BEDFORD, Va. (WFXR) — WFXR Sports Director Jermaine Ferrell is the host of our annual show Veterans Voices : Honoring Those Who Serve. Jermaine served in the United States Army for nearly ten years. While in the armed forces, Jermaine was in charge of the money: paying thousands of soldiers through our military pay program.
The stories on the military veterans embody those same ideals and much more covering many different conflicts and many varied experiences.
We are hosting the show from the beautiful National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. The memorial does a wonderful job paying respect to those who fought and those who died on June 6, 1944. Jermaine got a chance to interview Memorial Foundation President April Cheek Messier about World War II veterans and their tremendous sacrifice is what led to the eventual fall of the Nazis and the Allied victory in Europe in World War II. Parker King talks with Martinsville’s Houston Smith. Smith was determined to help in any way he could during World War II.
He ended up as a waist gunner, in a B-24, in the Army Air Forces, manning a 50-caliber machine gun. “Those were about the darkest days you’ve ever see, when World War II started. Everything appeared to be against us and nothing for us,” said Smith. World War II veteran Smith was working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
There’s probably not a person out there that hasn’t been impacted in some way by a member of the military. This statement applies to William Byrd head football coach Brad Lutz. Before arriving in Vinton, Lutz spent the last 12 years coaching the Broadway Gobblers. In 2019, the William Byrd Terriers picked up Lutz’s decade long tradition of honoring our nation’s military.
During every game of the high school football season — the Terriers honor a soldier who was killed while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s a tradition Lutz feels not only does it serve a purpose to his players — but it also honors the memory of a close friend to coach Lutz.
“One of the greatest teammates I ever had in high school was a soldier named Clarence Adams who was killed in 2004 and he was killed by an ID explosion and that really changed my life. And I made a promise to him and I made a promise to his family that as long as I was coaching football and as long as I was walking this earth that there would be people who knew his story. that tradition is teaching our kids what the word sacrifice really means and also allows us to tell a community what our priorities are. And that’s teaching young men how to be better people. And honoring great Americans in the process,” said Lutz.
When military experiences lead to difficulty adjusting to a more normal life back home. One of the best tools to help is often a service dog. For some, they can make all the difference when it comes to quality of life. Constance Jones introduces us to Service Dogs of Virginia in Charlottesville and one veteran who is among so many being helped by a furry friend. Since 2000, the organization has placed 95 dogs with clients throughout Virginia.
Not I but we. Words to live by for one World War II veteran when reflecting on how he survived the conflict, and life, nearly 80 years after. Retired Army Major Anthony Grant recently celebrated his 100th birthday and he shared some of his experiences – and secrets of success with Don Roberts in Hampton.
Weather often plays a huge role in military operations. Next, the story of a local veteran who served his country during World War II – not with a weapon – but with his eyes to skies – to help Allied Forces in the Pacific Theater. Chief Meteorologist John Carroll has World War II veteran Cawley Stine’s story. “I was always interested in the weather. Today, I have a stack of papers out here and books and the sky out here, and I put all the information I can get from that into these things,” said Stine.
Stine was a freshman at Lebanon Valley College in Annville Pennsylvania when word got out that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. Stine recalls how some of his older classmates didn’t hesitate with their next move.
Monica Southall’s life changed in an instant. While serving in Afghanistan, she was wounded in an accident. But her love for sports helped her cope, and made her stronger. Natalie Kalibat has her story.
In September of 2009, Monica was a part of one of those incidents. She was working on top of a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle when bombs from an airstrike landed too close.
Monica southall’s knees, shoulders, and spinal cord were injured.
Between 2004 and the present, southall has had 27 surgeries.
“What I remember of that day, uh I was on top of one of the MRAP trucks doing inventory and I remember my soldier coming to me, ‘Hey Sergeant. Southall come here for a second.’ I was like, ‘Okay, just one second,’ and before I could even get to him, I heard it, I heard the bomb, I saw it and I tried to get off the truck and I fell and that was pretty much my memory of that day,” said Southall.
Southall is not angry from the experience but is honored to have fought on the frontlines for our country.
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