March 13, 2023
Sergeant First Class Sally Talbott is our Veteran of the Week!
Sergeant First Class Sally A. Talbott was born in Buckhannon, WV. She joined the Army in 1994. She deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in April 2010. SFC Talbott served a total of 24 years in the Army with other assignments including being a paratrooper at Ft Bragg, NC and a Drill Sergeant at Ft Jackson, SC. She also spent a total of four years with the Army Marksmanship Unit at Ft. Benning, GA. SFC Talbott has set numerous national records and won multiple titles as an individual and team member during several competitions to include Interservice, the National Pistol Championships, and the Bianchi Cup. She retired from the Army in 2022 and currently resides in Blythewood, SC.
We thank SCDVA Deputy Director of Operations Dan Wrightsman for nominating Sergeant First Class Sally Talbott for Veteran of the Week!
March 6, 2023
First Sergeant Michael Gasser is our Veteran of the Week!
Michael S. Gasser was born in Houston, Texas. He joined the Army in 2002. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in September 2004. After returning he was assigned to the Army Marksmanship Unit, Ft Benning, GA. Mike served a total of 20 years in the Army with other assignments including Ft Hood, TX and ending with an assignment as a Drill Sergeant and First Sergeant at Ft Jackson, SC. Mike has set numerous national records and won multiple titles as an individual and team member during several competitions to include Interservice, the National Pistol Championships, and the Bianchi Cup. He retired from the Army in 2022 and currently resides in Blythewood, SC.
We thank SCDVA Deputy Director of Operations Dan Wrightsman for nominating First Sergeant Michael Gasser for Veteran of the Week!
February 27, 2023
Sergeant First Class Fa'apepele "Pele" Hunkin is our Veteran of the Week!
Sergeant First Class Fa'apepele Hunkin is from the beautiful island of Samoa and is affectionately known as "Pele," which means "Sweetheart" in her native Samoan language. She was born in Nu'uuli, American Samoa, and raised by her beloved grandparents, Fa'apepele and Leauma Auva'a, in Vaiusu & Pesega, Samoa. Pele relocated to Nu'uuli to live with her late parents Malae and Miriama Hunkin upon the passing of her grandmother. She owes her faith, life, and breathtaking journey to her ancestors, who made the ultimate sacrifice and paved the way for her and her twelve siblings.
SFC Hunkin is a retired United States Army Combat Veteran who served honorably and distinctively for 19 years in various organizations and deployments before retiring as a Sergeant First Class in October 2013. Today, Hunkin is a dynamic speaker and Bestselling Author, and International Bestselling Author of HEART OF A WARRIOR-The humble journey of a Samoan warrior. She is also a Contributing Author to 8 Bestselling and International Bestselling anthologies and founder of Pele Inspire-Embracing Authentic Love, and a devoted mother of four loving children (Nicole, Dean Jr., Victoria, and Isabella).
SFC Hunkin draws her strength from telling others about her journey around the world and sharing her faith in God. In November 1994, she enlisted in the United States Army and later wed Deanne Ignacio Tajalle, the man she had fallen in love with and the father of her children. Sadly, her husband was in a catastrophic accident that left him in a coma for six months until he died from his injuries. His untimely passing left SFC Hunkin a widow and a single Hunkin is an ambassador for The Women of Dignity Magazine and the Re-Discover Me community in Columbia, South Carolina. Dr. Renee Huffman, the publisher of "The Women of Dignity Magazine," also gave Pele two honors: she was named one of the Top Fifty Pioneers of Change - Women's History Month 2022 and one of the Top Twenty-five Rising Stars - Watch Her Win 2022. She has won many accolades and been recognized by many groups, including The Wounded Warrior Project.
Hunkin is a graduate of the University of Management and Technology with a Master's Degree in Health Care Administration (MHA). She is a Life Coach and a certified Power Voice global speaker, having been trained to speak by the world-renowned Global motivational speaker, Les Brown. Additionally, she was recognized by The South Carolina International Festival and Commission of Minority Affairs as the first Samoan to represent the Island of Samoa and the first Samoan to receive the Volunteer of the Year Award by the Mota Crosslinking Business Academy. Hunkin is also an outstanding cook who frequently prepares the traditional family favorites passed down from the generations before her. She is writing a cookbook to share some of her family's favorite recipes.
Her testament of speaking to hundreds of people worldwide reveals the positivity bestowed upon her journey that always encourages others to work on themselves and become the best version of themselves. Pele's ability to candidly share her story with others through her books and speeches has proven her to be someone who inspires, motivates, and empowers those she encounters. She was the keynote speaker for The Asian American Pacific Islander Observance Celebration 2022 for The United States Army Central Command (USARCENT) Headquarters, Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter County, SC, and also for The Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Observance Celebration at the United States Army Training Center and Fort Jackson.
Pele is a resilient person who is passionate about making a difference in the lives of those she meets while on her quest to live fully and pass away without regrets. She thinks that having love and unwavering faith in facing life's challenges can motivate individuals to rise and overcome all the challenges and curveballs life throws their way.
Pele's divine purpose is to inspire and empower women to know that they are enough so they can be vessels of love and positivity while fulfilling their God-given purpose. Her guiding philosophy in life is to "Stay Humble, Stay Positive, Stay Strong, And Always Stay Encouraged."
We thank SCDVA Deputy Director of Operations Dan Wrightsman for nominating Sergeant First Class Fa'apepele Hunkin for Veteran of the Week!
February 21, 2023
Command Sergeant Major Lamont Christian is our Veteran of the Week!
Retired Command Sergeant Major Lamont Christian is a native of Brooklyn, New York and resides in Elgin, SC. He entered the Army Reserves as a Parachute Rigger in 1986 and later entered active duty, completing Infantry One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He served his country as a Noncommissioned Officer from 1986 to 2018, serving in several combat operations during Desert Shield/ Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). Lamont held every leadership capacity from Team Leader, Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, Command Sergeant Major, Commandant and Post Command Sergeant Major. His assignments included tours of duty with the: The Army Training Center and Fort Jackson, The United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy, Fort Jackson, SC, 101st Airborne Div. (AASLT) Fort Campbell, KY; 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks. HI; U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, Fort Benning, GA; 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Airborne Corps, United States Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.
He is recognized around the world as America’s Drill Sergeant having led the Army’s only Drill Sergeant Academy and having his voice premiered in the Gatorade HARD WORK military cadence commercial and also for being the Army’s Senior Enlisted Leader for the Commander of the world’s largest training post and center of excellence for initial military training at Fort Jackson, SC.
Since retiring in 2018, after 33 years of service, he continues to assist nonprofit organizations, Law Enforcement and First Responder organizations by providing leadership, training improvement and development. Serving the community at-large nationwide in various causes for the betterment of social, economic and progressing services for Veterans and those who support Veterans and their Families. He has sat on countless committees of change to include the Hawaii Supreme Court Subcommittee Member for equality in the Courts and the National Major Gang Task Force and has been recognized as the Midlands Chamber of Commerce 2022 Military Advocate of the Year. He is currently serving as a Richland County Reserve Deputy and the Director of Post-Traumatic Growth at the Big Red Barn Retreat in Blythewood, SC.
We thank SCDVA Deputy Director of Operations Dan Wrightsman for nominating Command Sergeant Major Lamont Christian for Veteran of the Week!
February 13, 2023
Sergeant First Class Mark Hall is our Veteran of the Week!
Sergeant First Class Mark Anthony Hall Sr was born on March 11, 1960, in Columbia, TN. He joined the US Army in 1979 and completed his Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood MO Advance Initial Training (AIT) at Fort Jackson, SC as a 63B Wheel Vehicle. His assignments include Brigade Motor Sergeant 201st Headquarters Company Military Intelligence Brigade Fort Gordan, GA; Platoon Sergeant 6th Battalion 37th Field Artillery Defense Artillery Regiment Camp Stanley Korea; Platoon Sergeant 24th Headquarters Company Aviation Brigade Hunter Army Airfield Savannah, GA; Platoon Sergeant 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Camp Hovey Korea; Squad leader 249th Quartermaster Company Fort Bragg, NC; Squad leader 26th Supply and Support Company Hanau Germany, Squad leader 26th Quartermaster Company Fort Ord, CA; Drill Sergeant 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Fort Jackson, SC.
SFC Hall received awards and decorations including the Army Commendation Medal (5 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (2 OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (6th Award), National Defense Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (2nd Award), Southwest Asia Service Medal (2 OLC), Humanitarian Service Medal, Non-Commission Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 3), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (4 Tour), Drill Sergeant Badge. He deployed to Iraq and participated in Operation Desert Storm. After retiring from the United States Army, Hall continued to serve as a civilian Motor Vehicle Operator and Supply Tech at Fort Jackson, SC. The Department of the Army awarded SFC Hall with the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service. SFC Hall retired from the federal service on August 27, 2021 after successfully completing 35 years in the Army.
Hall currently lives in Blythewood, SC. He attributes his success and support of service to his wife of 32 years, Cheryl Hall, with whom they share five kids; Brittany, Mark Jr., Malcolm, Jasmine, and Mason Hall enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.
We thank SCDVA Deputy Director of Operations Dan Wrightsman for nominating Sergeant First Class Mark Hall for Veteran of the Week!
February 6, 2023
Master Sergeant Andre Jenkins is our Veteran of the Week!
Master Sergeant Andre Jenkins served 23 years in the United States Army from June 1998 to February 2022. MSG Jenkins was a combat engineer and earned the prestigious Sapper Tab. During his time in the Army, MSG Jenkins deployed twice to Afghanistan and Iraq and is a Purple Heart recipient. He is currently a Federal Employee with the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) on Fort Jackson. He is also a devoted husband and father of four children.
We thank SCDVA Deputy Director of Operations Dan Wrightsman for nominating Master Sergeant Andre Jenkins for Veteran of the Week!
January 30, 2023
Command Sergeant Major Joseph "Curt" Cornelison is our Veteran of the Week!
Command Sergeant Major (ret) Joseph "Curt" Cornelison graduated in 1989 from Northwest Whitfield High School, Tunnel Hill, Georgia. He enlisted in the United States Army in January of 1990. He received his Basic Combat and Infantry training as well as Airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia and began his first duty assignment with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning in June of 1990. During his 31 years of service, CSM Cornelison held numerous leadership positions to include: Fire Team Leader, Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, Operations Sergeant Major, and Command Sergeant Major. His previous Command Sergeant Major assignments include: Command Sergeant Major of U.S. Army Forces Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Command Sergeant Major of U.S. Army Central, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Command Sergeant Major of the First Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas; Command Sergeant Major of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; Command Sergeant Major of the 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry, Fort Hood, Texas; Command Sergeant Major of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, Grafenwoehr, Germany.
CSM Cornelison's other assignments include: 2d Battalion, 18th Infantry, Baumholder, Germany; 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry and 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; 5th Ranger Training Battalion, Dahlonega, Georgia (Ranger Instructor); E Company, 51st Infantry (Long Range Surveillance), Darmstadt, Germany and 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia. He deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq in support of contingency and Combat operations for the United States Army. CSM Cornelison's awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, The Combat Infantryman's Badge, and the Ranger tab. He is a graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, Class 59 and has a bachelor’s degree from Troy University. CSM Cornelison is married to his wife of 24 years, Juliet and they have three children; Amy (25), Katie (21) Vinnie (15) and a Chihuahua named Zoey (14). He currently resides in Columbia, South Carolina.
We thank SCDVA Deputy Director of Operations Dan Wrightsman for nominating Command Sergeant Major Joseph Cornelison for Veteran of the Week!
January 9, 2023
Aviation Machinist's Mate Third Class Petty Officer Earl D. "Poppy" Wilson, Sr. is our Veteran of the Week!
Earl D. "Poppy" Wilson, Sr. was born on December 27, 1922 in Columbia, SC. He grew up in the Olympia Mills area where he met his high school sweetheart and the "love of his life", Mrs. Dorothy Floyd Wilson and the two were married for 78 years before her passing. The two were married in secret from their families, misrepresented their ages so that they could marry and kept it a secret. Their secret marriage lasted for about a month before they shared the news, by then AMM3 Wilson, Sr. found a job on a construction crew out at Fort Jackson. To their family, they were inseparable and their story was a shining example of love, family, faith, and commitment. AMM3 Wilson, Sr. enlisted in the United States Navy on May 19, 1944 and served as an Aviation Machinist's Mate Third Class Petty Officer. He said one of his favorite things about being in the service was being stationed at NAS Vero Beach, FL where he had a great commander who made sure they were ready for everything. After his military service, AMM3 Wilson, Sr. ran an extremely successful chain of McCrory's Five and Dime shops which took him from SC, again, to Florida where he and his wife settled and grew a tremendously large family. There they became vested in Flower Nursery and Gardens around the Winter Park, FL area where he currently resides and doesn't mind telling a few old Navy stories. AMM3 Wilson, Sr. recently turned 100 years young on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, surrounded by family and friends. AMM3 Wilson, Sr. remains active at his age by helping his family sell flowers at the Winter Park Farmers' Market and continues to drive after recently renewing his license.
We thank SCDVA Quality of Life Coordinator Jason Fowler for nominating Aviation Machinist's Mate Third Class Petty Officer Earl Wilson, Sr. for Veteran of the Week!
January 3, 2023
Reserves Seaman Shawn Queen is our Veteran of the Week!
U.S. Coast Guard Reserves Seaman Shawn Queen is our newest Veteran of the Week! SN Queen enlisted into the USCG right out of high school in 2014, serving four honorable years on active duty. While enlisted, he performed Search & Rescue operations in conjunction with Federal Law Enforcement while serving onboard USCG Station Charleston. Following separation from service, he then served two years active reserve prior to filling an inactive reserve status. Currently, SN Queen is employed by the City of Myrtle Beach as a Certified Law Enforcement Officer. In this capacity, he has continued the tradition of servant leadership within his respective community, placing the needs of others before self. Notably, this tradition of service preceded his own enlistment by several generations in the Queen family. His father, Jeff Queen, served in the U.S. National Guard. His uncle, Terry Queen, served in the U.S. Army and was deployed multiple times for Operation: Desert Storm. His grandfather, Preston Queen II, served with the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, and his great grandfather, Preston Emory Queen, served in World War II. It is this sort of family service that inspired SN Queen to serve in the USCG and continue his service in a different capacity once he returned home. Now, SN Queen services the Myrtle Beach community as a Certified Police Officer, assisting with Beach Patrol and Maritime emergency scenarios, as needed and feasible. He currently resides in Carolina Forest, S.C.
Queen also supports his community by helping raise awareness about heart disease by participating in the recent American Heart Association awareness and education event where he joined in a horse ride on the beach.
We thank Joseph Queen for nominating Seaman Shawn Queen for Veteran of the Week!
December 19, 2022
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Sorrenti is our Veteran of the Week!
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Sorrenti is our newest Veteran of the Week! LTC Sorrenti joined the military in May 2002 as a Signal Corps Soldier. He was deployed to Kuwait/Iraq in 2004 and returned home in 2005 after being awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his meritorious service. In 2007, he started and completed Officer Candidate School and became a Military Police Officer. In 2009, LTC Sorrenti completed a joint training mission with over NATO countries in Croatia. In 2011, he completed a humanitarian mission in El Salvador. In 2013, he was deployed to Kosovo for another NATO mission and returned home in 2014. Over the next few years, he was activated multiple times in support of hurricane response missions throughout the state of South Carolina (Hurricanes Joaquin 2015, Matthew 2016, Irma 2017, Florence 2018, and Dorian 2019). In 2020, LTC Sorrenti was activated again in support of COVID-19 response missions and civil disturbance activities throughout South Carolina. He retired from the Army on June 30, 2022.
Throughout his 20 years of service, LTC Jonathan Sorrenti held the following positions: Multichannel Systems Operator/Maintainer, Information Technology Specialist, Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Brigade S4 Materials Management Center Chief, Brigade S2 Vulnerability Assessment Officer, Battalion S3 Maneuver and Mobility Support Officer, Company Commander, Battalion S4 Supply Officer, Joint Operations Center Provost Marshal Operations Officer, and Battalion S3 Operations Officer. LTC Sorrenti currently serves as the Educational Technology Systems Manager at Midlands Technical College (MTC) where he provides assistance with the college’s learning management system as well as other educational technology systems. He also provides technological training to those outside of the MTC community has been active in improving the college's software for all learners. Along with these duties, LTC Sorrenti also serves as an adjunct instructor for information technology systems at MTC.
He has received numerous military awards and decorations including: Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1 Bronze Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (1 Silver / 1 Bronze Leaf Clusters), National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal (1 Bronze Campaign Star), Iraq Campaign Medal (2 Bronze Campaign Stars), Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (2 Device, M Device, and Silver Hour Glass), Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon (2 Device), Army Reserve Overseas Training Ribbon (2 Device), NATO Kosovo Service, South Carolina Retirement Medal, South Carolina Achievement Ribbon, South Carolina State Service Medal (20 Year Device), South Carolina Mobilization Support Ribbon.
He has also receive several civilian awards including: South Carolina Top 20 Under 40 May 2022, Service Excellence Leader June 2018, League of Innovation Award 2016, MTC Staff of the Year 2012, MTC Employee of the Month June 2011, Desire2Excell Innovation Award Finalist 2011, Bellwether Award Finalist 2011, and League of Innovation Award 2010
We thank Robert and Christine Withowski for nominating Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Sorrenti for Veteran of the Week!
December 12, 2022
Retired Chief Warrant Officer 2 Reginald Hughes, Sr. is our Veteran of the Week!
Retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Reginald Hughes, Sr. is our newest Veteran of the Week! CW2 Hughes served in the United States Army and retired after 20 plus years of service performing a variety of jobs in the Logistics field and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer. Reginald was awarded the Bronze Star in 2003 for his service in Iraq. He joined Goodwill in 2007 and took on the role of Project manager at the Naval Weapons Station Commissary where after a year he was promoted to Operations manager, then Director, VP and now Executive Director. Reginald completed Food Service Contracting Officer course at Fort Lee.
