Salute to veterans honors service personnel

ALBANY, Ga. -- On this Saturday before Veterans Day, the Sowega Veterans Coalition will honor of military veterans by presenting the fifth annual Salute to Veterans at Veterans Park Amphitheater, Albany Civic Center.

Paul Murray, coalition chairman, said the event will begin with a music prelude at 9:45 a.m.by the Deerfield-Windsor high school band.

The salute will continue to the March on the Colors presented by Monroe High School USAF Junior ROTC, the national anthem performed by Marilyn McClelland and posting of colors. A medley of armed forces songs will be performed before McClelland sings "America the Beautiful."

Guest speaker for the event is Lee James, who served eight months as a prisoner of war when his B-17 bomber was shot down over Germany in World War II. James will speak on four of his most dangerous missions before being captured.

Following the ceremonies, there will be a parade of vehicles from the Civic Center to the VFW at 315 Philema Road, where there will be music, food and refreshments, a live auction and more, Murray said.

On display at the VFW will be a Navy UH1 Seawolf attack helicopter of the type used in the Vietnam War. According to Murray, the aircraft were used as support for the U.S. Navy swift boats patrolling the Mekong Delta.

Murray said the annual ceremony and parade are not only to honor U.S. veterans of all wars but also to help generate a sense of pride and appreciation for the military.

Murray is puzzled,why Albany, with more veterans than any other city in the area, appears, in his opinion, to be lukewarm toward military personnel. According to Murray, most every other town, including Panama City, Atlanta, Savannah, Thomasville and Moultrie have a formal parade, with marching bands and floats, rather than Albany's simple parade of vehicles.

"It's not costing the city anything," Murray said. "Everything is taken care of by our company sponsors, Budwiser and SASCO Chemicals."

According to Murray, the Veterans Salute initiative faces excessive "red tape" each year in applying for a simple parade of vehicles. In any sort of parade format, he would like to see more support from residents in decorating their own vehicles with positive pro-military messages or marching in groups.

"Our purpose is to support veteran programs and events," Murray said of the veterans coalition, "like the Field of Flags and Salute to Veterans. One of our current projects is the establishment of a World War II memorial at Veterans Park. We have a memorial for Vietnam vets but not for those of World War II."

Murray said that each year, proceeds from the Salute auction will be presented to an organization selected by the coalition. This year the recipient will be the Purple Heart Outdoor Tour, an organization providing hunting and fellowship opportunities for profoundly injured military veterans and firefighters.

According to Murray, the Sowega Veteran's Coalition was formed as a means to distribute information to all the veterans groups in the Dougherty County area and is formally organizing into a meaningful organization that participates in Community and veteran functions. Participating in the coalition are eleven local veteran-oriented groups, including American Legion posts, the VFW, and Vietnam Veterans Post #1.


rock 3 years ago

Maybe Vet participation is down because the VFW is full of old men and bikers and full of too much smoke. It could be that post 182 is run by a couple of idiots. It could be that post 30 does not answer online membership requests ( I applied on line twice and never heard from them) It could be that alot of vets just want to forget and move on. The VFW on philema is run down and ill managed. These are just a couple of things I have experienced and if I have experienced these than I am sure so have others. Lets face it things in Albany are not Always managed for members but for those in office of the Posts.


JROK 3 years ago

If Rock had any common sense and not non sense if we would know if he wants change in any VFW Post than he needs to one be accepted into our Elite membership. Quit Whining and Complaining when no one wants to hear you. "Ill Manage" makes me sick to my stomach, and you call yourself a Veteran. Quit Griping and come to our post and start making a difference!


pberthoty 3 years ago

Post 182 is the Leesburg American Legion and 30 is the Albany American Legion, not the VFW. The Albany VFW is Post 2785. Maybe "ill managed" before, but this is a new VFW 2785 with new ideas and a dedicated new Commander and his officers who are striving to improve the VFW. The CO & his Sr. Vice have been spending hundreds of hours at the VFW to improve it in the last 3 months. There are bands now on Friday and Saturday nights, with a swap meet the first Saturday of each month. An added pool table moved up into the main dance hall to be used, amusement machines and new TV's and a lounge with X-box and WiFi through self-improved management at NO COST. It takes money to improve a facility and it is no longer "ill-managed". Come by now and you will see the changes to attract the younger veterans and they are slowly signing up. By January 2013, the front area will be improved with better lighting, new doors and signs. It takes money and all the improvements that have been made so far cost nothing, just time, energy and the desire to improve the facility. If you google it's history, the VFW's purpose since 1899 is to help veterans and no one does more. It is the largest American organization of combat veterans. The American Legion is comprlsed of veterans who have served during certain time periods. Both veterans organizations needs the support of younger members. I agree with JROK. Quit Griping and come to our post and start making a difference!


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