5th Annual SCV Salutes American Veterans event held September 20th, 2008
Author's Note: My apologies for not publishing this report sooner, but better late than never. The 6th Annual SCV Salutes American Veterans event is Saturday, September 19, 2009. Please attend; you'll be glad you did. Georgia Division Commander Jack Bridwell is scheduled to be our keynote speaker.
The fifth annual SCV Salutes American Veterans held Sep. 20th, 2008 was a grand success.
Once again, veteran patients at the VAMC enjoyed the entertainment, the prizes and the food and all the volunteers had a great time, too.
SCV members and other volunteers from across Georgia converged at Independence Park at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia early Saturday. The tents were set up, the band's equipment was set up, the charcoal was started and fun began. For several hours well into the afternoon, Independence Park was filled with the sound of music, laughter and people enjoying themselves....not to mention the smell of chicken and sausage cooking over charcoal.
One patient was overheard saying, "That chicken is so good, I'd eat the dirt it walked on." Perhaps that's a bit over the top, but the food was GOOD!
Several hundred patients and staff joined us outside to enjoy the food, the music, the wheelchair races and the bike show and prize giveaways. It's estimated that we fed about 300+ outside and 137 patients inside. Many more (137) who could not come outside received hats, goodie-bags, and good food delivered to them inside. Goodie bags were given to all the patients that included books, hats, candy and more. Prizes included fishing tackle, coolers, birdfeeders, phone cards and much more.
Some of the SCV members present were Al Perry of the Toombs Camp #932 in Vidalia, Tom Lavender of the Knox Camp #2022 in Ware County, Kipp Pittman of Willacoochee, Bobby Riezinger of Pine Barrens Camp 2039 in Eastman, Brigade Commander Kim Beck (Eastman) and Rusty Henderson of Dublin. Members from the Woodward Camp #1399 included Dr. Ben Lowery, Commander A.O. Smith, John Thigpen, Ralph Carson, Walter Duckworth ("the singing rebel"), Ricky Smith, Bud Cranford, Steve Scroggins and Robert Poss. Russ Huffman and his son, Mike, and brother-in-law Dan Faulk of Clinch's Cavalry Camp #2084 were of course there as was Suzanne Huffman, the organizer of the desserts and Dan's wife, Kitten, and Walter Duckworth's wife, Lisa, and our Keynote speaker, Bobby Patrick. If I left anyone out, please forgive me.
Once again, the General Lee car was on display and was a popular attraction.
Among the special guests present were Rosa Brown Chappell, the great great granddaughter of Ten Cent Bill Yopp. She told me that her father looked just like the photos of Bill Yopp. Mrs. Chappell was there with her sister Tyra Evans and niece Felicia Evans. I met Mr. Wade Brown, grandson of Bill Yopp and grandfather of Charles Blue, who was there. Blue told me he was in the US Army in 1972 and he shares a special interest in caring for our veterans. They were all excited about the work on Charles Pittman's soon-to-be-published book on Bill Yopp and the recent article about it written by Scott Thompson. They indicated that there had been some interest in a movie about Yopp (based on the Pittman book and others).
Thanks to our many volunteers, sponsors and contributors, we had plenty of food and prizes for everyone.
The non-SCV volunteers were many including the members of the band, Emmitt Sherling the master chef, Suzanne Huffman, Kitten Faulk, Lisa Duckworth and many others. Thanks to Kipp Pittman for bringing the tents and banners for the event once again.
As always, the Motorcycle show and the wheelchair races were a big hit. Patients volunteered to serve as judges for the motocycle show; SCV members volunteered to serve as judges for the wheelchair race and we had a number of enthusiastic patients who entered their wheelchairs (electric and manual) in the competition which required a combination of speed and agility. Trophies were presented to the top finishers.
The band "Renegade" was great and entertained everyone with a mix of blues, rock, pop and oldies. This year again featured Camp 1399 member Walter Duckworth doing vocals. The remainder of the band was Raymond Goff on keyboards, Ray Hendricks on guitar, Jackie Stripling on bass and Chuck Vaughn on drums. They put on a very impressive show. Songs included hits made famous by such artists as KC & the Sunshine Band, Procol Harem, Bob Segar, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Blues Brothers, and many others.
Due to privacy regulations, we are not able to show many of the great photos and activities that we had, and the faces of the veterans really tells the story best (be there next year to see what we mean---you'll be glad you came). As you'll see in the photos below, we had to conceal their faces to comply with regulations.
One veteran in a wheelchair whose name I cannot divulge was a WWII vet 83 years old (born 1925). He was very sharp and repeated his Army serial number to me. He said that he's known about the VAMC as the "Royal Crown Crook" but he declined to tell me exactly how he got that moniker. There was no doubt he enjoyed himself at the event. At one point, he was so moved that he sprang from his wheelchair and commenced to dance albeit carefully. At another point, I caught him smiling like a possum and playing air guitar.
The veteran patients all seemed to enjoy the event and many expressed appreciation for the entertainment, prizes and attention paid to them. All the volunteers enjoyed the event as well. Based on the feedback we received, the veterans definitely want us to come back for a sixth annual event. VAMC recreation staffer Todd Spees told us that from the feedback he received from patients, our event is "the best bar none."
Months of legwork went into planning the event, securing donations from the contributors. Special thanks goes to Russ Huffman (Commander Camp 2084) for leading these efforts once again. This year he received a lot more significant help from area SCV Camps in Eastman and elsewhere. Thanks, y'all! We'll need more help with the advance pre-event work in future years so we don't burn these guys out!
Thanks to all the volunteers...but most of all, thanks to ALL our American veterans for their service and sacrifice.
Click the thumbnails below to see larger versions. Photos by Steve Scroggins.