As Executive Director of Palmetto Goodwill Services, CW2 Hughes is responsible for overseeing both Commercial and SourceAmerica AbilityOne contracts. He also leads the Safety/Security program for the organization that includes processing of secret security clearances for employees. In this capacity he leads a team of over four hundred responsible for efficient and effective delivery of services to the federal customer on five military installations performing a variety of business lines. He has also led projects such as Operation Virgin Island, where he created a partnership through the ASL program where eight new/used laptops were donated to deaf and hard of hearing families in the Virgin Islands to provide support for individuals with little or no resources; and Operation Cool Breeze where he partnered with a local non-profit to help save the lives of seniors in the community by providing free AC units and fans during the hot summer months.
Hughes currently serves as the Chairperson for the Rewards & Recognition, Quality Work Environment committees and has been able to secure grants totaling over $38,500 dollars used toward employee initiatives. He is also a part of the Palmetto Goodwill Self-Advocacy Committee, NCSE Public Policy Self-Advocacy Committee Chair, a Royal Foundation board member, Exchange Club of Charleston member, Quality Work Environment Committee Chair, Hippie Dash Self-Advocacy Committee member, volunteers with 415 Boy Scouts and is the 2022 Charleston Metro Chamber Advocacy Champion.
We thank Reginald Hughes Jr. for nominating Chief Warrant Officer 2 Reginald Hughes, Sr. for Veteran of the Week!
December 5, 2022
Retired Staff Sergeant Tracy Robinson-Hughes is our Veteran of the Week!
Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Tracy Robinson-Hughes is our newest Veteran of the Week! SSG Robinson-Hughes served 21 years in the United States Army in the Transportation Logistics corps and received an honorable discharge. She is also a combat veteran serving in Operation Iraq freedom. In addition to her duties in logistics and transportation she traveled around the world as a lead vocalist with the United States Army Soldier show which provided entertainment to military service members around the world. SSG Robinson-Hughes retired from the military in 2007 and settled in Hanahan, SC with her family where she works as an independent travel agent.
SSG Robinson-Hughes also serves as the troop leader for Girl Scout Troop 387. Her troop is the largest in eastern South Carolina with over 100 young girls participating. She lives by the motto of G.I.R.L (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) and believes that providing the girls with courage, confidence, and character will prepare them to make the world a better place. SSG Robinson-Hughes also advocates for education, encouraging her girl scouts to seek opportunities and training whenever they can. She has always been service-minded, supporting others no matter the obstacle.
SSG Robinson-Hughes is also an active volunteer with organizations such as Palmetto Goodwill, Palmetto Warrior Connection Red, White, and Blue Jean ball and Palmetto Goodwill Self Advocacy group, She also is active in participating in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the Annual Veteran appreciation day at Royal Church in North Charleston.
We thank Reginald Hughes for nominating Staff Sergeant Tracy Robinson-Hughes for Veteran of the Week!
November 28, 2022
Sergeant Brennan Beck is our Veteran of the Week!
U.S. Army Sergeant Brennan Beck is our newest Veteran of the Week! SGT Beck joined the Army as an infantryman five days after graduating high school. During his four and a half years of active duty he completed two year-long deployments to Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division and 172nd Infantry Brigade and served alongside heroes like Medal of Honor recipient, Specialist Ross McGinnis. SGT Beck was honorably discharged from the Army in 2010 and went on to pursue his post-secondary education as a first-generation college student utilizing the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill. Despite dealing with physical and mental injuries from combat wounds received in Iraq, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in English. After graduation, SGT Beck and his family moved to South Carolina where he began working for Clemson University’s English Department. In 2016, Brennan transitioned into Student Affairs to serve as Clemson’s inaugural Director for Military and Veteran Engagement, the first full-time staff position fully committed to serving and supporting Clemson’s student veterans and military-connected students. In this role, he directed the Clemson Military & Veteran Engagement Center, advised the Clemson Student Veterans Association and SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society Clemson Chapter, supported the Clemson University Veterans Commission, and advocated for all military and veteran students and their families at Clemson. In September 2021, SGT Beck joined the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs as the Lowcountry Regional Integration Officer where he works with local, state, and federal entities to address Veteran issues and bring real solutions to pressing issues impacting Veterans across the Lowcountry. SGT Beck and his wife Ashley live in Summerville, SC, with their two children, Brynley and Gavin.
SGT Beck is a Lifetime Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), serves as the Secretary for the Lowcountry Veteran Engagement Team (LVET), a member of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Outreach Committee, an active Palmetto Pathfinder supporting South Carolina Veterans, and part of the Travis Manion Foundation's Spartan Leadership Program, one of 30 Veterans and Gold Star family members selected through a national search to participate. SGT Beck also volunteers his time as a guest speaker to educate undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing business, leadership, higher education, counseling, or Veteran services at Clemson University.
We thank Ashley Beck for nominating Sergeant Brennan Beck for Veteran of the Week!
November 21, 2022
Lieutenant Rainier "Ray" Rakhar is our Veteran of the Week!
Reserve US Coast Guard Lieutenant Rainier "Ray" Rakhar is our newest Veteran of the Week! LT Rakhar began his military career in 1999 when he joined the US Army as an enlisted soldier. He served in administrative and Military Police units during his enlistment and became a NCO. He deployed in 1999 to assist in Operation New Hope in El Salvador after Hurricane Mitchell and witnessed the fall of the World Trade Center in 2001 in NYC. While serving as an NCO, he continued pursuing a degree in Health Sciences and became a Physician Assistant in 2003 graduating on the Dean’s list at Long Island University, Brooklyn Hospital Center. LT Rakhar was later commissioned to 1st Lieutenant in the US Army as a 65D and was assigned to the 841st Combat Engineers in 2009.
In 2010, he volunteered and went to Haiti with an Orthopedic Trauma team after the Earthquake of Haiti. In 2011, LT Rakhar was called to action and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He provided medical care at a Level 1 Battalion Aid Station in RC-North, Afghanistan. He was awarded the Afghanistan Campaign medal, NATO medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Medal. Upon his return from Afghanistan, he was promoted to Captain and was honorably discharged in 2014. During his military service as a Medical Officer, LT Rakhar specialized in Orthopedic surgery and emergency medicine as a civilian. In 2019, he volunteered again in efforts for humanitarian aid following Hurricane Dorian in Bahamas. He later transitioned to the VA and continued emergency medical services. In 2020, he decided to the join the military again and completed The US Coast Guard reserve officer candidate indoctrination (ROCI) course in New London, CT.
He continued his military career as a Medical Officer and was assigned to USCG Port Security 307 in Clearwater, FL. Shortly after he was assigned to PSU 307, he was on Title 10 orders in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba serving with Joint Task Force Bravo. He earned the Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon. Lieutenant Rakhar now resides in Fort Mill, SC working in South Charlotte VA in Primary Care services. He continues his military duties in Clearwater, FL. He stands ready to be deployed when needed as he is part of the USCG expeditionary group that provides anti-terrorist force protection and coastal defense for missions inside and outside the United States. LT Rakhar is also an active member in Veterans Affairs Physician Assistant Association (VAPAA) and American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA).
We thank Erika Rakhar for nominating Lieutenant Rainier Rakhar for Veteran of the Week!
November 14, 2022
Sergeant Landon Pitts is our Veteran of the Week!
Retired US Army Sergeant Landon Pitts is our newest Veteran of the Week! SGT Pitts served six years in the South Carolina Army National Guard before transitioning to Active Duty Army for nearly two years before being honorably discharged for medical reasons. Pitts states that it was during his time in the military that he realized his passion for helping and serving others and that his military service gave him a sense of purpose.
SGT Pitts is currently a Palmetto Pathfinder and Vice President of the Student Veterans of America program at Winthrop University. Pitts also volunteers with the Veteran Bridge Home at Pathways Community Center in Rock Hill where he assists Veterans who live in poverty find various resources to ease the burden of their situations. SGT Pitts also serves as a volunteer at Carolina Community Actions where he assists case managers with filing paperwork, assisting individuals in the community with resumes, job placement, and rent assistance. Pitts is currently continuing his education and hopes to have a career in vocational rehabilitation.
We thank Midlands Regional Integration Officer, Heather Durant-McEady for nominating Retired Sergeant Landon Pitts for Veteran of the Week!
November 7, 2022
Captain Robert Williams is our Veteran of the Week!
US Navy Captain Robert Williams is our newest Veteran of the week! CAPT Williams was born in Boynton Beach, Florida and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended the University of South Carolina where he graduated in 1991. He enlisted in the Navy in 1992 and was commissioned through Officer Candidate School in 1995.
His sea tours began aboard USS THOMAS S. GATES (CG 51), where he served as Electrical Officer. In April 1998, CAPT Williams reported to Special Boat Unit TWENTY where he served as Detachment Alpha, Officer in Charge. In July 2000, CAPT Williams reported to USS DEWERT (FFG 45) and served as the Operations Officer. In March 2002, he arrived onboard Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR as the Operations Officer. CDS-24 deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and served as Commander, Task Force 60.
His Command tours include, fleeting up to Commanding Officer in USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG 58), and most recently serving as Commander, Military Sealift Command Far East in Singapore, one of five Area Commanders worldwide for MSC assuming these duties in April 2018, and will be returning to COMSCFE as the Commander in October 2022. CAPT Williams has attended the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a Master of Business Administration in Financial Management in December 2005 and National War College where he earned a Master of Science in National Security Strategy in June 2015.
His shore tours included: The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) served as the contingency analyst. He then transferred to the Joint Staff, J8, Program Budget Analysis Division (PBAD) where he served as the Program and Budget analyst for Navy and U.S. Pacific Command. Post Commander Command, he was reassigned to ASN (FM&C) as Assistant Director, Financial Management and Budget and Assistant to Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy – Budget. He was the Shipbuilding and Modernization program lead in OPNAV N801, the Bullpen. Most recently he served in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) as a Congressional Appropriations Liaison in the Budget and Appropriations Affairs Directorate. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medals; Navy Commendation Medals; Navy Achievement Medals and various unit and service awards.
We thank Leslie Hill-Ryde, Public Affairs Officer for the Military Sealift Command Far East, for nominating CAPT Robert Williams for Veteran of the Week!
October 31, 2022
Lieutenant Colonel Robin Phoenix Johnson is our Veteran of the Week!
Retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Robin Phoenix Johnson is our newest Veteran of the week! After serving over 20 years in the Army, LTC Johnson found her new mission in healing people, organizations, and communities through humor. Johnson created Best Medicine Brigade to give Veteran and military spouse comedians performance opportunities. Voted as Charleston's Best Comic of 2022, LTC Johnson is currently on tour opening for Andrew Conn and has performed at Carolines on Broadway, Atlanta Comedy Theater, Charlotte Comedy Zone, and other venues all over the country.
Johnson's passion is the applied and therapeutic use of humor for mental health which is why she also facilitates HEAL*ARIOUS, a humor therapy program for Veterans. LTC Johnson is a Level 2 Certified Humor Professional with the Association For Applied and Therapeutic Humor and a comedy boot camp instructor for Armed Services Arts Partnership. She also gives motivational talks about the applied and therapeutic use of humor and is currently providing humor therapy for three Veterans Affairs facilities. LTC Johnson is also involved with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3137 (Post on the Coast).
We thank Lowcountry Regional Integration Officer, Brennan Beck for nominating Retired Lieutenant Colonel Robin Johnson for Veteran of the Week!
October 25, 2022
Specialist Tiffania Ham Fayall is our Veteran of the Week!
Retired US Army Reserves Specialist Tiffania Ham Fayall is our newest Veteran of the week! Fayall is the Government Operations Analyst for National Strategy & Engagement at Boeing South Carolina. In her current role she focuses on engaging and building relationships with Boeing’s internal and external government, employees, and community customers across the state of South Carolina. She strives to leverage Boeing’s business goals and objectives while strategically building relationships with all customers.
In 2008, Fayall accepted a position with Global Aeronautical in South Carolina fuselage subassembly facility for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner program as an aircraft mechanic. She later become the BSC site supplier quality lead, ensuring compliance of certificates, products and materials with the Quality Management System and FAA guidelines. After completing her Associate degree in Leadership Development at Trident Technical College in 2015, she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Technical Management in Project Management and Human Resource from Embry Riddle Aeronautical and a certificate in Information Security.
Fayall was born and raised in Alvin, SC and has three children. She is active in the community as a volunteer and is the current chair of Women in Aviation International, Palmetto Pride Chapter of SC where she helps promote, empower, and encourage youths and adults in careers through STEM education, scholarships, personal development, networking, mentoring, and expanding the aviation industry. Fayall believes, “If you put your heart in it, what you communicate will reach the hearts of others”. Fayall is also a member of various aerospace organizations working to support the growth, development, and success of minority youths; to include Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. - Hiram Mann/Joint Base Charleston chapter, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Ace Basin Squadron of Walterboro, SC, National Honor Society, several Boeing Resource Groups (BRG) and External Affiliates and the Dream Learners program, such as Boeing Veteran Engagement Teams (BVET), Boeing Black Employees Association (BBEA), and Boeing Women Inspiring Leadership (BWIL).
We thank Lowcountry Regional Integration Officer, Brennan Beck for nominating Retired Specialist Tiffania Fayall for Veteran of the Week!
October 17, 2022
Sergeant Karinna Thompson is our Veteran of the Week!
SGT Karinna Thompson served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2008 as an aviation ordnance systems technician and was deployed multiple times to the Middle East in support of the Global War on Terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Being the second oldest of eight children and one of five Veteran siblings, she is the only female Marine to serve from either line of her family. After leaving the military, SGT Thompson has worked in the service sector for many years until the pandemic. She then decided to further her education and became a first-generation undergraduate student in 2021 to pursue a degree in Geology, specializing in Hydrogeology and minoring in Computer Science. SGT Thompson is projected to graduate in Spring 2025.
Karinna is considered to be one of the most motivated students at Clemson University by her peers, due to the way she balances her schoolwork, service to community and country, and her personal life. SGT Thompson is said to exude a helper's spirit and is always looking for ways that she can improve the student veteran experience at Clemson University, specifically the female experience.
Thompson holds many roles at Clemson University including Event Coordinator for SVA (Student Veterans Association), a liaison to partner organizations (Veteran One, One Nation Coffee, Annual Tigers for the Troops golf tournament, etc.), and she is one of only two student Veterans from Clemson University to serve as a South Carolina Palmetto Pathfinder. Thompson also serves as a work study student in Clemson's Military & Veteran Engagement Office. She actively participates in community service such as Old Stone Church Cottage workdays, University Welcome Week events, Tiger Prowl, 9/11 Remembrance event, and she is the primary coordinator for Military & Veteran Engagement for all home tailgate events sponsored by various community partners. As a female combat Veteran in the Marines, SGT Thompson works tirelessly for student Veterans and military-connected students, specifically for those on the periphery of military service.
October 10, 2022
Command Sergeant Major Omar K. Mosley is our Veteran of the Week!
Command Sergeant Major Omar K. Mosley is a native of St. Stephen, South Carolina. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1994 after graduating High School. He completed One Station Unit Training at FT. Benning, GA as a Mechanized Infantrymen. During his career, CSM Mosley has served in every leadership position in the Infantry throughout his career, ranging from Riflemen to First Sergeant.
His duties and assignments include Battalion Command Sergeant Major 3rd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment Fort Jackson, SC, ACFT NCOIC Leader Training Brigade, Fort Jackson, SC, First Sergeant Bull Troop 1st Squadron 2nd Calvary Regiment, Vilseck Germany, First Sergeant Bravo Company 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment Fort Jackson, SC, First Sergeant Eco Company 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment Fort Jackson SC, Battalion Operation Sergeant 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment Schofield Barracks Hawaii, Platoon Sergeant Alpha Company 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Schofield Barracks Hawaii, Drill Sergeant 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Fort Benning GA, Squad Leader Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Fort Carson CO, Section Leader A Company 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment Fort Stewart GA, Team leader Delta Company 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment Fort Carson, CO, and Delta Company 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment Fort Carson, CO.
CSM Mosley’s military and civilian education includes: Basic Leaders Course, Equal Opportunity Advisor Course, Unit Prevention Leader Course, Advance Leadership Course, Unit Movement Officer Course, Bradley Master Gunner School, Drill Sergeant School, Senior Leadership Course, Transportation of Hazardous Material Course, Company Commander / First Sergeant Course, Project Management Course, Master Resilience Course, and the Sergeants Major Academy. He has a Associates of Science in General Education from Troy University, Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice from Troy University and a Masters of Science in Management with a concentration in human Resource Management from Excelsior College.
CSM Mosley’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2 OLC) Meritorious Service Medal (4 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (7 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (9 OLC), Valorous Unit Award (2 OLC), Meritorious Unit Commendation (2 OLC), Army Superior Unit Award (2 OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (7th Award), National Defense Service Medal, Arm Forces Expeditionary Medal (3 OLC), Afgan Campaign Medal (2 OLC), Iraqi Campaign Medal (2 OLC), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commission Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 5), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (6 Tour), NATO Medal (2nd Award), Multi-National Force and Observers Medal (2nd Award), Drill Sergeant Badge, Master Gunner Identification Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge and the Drivers Badge (T).
CSM Mosley is a member of the Honorable Order of St. Maurice and the Prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.
CSM Mosley is married to the former Tesha S.White of St. Stephen, SC and together they have four children: Corrina, Darius, En’Deyah (India), and A’Mariyah (‘Mari).
October 5, 2022
Command Sergeant Major Edwin T. Brooks is our Veteran of the Week!
Command Sergeant Major Edwin T. Brooks was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He enlisted in the United States Army on 28 March 1990. He completed One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Benning, GA as an Infantryman (11B). During his career CSM Brooks has served in every leadership position from team leader to Command Sergeant Major, and has served in two other Career Management Fields (CMF) to include Intelligence Analyst (35D) and Human Resource Specialist (42A).
