Sumiton ceremony honors area veterans
by W. Brian Hale
May 31, 2011 | 3285 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Greg Phillips, a Sumiton native and Vietnam War veteran, joins a Walker County Honor Guard member in laying a wreath on the Sumiton Veterans Memorial during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Sumiton Community Center Monday. - Photo by: W. Brian Hale
Greg Phillips, a Sumiton native and Vietnam War veteran, joins a Walker County Honor Guard member in laying a wreath on the Sumiton Veterans Memorial during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Sumiton Community Center Monday. - Photo by: W. Brian Hale
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SUMITON -- The Sumiton Area Veterans Board held their first annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Sumiton Community Center on Monday.

A large crowd filled the entrance way of the community center to help remember the sacrifices of men and women of the nation's armed forces -- who in times of peace and war endeavor to protect the freedom of United States citizens.

Angela Romano sang the national anthem followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Sumiton native and Vietnam veteran Greg Phillips, spoke on his experiences in the nation's service during the Vietnam War, the sacrifice of his comrades who fell in the line of duty or were wounded and how everyday is Memorial Day for him. Phillips' platoon, who was part of the 101st Airborne Division stationed in the North Highlands region of Vietnam participated in the Battle of Firebase Marie, where the 22 members of his platoon were engaged by an estimated force of 1,500, comprised of North Vietnamese regular army troops and North Vietnamese elite units at the loss of 7 killed and 13 wounded. Phillips was wounded three times during the battle and received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, while other surviving members of his unit were awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross and the Congressional Medal of Honor -- the first time all four of the military's highest awards was awarded to a single unit.

"Everyday is Memorial Day for me as I always ponder the lives of the seven members of my platoon who never got to come home, see their families and live the rest of their lives," Phillips said. "Their sacrifice has had a profound effect on me as it will for the rest of my life. 31 Walker County soldiers lost their lives in Vietnam and I think on their lives and what their sacrifice means to all of us. It is those moments and moments like these that should make us all remember what our men and women who are serving our country are doing to protect our freedom and the way we live our lives."

Following the speech, Staff Sgt. J.C. Glover presented Phillips with the flag of the 101st Airborne Division. The Walker County Honor Guard performed a 21-gun salute and lowered the flag to half-mast while Taps was performed. Phillips and Honor Guard members laid a wreath on the veterans memorial and 21 doves were released to conclude the ceremony.