether he wondered if he was going to be hit. “A lot of times you didn’t know what to think,” Pridgen said.“You did your job. You worked day to day.” Pridgen noted he worked without a day off because there was nowhere to go when he was not on duty. Pridgen said he and fellow service members volunteered off-duty time with agent types who met with village elders in an attempt to get information. And Pridgen was in a land of al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents and angry villagers as U.S. forces at the same time were trying to track down al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden. “You didn’t know who the enemy was,” Pridgen said. “These people would turn on each other in a heartbeat.” Pridgen said although he was scared at times “you did what you had to do to come home” and said he and fellow service members would have a cell or satellite phone and lots of weaponry at the ready when working off base. Pridgen served at Bagram for approximately seven months before returning to Seymour Johnson and serving there a short time before being a reservist again for approximately few more years. U.S. Navy SEALs in 2011 killed bin Laden in Pakistan. Overall, Pridgen said he believes the bottom line in his serving was he had to have the backs of his buddies and they had to have his back. “You’d go and you’d do it for the guy or gal beside you,” Pridgen said.

Stephanie (252) 813-3109 Webb stephaniewebbsemail@gmail.com SUCCESS BUILT ON RELATIONSHIPS

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2020 RMT Veterans Day  

Tribute to Twin County Veterans

2020 RMT Veterans Day  

Tribute to Twin County Veterans