CSM Brooks’ unit assignments include: HHC, 4th Ranger Training Brigade, Ft. Benning, GA where he served as an OPFOR Specialist; A Company, 2/504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, NC where he served as an Infantry Team Leader; Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 111th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade, Ft. Huachuca, AZ where he served as a Human Resource Specialist; Charlie Company, 309th MI Battalion, Ft. Huachuca, AZ where he served as an Intelligence Analyst; Charlie Company, 1/503rd Infantry Regiment (AASLT), 2d Infantry Division, Camp Hovey, Korea where he again served as an Infantry Team Leader; Alpha, Charlie, and HHC, 2/505th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, NC where he served as a Rifle Squad Leader and Battalion Air NCO; Bravo Company, 1/507th PIR, Ft. Benning, GA where he served as a Basic Airborne Course Instructor; Bravo Company, 2/1st Infantry Regiment, 172d Stryker Brigade, Ft. Wainwright, AK where he served as a Rifle Platoon Sergeant and Company First Sergeant; HHC, 1/24th Infantry Regiment, 1-25th Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), Ft. Wainwright, AK where he served as First Sergeant and Battalion CSM; HHC, 1-25th I.D. (SBCT), Ft. Wainwright, AK where he served as First Sergeant and Brigade Troops Battalion CSM; Operations Sergeant Major 192d Infantry Brigade, Ft. Benning, GA; Command Sergeant Major 2-54th Infantry Regiment (IOSUT), Ft. Benning, GA; Office of the Chief of Infantry (OCOI) as the Infantry proponent SGM, Fort Benning, GA; CSM of 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, SC; and his last unit of assignment was serving as the CSM 2nd BSB, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, 1st Army Division West at Fort Hood, TX. CSM Brooks’ final assignment was as the 32nd Regimental Sergeant Major of the United States Army 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia. He ultimately culminated his career at 31 years and 3 days of honorable service to our Nation.
CSM Brooks’ military training includes: Basic Airborne Parachutist Course; Warrior Leaders Course; Basic Instructor Training Course; Jumpmaster School; Air Movement Operations Course; Advanced Leaders Course; Pathfinder School; Ranger School; Bradley Transition Course; Senior Leaders Course; the First Sergeant Course; and the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, Class 62.
CSM Brooks’ awards and decorations include: Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal (V-device, 2 OLC); Meritorious Service Medal (4 OLC); Army Commendation Medal (7 OLC); Army Achievement Medal (3 OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (10th Award), National Defense Medal (#2), Kosovo Campaign Medal (2 Bronze Stars); Iraqi Campaign Medal (3 Bronze Stars); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Korea Defense Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (#5); Army Service Medal; Overseas Service Medal (3th Award); NATO Medal; Multinational Force and Observer Medal; Australian Parachutist Badge; Master Parachutist Badge; Pathfinder Badge; the Combat and Expert Infantryman Badges; the Ranger Tab; and the Order of St. Maurice. He has also earned an AAS-Liberal Arts degree from Excelsior College.
CSM Brooks has been married to the former Erika Patrice Prude for 31 years, and has two daughters, Auriel and Aliyah.
September 12, 2022
Command Sergeant Major Algrish C. Williams, Sr. is our Veteran of the Week!
Command Sergeant Major (Ret) Algrish C. Williams is a native of Jamaica, raised in Boston, MA. He enlisted in the United States Army on August 28, 1995. He received his Artillery Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, OK and reclassified to Personnel Administrative Specialist September 1998. His final assignment was the Command Sergeant Major for United States Army Garrison, Ft Jackson.
CSM Williams' duty assignments included:3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, Fort Jackson, SC; Human Resources Command, Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate, Fort Knox, KY; Joint Chiefs of Staff, J35, Pentagon, DC; Defense Language Institute English Language Center, Lackland AFB, TX; Defense Programs Support Activity, Elkridge, MD; 165th Infantry Brigade, Fort Jackson, SC; 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, First Army, Division East Fort Meade, MD/Fort Dix, NJ; 2nd Recruiting Brigade, Atlanta, GA; Great Plains Regional Veterinary Command, Fort Sam Houston, TX; and 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, OK.
Overseas Assignments included: Camp Casey, Korea and Baghdad Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. During his career, CSM Williams has served in various positions such as: Cannon Crew Member, Training Room Clerk, Personnel Administrative Specialist, Recruiter, Human Resources Sergeant, Brigade Senior Human Resources Sergeant, Drill Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, Senior Drill Sergeant, Forward Operating Base, Mayor Cell Senior Enlisted Advisor under the Deputy Commanding General (Advising and Training) FOB Union III in Baghdad, Administrative Supervisor/Executive Assistant Liaison, First Sergeant, Superintendent, JS/J35 NCOIC, Force Alignment Division Sergeant Major/Military Schools Branch Sergeant Major, and 3-34 IN Regt Command Sergeant Major.
CSM Williams’ military and civilian education and training include all levels of professional military education, Recruiting Management Course, Drill Sergeant Course, Army Combatives Trainer Level 1 Course, Total Army Instructor Training Course, Brigade S-1 Operations Course, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Course, Alternative Dispute Resolution Course, Security Cooperation Management Training Officer Course, Master Resilience Trainer Course, Fitness Leader Course, Safety Officer/NCO Course, EO Leaders Course, Field Sanitation Team Course, Unit Armorer Course and Combat Lifesaver Course. He graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s in Public Administration and was inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha International Honor Society.
CSM Williams' awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (4OLC), Joint Service Commendation Medal , Army Commendation Medal (2OLC), Air Force Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (6OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (8th award), National Defense Service Medal (w/ Bronze Star), Iraq Campaign Medal (w/2 Bronze Star), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (w/ Bronze Star), NCO Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 5), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 2), Joint Meritorious Unit Award (1OLC), Army Superior Unit Award, Joint Staff Identification Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge, Recruiter Ring and Gold Recruiter Badge (w/3 sapphires), Drivers Badge Wheel and Track, and Expert Marksmanship Badge. He was also a recipient of the prestigious Order of the Horatio Gates Gold and Bronze and the Saint Barbara award.
CSM Williams is married to the former Regina Kelty of Philadelphia, PA and they have five children: Régine, Alicia, Algrish, Jr, Andrew, and Saniyah.
*Information in this article was provided by the U.S. Army
September 7, 2022
Colonel (Ret.) Charles D. "Hawk" Mills is our Veteran of the Week!
Colonel Charles D. “Hawk” Mills is a transitioning US Army Officer having contributed over 20 years of honorable service in support of US strategic initiatives and Department of Defense global operations. Throughout his career, COL Mills held diverse positions culminating in executive leadership roles with the nation’s most complex operational organizations. As a builder of international coalitions and domestic partnerships, COL Mills joined multilateral resources to strengthen collaborative capabilities. Moreover, his influence transformed enterprise-level doctrine, policy, and procedures while developing specialized workforce expertise and optimizing training programs that sharpened America’s national security instruments.
COL Mills is known for being the catalyst of enterprise-level change. His proven ability to develop strategic planning and convert corporate designs into operational successes is evident throughout his career. Hawk’s leadership synchronized multinational operations, enabled rapid mobilizations of multi-million-dollar resources, and assured global positioning of high-value technical systems and state-of-the-art platforms. A veteran of multiple deployments to international locations earned him distinguished service accolades to include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star.
COL Mills is married to Dr. Andrea Hampton-Mills. They share two sons and one daughter, all college graduates and community contributors. Hawk continues to deliver a positive influence in the community. He is a lifetime member and active mentor in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and currently serves as the Director of Christian Education and Leadership at his local church. His professional and personal achievements both in and out of uniform earned him recognition and placement in the Claflin University Hall of Fame.
COL Mills' extensive education includes a Master of Public Administration from Troy University, a Master of Military Arts & Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies, a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Claflin University. Mills also received executive training from the Command and General Staff College for Joint Senior Staff Course and Director of Mobility Forces Course as well as the Harvard Extension School for Design Thinking.
Some of COL Mills' most recent positions include being the U.S. Army's Director of War Game Center for the Special Operations Command in Tampa, FL, Fire Support Coordinator in Kuwait and Brigade Commander at the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
*Photo below provided to Live 5 News from Dr. Andrea Hampton-Mills
COL Mills and his brother, Jimmy, both retired from the Army on June 1, 2021 with over six decades of military service combined. You can read more about their story here.
August 29, 2022
Brigadier General (Ret.) Twanda "Tia" Young is our Veteran of the Week!
Ret. Brigadier General Twanda E. Young is revered for her historic accomplishments and her outstanding leadership and service to her country as an officer and “Woman Warrior” in the United States Army. Young, a 1989 graduate of Claflin University, was the first woman commissioned from the ROTC cross-enrollment program at South Carolina State’s Bulldog Battalion to earn the rank of Brigadier General. Young's stellar military career led to her being a Class of 2018 inductee into the Claflin University Hall of Fame.
On Friday, August 26, 2022 a Veteran Women Monument, the first at a Historically Black College/University (HBCU), was unveiled featuring BG Twanda Young at Claflin University.
Young has served in command and staff positions in the continental United States and Hawaii with First Army, Joint Forces Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and in Afghanistan with NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (NTM-A/CSTC-A). Among her other key assignments were G1, U.S. Army Reserve Command; Commander, Theater Support Group-Pacific; Army Reserve Warrior Transition Liaison Program Manager; CJ1, Chief Strategic Initiatives (Kabul, Afghanistan); and Executive Training Officer, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Division.
Young presently serves in the Executive-in-Residence program at Bowie State University. The program encourages exceptional leaders who are distinguished alumni, or representatives from corporate, education, government, non-profits, and other sectors to support students and the mission of the university.
We thank Claflin University and Brigadier General Twanda Young for inviting SCDVA to take part in the historic unveiling of the Veteran Women Monument at Claflin in Young's honor!
*Information in this article was provided by Claflin University.
August 23, 2022
William Smith is our “Veteran of the Week!”
Mr. William Smith is a retired Army Combat Medic and currently serves as the Military Constituent Service Representative for Senator Lindsey Graham's office in Columbia.
After high school, William attended Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and played varsity tennis for the University for four years. His team was recognized by the Howard Payne Sports Hall of Fame for qualifying for the NAIA National Championships in 1991.
William enlisted in the Army in 1992 and completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri with Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas where he earned the MOS 68W, Combat Medic. William’s duty assignments include 6/27th Field Artillery - Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Line Medic); 1/72 Armor, 2ID - Camp Case, Korea (Aid Station NCO/Medical Supply Sergeant); 2/8 Infantry (Mechanized), 4ID, Fort Hood, Texas (Forward Aid Station NCOIC); 4/42 Field Artillery, 4ID, Fort Hood, Texas (Iraq 2005-2006 OIF)( Platoon Sergeant); 2/345th A/C R/C, Fort Jackson, South Carolina (Operations NCO); Victory Support Brigade – Fort Jackson, South Carolina (First Aid Range NCOIC); HMEDDAC - Heidelberg, Germany (First Sergeant). William and his medics were responsible for point of injury medical treatment and evacuations from MSR Tampa and the area around Camp Taji, Iraq from 2005-2006. William proudly retired from the Army with 20 years of active duty service in 2012.
His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (3rd award), Army Commendation Medal (3rd award), Army Achievement Medal (8th Award), Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Superior Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal (6th award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3rd award), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (3rd award), and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
William has proudly worked for Senator Graham’s Columbia office since May of 2018 where it is his passion to take care of constituents needing assistance with VA and military matters in fourteen counties. Military bases that fall under his coverage are Fort Jackson, Shaw AFB, McEntire JNGB, McCrady Training Center and the Savanah River Site under the Department of Energy. William lives in Elgin, SC with his wife Marcia and 17-year-old son Dave.
August 16, 2022
CSM Edward A. Bell is our “Veteran of the Week!”
Edward A. Bell (Ed) is a decorated service member who retired from the U.S. Army on December 1st, 2020, after 33 years of service to our nation. The majority of his professional stewardship has been dedicated to advising, coaching, and optimizing organizational professional and personal performance. Ed currently serves as Military Base Support Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs advocating for the nearly 70,000 active-duty military members and their families that are geographically dispersed throughout South Carolina and North Augusta (Fort Gordon).
Ed holds several degrees and certifications to include a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Touro University (Summa Cum Laude); Executive Leadership Certification from the University of Kansas; Demonstrated Master Logistician Certification from the International Society of Logistics and the Army Logistics University; Professional Logistics Engineer Certification from both the North Carolina Department of Labor and US Department of Labor; Executive Leader Development Certification from the US Army War College and Pre-Command Graduate of the Joint Special Operations Forces Course, TRADOC Course, Command and General Staff College Course and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace certification from the University of South Florida, Muma College of Business.
CSM Bell’s military education includes Basic Leader Course, Advanced Leader Course, Senior Leader Course, First Sergeant Course, Battle Staff Course, Drill Sergeant Course, Master Fitness Course, Air Movement Operations Course, Airborne Course, Jumpmaster Course, US Army Force Management Course, Nominative Level Legal Orientation Course and United States Army Sergeants Major Academy Class (56).
Ed has more than 14 years of service as a Senior Enlisted Advisor/Leader, his most notable assignments include Drill Sergeant/Senior Drill Sergeant, Golf Company 244th QM Battalion, Fort Lee Virginia; Command Sergeant Major 3rd Special Forces Group Support Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Command Sergeant Major 82nd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Command Sergeant Major 23rd Quartermaster Brigade, Fort Lee, Virginia; Command Sergeant Major 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Command Sergeant Major 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), Fort Knox, Kentucky and his career culminated as Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4 Sergeant Major, Pentagon, Washington DC.
Ed’s seven deployments include Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Operation Iraqi Freedom; Operation Enduring Freedom II, XI, XIII, XIV; and Operation Spartan Shield XVI.
His awards and decorations include but are not limited to: Distinguish Service Medal, Legion of Merit (4th award), Bronze Star Medal (4th award) and Meritorious Service Medal (4th award). Australian Parachutist Badge, Royal Dutch Parachutist Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge Distinguished Order of Saint Martin, and Honorable Order of Saint Christopher; additionally. In July 2020 Ed was recognized by the Mayor in his hometown of Princeville NC receiving a Special Proclamation Certificate (Resolution) for his service to the nation.
We thank CSM Edward A. Bell for his service in the military and his current service to Veterans, Service Members and their Families here in South Carolina and at SCDVA!
August 1, 2022
Our “Veteran of the Week” is SGM Daisha Oliver
Sergeant Major Daisha Oliver retired from the Army on 30 June 2021 with more than 23 years of service. She was born in Portsmouth, Virginia and entered the Army in July 1997 after attending Virginia State University where she majored in Biology. SGM Oliver attended Basic Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
She then proceeded to her first duty assignment with the 94th Engineer Brigade, Vilseck Germany. She remained there until pcs’ing to Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia. SGM Oliver transferred into the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) in 2014 and began her first AGR assignment with the 348th General Hospital, Fort Dix, New Jersey as Chief Ward Master.
SGM Oliver’s duties and assignments include G3/5/7 SGM, 108th Training Command, Charlotte, North Carolina, G3 SGM, 332nd Medical Brigade, Nashville, Tennessee, Senior Healthcare Coordinator, 360th Civil Affairs Brigade, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Assistant Inspector General, NCOIC, 81st Readiness Division, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Operations NCOIC, 344th Combat Hospital, Fort Dix, New Jersey, Observer Trainer, 7303rd Medical Training Support Battalion, Fort Gordon, Georgia, Chief Wardmaster, 348th General Hospital, Fort Dix, New Jersey, Healthcare Specialist, 690th Medical Company, Fort Benning, Georgia, 110th Quarter Master Company, Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia, 535th Engineer Grafenwoehr, Germany, 94th Engineer, Vilseck Germany. SGM Oliver served in combat in Iraqi in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom.
SGM Oliver’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal-(5), United States Army Commendation Medal (6), Army Achievement Medal (2), Army Good Conduct Medal (7), Overseas Service Ribbon (3), Army Service Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (4), National Defense Service Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Service Medal with 2 stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Service Medal with 10 yr. device-Bronze hourglass, NATO Medal.
SGM Oliver’s military education includes Basic Training, Primary Leadership Development Course, Total Army Instructor Training Course, Emergency Medical Technician-Basic Course, Basic Non-Commissioned Officer’s Course, Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Course, Structured Self Development Level III, IV and V, Battle Staff Course, Master Leaders Course, Anti-Terrorism Level II Course, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Supervisory Development Course Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education I & II and the United States Army Sergeant Major Academy. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Applied Behavior Science from Ashford University.
Oliver is married to Daryl Oliver and has three children, Darius (29), Khalajha (23) and Zion (14).
A special thanks to Heather Durant-McEady, our Midlands Regional Integration Officer, for nominating SGM Oliver as our Veteran of the Week!
July 18, 2022
Our “Veteran of the Week” is LTC Jason Pieri
LTC Jason (JP) Pieri commissioned into the Armor Corps in May 1999. He initially served as a Tank Platoon Leader in the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Battalion at Ft. Stewart, Georgia and deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Operation JOINT FORGE from 2000 through 2001. He then served as a Tank Company Executive Officer and Battalion Adjutant for the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor Battalion at Camp Casey, Republic of Korea.
In 2005, LTC Pieri was assigned as Squadron Logistics for 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry in Schweinfurt, Germany. He commanded C/1-4 CAV, which transitioned to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry (Airborne) Regiment as part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He deployed his Troop to Kunar Province, Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008 during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
In 2008, LTC Pieri was assigned as a Small Group Instructor for the Maneuver Captains Career Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. He served as an SGI for 2 years and then assumed duties as Senior Instructor for the MCCC in 2008.
LTC Pieri served with the United States Marine Corps from 2011 through 2013 at Quantico, Virginia, and graduated from the USMC School of Advanced Warfighting. He served as a campaign planner for ISAF Joint Command (IJC) in Kabul, Afghanistan. He joined the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, TX in 2014, serving as Squadron Operations Officer, and was later reassigned as the Operations Officer for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and completed the Army’s first Armored Brigade Combat Team rotation to the Republic of Korea.
LTC Pieri joined the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters staff in 2016. He initially served as the Chief of Training (G37) and was then reassigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations (G3).
Pieri also served as the Commander of 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment from June of 2017 until June of 2019. He served as the Fort Jackson Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations (G3) from 2019 to 2021 when he retired. He is currently the Chief of Plans and Operations for Fort Jackson’s Garrison.
Pieri has various joint and Army decorations including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, and Combat Action Badge.
He and his wife Erin have been happily married for 20 years and have a 19-year-old daughter, Ellie, a 16-year-old daughter, Emma, and an 11-year-old son, Jared.
A special thanks to Dan Wrightsman, Deputy Director of Operations with SCDVA for nominating LTC Jason Pieri for Veteran of the Week!
