Meridian Star

November 10, 2012

First class for the veterans

By Brian Livingston /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Veterans in East Mississippi will be the guests of honor at several events around the area as Americans both locally and nationally remember those who served in the nation's armed forces.

    In Meridian the stage is set for the Veterans Day program held each year at the Doughboy Monument in downtown Meridian. Jim Swartz who helps organize the event said Van Mack, who is a former Marine, will do double duty as the master of ceremonies and as the guest speaker.

    The program will start at 10 a.m. Sunday and include an honor guard from Naval Air Station Meridian. Instead of having someone sing the National Anthem, Swartz said everyone will join in this year. Swartz said members of the area veterans organizations such as the VFW, Marine Corps Reserve and American Legion all joined in to make the event possible.

    A luncheon at the VFW located on Highway 80 West just off College Park will be held for veterans and their families.

    Leroy Morse said the parade will begin at 3 p.m. He said the line up for the parade will begin at 2 p.m. The parade route will be the same as in years past so those wishing to line the streets and cheer on the veterans as they pass by can set up early for good viewing.     

    "We are excited about the events this year and everything is set," said Morse.

    And these aren't the only events. Veterans will be recognized and honored in several events around the area.

    McDonald’s restaurants throughout the Meridian area will honor veterans, active duty and military reserve force members with free breakfast on Veterans Day.  

    Between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Sunday, participating restaurants will serve each veteran, active duty and reserve force member a free Sausage Biscuit Extra Value Meal, which includes McDonald’s Hash Browns and a cup of Premium Roast McDonald’s coffee. Free breakfast for veterans will be offered inside the restaurant and is not available in the drive-thru.

    To qualify for a free Sausage Biscuit Extra Value Meal, active duty or reserve forces should present their military ID or be in uniform, or if retired or former military, a "retired" military ID or photograph in the uniform. Veterans of all ages are encouraged to bring a photograph to share with other veterans being served that morning.

    “It's appropriate to honor those who have risked their life in service of their country,” said Steve Murray, area McDonald’s spokesperson. “They're heroes. We sincerely appreciate their service to us and to our great nation.”

    Veterans will receive a free buffet on Veteran’s Day at Pearl River Resort in Choctaw on Monday.

    To receive their free buffet voucher for the Chef’s Pavilion Buffet, active duty personnel and veterans who are members of the Pearl River Rewards Club can visit the club desk at the Silver Star Hotel and Casino and show proof of military service (i.e. Military ID card, DD214, Veterans Affairs department card).    “We at Pearl River Resort give our whole-hearted thanks and respect to the service veterans and active duty personnel have given to our country,” said Holly Gagnon, president and CEO of PRR. “I know their sacrifices have provided us the freedoms we enjoy and we want them to feel appreciated on this very special day.”

    Meridian Community College will conduct a program to honor those who served America on Monday, at 11 a.m. in the College’s Graham Gymnasium.

     Keynote addresses will be presented by Capt. Charles Moore II and Master Sgt. Terry Jones. Moore is the commanding officer of Meridian Naval Air Station; Jones is the training NCO for force support in the 186th Air Refueling Wing in Meridian.

     The Northeast High School Junior Reserved Officer Training Corps will lead the presentation of colors and the MCC Gospel Choir will give a musical presentation. MCC veterans – including faculty, staff and students – will be recognized.

     Moore has commanded the Fighting Red Hawks of Training Squadron 21 (VT-21) in Kingsville, Texas, flying the T-45 Goshawk from May 2006 to August 2008. He also served on the Joint Staff Directorate of Command, Control, Communications and Computers (J-6) and U.S. Seventh Fleet staffs. Moore completed the U.S. Arm War College Strategic Leadership class of 2011.

     His military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendations Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and various campaign and unit awards. He has accumulated more than 3,500 flight hours and nearly 700 carrier arrested landings.

     Jones has served in the National Guard for 24 years. He is a financial advisor with Edward Jones Investments in Philadelphia, where he is also vice president of the Philadelphia Rotary Club. He serves on the Philadelphia Main Street board and is chairman of the Philadelphia/Neshoba County economic restructuring committee. Jones received his bachelor of science degree in business management from Shorter University in Rome, Ga.

     A reception will follow the program.