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Armed Forces Appreciation Day

Photo by Shari Harris
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard offer support for Barbara Curtis as the Piney River Quilt Guild present her with a quilt.

By Shari Harris
Local veteran organizations teamed with the Houston Chamber of Commerce to present a celebration of and for veterans at the fairgrounds Saturday, May 18. It was a day filled with activities, beginning at 10 a.m. with a welcome for guests.
The car show began at 10:00 also. Numerous antique automobiles sparkled in the sunshine, and the Ozarks Older Irons Club showed two tractors. Five older military vehicles were also on display, a tractor, a military truck converted into a fire department truck, a five-ton truck with a field machine shop on the back, a five-ton truck which had been used as a troop or a cargo vehicle, and a 6 x 4 military transport tractor which had a flat-bed trailer.
SFC Jeffery Pearson, Fort Leonard Wood, represented the Military Police. His MP cruiser was parked near the military equipment, and a table displayed a riot shield, handcuffs, leg restraints and a body restraint.
A booth that drew much attention was manned by SSgt. Robert Osborn and SSgt. James Shipley, Tech. Expert Instructors at the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School (CBRNS), Fort Leonard Wood. They displayed suits and equipment used to keep soldiers safe from hazardous substances. The 12-layer Level A suit was fully encapsulated and offered the most protection. The eight-layer Level B suit was also on display, and is used when the situation allows. But the most intriguing part of their display was WALL-E the chemical detection robot. This robot on tracks is equipped with a multi-gas sensor, a chemical detector, a first offender – a laser detects the molecular fingerprint of liquids or solids and sends it to remote computers, a radiation detector, and four cameras including an infrared camera and a
“back-up” camera so operators can see what is behind WALL-E when backing up. The robot also is able to do radar mapping. With WALL-E at work, soldiers can identify dangers in their path with less exposure to hazards.
The Texas County Medical Reserve Corps had an information booth at the event. Marilyn Knutson, Lynne Foster and Jackie Smith offered information on how to prepare your family for a disaster. The corps’ mission is to provide basic shelters and medical support to people affected by major disasters. It serves a multi-county area and is made up of individuals with medical backgrounds, first responders, and people with a variety of talents, including chainsaw operation, firefighters, and more.
More booths were set up outside, and inside the building, information tables were manned along both walls. Jerry Snyder and John Whelan, both Vietnam veterans, represented Chapter 140 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Fort Leonard Wood. Their table included a Battlefield Cross consisting of a soldier’s boots, weapon and helmet. Snyder explained that veterans have approached city and county councils and commissions encouraging them to become Purple Heart cities or counties. The veterans provide the funds for signs showing the Purple Heart designation. The Purple Heart Trail was established in 1992 by the Military Order of the Purple Heart and their webpage indicates the trail “is a symbolic and honorary system of roads, highways, bridges, and other monuments that give tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart medal.” Cabool, Houston, Licking and Edgar Springs are Purple Heart cities and Texas, Phelps, Pulaski, Shannon and Dent counties are Purple Heart counties.
The Cabool VFW sponsored a flag retirement ceremony at 10:30 a.m. and a pulled pork meal was served to veterans, family members and volunteers beginning at 11 a.m. The tables were full and people continued to line up to sign in and to enjoy the meal. For more than two hours, the servers filled plates for attendees.
After an invocation, the presentation of colors was conducted by the Honor Guard. After the Pledge of Allegiance, Marty Elmore sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” then Patti Elmore joined him to sing “God Bless America.” Larry Dablemont was up next as the guest speaker. Dablemont entertained guests with stories, ending with encouragement to all present that “you can make a difference.”
A special presentation was made to Barbara M. Curtis for her service in the U.S. Coast Guard. A presentation was made by the U.S. Coast Guard and a quilt was given to her by the Piney River Quilt Guild.
After the benediction, “Taps” and the retirement of colors was observed.
All ages were present at the event. Girl Scouts handed out thank you cards to veterans. The Pulaski Young Marines were present. The Young Marines identifies as “a youth education and service program for boys and girls eight through completion of high school.” The program is “the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps' Youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts.”
The event planners had a grand event. Based on turnout and the reactions of attendees to the program, it was a huge success. Thank you to all the veterans and to all those supporting our veterans on this Armed Forces Appreciation Day.


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