July 12, 2022
Our “Veteran of the Week” is Dick Dewar.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dick Dewar of Aiken, South Carolina, who is from Stoneham, Massachusetts says he always had a desire to serve. He joined the US Air Force in June of 1962 after graduating from Boston College. During his active duty, Dewar was assigned to multiple locations including Lockbourne AFB, Ohio; Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; Minot AFB, North Dakota; SAC Headquarters, Omaha, Nebraska; Camp H. M. Smith, Honolulu, Hawaii; and K. I. Sawyer AFB, Marquette, Michigan. Dewar deployed in 1975 to Kunsan, Korea.
Dewar’s last assignment was in the 410 Security Police Squadron and retired in July of 1982 after 20 years in the service. For the last 20 years Dewar has been serving as a private security senior manager and was an elected member of the Aiken City Council for 12 years.
Lt. Col. Dewar was recently honored by the Aiken Standard with an article detailing his lifetime of service in the Air Force and beyond. That article is published at the link below. Dick Dewar was nominated by Dan Wrightsman, SCDVA's Deputy Director of Operations.
Dick Dewar: Air Force veteran reflects on a lifetime of service | Sunday Best | postandcourier.com
July 5, 2022
Our “Veteran of the Week” is Phil Palmer.
Phil Palmer graduated from The Citadel in 2005 and immediately was commissioned a second lieutenant (2nd Lt) in the U.S. Marine Corps. From 2006, Palmer deployed on MiTT0111 to Ar Ramadi, Iraq as a Combat Advisor for the 1/1/1 Iraqi Army Battalion. In 2008, 2ndLt Palmer would deploy back to Iraq as the Operations Officer for the G-2 in Al Asad. Captain Palmer would then report to The Basic School as an Instructor and Staff Platoon Commander. He would also serve as the Operations Officer for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence. Captain Palmer would finish his time in the Marine Corps at Training and Education Command (TECOM) serving as an Operations Officer on the Security Force Assistance Program.
Among Palmer’s personal awards and decorations are the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor (Gold Star in Lieu of Second Award), Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Phil was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps in 2013 and was diagnosed with PTSD along with a TBI. Exercise and nutrition was the major contributor to his recovery and ability to cope.
Phil realized that physical fitness was helping him cope with his invisible wounds, and strengthen his mental and emotional fitness. With so many combat Veterans struggling with these visible and invisible wounds, he founded WarriorWOD, created to help those that served through physical fitness. WarriorWOD prioritizes exercise and nutrition as leading prescriptions for veterans recovering from PTSD.
In addition to WarriorWOD, Phil is an executive-level sales leader for a global hosting company. He is married to his beautiful wife, Tessa, and loves being a father to his daughter Sophie.
Phil Palmer was nominated by SCDVA’s Lowcountry Regional Integrational Officer Brennan Beck.
June 27, 2022
Our “Veteran of the Week” is Peggy E. Colbert.
Peggy E. Colbert joined the US Army in 1988 and currently works for the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). She wanted to become more independent without help from her parents. Colbert had just received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and could not find a job without having years of experience to back it up. She also wanted to use the educational benefits (GI Bill) in order to get her master’s degree.
Colbert’s active-duty military career lasted from February 1988 to September 1991 and she remained in the reserves through October 1995. She was a 91S Environmental Health Technician and was assigned in Fort Monmouth, NJ along with Fort Gordon, GA.
After leaving the military, Colbert found it difficult to find a job and ended up using an employment agency to land a career with Osbon Medical Services in Augusta, GA. She worked there for a year before her husband received orders for Germany. With 20 years in Germany, she completed her master’s in Human Relations and became a mother of two boys. She worked in many different positions while in Germany including a military spouse, a pre-school teacher, a medical receptionist, an accountant, and a Occupational Health Specialist.
Colbert and her family have been back in the US for nine years and since then she has worked as a Family Engagement Specialist with Headstart, a Coordinator for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), a Goodwill Job Coach for Teens, a Volunteer Coordinator, and a United Way Campaign Coordinator. Her husband is a contractor and has been moved three times since they’ve been back in the States. They spent seven years living apart so that they could keep their sons in the same high school. Because of COVID-19 her husband’s job become remote so they are happy to say that they should not have to move again. They have been in South Carolina for a little more than one year, and Colbert started working for SCDEW in January 2022 as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist.
June 20, 2022
Our 'Veteran of the Week' is Craig J. Currey.
Craig J. Currey entered service in the U.S. Army in 1978 as a cadet at West Point. He was commissioned following graduation in 1982, and he retired as a colonel in 2012. Throughout his 30 years of commissioned service, Col. Currey served in a variety of posts, his final being that of deputy commanding officer of Fort Jackson, S.C. Other posts held over the years at Fort Jackson included director of the Directorate of Basic Combat Training, commander of Victory Brigade and the 2-39 Infantry Battalion, and the chief of training.
Overseas, Currey was the chief of staff for Task Force 134 in Iraq working theater detention operations for Multi-National Force-Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was also the Chief of Exercises for U.S. Army Europe in Heidelberg, Germany; a platoon leader in Korea; and he deployed to Haiti as part of Operation Uphold Democracy.
Across North America, Currey served in the 2nd Battalion, 75 Ranger Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division (Motorized) at Fort Lewis, Washington. He also served as assistant history professor at West Point, N.Y. He served in the 18th Airborne Corps and 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, N.C.; the Defense Intelligence Agency at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.; and the Pentagon.
In addition to West Point, Currey is a graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College where he received a Master of Military Art and Science, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received a Master of Arts in History, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the Army War College where he received a Master of Strategic Studies. He also holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from South University.
Currey’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Joint Service Commendation with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. He also earned a Ranger tab, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification badge, an Expert Infantry Badge, a Master Parachutist badge, a Pathfinder badge, a Combat Action Badge, a Joint Meritorious Unit Award with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster, a Jordanian parachutist badge, and a Belgian Armed Forces parachutist badge. He is also a recipient of the Primicerius (highest level) Order of Saint Maurice for lifetime achievement in the infantry and he is a Fort Jackson Hall of Fame inductee.
Following retirement from the U.S. Army in 2012, Col. Currey was named and has since served as president and CEO of Transitions Homeless Center in downtown Columbia. A 260-bed facility, Transitions is the Midlands largest homeless facility serving the needs of the community’s homeless adults. Currey is a ruling elder at Columbia’s Northeast Presbyterian Church, and he is a recipient of the Lifetime of Service Award from the Midlands Area Consortium for the Homeless.
Col. Craig Currey was nominated for Veteran of the Week by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
June 13, 2022
Our 'Veteran of the Week' is Richard Buzard, Jr.
Richard Buzard, Jr served in the U.S. Navy from 1974 to 1984, returning to service in 1988 and opting for early retirement in 1996 with a total of 18 years and two months of service. He served on active duty as a member of the engineering departments of both submarine and surface fleets, attaining the rank of Machinists Mate First Class (Petty Officer First Class) and specializing in auxiliary engineering systems. Buzard earned his qualification in both submarines and as an enlisted surface warfare specialist.
Among Buzard’s awards and decorations are the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal (with one star), the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal (with one star), a Sea Service ribbon (with two stars), a Battle “E” (Efficiency) Ribbon, and a Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
Buzard holds an Associate’s degree in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and he earned a BS degree (Magna Cum Laude) in Industrial Science and Technology (majoring in Facilities Management) from Colorado State University in Pueblo. He has worked in a variety of positions since retiring from the Navy, including government contracting work at the Air Force Civil Engineering Center as a facilities renewable energy systems program specialist and later as the resource efficiency manager for the 81st Readiness Division of the Army Reserve at Fort Jackson, S.C. where he also qualified as a certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers.
Today, Buzard is founding president of Virtual FM LLC, a consulting firm specializing in energy efficiency and facilities management audits, benchmarking, and upgrade programs. He is an active member of the Society of American Military Engineers, the International Facilities Management Association, the Association of Energy Engineers, the Association of South Carolina Energy Managers, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, and the local chapter of Trout Unlimited. He regularly attends services at Columbia’s Northeast Presbyterian Church and is active in the Harvest-Fellowship Discipleship Class.
Petty Officer Richard Buzard Jr. was nominated for Veteran of the Week by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
June 6, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Marine Corporal Dale Sutcliffe.
Marine Corporal Dale Sutcliffe, founder of VetFriends.com, was raised outside Washington DC in Adelphi, MD and joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1987. He served for four years and traveled to more than 10 countries. Mr. Sutcliffe served in 29 Palms, CA; Camp Pendleton, CA; Camp Butler and Foster, Okinawa; Philippines; Bangladesh; Pohang, Korea; and the Middle East. During Desert Storm, Sutcliffe served with BSSG-5/5th MEB. He was squad leader of 12 Marines during the ground invasion into Kuwait. Sutcliffe’s primary MOS was 2542 communications.
Mr. Sutcliffe’s military awards and decorations include Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Humanitarian Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (two awards), Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal (four awards), Sea Service Deployment (two awards), Good Conduct Medal, Certificate of Commendation, Meritorious Mast, Certificate of Achievement and a Meritorious Promotion.
In 1999, during a conversation with his father-in-law, a Veteran of the Korean War, Sutcliffe asked if he would attend a hypothetical reunion with his old Army unit. His father-in-law responded, "I'd be on the next plane to Korea to see those guys!" Reflecting on the depth of this reply, Sutcliffe realized the special bonds of military brother and sisterhood often withstand the tests of time, and that with the help of modern technology, those bonds could be reestablished. That day, the idea of VetFriends.com was created.
To date, thousands of Veterans have been reconnected through VetFriends.com. VetFriends.com has a current member count of over 2,800,000 Veterans. VetFriends has an online store of over 12,000 Veteran & Military merchandise/memorabilia. Over 1,000,000 orders have been shipped to Veterans, VA hospitals, retirement centers and Veteran Organizations. VetFriends is Officially Licensed with the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Space Force.
In 2019, Sutcliffe was awarded Veteran Small Business Person of the year. On the Senate floor, Senator Tim Scott has recognized the valuable role that small businesses, Mr. Sutcliffe & VetFriends.com continue to play in our great United States.
We thank Brennan Beck, Lowcountry Regional Integration Officer with SCDVA, for nominating Marine Corporal Dale Sutcliffe!
June 1, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Staff Sergeant (RCSD Deputy) Thomas Browne.
Thomas Browne enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 2013 and attended basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. Following basic training, Browne attended advanced individual training (AIT) which for him was the Automated Logistics School at Fort Lee, Virginia. Following AIT, he attended the Army’s Basic Leader Course at Fort Dix, N.J. and the Master Resilience Training Course at Fort Jackson. Browne is an automated logistical sergeant with a secondary MOS of unit supply. He deployed to Iraq in 2019.
Browne continues serving in the Army Reserve and holds the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Among Browne’s awards and decorations, Browne is a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal with “C” (combat) device, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Service ribbon, the Army NCO Professional Development ribbon, and the Army Overseas Service ribbon. He is also a recipient of the Combat Action Badge.
A native of Monrovia, Liberia, Browne speaks three languages – English, French and Ashanti (Twi). In 1990, when Browne was only six-years-old, his family fled Liberia to the Ivory Coast after his father, Col. Hezekiah Browne, then the operations commander of President Samuel Kanyon Doe’s secret service (presidential security force), was killed during that country’s civil war. The Browne family ultimately settled in Ghana before immigrating to the U.S. in 2000.
In 2010, Brown earned a B.A. Degree in criminal justice from East Tennessee State University and he earned his American citizenship after joining the Army Reserve.
In addition to his continued service in the Army Reserve, Browne is a member of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, having joined the department five years ago, becoming a patrol deputy and today serving on the Community Action (CAT) Team. On the CAT team, Browne is a liaison between the department and the various African communities living and working throughout the Midlands. Browne is also a hostage negotiator on RCSD’s Crisis Management Team.
Staff Sergeant (RCSD Deputy) Thomas Browne was nominated for Veteran of the Week by Sheriff Leon Lott.
May 23, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is David C. Currey.
David C. Currey entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. in 2011. There he served as a member of the Cadet Chapel Choir and as Cadet-in-Charge of the Cadet Band among his many other cadet responsibilities. Following graduation in 2015, Currey was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, serving in a variety of posts, primarily at Fort Drum, N.Y., with the 10th Mountain Division. In 2020, he was medically retired at the rank of captain following a serious back injury in a parachute jump in 2017.
Among Currey’s awards, decorations, and qualification badges are the Army Commendation Medal (two awards), the Army Achievement Medal (two awards), the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service ribbon, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Ranger tab, Airborne wings, and Air Assault wings.
After retiring, Currey returned to South Carolina and enrolled in the Moore School of Business’ International Master of Business Administration (IMBA) program at the University of South Carolina. He graduated from the IMBA program in May 2022. When he’s not studying or working, Currey enjoys international travel, road cycling, running, CrossFit, woodworking, playing the trumpet, listening to classical music, and spending time with his family.
Capt. (Ret.) David C. Currey was nominated for Veteran of the Week by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
May 16, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Peter A. Hart.
Peter A. Hart began his military career in 1992 as a U.S. Marine, leading to multiple deployments and assignments including service as an assault amphibian crewman and related leadership responsibilities. He also served in the USMC Diplomatic Security Program (a U.S. Marine embassy guard in both Paris and in Nicaragua). Hart served for a time as a recruiter, later as the engagement officer for the U.S. Special Operations Command for AFRICOM, and he deployed multiple times including combat tours in Kosovo and Iraq.
Throughout his storied career, Hart participated in numerous sensitive and high-stakes operations and international missions including serving on high-level security protection details for three presidents, two first ladies and several secretaries of State.
In 2012, Hart retired from the Marines at the rank of master sergeant. Among his military awards and decorations are the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), the Combat Action Ribbon (two awards), the Navy Unit Commendation (three awards), the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards), the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (six awards), the National Defense Service Medal (two awards), the Kosovo Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal (with one Bronze Service Star), the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (five awards), the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Ribbon (two awards), the NATO Medal, the Recruiter Ribbon, the Marine Security Guard Ribbon, Expert Rifle badge (third award), and Expert Pistol badge expert (fifth award).
Following his retirement from the Marines, Hart attended and graduated from the N.C. Basic Law Enforcement Training Program, working briefly in N.C. before relocating his family to Columbia and hiring-on with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in 2013. Two years later, Hart became a certified Special Response (tactical) Team operator, and in 2018 he became a member of RCSD’s Dive Team.
Master Sergeant (RCSD corporal) Peter A. Hart was nominated for Veteran of the Week by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
May 9, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Steven B. Vitali.
Steven B. Vitali is a career Marine officer who entered the U.S. Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Class in 1973 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Marines in 1976. Vitali served 32 years in the Corps and in various posts, including service as an amphibious assault officer, a reconnaissance officer, an Infantry officer, a public affairs officer, a logistician, the II Marine Expeditionary Force Inspector General, and as an embedded advisor.
Vitali served under Gen. James Mattis, commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida – traveling to Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar in his capacity of the MARCENT G-4 engineer and basing director – before retiring from active service in 2008. Prior to MARCENT, Vitali was deployed first to Iraq then Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Vitali served as commanding officer, 201st Regional Corps Advisory Group and Embedded Training Team 3-2, Task Force Phoenix. As the senior advisor to the Afghan Army commander, Vitali commanded the 201st Regional Corps Advisory Group, a multi-national advisory group of 350 advisors mentoring 6,000 Afghan National Army Corps soldiers throughout 11 Afghan Provinces. As the only Marine Maneuver Element commander in Afghanistan, Vitali trained the Afghan National Army Corps to excel in a wide variety of operations from direct combat to riot control to disaster relief to nation building and humanitarian assistance.
Vitali’s command participated in six major combat operations to include the restoration of control in Kabul, the capital and the first autonomous Afghan National Army combat operations in Logar and Kapisa Provinces. The mission set for the 201st Corps was the most complex and difficult in the entire Afghan National Army. The 201st Regional Corps Advisory Group Command was a combined and joint team conducting combat operations in one of the most hostile environments in the country of Afghanistan. Vitali served as the assistant chief of staff G-8 director of the first-ever Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Marine Corps Basing Organization (Marines, Navy, and Army) providing all base life support, engineering, construction, logistics, environmental, food service, MWR, and base closures for 26 forward operating bases in the Al Anbar, Babil, Najaf, and Karbala provinces to over 44,000 U.S. forces and contractors.
Vitali served as the II Marine Expeditionary Force Deployment Planning and Execution (II MEF FDP&E) officer: Deploying USMC forces – personnel, equipment, and materials – to air and seaports of embarkation to the war. Vitali was also hand-selected to chair the conception, creation, and establishment of II MEF’s Anti-Terrorism battalion.
Prior to his responsibilities as the II MEF FDP&E director, Vitali served as the II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) Inspector General. It was during his time as II MEF IG, that the terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001.
Among Vitali’s significant individual awards are the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He also earned U.S. Army Airborne wings.
Today, Vitali serves on the Fort Jackson (S.C.) Retiree Council. He is a founding member of the Northeast Presbyterian Church Combat Support Group. He is the former chairman of the board of directors for the Project Josiah Restoration Ministry assisting service members with PTSD. And he is the operations officer of the National Security Task Force for the gubernatorially established S.C. Floodwater Commission.
Vitali holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. He is a member of the S.C. Black Belt Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of a S.C. Senate commendation, an Army North commendation, a Global Eco Adventures IRONMAN award, the Joe Louis Eternal Warrior (martial arts) award, and many other honors.
Col. Vitali was nominated for Veteran of the Week by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
May 2, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Alvin King.
Alvin King served in the US Army from December 1998 to December 2018 as a First Sergeant, Senior Intelligence Advisor. His previous assignment includes 2/3 Special Forces Group (Airborne) Fort Bragg, NC, 4/4 Aviation Reconnaissance Battalion [4th Infantry Division] Fort Hood, TX, 157th Infantry Brigade Fort Jackson, SC; 3/7 Infantry [3rd Infantry Division] Fort Stewart, GA, US Army Central, Shaw Air Force Base, SC. He was deployed during Operation Joint Forge (Bosnia), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) and Operation New Dawn (Iraq). BELOW you will read Alvin’s story of why he joined the military, what he’s doing now to help Veterans in the Palmetto State and what’s next for him.
“Upon completing my sophomore year in college, I realized that school was not for me. At the time, I was searching for more direction in my life; inevitably, I stumbled upon an opportunity to join the US Army.
While at first, I was hesitant, the moment I signed my name on the dotted line I knew that I had found what I had been searching for. In addition, the culture of camaraderie and the brotherhood in the military was like nothing I had ever experienced.
Since leaving the military, I have authored the book, Purpose Fulfilled: A Guide to a Life Well Lived; started a consulting company specializing in leadership development and mentorship; and traveled around the state to different organizations and schools, delivering talks as a keynote speaker.
In 2018, I launched King Fore A Day, a charity golf tournament designed to give back to veteran nonprofit organizations in the Midlands. Since its inception, King Fore A Day has filled all 36 teams for the past three consecutive years. Thanks to sponsors and tournament participants, up to $20,000 have been donated to nonprofits, including Hidden Wounds, Project Josiah, and PGA HOPE (Columbia). Most recently, donations from King Fore A Day facilitated funding for the Tammy Finney VA Volunteer Scholarship—awarded to Serena Parmar, a first-year student at the University of South Carolina selected for her commitment to serve Veterans at the Dorn VA through the VA Youth Program.
The success of King Fore A Day inspired other Veterans and me to found Range Fore Hope Foundation, a military nonprofit organization. Its mission is to facilitate outdoor activities as a positive outlet for active-duty service members, Veterans (combat and disabled), and their dependents to help them overcome life's difficulties attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We believe that providing programs and resources to Veterans and their families directly impacts their healing process. Additionally, our inclusive approach encourages participation amongst adaptive sports participants—the nonprofit's framework provides an equitable environment for those we serve.
After the nonprofit’s inception, we launched a six-month golf program that catered to military communities at Fort Jackson and Shaw Air Force Base. Programming consisted of free weekly introductory golf lessons at Cobblestone Park Golf Club and the James Clyburn Golf Center—with children as young as four to patrons well into their 70s attending. Due to the program's increasing popularity, our executive board decided to increase the program from six to eight months starting April 18, 2022.
In February 2022, a team of 13 completed an adaptive golf program—expanding its reach to golfers with rated disabilities. Following the training, Range Fore Hope Foundation was nationally recognized as a certified adaptive golf instruction program and became a US Adaptive Golf Alliance (USAGA) member.
With an emphasis on adaptive golf, we hosted the inaugural golf charity tournament, Fairways to Freedom, this past week. The event was a tremendous success, selling out like its sister tournament. All proceeds went towards purchasing a ParaGolfer, an all-terrain power wheelchair typically used for golfers with high-level spinal cord injuries.
What’s next? We will host the first-ever South Carolina-wide adaptive golf tournament in the fall—partnering with six different adaptive golf organizations to host a three-day event. I look forward to watching Range Fore Hope Foundation's continued growth and giving back to my community.”
We would like to thank 1SG Alvin King for his service and ongoing support for Veterans and their families in the community.
April 25, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is W. Thomas Smith Jr.
W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a formerly deployed U.S. Marine Infantry leader, a nuclear security and counterterrorism instructor, and a tactical SWAT team officer (twice awarded the title, “Honorman”) in the nuclear industry. He is also a retired colonel in the S.C. Military Dept. where he founded and directed the department’s first-ever Counterterrorism Task Force which evolved into the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team.
Smith began his military career in the Marines in 1983. He attended recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. He then entered USMC Infantry Training School on a guaranteed infantry contract at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA (graduating the top 10-percent of his class and earning the MOS designation “rifle scout”). He then entered USMC Sea School (also top 10-percent of his class) at MCB San Diego, CA. Smith was then stationed aboard a submarine-tender where he became the primary nuclear security and counterterrorism training instructor. While on sea duty, Smith developed and led training for shipboard sailors, Marines, and submarine crews in port and at sea. He was also among a select group of Marines worldwide to receive special close quarters combat training facilitated by the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia.
Following sea duty, Smith served as a rifle-squad (Infantry) leader and a bayonet instructor with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. While with 5th Marines, he received amphibious raid training at NAB Coronado, CA, and USMC mountain warfare training at Bridgeport, CA. His battalion soon deployed to the Western Pacific where he was stationed on Okinawa and in the Republic of Korea (ROK). In Korea, he trained regularly with ROK Marines, attending the ROK Marine Corps Mountain Warfare School at Muchuk, Korea. Also in Korea, he was temporarily detached to a USMC intelligence unit during special operations training.
Smith was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1989. He then served on the aforementioned SWAT team, then as a civilian war correspondent and military analyst, covering conflict from the Balkans to the Middle East from 1995-2007, including Croatia-Bosnia, Israel and the West Bank, Lebanon, and twice in Iraq during the war: The first time, he was embedded with British contract security forces, the second time with U.S. forces. He departed Iraq in the summer of 2007.
Following Iraq, Smith was commissioned at the rank of major in the S.C. Military Department’s Joint Service Det. where he became founding director of the Counterterrorism Task Force. He was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel and in 2012 to colonel. He retired from the SCMD in 2016, and served for several years as a civilian special advisor to the commander of the S.C. State Guard.
Among his awards, honors, and military decorations, Smith is a recipient of the Secretary of the Navy’s Commendation Medal for Achievement (today the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal) for nuclear security and counterterrorism activities, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Korea Defense Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, S.C. National Guard Meritorious Service Medal, and many state decorations. Smith is also a recipient of the Order of Saint Maurice (Centurion level), a prestigious Infantry honor awarded by the National Infantry Association and the Army’s chief of Infantry.
Among his qualification badges are U.S. Army parachutist wings, USMC Rifle Expert badge (multiple awards), USMC Pistol Expert badge, Royal Laotian Airborne parachutist wings, and several state badges.
Today, Smith is a professional writer, a New York Times bestselling editor, and a military technical advisor. He also serves in varying capacities as a special deputy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. And he serves on the National Security Task Force, S.C. Floodwater Commission.
Smith is a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest award; two S.C. Senate commendations; the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s Civilian of the Year award; an Army North commendation; a Global Eco Adventures IRONMAN award; Honorary Green Beret; Honorary Ranger in the Republic of Korea Marine Corps; and multiple other awards and honors. Smith is a USC graduate.
Col. Smith was nominated Veteran of the Week by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
April 18, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Kelvin W. Ashe.
Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin W. Ashe began his military-law enforcement career in 1983 as a U.S. Army military police officer. He served as a military police patrol supervisor, military police investigator, military police operations sergeant, advanced traffic accident investigator, advanced DUI detection officer, military police customs inspector, criminal domestic violence intervention program officer, game warden, police community liaison officer and the family advocacy board member for misguided youths, and he worked and trained as a member of the Washington State Accident Investigation Team and the Tacoma Police Department. As a military police officer, he also served in the positions of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) instructor and Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) officer.
Ashe was stationed at Ft. McClellan, Alabama; Camp Carroll and Camp Red Cloud, Republic of Korea; Ft. Riley, Kansas; Schloss Kaserne in Giessen, Germany; U.S. Forces Police Kaiserslautern, Germany; Ft. Lewis, Washington; and Ft. Jackson, S.C. Ashe was honorably discharged in 1998.
Among Ashe’s military awards and decorations are the Army Commendation Medal (four awards), the Army Achievement Medal (three awards), the Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (two awards), the National Defense Medal, the Overseas Service Medal, and the Airbase Ground Defense Medal.
Kelvin Ashe joined the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in 1998 as a full-time deputy with RCSD’s Uniform Division. He attended the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy and became a certified police officer and officer supervisor. He rose through the ranks to become the first lieutenant colonel in the history of the department. Today, he serves as director of the Uniform Division, overseeing the daily operation of over 300 deputies serving in several capacities throughout the department. His career assignments have spanned across the organization giving him the opportunity to work in areas ranging from patrol operations to executive level management.
Lt. Col. Ashe was nominated for Veteran of the Week by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
April 11, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is William M. “Bill” Connor V.
Colonel William M. “Bill” Connor V was commissioned an Infantry officer following graduation from The Citadel in 1990. After the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School, Connor was assigned platoon leader in 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry, and later as executive officer. During his assignment to Fort Stewart, he deployed to Kuwait (twice) and earned his Expert Infantryman’s Badge. After graduation from the Infantry Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Connor was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry “Wolfhounds” in Hawaii, where he served as Battalion S4 and “C” Company Commander. His unit deployed as part of the Multi-National Forces and Observers peacekeeping mission between Egypt and Israel. Connor then served as “B” Company commander of the 4th Ranger Training Battalion at Fort Benning and was later selected as aide-de-camp to the Infantry Commandant. After his time as ADC, Connor was selected to become a small group instructor in the Infantry Captains Career Course. In 2002, after resident selection to Command and General Staff College, Connor left the Regular Army as a major and transitioned to the Reserve component. He attended law school at the University of South Carolina while serving, with military exercises in Korea and Crete. In 2007, he was mobilized for 15 months to Afghanistan as an Infantry Combat Adviser to Afghan National Security Forces. He became the senior U.S. military adviser in Helmand Province and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 2008, Bill began service as a Command and General Staff Officers Course instructor and became the lead instructor for the state of South Carolina. In 2015, he became the senior Army North representative to South Carolina and was promoted colonel. Connor is a “distinguished graduate” of the U.S. Army War College. He retired from the Army in 2020.
Among his awards, honors, and decorations, Connor is a recipient of the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Multinational Forces and Observers Medal, NATO Service Medal, Global War on Terror Medal, and Overseas Service Ribbon. Among his qualification badges, Connor is a recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Airborne wings, Air Assault wings, and Ranger Tab. He is also a McArthur Leadership Award nominee and a recipient of The Order of St. Maurice (Centurion).
A multi-generational military son (military brat), Connor today is a practicing attorney and founder of the Bill Connor Law Firm. He is a recipient of the AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating (Highest rating for ethics and competency in America); Community of Character Award (Orangeburg); and the Order of the Palmetto, the highest award presented by the state of South Carolina. He is a member of The Citadel’s Board of Visitors, and he serves as chairman of the National Security Task Force of the gubernatorially established S.C. Floodwater Commission.
Col. Connor was nominated for Veteran of the Week by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
April 4, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Thomas Stowe “Tom" Mullikin!
Thomas Stowe “Tom" Mullikin served both his nation and state in a multi-faceted military career that is as distinguished and accomplished as it is unique.
Mullikin began his service in January 1998 when he was commissioned into the U.S. Army Reserve’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. Following his completion of the JAG Officer Basic Course, Charlottesville, Virginia; he was assigned to the 12th Legal Support Organization where he served as a prosecutor/trial counsel. He then served as International Legal Officer for the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne). He later served in a post-Army civilian capacity as special assistant to the Chief Prosecutor, Military Commissions, U.S. Department of Defense.
A graduate of the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School at Fort Benning, Georgia, certified as a U.S. Army Master Fitness Trainer, and holding a black belt in traditional karate, Mullikin served as an Army self-defense instructor. Mullikin was honorably discharged at the rank of captain in December 2006.
Mullikin was later commissioned into the S.C. Military Department (SCMD) where he initially served as both JAG officer and Counterterrorism Task Force officer (later Counterterrorism Advisory Team officer) for the SCMD’s Joint Services Department (JSD). Recognized for his extraordinary leadership, Mullikin transferred from JSD to the S.C. State Guard (SCSG), quickly becoming deputy commander and chief of staff, and in 2014, commander (commanding general) of that historic military organization.
As commander, Mullikin transformed the SCSG into a robust state defense force organized around three geographically based battalions and functioning as a key component-arm of the SCMD’s state emergency response package.
Mullikin established the SCSG’s new Underwater Search-and-Rescue Team, and he personally trained and certified his SCSG SCUBA-divers. As an experienced SCUBA-diving instructor, a Master Diver (PADI) with recorded dives in all the Earth’s oceans including certification as a polar diver for his ice dives in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans, and a Special Deputy training instructor with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department dive team, Mullikin’s facility in terms of the cultural transformation of the SCSG, not the least of which was the example of the SCSG dive team was and remains unprecedented.
Mullikin also established the SCSG Mountain Search and Rescue Team, which – like his dive team – was a direct reflection of his global mountaineering and summiting experience. Mullikin has climbed mountains of every continent on earth, and he has summited the highest mountains in Europe, Africa, Australia, and South America.
Mullikin’s holds numerous state, federal, and foreign decorations and military qualification badges. Among his federal decorations are the U.S. Army Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, and the Army Reserve Components Overseas Ribbon (with numeral 2). Among his state decorations and badges are the Joint Services Detachment Meritorious Service Medal, the SCSG Medal of Merit, the RAIDER – Rapid Assistance in Disaster and Emergency Relief – badge, and the Military Emergency Management Specialist badge.
Among his foreign qualification badges are military parachutist badges from Serbia, Croatia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, and the Kingdom of Laos. He was also awarded U.S. Army basic parachutist wings as a result of his having earned jump wings from six foreign airborne forces.
Mullikin, as commander of SCSG, was the subject of a feature in AMERICAN LEGION magazine, the world’s leading military Veterans publication, and he been featured in many others.
Mullikin serves on a variety of foundations and boards, including the board of directors for the U.S. Army Special Forces Foundation (S.C. Chapter). He is a Montagnard tribal community inductee (a singular honor recognizing his service to both the Vietnamese Montagnard community and the U.S. Army Special Forces community). And he has served as president of the State Guard Association of the United States.
Mullikin is a recipient of the ORDER OF THE PALMETTO, South Carolina’s highest award. He also has been awarded the titles IRONMAN by Ironman Outdoors (Sandhills chapter) and HONORARY GREEN BERET by the Special Forces Association (S.C. chapter) among others.
Mullikin retired at the rank of major general in December 2018.
Today among his many responsibilities, he serves as chair of the gubernatorially established S.C. Floodwater Commission, reporting directly to the Governor Henry McMaster. He is a founding partner of the Mullikin Law Firm, founding past president of Global Eco Adventures, a university professor, author, film producer, and director of several statewide initiatives and events, including POWERPLANTSC and the annual SC7 expedition among others.
In December 2021, Mullikin earned a PhD from Columbia International University.
We would like to thank W. Thomas Smith Jr. for nominating Tom Mullikin as our ‘Veteran of the Week’.
March 28, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is SCDVA's Heather Durant-McEady!
Heather Durant-McEady began her U.S. Navy service in September of 1994 in Great Lakes, Illinois. She attended A-School in Meridian, Mississippi where she received her training to become a Storekeeper. In October 2009, US navy changed the naval rating of Storekeeper to Logistics Specialist. Following A-school, she was assigned to the USS Simon Lake (AS-33), a submarine tender located in LA Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy. She would later be stationed back aboard the USS Simon Lake (AS-33) in 1999 to help decommission the 35-year-old ship.
During her time in service, she was stationed aboard the USS Simon Lake (AS-33), USS Emory S. Land (AS-39), at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Aviation Support Detachment Jacksonville, Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron SIXTEEN (VP-16), USS Samuel L. Gravely (DDG-107), and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81).
Her most rewarding assignment was the commissioning crew of the USS Samuel L. Gravely (DDG-107), which is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer named in honor of the late Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely Jr. The late Vice Admiral Gravely was the first African American to serve aboard a warship as an officer, the first to command a Naval warship, the first fleet Commander, and the first flag officer, retiring as a vice admiral.
Among her military awards and decorations are the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Navy ‘E” Ribbon, the Armed Forces Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Kosovo Campaign Medal, the Navy Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Insignia and the Navy Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist Insignia.
Heather has worked with the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs (SCDVA) for five years and currently is the Women and Minority Veterans Coordinator. She is dedicated to the mission of helping Veterans. She resides in Blythewood, SC with her husband who is a retired Army Veteran.
We would like to thank Heather Durant-McEady for her continued service to the Palmetto State and for SCDVA. We could not think of a better way to end Women’s History Month than to honor Heather for her commitment and service!
March 21, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Addy Perez.
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Addy Perez, a Master Deputy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, began her U.S. Army service in the Army Reserve in 2008. Following basic training at Fort Jackson. She attended AIT at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where she received training as a veterinary technician. Perez deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and served as a veterinary tech for military workings dogs at Forward Operating Base Sharana (Paktika Province), Camp Leatherneck (a U.S. Marine base in Helmand Province) and surrounding outposts. During her Afghanistan deployment she was promoted to Sergeant.
In 2013, Perez graduated from The U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, earning the Drill Sergeant badge and the Iron Drill Sergeant award. She went on to serve as a drill sergeant at Fort Knox, KY; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; and Fort Jackson, SC. Perez returned to the academy in 2014 as a drill sergeant leader, training drill sergeant candidates. Her final duty assignment was with a Reserve unit as an instructor for Human Resources at Camp Parks, California. Perez was honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant in 2020.
Among her military awards and decorations are the Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with Campaign star), the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the NATO Medal, the Drill Sergeant badge, and the Drill Sergeant Leader belt.
Perez has been with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for five years, today serving on the department’s Community Action Team, and is best known for her regular appearances on A&E’s hit television series “LIVE PD.”
We would like to thank Sheriff Leon Lott for nominating Master Deputy Addy Perez for our ‘Veteran of the Week’ and would also like to thank Master Deputy Perez for her service to our country and the Richland County community. It is an honor to recognize her during the month of March for Women’s History Month!
March 14, 2022
Our 'Veteran of the Week' is Maria Yturria.
U.S. Army Sergeant Maria Yturria, a major with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, was raised in Los Angeles, California and joined the U.S. Army in 1993. She served for more than seven years and traveled to various assignments within the United States and many foreign countries. Her positions while in the Army have been with various military police units, culminating with her assignment to Headquarters US Army Japan as an assistant to the commanding general. Her duty stations included Fort Jackson, SC, Fort Bliss, TX, Fort Sam Houston, TX, and posts in Hawaii, Korea, and Japan. Yturria was honorably discharged in 2000 at the rank of sergeant.
Yturria’s military awards and decorations include: the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Army Commendation Medal (three awards), the Army Achievement Medal (two awards), the Good Conduct Medal (two awards), the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon (two awards), and the Expert Marksmanship badge (with rifle bar). She has since received numerous law enforcement awards.
Yturria has been with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) for 19 years and today serves as director of RCSD’s Professional Development/Public Affairs.
SCDVA would like to thank Sheriff Leon Lott for nominating Major Maria Yturria for our ‘Veteran of the Week’ and we would like to thank Sergeant Yturria for her service to our country and service to Richland County!
March 6, 2022
Our 'Veteran of the Week' is Brooke Jackson Kahn.
Brooke Jackson Kahn joined the US Army in 2009, enlisting as a combat medic, stationed at Fort Stewart with the 3rd Infantry Division, 4th Brigade. She was deployed to Iraq participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. During her military career, Kahn received many awards: Army Commendation Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star (2nd award), Army Service Ribbon, and Overseas Service Ribbon.
During Kahn’s active duty to civilian transition, she earned “Rookie of the Year’ and “Presidents Club” representing the top 10% of the company as a pharmaceutical sales representative. She then went on to Physicians Assistance (PA) school at the University of South Alabama, graduating in 2017. Immediately following school, she started practicing in the field of Neurosurgery as a surgical PA. Today, she continues serving her country in the US Army Reserves, commissioned as a 1LT Physician Assistant.
Brooke Jackson Kahn is the founder of “She’s the Veteran” a female Veteran-only community located in Charleston. Her focus is advocating, educating, and empowering as she is passionate about helping Female Veterans. Brooke has led the way with starting a community that focuses on shining light on topics important to women Veterans. Brooke has most recently been selected to the South Carolina Women Veterans Leadership Board for the VA. The board will become a “think tank” and advocate for important changes to women’s healthcare. “She’s the Veteran” hosts many events throughout the year with the signature celebration of Women Veteran’s Day on June 12th. She currently is living in Charleston with her husband and daughter, enjoying the beach, traveling internationally, running, and creating oyster shell jewelry.
Thank you to Brennan Beck, SCDVA Lowcountry Regional Integration Officer, for nominating Brooke Jackson Kahn as our Veteran of the Week!
March 1, 2022
Our 'Veteran of the Week' is Mary Louise Resch.
March Louise Resch joined the US Army in 1974, completed her Basic Training at Fort Jackson, and dedicated nine years to the military (five as a bomb disposal technician and instructor). During her years of service, she was awarded numerous military achievements including Permanent Award - Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge, Military Emergency Management Specialist Basic Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Cold War Service Ribbon, Good Conduct Medals, US Army NCO Proficiency Ribbons, and multiple SCSG awards.
After her retirement, Resch went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Excelsior College and a Master of Science in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Still dedicated to her fellow soldiers, Resch’s Master’s Practicum was spent with Army Community Services, Ft. Belvoir, VA and Department of the Army Family Services, Alexandria, VA working with military families and editing the first Army Family Resource Directory.
Resch went on to volunteer and work in a variety of non-profit agencies including, domestic violence/sexual assault treatment, dropout and drug/alcohol prevention programming, to juvenile justice diversion programs for more than 35 years. As a certified Military Emergency Management Specialist, Resch worked during consecutive disasters from Superstorm Sandy, to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and has written and reviewed grants at the local, state, and federal level as a Senior Grants Specialist.
During her career, Resch has received numerous awards, including the SC Substance Abuse Professional of the Year from the SC Association of Prevention Professionals and Advocates, SC Law Enforcement Officers Association Citizen of the Year, Serve and Connect’s Citizen Hero Award and the SC Community Development Specialist of the Year from the SC Community Development Association. Most importantly she was selected as a “National Point of Light” by the Points of Light Foundation headed by former President George H.W. Bush for her work in keeping SC children in their communities and out of the Department of Juvenile Justice, and was the 2017-2018 Midlands of SC Jefferson Award winner, representing South Carolina in Washington, D.C. for her work in creating the Operation HP (Hunger Prevention) program for military members and their families. Recently, Resch was selected as a 2021 Icon by the Columbia Regional Business Report for more than 35 years of non-profit services here in the Midlands.
Resch recently completed her second year with Central SC Habitat for Humanity, leading their “More than a Home” campaign, with a goal of raising nine million dollars in the next three years for community redevelopment in Richland, Lexington, and Fairfield Counties as their Director of Philanthropy. She accomplishes this mission by networking with business, civic organizations, and other key community leaders to work together to transform neighborhoods “one block at a time.”
Today, Resch serves on the boards of directors of the United Way of the Midlands Emergency Food and Shelter Board, West Metro Rotary Club, and Lions Vision Services Boards of Directors. She is also a member of American Legion Post Six in Columbia and a Lieutenant Colonel in the SC State Guard.
SCDVA could not think of a better person to honor at the beginning of Women’s History Month. We would like to thank her for her service and her continuous efforts in making our Palmetto State excel. We would also like to thank Susan McPherson, Columbia City Chamber, for nominating this amazing Veteran.
February 22, 2022
Our “Veteran of the Week” is De’Ontay Winchester Sr.
De’Ontay Winchester Sr. served in the US Army as a Non-Commissioned Officer from 2006 to 2012 with a military occupational specialty in Information Technology. Winchester served in many different positions including Webmaster, Information Assurance Security Officer, Network Operations Service Desk Manager and Network Manager. Throughout his active duty, he completed an AAS in Information Technology and acquired several different professional certifications.
During his years of service, Winchester served in Korea and deployed to Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom. He received two awards, the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.
After separating from the Army, De’Ontay continued his education by completing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Social Work in Clinical Social Work from Walden University. He was inducted into Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work, Tau Upsilon Alpha National Organization for Human Services Honor Society, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Currently he is pursuing a Doctor of Public Administration with a specialization in Law and Policy. Along with his educational achievements, Winchester is actively involved in many fraternal and service organizations including: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Legion, Tidelands Community Hospice and Boys and Girls Club of America.
Currently, De’Ontay lives in Georgetown with his wife, two sons and a daughter. His wife, Dr. Lakeva Winchester, is an educator in Georgetown County. They enjoy traveling in their free time and De’Ontay finds pleasure in giving back to the community and serving at-risk and under-served populations.
SCDVA would like to thank Liz Letvin for nominating De’Ontay Winchester Sr. for our ‘Veteran of the Week’ saying, “De'Ontay has never stopped serving. He is an Entrepreneur, Clinical Social Worker, Master Life Coach, Activist, & Organizer. He serves in multiple organizations and boards across the Grand Strand, including the board of directors for Miss Ruby's Kids, an early literacy program in Georgetown County, the Georgetown NAACP, and the Gullah Geechee Leadership Trust [Institute].”
February 7, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Vernon "Bud" Shepard.
Retired Sergeant Vernon “Bud” Shepard joined the US Army in 1968 as a bricklayer. “Bud” was in an armored cavalry unit in Fort Knox, KY (where he completed his basic training) and later became a tank driver, loader, gunner and a tank commander.
When it was time for him to serve in Vietnam, Bud was sent to an Air Cavalry unit. He began his on-the-job training as an observer on a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH). In case the pilot was incapacitate, Bud was trained to fly and learned the techniques to find the enemy while flying at treetop level. On November 2, 1969 Bud was shot down twice and sustained two gunshot wounds. Since he was shot down in heavily controlled enemy territory, there was no chance of a rescue. After hiding in the jungle for three days, he was captured. Shepard was held captive for 39 days and was released on December 10, 1969. After his release, his injuries were treated back at Fort Knox.
Once he finished his three-year commitment to the US Army, he moved back to Akron, OH. Shepard took a job with the United States Postal Service (USPS) and became a father. He worked for USPS until he retired in a management position. He eventually reunited with his now wife, Pat, at their 20th High School reunion. After 10 months, they got married and Pat, along with her two children, moved to Ohio where they lived for 22 years. After one weekend, covered in three feet of snow, they decided to move south. The couple currently lives in Myrtle Beach, a warmer place with a rare chance of snow. During their 34 years of marriage ‘Bud’ and Pat traveled often and served as short-term missionaries all over the world. They also revisited where he was held captive in the jungle 52 years ago and built a church in Cambodia.
Sgt. (Ret.) Vernon ‘Bud’ Shepard will be attending the 49th Annual POW ‘Freedom’ Reunion in June 2022. Please consider donating HERE to this event, hosted by the Vietnam POW Reunion Foundation, to “honor those who served in Vietnam and became prisoners of war (POW) and to promote an understanding of their experiences and how leadership and character are developed under the most brutal and unimaginable conditions.”
January 31, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Craig Ostergard.
This week we are recognizing Craig Ostergard as our ‘Veteran of the Week’.
Craig Ostergard graduated from the University of Akron with honors including Distinguished Military Graduate from their four-year ROTC Program. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army, Infantry.
Ostergard later reported for active duty and graduated from Infantry Officers Basic, Ft. Benning, GA, Special Operations Warfare School, Ft. Bragg, NC and Jungle Warfare School, Panama. He voluntarily served in Vietnam and was assigned to a MACV Team in the Central Highlands and finished his tour as a Company Commander on Artillery Hill, Pleiku. Craig Ostergard was awarded the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
After his service, Ostergard began his business career in the corporate world at an entry level position and rose to the level of Vice-President. He was selected as a member of Outstanding Young Men of America. He met his now wife and realized that living on airplanes and constant travel would not be the most suitable way to raise a family and they moved to Hilton Head in 1984.
Ostergard began a long career in real estate as one of the top producing brokers in the Southeast with Sea Pines Real Estate, became the President, and was inducted into the Sea Pines Hall of Fame. He started Ostergard Realty Corporation, buying and managing commercial properties and served as its President.
Craig Ostergard strongly believes in giving back and served/has served on eight Boards including The Fellowship of Christians Athletes and Operation Patriots Forward Operating Base whose Mission is to reduce the alarming rate of Veteran Suicides.
Craig and his wife are active in their church and Community Bible Study, serving in various ministries and outreaches. Their two children still live close, his daughter and three grandchildren are living in Bluffton, SC and their son, along with their newest granddaughter, are living in Greensboro, NC.
January 24, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Sergeant Major (Ret.) Rebecca R. Kennedy.
Native to Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Kennedy enlisted in the US Army as a PV1 on September 17, 1991.
Kennedy attended Basic Training and Advance Individual Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. During her service, Kennedy was an Administrative Specialist on her assignments that include: 219th Base Support Battalion, Camp Darby, Italy; 35th Signal Brigade (Airborne) Fort Bragg, North Carolina; 3rd Infantry Division (Mech, Fort Stewart, Georgia; Walter Reed Army Medical Center Brigade, Washington, DC; 17th Area Support Group, Camp Zama, Japan; Command Group, I Corps, Fort Lewis, Washington; and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Her assignments as an HR Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) include: Personnel Administration Center NCOIC, USA Military Police Company, Camp Zama, Japan; G-1 HR NCO, I Corps, Fort Lewis, WA; Battalion S-1 NCOIC, 114th Signal Battalion, Fort Detrick, MD; Brigade S-1 NCOIC, 21st Signal Brigade, Fort Detrick, MD, where she implemented Personnel Services Delivery Redesign (PSDR); and Brigade S-1 NCOIC, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, where she deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Kennedy served as the First Sergeant for Alpha and Bravo Company, Allied Forces South Battalion, Naples, Italy. She served as the Senior Enlisted Instructor/Writer for the Brigade S-1 Operations Course and HR Plans and Operations Course, Adjutant General’s School, Fort Jackson, SC. Additionally, SGM(R) Kennedy served as the G-1 SGM, U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Fort Sill, OK; G-1 SGM, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum, NY, where she deployed as the Combined Joint Taskforce CJ-1 SGM in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Iraq. Kennedy culminated her last assignment as the G-1, SGM for Third Army/U.S. Army Central, Shaw AFB, SC, where she managed the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Operations for the Middle East Region.
Before Kennedy retired, she received numerous awards/decorations: Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (6 OLC); Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal (4 OLC); Joint Service Achievement Medal; Army Achievement Medal (5 OLC); Army Good Conduct Medal (10th Award); National Defense Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Medal (5th Award); Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon (4th Award); Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal. She holds the distinction as the DLA’s 2004 Junior NCO of the Year. In addition, she is a recipient of three Adjutant General’s awards: COL Robert L. Manning Achievement Medal, MG(R) Horatio Gates Bronze Award, and MG(R)Horatio Gates Gold Award. SGM(R) was inducted in September 2021 as a Distinguished Member of the Adjutant General’s Corps Class of 2021.
SGM (R) Rebecca Kennedy retired from the US Army on September 30, 2021 after a successful 30 years of military service. She is currently living in Blythewood with her husband, Senior First Class Walter Kennedy Jr, with whom they share two sons.
We thank SGM(R) Rebecca Kennedy for her service and are honored to recognize her military achievements as our ‘Veteran of the Week’.
January 19, 2022
Our 'Veteran of the week" is Lieutenant Colonel USAF (Ret,) Thomas 'Tom' Hanton.
This week we are honoring another Vietnam POW, Lieutenant Colonel USAF (Ret.) Thomas ‘Tom’ J. Hanton.
Tom Hanton was born in Santa Monica, CA where his P-38 Fighter Pilot father was stationed after a WWII combat tour. He spent most of his formative years in the south. From Greenville, SC to Alabama, to North Carolina, and graduated high school in Yorktown, VA.
Hanton attended California State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics and then entered Officer Train School on November 16, 1967. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Airforce at Lackland AFB, TX. He attended Undergraduate Navigator and Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) Training at Mather AFB, CA followed by F-4 Combat Crew Training at George AFB, CA.
Hanton went on to his first operational assignment with the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) at Holloman AFB, NM. In February 1972, Tom was with the 4th TFS at Da Nang AB, South Vietnam until he was shot down by a MiG-21 fighter aircraft and was forced to eject over North Vietnam on his 135th combat mission in June 1972. Hanton was captured and for more than two days he marched to the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Tom was first listed as Missing in Action (MIA) until being classified as a Prisoner of War (POW) in late October 1972. He was released on March 28, 1973 during Operation Homecoming.
After a short hospitalization, Tom earned a Master’s Degree in business (MBA) at Arizona State University, returned to five additional years of flying duties, then was assigned on operational staffs in Europe, NATO, and with HQ USAF at the Pentagon. After a 25-year career, Lt. Col. Hanton retired in February 1993 as Chief of the Electronic Combat Division at Headquarters Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Kirkland AFB, NM. For the next 18 years, he was a defense contractor supporting DoD and each of the military services while living in Alexandra, VA.
Throughout his military career, Lt. Col. Hanton received a list of military awards. His primary awards include; Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguished Valor, a Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and one silver oak leaf cluster, Prisoner of War Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars and the Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze service stars.
Currently, Tom is on the board of directors of three military-oriented fraternal organizations – the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, the Society of Wild Weasels, and the NAM POWs (the association of Vietnam War POWs). He is a lifetime member of both the VFW and the American Legion. Tom Hanton made South Carolina his home in 2010 and is now residing in Bluffton, SC.
January 10, 2022
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Bill Austin.
In the months leading up to the 49th POW Freedom Reunion, SCDVA will be honoring surviving POWs and telling their stories. This week we are PROUD to recognize Bill Austin as our “Veteran of the Week.” Below you will read his story, from him. He uses humor as he recalls his time in the US Airforce during the Vietnam War and what he’s doing now.
“I was born and raised in Greenville County. Clemson tolerated me for four years while I earned a Mechanical Engineering degree. After a year of negotiating for a pilot slot, I reported to OTS (Officer Training School) with a large envelope full of papers created by a board of two Generals and three Colonels (Cols.) that assured me a pilot slot, only to have it overruled by the AF SEC (Air Force Safety Center). I was assigned to Navigational Training (which I had turned down 3 times). Now I'm in the AF so off we go (we, meaning Myrtle Looper, my wife of 3+ months). Harlingen, TX was a 10-month honeymoon with lots of sunshine, water skiing, and new friends. About six weeks before graduating, AF changed course again, stating EWO school would take all technical majors in our class that are in the top one third of the class. At Keesler we were 268th on the base housing list but moved into a freshly renovated duplex along with our friends from OTS & NAV Training. We moved to Topeka KS, with 55th SRW, my choice, along with 5 of my classmates and friends of more than two years. We chose RB-47s over B-52s because we were the mission, unknown to us this was a permanent. Other than getting shot at by MIGS with missiles, and having them lock-on with radar most missions, it was a great tour.
I still wanted to fly fighters. Luck was with me, when the RC-135 replaced the RB-47 they didn't need as many EWOs, I was finally getting pilot training (as a Captain serving as class CO and Training Officer). T-37s were not my idea of a fighter, but the IP couldn't get the stick back from me when flying the T-38. I chose F-4s to Vietnam since it was the fastest way to upgrade to the front seat. On graduation day from F-4 training I came home to an upset wife. She had received a call from a Major at Nellis AFB welcoming and offering to get us housing. Myrtle told him we were leaving for SC, and I had 5 days to port call en route to SEA. Our household goods were headed for SC, and we only had travel clothes. The Major was right, I was going to Wild Weasel training at Nellis.
We had to go to SC unpack boxes in my uncles’ warehouse to get clothes for all, and back to Nellis. The Major and I were to take the first F4 Weasel birds to SEA, only the equipment failed from vibration under "Gs". I chose to go on to Ubon, Thailand with the “triple nickel”, where my AC in F-4 training was OPS Officers, and I knew Cols. Olds, James and Bartouf. I was shot down on my 81st mission and spent five and a half years as Missing in Action and a Prisoner of War (MIA/POW).
Homecoming was outstanding, with thousands welcoming us at Clarke AFB, PI & Hickham AFB, HI and finally my wife, children, and parents at Maxwell AFB. After two weeks of recorded debriefing, I was the last POW to leave Maxwell AFB. I asked why I was held after debriefing and the doctor explained they were trying to figure out why my blood was loaded with protein. Myrtle spoke-up, "You should see him eat six eggs with sausage, bacon and steak for breakfast.” The doctor then let me go. I had a huge welcome at the Greenville/Spartanburg Airport, with a limo ride to Greenville and down the "Golden Strip" with school children lining the streets of Mauldin, Simpsonville, and Ft. Inn.
Our home was decorated with a huge sign Myrtle's friend helped Molly and Billy make saying "WELCOME HOME DAD". I spoke every day in April, to civic groups, Veterans, DARs, schools, Churches, etc. They had all been supportive to my wife while I was a POW. Myrtle sold over 8,000 POW bracelets in one month from our home in Simpsonville. She received a large arrangement of flowers from President Nixon the day we got home, and she was recognized three years in a row in the publication "Outstanding Young Women of America".
I finished ACSC at Maxwell AFB and recertified in the T-38 aircraft en route to Myrtle Beach AFB. After checking out in the A-7D aircraft, I flew Manpower and Reserve Affairs until the A-10 replaced the last A-7 squadron there. My assignment to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing TFW was most enjoyable because it was the best wing staff I had worked with in my career. I left Operations when the last A-7 squadron transferred to A-10s and took on a desk as Deputy Base Commander. After making Col. I transferred to Shaw AFB as Deputy CO and Base CO.
With the exception of missing flying, I loved the job, I had some outstanding people in my command, and they earned three "Best in the AF" unit awards and an excellent on the ORI. My last assignment was back where I started, at Clemson University as Professor of Aerospace Studies/ CO Det.770 AFROTC. It was a time consuming, enjoyable tour of duty. With the National Headquarters for Arnold Air Society followed by the National Headquarters for Angel Flight/Silver Wings the cadets had a lot of responsibility on them. I enjoyed working with many outstanding cadets and an outstanding staff of 4 Officers, 4NCOs backed up by an experienced secretary. It was a wonderful career including the many friends I made in the five and a half years as a POW. Our family grew as Molly was born at Keesler AFB MS, then Billy was born at Forbes AFB KA. Molly had two children Samantha and Cameron Stech. Molly died in 2020 from COVID. Billy and Dellanie had one son WRA IV(Wyck). We lost Myrtle in Dec 2020 after 60 years of marriage. I divide my time between our home near Clemson and our farm (where Billy and Dellanie live) near Simpsonville.”
PLEASE consider donating to the Vietnam POW Reunion Foundation to support next year's Reunion Gala by CLICKING HERE.
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Sergeant First Class Aaron Anthony.
Sergeant First Class (SFC) Aaron Anthony served in the US Army as a 13F Forward Observer and deployed to Iraq four times throughout his military career. He was stationed to Fort Still Oklahoma, Fort Bragg North Carolina, Fort Wainwright Alaska, and the Republic of Korea before his final station on Fort Jackson in October 2020 as a Senior Drill Sergeant.
SFC Anthony is currently living in Elgin with his family as a police officer with the Columbia Police Department. Thank you to Dan Wrightsman, Midlands Regional Integration Officer at SCDVA, for the nomination and thank you SFC Aaron Anthony for your continuing service to keep our citizens safe.
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Rausch.
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Rausch, of Dalzell, enlisted in the Army Reserves in June 1996 as a 54B Chemical Operation Specialist. He opted for split Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort McClellan, AL in August 1997 after which he was assigned to the 414 Chemical Company in Orangeburg and then attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School at Fort Benning, GA. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1999 and was then commissioned as an Infantry Officer. In 2000, he was given his first assignment as an Infantry Platoon Leader in A Company 1-187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (ASSLT), Fort Campbell, KY, followed by duties assigned to D Company where he served as an Anti-Tank Platoon Leader and deployed his platoon in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
Upon redeployment from Afghanistan, LTC Rausch assumed duties as the HHC Executive Officer where he deployed again, this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Upon return from Iraq in 2007, he was assigned to the Maneuver Center of Excellence Directorate of Training (DOT) and served as a Maneuver Captains Career Course Small Group Instructor for two years and the MCCC Team 3 Chief for an additional year. In 2011, he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS where he earned a Masters in Military Arts and Science. In 2016, Lieutenant Colonel Rausch was assigned to the United States Army Central Command (USARCENT) and immediately deployed to the USARCENT Forward Headquarters at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait for one year as the Executive Officer for the USARCENT Deputy Commanding General. Following his assignment in Kuwait he was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, SC as the USARCENT Training and Exercise Deputy Chief in the G37 Directorate. From May 2019 to May 2021 Lieutenant Colonel Rausch served as the Battalion Commander of 2d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 193d Infantry Brigade at Fort Jackson, SC.
Rausch is currently serving as the Army ROTC Professor of Military Science at the University of South Carolina. He is married to Tara Sweatt Rausch and they have four children.
Lieutenant Colonel Rausch’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters (OLC), the Meritorious Service Medal with Four OLC, the Army Commendation Medal with 1O Leaf Cluster (LC) and “V” Device, the Army Achievement Medal with Three OLC, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Peruvian Parachutist Badge, and German Parachutist Badge.
December 13, 2021
This week we are honoring Captain Charles A. "Chuck" Jackson as our “Veteran of the Week.”
A native of Charleston, West Virginia, Charles A. “Chuck” Jackson graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1969. During his distinguished Air Force career, Chuck held aeronautical ratings of navigator and pilot.
On June 24, 1972, Captain Chuck Jackson was a Weapons Officer on an F-4 out of Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, engaging in a bombing run at the Thai Nguyen Steelworks. A group of North Vietnamese MIGs intercepted the mission. Capt. Jackson’s plane was shot down by an air-to-air missile. He was captured near a tiny village not far from the Laotian border in Son La Province. The villagers subsequently turned him over to the militia after insisting on providing him with food and rest. During the walk out of the mountains, Chuck had two documented escape attempts. He was taken to Hanoi where he spent 8 months in captivity in various North Vietnamese prisons, including the Hanoi Hilton. He was released during Operation Homecoming in 1973.
With the help of his cellmates and an excellent sense of humor, Chuck survived the rigors of being a Prisoner of War (POW) in North Vietnam prior to being released in February 1973 during the prisoner repatriation exchange. After medical recuperation and training, Chuck served as a pilot on the C141 Starlifter based at Charleston AFB, SC. Combat injuries forced medical grounding. Chuck went on to serve as Administrative Officer for the 437th Field Maintenance Squadron, followed by a tour as Executive Officer at a MEPCOM Center in Milwaukee. He ultimately accepted a medical retirement from the Air Force.
In January 2017, Chuck and his wife, Marty Lehder Jackson, embarked on a unique journey. Chuck had long wanted to return to the tiny, remote, mountain village in North Vietnam to thank the residents for the kindness of food and rest shown him 45 years earlier. During the visit to Muong Gio Village, several of Chuck’s captors were present along with the widows of others. The opportunity to thank these individuals for their care and kindness was beyond measure.
In the fall of 2018, Chuck returned to Vietnam to meet Col. Nguyen Van Nhgia, the Vietnamese pilot who shot him down. The two men had the opportunity to discuss their missions and the course their lives and families since that fateful day. Nhgia went on to become one of the founding pilots of Vietnam Airlines, having returned to Ho Chi Minh City following his time in service. The time spent with Nhgia brought full circle the story of war, family, and gratitude.
Chuck subsequently went on to establish and manage three successful companies - Salters Bar & Grill, Palmetto Powder Coating, and Dune Ridge Group. He also directed Command Evaluation/Quality Assurance Programs at Naval Regional Hospital Charleston.
Chuck & Marty live in Mount Pleasant. They are happily retired and travel often.
December 6, 2021
This week we are honoring Captain Charlotte Holyfield as our “Veteran of the Week.”
Captain Charlotte Holyfield followed in her father’s footsteps, Master Sergeant Michael Shelton, by joining the US Air Force in 2005. She attended Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. From there, Captain Holyfield decided to pursue her undergraduate degree and earned her commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force from West Virginia University, Detachment 915. She was deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan as a Logistics Readiness Officer from October 2018 to May 2019 in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support Mission. She was awarded FIVE Air Force Achievement Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal with a Combat Device, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
Captain Charlotte Holyfield is currently stationed at the University of South Carolina Air Force ROTC Detachment 775. She is married to Master Sergeant and First Sergeant Darnell Holyfield, USAF, active duty, and a mother of five children. Captain Holyfield is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies at the University of South Carolina where she instructs, guides, and mentors, 107 students, creating leaders of character for the Air Force.
We are honored to recognize Captain Charlotte Holyfield and we thank her for her continuing service to our country.
November 29, 2021
Our 'Veteran of the Week' is John Charles “Bullit” Killian.
John Charles “Bullit” Killian served two years in the U.S Marines. Killian was drafted in January of 1966 and served until January of 1968. He completed basic training in Parris Island and was then sent to Camp Lejeune, NC for infantry and electrician training. From there, Killian was stationed at Cherry Point, NC shortly before receiving orders. He deployed to Vietnam and assigned, to his surprised, to the Artillery 155 Howitzer gun unit at Camp Evans, Phu Bai. After learning all aspect of the gun crew, Killian became a Gun Chief. “One Flight we fired so many rounds we had to cool the barrel off with water.” Not long after, an executive officer offered him a job as a Supply Sergeant. As a supply Sergeant, Killian would drive ammunition runs to Da Nang with a 5-ton truck. He served a year in Vietnam before being discharged in San Francisco. During his time in as an activity duty Marine, Killian received the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Rifle Marksman Badge.
Currently, “Bullit” Killian is living in Chester County with his wife of more than 60 years. He is a retired machinist, Commander at the American Legion Post 27, a DAV member, a Marine Corp League Jr. Vice, a Deacon at Woodard Baptist Church and a Chester County School Board Member.
“Being in Marines affected your life: made me harder but at same time softer,” John Charles “Bullit” Killian.
November 22, 2021
Our 'Veteran of the Week' is First Sergeant Robert Numerick!
First Sergeant (1SG) Robert Numerick started his military career by joining the Marine Corps for the first four years. Numerick decided to join the Army where he spent time in the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Battalion. After retiring in April 2020, Numerick decided to start his own company in West Columbia doing woodworking, 90 Proof Woodworking, LLC.
Through the Army transition Assistance Program (TAP) he used the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to help purchase equipment needed to start and sustain his company. He continues to support veterans in the community through the DOD Skillsbridge program. Currently, he is living in West Columbia with his wife, Samantha, and growing his Veteran owned and operated business.
Thank you to our Midlands Regional Integration Officer, Dan Wrightsman, for nominating Robert Numerick and thank you 1SG Numerick for your service.
November 15, 2021
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Mark Holyfield
Our newest Veteran of the Week is Mark Holyfield. Mark has served in the U.S. Marine Corps for more than 16 years, with more than half of his tenure on active duty as an Infantry Officer and District Injured Support Coordinator (DISC). He is currently serving in the Marine Corps Reserves. He deployed twice to the Middle East including service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as a platoon commander, company executive officer, company commander, and battalion operations officer with various units.
Mark was assigned to the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment’s DISC program from 2014 to 2016. While serving in that role he supported wounded, injured, and ill Marines and Navy Corpsman across South Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Northeast Georgia as they reintegrated into civilian life.
He is a founding member of Vantage Point Foundation. He currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Lowcountry Veteran Engagement Team (LVET), A “MyVA” Community Board comprised of Veteran serving organizations within the Lowcountry of South Carolina. This board collaborates with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, SC.
Thank you Mark Holyfield and to the Vantage Point Foundation for all that you do for Veterans in the state of South Carolina!
November 8, 2021
Our ‘Veteran of the Week’ is Tasha McClendon.
Tasha McClendon graduated from Longview High School in Longview, Texas. Following the family tradition, Tasha joined the military in 2004 serving in the US Navy for four years on USS Preble and the USS Porter. During her time in the service, she was stationed in Great Lakes, Illinois. Norfolk, Virginia, and San Diego, California. She was deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Throughout her deployment she traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Diego Garcia, Bahrain, and Dubai. She has been awarded Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
McClendon is currently living in Greenville where she is a Regional and Veterans Coordinator with SC Thrive helping military and Veteran families. She is also a senior at Limestone University. Upon graduation she plans to continue her work at SC Thrive with active-duty military and Veteran populations to help them gain access to vital resources and programs.
October 25, 2021
Lieutenant Colonel Larry Dandridge is our "Veteran of the Week."
Lieutenant Colonel Larry Dandridge is an ex-enlisted Army infantryman, warrant officer aviator, and retired aviation commissioned officer. Over his 24 years in the US Army, LTC Dandridge served as a flight instructor, flight examiner, flight commander, company commander, maintenance test pilot, airport manager, US-German negotiator, locomotive operator, procurement official, and logistician. Dandridge went through counter terrorism training and served in combat in Vietnam and Iran. In 1969, he was severally wounded in Vietnam while flying an attack helicopter. During his service, he received many military awards including Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, the Joint Meritorious Service Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, 15 Combat Air Medals, German Silver Cross, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
LTC Dandridge is an honors graduate of the Saint Louis County and Municipal Academy and the Southwest Alabama Police Academy. As a police officer, he set many records in arrests, crime prevention, community policing, marksmanship, and DUI enforcement.
Following his passion of reading and writing, Dandridge is currently the Editor and a Senior Writer with Tigers, Vikings, and Vipers Publishing, LLC. Writing weekly columns for the Lowcountry ISLAND NEWS newspaper on Leadership, Veterans Benefits, Hospice, and one on “What Citizens Should Know about Policing and Police Use of Force Authority” – Larry Dandridge never slows down. He is a published author and his military history and action book, “Blades of Thunder” (BOOK ONE), is an award winning, popular, informative, and non-fiction account of the US Helicopter War in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. A chapter in the book is used among different organizations and colleges to teach leadership.
Dandridge taught courses for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Chapman University, the University of Maryland, and Lassen Community College. He was a professor in economics, industrial operations, business aeronautics, technical writing, business law AND ran university extension divisions for 10 years.
Larry Dandridge is a member of the West Point Logistics Hall of Fame, his awards include the SC House of Representatives, Resolution and Service Award H.5224, Military Writers Association of American Silver Writing and Book Award, Association of the US army Exceptional Service Awards, Association of the United States Army (AUSA) 3rd Region Brenda M. Dougherty Award, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Volunteer and Sponsor of the Year Award, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Charleston Robert J. Lahm Award, AUSA 3rd Region Significant Achievement Award, the VA Special 2012 Volunteer Award, 3 Silver Quill Awards.
Today, LTC Larry Dandridge is living in Charleston. He is married with five children, nine grandchildren and a miniature Italian Greyhound. Between writing books and magazine articles, Larry is the VP for Veteran and Retiree Affairs for the Lowcountry, the Good Will Ambassador for Fisher House Charleston and a volunteer Patient Advisor for the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. He also is serving as a Patient and Family Centered Care Instructor, Custer Service Council Member, CEO’s Veterans Service Officer Council Member, and the Patient & Family Advisory Council Member at his local VA hospital.
We thank him for his service and ongoing efforts with Veterans in the Lowcountry and beyond!
October 18, 2021
Brandon Worley is our newest “Veteran of the Week.”
Brandon Worley enlisted in the U.S Army after graduating high school in 2010 from Clinton High School. When he lost the opportunity to play college golf with a scholarship, he decided he was best fit to serve our country. He was an active-duty artillery mechanic from July 2010 to July 2014. In 2012, he was selected to deploy for nine months to Regional Commands (RC) East Afghanistan as a lead driver and mechanic for the Security Force Advisory and Assistance Team. Once his four years of active duty were complete, Worley moved back to the Upstate of South Carolina and began furthering his education.
While working on his Master of Science in Positive Psychology at Life University in 2018, Worley founded Upstate-Carolina Adaptive Golf (UCAG) after being inspired when volunteering for a Georgia State Golf Association adaptive golf program for children with visual impairments and cognitive challenges. UCAG serves Veterans, individuals recovering from physical or mental trauma, adults and children with developmental, cognitive, and physical disabilities.
Currently, Worley is living in Greenville and operates UCAG as the Executive Director. He is dedicated to the mission of USAG to serve individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities and provide opportunities for adaptive golf. In early 2019, he hosted an adaptive golf coach training at Clemson University and UCAG has been operating consistent adaptive golf clinics since July 2019.
Thank you, Brandon Worley, for your ongoing service and thank you, Matt St. Clair, for nominating Brandon Worley for Veteran of the Week!
October 12, 2021
Julius Eugene “Gene” Driver is our newest ‘Veteran of the Week.”
Julius Eugene Driver served in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1972. Driver began basic training in San Antonio, Texas and then was moved around to different bases including Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California; Dobbins Air Force Base near Atlanta; Williams Air Force Base in Arizona; Bethel Air Force Station in Fairbanks, Alaska; and a base in Buxton, Mississippi.
He was also stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina for about six months. While at Shaw, Driver unknowingly joined the CIA when he received orders to become apart of the “1007th Air Intelligence Service Group.” He was flown to "Area 51" in Nevada where for more than a month he completed spy missions for the United States government.
He was deployed to Vietnam for a year in 1967 where he received the Bronze Star with a “V” device for his heroic actions in the rescue of other soldiers following a mortar attack.
Following his service in Vietnam, Driver, his wife, and daughter spent time in Tokyo until his retirement. During his time in service, Driver went to weld-man school, and was part of the fire department, crash rescue team and was a military training instructor. After retirement Driver and his family moved back to Chester County where he is now a Chaplain for Past Adjutant Chapter 19 DAV (Disabled American Veterans of James D. Wessinger Chapter 19).
Thank you to Roxanne James for "Gene" Driver's nomination for Veteran of the Week!
Information in this article sourced from Winthrop University: Interview with Eugene 'Gene' Driver (winthrop.edu)
October 4, 2021
Sergeant Greg Sword is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SGT Greg Sword served for 14 years in the Army Reserves from 2003-2016. After Basic training, Sword went to Fort Huachuca for Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Once his active duty training was completed Sword kept the warrior mindset and was a contractor on the civilian side. He would deploy with the Army in 2007-2008 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and back to Iraq as a contractor later in 2009. Sword also deployed with the Army in 2010-2011 in support of Operation New Dawn and one last deployment, Operation Enduring Freedom from 2013-2016.
In 2011, Sword moved cross country to Oregon to be a civilian instructor at Fort Huachuca. Sword’s last duty station was at Shaw Air Force Base where he would find his next career by accident. While hanging out with fellow soldiers and listening to them play guitar and sing he couldn’t figure out why they were not playing for money in local venues. Fast forward to present day and Sword owns his own company "On the Marc Studio" where he works with local musicians to build their brand and promote their music careers.
Thank you for your service Sergeant Greg Sword!
September 27, 2021
Corporal Kevin Brewington is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Corporal Kevin Brewington was medically retired from the Army in 2013. Brewington was assigned to 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry where he was stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. After eight months he deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2011. Roughly six months into the deployment, Brewington was conducting a routine foot patrol in Panjwai, Afghanistan when he stepped on a 30lb IED. He was knocked unconscious by the blast and saved by his unit's quick action, getting him on a medical evacuation aircraft (MEDAVAC) which took him to a trauma center at Kandahar Airfield (KAF). He was then transferred to Germany where he was stabilized to fly to Walter Reed Medical Center.
Brewington suffered numerous injuries including double amputation of both legs, a severed right arm, a stroke, amputation of right index finger, ruptured ear drum, mild TBI, and mild PTSD. He was in Walter Reed a year and a half when he officially retired in 2013. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal for his faithful service.
Currently, Brewington is an honorable deputy with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office and won "volunteer of the year" in 2019 by doing in-service classes and talking to officers involved with shootings. He does ride & fly along with SWAT teams for training and has seen how homicide cases are processed thanks to Sheriff Chuck Wright. This year (2021) Brewington ventured into entrepreneurship with his good friend started a flooring covering company, All American Flooring Specialties, LLC.
Brewington is also an ambassador and member of the following nonprofits, The Independence Fund, The Greatest Generations Foundation, American Valor, Chris Kyle Memorial Foundation, Combat Marine Outdoors, Hook Lines & Heroes, and Upstate Warrior Solution.
Brewington currently lives in Jonesville, SC with his wife Hannah Leigh Brewington of more than seven years along with his two daughters, Tinsley Marie (6) & Jayci Faith (3) and their bulldog Jasper. Thank you for your service, Corporal Kevin Brewington!
September 20, 2021
Sergeant First Class Bobby Edwards is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SFC Edwards retired in March of this year after 17 and a half years of service in the Army. Edwards enlisted in 2003 and after training was stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division from 2004-2010. He deployed multiple times to Iraq in 2007-2008 and once again in 2009-2010. The 82nd also deployed to Afghanistan from 2005-2006.
After his three deployments, Edwards went to 6th RTB, the last phase of Ranger school and was a Ranger instructor for the next four years. In 2017 he was stationed in Alaska and an Airborne Infantry Platoon Sergeant for three years before finishing his career in Columbia, SC at Fort Jackson.
In his spare time, Edwards works four days a week at Sportsman’s Wearhouse behind the gun counter and has recently started a nonprofit with his wife called “For His Glory Outdoors.” The purpose of the nonprofit is to take Veterans with combat trauma on hunting and fishing trips and build/grow a relationship in Christian faith.
So far, the group has completed their first trip in August flying five combat Veterans in first class from around the nation to Lake of the Woods, Minnesota where they stayed a week in a world class cabin. The trip was filled with top water fishing and hunting. Edwards’ end goal is to have land that can facilitate everything for the nonprofit and one central location that Veterans in need of support can come from all around the world.
Thank you for your service, SFC Bobby Edwards!
September 13, 2021
Staff Sergeant Carter Lybrand is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SSG Carter Lybrand has served in the South Carolina National Guard for 12 years and counting. Lybrand is currently an 89B, Ammunition Specialist with 1/151 Attack and Reconnaissance Battalion. He is in charge of all ordinance through his unit from conventional ammunition for small firearms all the way to explosives and large rockets. Lybrand deployed to Iraq in 2011-2012 where he was at Camp Taji.
Outside of drilling in the National Guard, Lybrand has made a name for himself and his band as a musician. He started singing and playing guitar years ago but two and a half years ago quit his job in sales and took to performing full-time. Now, the Carter Lybrand Band can be seen all over the state of South Carolina as well as other surrounding states.
Lybrand is also a Veteran of the Warrior PATHH Program at The Big Red Barn Retreat (BRBR) in Blythewood, S.C. and will soon also start working there and helping other Veterans and first responders that struggle with their own internal battles. He also performs for fundraisers for BRBR and encourages every Veteran to check out their facility and all the free services they offer.
Lybrand has made a handful of music videos and has released songs on all streaming services. He has been married for ten years and enjoys taking his wife and kids on the road with him whenever he can. Thank you for your service, SSG Carter Lybrand!
September 7, 2021
Lieutenant Craig Augenstein is our “Veteran of the Week.”
LT Craig Augenstein graduated from the Naval Academy in 1987 where he commissioned as a Nuclear Officer on a submarine in Charleston. He went on two deployments in his five years of service. On deployment was to North of the Arctic Circle as well as one to the Mediterranean.
Now, Augenstein is a real estate agent at Navigo Homes with Keller Williams and recently has become a board member on the Palmetto chapter for Folds of Honor where a portion of his sales goes to the foundation. Folds of Honor is funded to help Gold Star families and spouses who have lost their loved ones in war.
Augenstein also serves as the President of the Naval Academy Alumni Association’s Palmetto chapter. His daughter is also a member and followed in her dad’s footsteps by graduating from the Naval Academy and doing the same job on the USS Wyoming as Augenstein did when he was in the Navy.
Thank you for your service, LT Craig Augenstein!
August 30, 2021
Staff Sergeant Jason Dersch is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SSG Dersch served for 14 years in the armed forces. He started as a Soldier in the Army, joined the Air Force for four years and then finished his career once again in the Army.
Dersch enlisted in 1995 as an Airborne Infantryman and was assigned to 1-506 (Air Assault) in South Korea. For the next four years, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division LRSD (Long Range Surveillance Division). Later, he would graduate Ranger school and earn the rank of Sergeant before separating from the Army.
After eight months, Dersch started serving again in the Air Force as a Command and Control Operator with one deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and was a recruiter for two years. In 2005, Dersch participated in the Blue to Green program and transferred back over to the Army.
Dersch was assigned to 1-505 PIR Scouts/82nd Airborne Division. He attended Scout Sniper school in 2006 and upon graduation was promoted to Staff Sergeant. He would then go on multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom before separating from the Army in 2009.
Dersch is now one of the Guides for the Warrior PATHH program at The Big Red Barn Retreat in Blythewood, SC. He strives by helping other Veterans and First Responders who are suffering their internal battles and teaching them to embrace their demons and continue to grow.
Thank you for your service Staff Sergeant, Jason Dersch!
August 23, 2021
Major General Van McCarty is our “Veteran of the Week.”
MG McCarty serves as the 29th Adjutant General for South Carolina and head of the South Carolina Military Department. He administers the affairs of the South Carolina Army and Air National Guard, the Emergency Management Division, the State Guard, and the Youth Challenge Academy.
A native of South Carolina, McCarty attended The Citadel graduating in 1982 with a United States Army Reserve commission in the Field Artillery. In McCarty’s 36 years of service, he has commanded units at every echelon, from Battery to Brigade. McCarty’s previous command assignments include Battery Commander, Alpha Battery, 4th Battalion, 178th Field Artillery, Battalion Commander, 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Regional Police Advisory Commander (Operation Enduring Freedom), 218th Enhanced Separate Brigade; Commander 59th Troop Command, Assistant Adjutant Army, and Deputy Adjutant General.
McCarty holds a Bachelor of Science degree from The Citadel and completed the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy at Quantico, Virginia, serving twenty-four years in the Law Enforcement Division with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. McCarty’s Military Education includes The Field Artillery Officer Basic and Advanced courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Air Defense Artillery Transition Course, Joint Task Force Commander Course, U.S. Army Senior Service College, Capstone, and the Advanced Army Strategic Education Program.
McCarty’s awards and decorations include: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, with One Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster; Meritorious Service Medal, with One Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Commendation Medal, with Four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, with One Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, with One Silver Oak Leaf Cluster, and Two Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, with Bronze Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, with Bronze Star, Iraqi Campaign Medal, with Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, with Silver Hourglass Device, with M Device Second Award, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Second Award, NATO Medal, the SC Meritorious Service Medal, SC Active State Service Medal with one Silver Star, SC Achievement Ribbon, and the SC Mobilization Ribbon.
McCarty and his wife Susan have one daughter, Madelynn and four sons, Matthew, Micah, Mackenzie, and Major. Thank you for your service, Major General Van McCarty!
August 16, 2021
Lance Corporal Chase McCallister is our “Veteran of the Week.”
LCPL Chase McCallister served four years in the Marine Corps from 2005-2009. McCallister was an 0331 Machine Gunner and deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom twice in 2007 and 2008. He received a Combat Action Ribbon with one star.
After his term of service, McCallister attended the University of South Carolina in the upstate for his bachelor's degree and got his master’s in accounting from Clemson University. He is currently an Assurance Manager with Price Waterhouse Company (PwC) working in Spartanburg, SC but servicing clients throughout the state. McCallister serves as the Operations Lead for the PwC Carolina’s Veterans Affinity Network and enjoys serving and connecting with Veterans. He lives with his wife, Lauren in Greenville, SC with their two daughters Bennett and Porter.
Thank you for your service, Lance Corporal McCallister!
August 10, 2021
Specialist Med "Doc" Uddin is our “Veteran of the Week.”
"Doc" Uddin served in the US Army from 2002 – 2009 as a 68WY8 Combat Medic. Uddin deployed in 2006 to 2007 with Task Force 1-26 Infantry "Blue Spaders" to Sadr City, Iraq as a line Medic. He was promoted to senior line medic/squad leader and earned an Army Commendation Medal with "V" (Valor) as well as a Presidential Unit Citation.
The Blue Spaders deployment to Sadr City is known as one or the deadliest deployments of the war on terror, as well as one of the deadliest since Vietnam. At this time there is one book written about this deployment and talks of a mini-series being made (Band of Brothers style series), where it has been mentioned Uddin will be the featured medic.
Uddin also served in Korea with the 1-503 Infantry as a line Medic, in the Pentagon at DTHC (DiLorenzo Tri Healthcare Clinic) in the immunology/travel clinic with a specialty in allergies, immunotherapy, infectious diseases and travel medicine. Also, as the ERT medic responding to emergency medical calls around the building, SWAT medic (volunteer) for the Pentagon Police Force, HAZMAT medic and special mission’s medic. Uddin ended his career in Alabama at Ft. Rucker where he worked in the primary care clinic as well as in the field attached to the SERE school during their classes. Uddin was training to become a flight medic when the command at the Ft. Rucker clinic medically retired Uddin due to the injuries he sustained while in combat.
Uddin currently lives in Lexington County, South Carolina, and works as an independent security contractor (CONUS AND OCONUS). Thank you for your service SPC Med “Doc” Uddin!
August 2, 2021
Colonel Tammy Miracle is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Col. Tammy Miracle served 30 years in the U.S. Army from 1985-2015. She served all over the globe and went on many combat and peacetime tours including Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Miracle is the author of numerous published academic works on military and leadership subjects, including The Army and Embedded Media, 2003, which is frequently cited. Miracle now lives in Columbia and is an award-winning Realtor, where she specializes in assisting servicemembers and helps Veterans to navigate the homebuying process.
Miracle enjoys golfing in her free time and making friends everywhere she goes. Thank you for your service, Colonel Tammy Miracle!
Petty Officer Second Class Harrison Church is our “Veteran of the Week.”
PO2 Harrison Church has been serving in the U.S. Navy for eight years. Since leaving active duty in 2018 Church has been in the reserves and recently completed studies at the University of South Carolina. While Church was active, he served on the aircraft carrier, USS George HW Bush (CVN-77) in Norfolk, VA. Church was an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate-Equipment (ABE) specializing in catapult operations and maintenance.
Church was a Topside Safety Petty whose responsibility was to ensure proper catapult hookup and safe execution of flight operations over dozens of fixed wing aircraft launches every day while on the CVN-77.
In 2014, Church deployed for nine months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and was part of the very first launches of F-18’s to Iraq counter-attacking Isis. Later, Church deployed for seven months in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He spent a total of 25 months in his five years active duty out to sea.
Once joining the reserves, Church became an Operations Specialist (OS) with Expeditionary Port Unit 108 specializing in international logistics support. Church graduated from UofSC in May and now works for Navitas Credit Corp. Thank you for your service, PO2 Harrison Church!
July 21, 2021
Sergeant James Hull is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Sgt. Hull went to Marine bootcamp in early 1998 and then stationed in Norfolk, VA as an Embark Specialist. Over the next five years, Hull would coordinate the movement of more than 3,000 Marines. This would include the movement of personnel and equipment from the United States to hostile environments to include Libya and Afghanistan.
Hull was selected as the subject matter expert for deployment of Marines being sent to Libya following the September 11th attacks. This would include deployment, as well as replacement of additional equipment needed in securing U.S. assets in Tripoli, Libya. Hull trained more than 75 Marines in the skills and techniques of embarkation for redeployment of personnel and equipment back to home base.
Hull’s awards are as follows: Joint Service Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (2), Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (w/1star), Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (Navy Reserve) Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3), Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon (2), Armed Forces Reserve Medal (w/”M” Device) (2), NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, Expert Rifle Qualification Badge, Sharpshooter Pistol Qualification Badge.
James Hull now works for the University of South Carolina and is assisting other administrators in the production of a book with stories to honor student-Veterans from the University that have lost their lives in combat. Thank you for your service, Sergeant James Hull!
July 12, 2021
Petty Officer Second Class Karl Roman is our “Veteran of the Week.”
PO2 Roman is originally from Manhattan, New York and enlisted in the Navy to get out of his hometown and to see the world. Roman is a Nuclear Electronics Technician and additionally qualified as a Nuclear Propulsion Plant Supervisor.
After completing training, his first duty station was the Naval Nuclear Power Training Pipeline in Goose Creek, South Carolina from 2013-2015. For the next four years, Roman was on the USS Providence (SSN 719) where the submarine’s homeport was in Groton, Connecticut.
Roman went on two deployments on the SSN 719, one in the North Atlantic and one in the Mediterranean. He was awarded for his service medals and ribbons as follows, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Good Conduct Medal (2), Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy Battle E Ribbon (2), Navy Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Enlisted Submarine Warfare Qualification, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Rifle Sharpshooter Ribbon, Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.
Since retiring from the Navy, Roman works a Peace Officer to fulfill his need to serve. Thank you for your service, PO2 Karl Roman!
July 6, 2021
Staff Sergeant Derek Rast is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SSG Rast has been serving in the U.S. Army for 12 years and is currently a recruiter for the South Carolina National Guard and stationed in Columbia. Rast attended Basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. From there he was assigned to the 132nd Military Police Company in West Columbia, SC. In September 2011 Rast went to Afghanistan with 133rd Military Police Company out of Timmonsville, SC for a year.
Rast has also served in the SC National Guard Counterdrug Taskforce March 2013-October 2014, Servicemember Family Care Directorate (SMFC) January 2015-September 2015, Training NCO for the 133rd September 2015-September 2017. Rast was the Readiness NCO HHC 59th Troop Command from October 2017-May 2018.
His awards include the combat action badge, Army Commendation Medal (2), Army Achievement Medal, NATO Medal, Army Good Conduct ribbon, Overseas Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign ribbon, Counterdrug Service ribbon, National Guard Recruiting and Retention ribbon.
Rast has also responded and mobilized units to every natural disaster since 2015. When he is not wearing the uniform, Rast likes to hunt and fish and hang out with his four-year-old daughter Kora. Thank you for your service, Staff Sergeant Derek Rast!
June 28, 2021
Specialist Zachary Bogue is our “Veteran of the Week.”
South Carolina Army National Guard Specialist Bogue enlisted two and a half years ago. Bogue was a student in college and wanted to continue his long family tradition of serving in the armed forces as well as receive assistance financially to continue his education. Bogue is serving in the mechanized infantry unit, C. Co. 4th 118th Infantry Brigade.
Bogue’s unit recently got home from a deployment to Kuwait, Syria, and Iraq. He started pre-mobilization training as soon as he checked into the unit and was still able to complete courses online for school. For his service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Spartan Shield, Bogue was awarded the following medals.
National Defense Service Medal, Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Mobilization Device, Army Good Conduct Medal, and the Overseas Service Ribbon.
Bogue wants to continue serving and upon graduation of college wants to eventually own his own UPS store and try to buy multiple stores.
Thank you for your service, Specialist Zachary Bogue!
June 21, 2021
Lieutenant Colonel Hubert “Herb” Rentz Jr. is our “Veteran of the Week.”
LTC Rentz served for 20 years in the Army on active duty, the reserves and South Carolina national guard. On active duty, Rentz was assigned to V Corps headquarters where he toured Germany as Assistant Installation Coordinator. He was also an Aero Rifle Platoon Leader for the 1st/17th Cavalry and apart of the 82nd Airborne Division.
At Fort Knox in Kentucky, LTC Rentz attended the Basic and Advanced Armor Officer courses, Command and General Staff College and Officer Maintenance school. He attended Airborne school at Fort Benning and later Civil Affairs school at Fort Gordan in Georgia.
LTC Rentz served in the 108th Training Division, the 3/321st Regiment as a company E Commander, Battalion S-3 Operations Officer and the Battalion Executive Officer in Brevard, North Carolina while he was in the Reserves. While in the National Guard he was stationed at the 2/263rd Armor in Rock Hill and the Palmetto Military Academy at Fort Jackson, S.C.
The Citadel and Winthrop alum is also a retired schoolteacher where he taught Social Studies and coached at Great Falls high school in Great Falls, S.C. He is very active volunteering and promoting awareness for Veteran suicide as well as breast cancer. Rentz has created his own PSA that plays on multiple radio stations throughout the state of South Carolina and encourages others who are going through hard times to, “talk about it.”
Thank you for your service, Lieutenant Colonel Herb Rentz Jr!
June 14, 2021
Technical Sergeant Stephen Goshorn is our “Veteran of the Week.”
TSgt. Goshorn originally served on Active Duty in the US Navy from 1976 to 1982 before switching to the Navy Reserve in 1984. While in the Navy, Goshorn served as an Aviation Structural Mechanic on the Vought A7-E Corsair II (VA-174 Hellrazors) NAS Cecil Field, FL, Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion (VP-MAU) on NAS Brunswick, ME and at NAS Atlanta Marietta, GA (AIMD Cecil Field, FL Unit). In 1987, he then transferred to the Vermont Air National Guard.
While in the Air Guard Goshorn was a F-16 Crew Chief/Aircraft on the Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon. Additional duties were 158FW Base Honor Guard where he started sounding live Taps. Air National Guard NCO Academy Distance Learning Instructor and Starbase Vermont F-16 Tour Guide for students.
In his 29 years of service, Goshorn is a Cold War and Global War on Terrorism Veteran who also deployed to Operation Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle 9/11/01.
Goshorn is currently 2nd Vice Commander Camp Sevier 30th Infantry American Legion Post 271 in Mauldin, SC. He is a member of Bugles Across America and Taps for Veterans as well as a volunteer for sounding live Taps at Military Honors and Remembrance Ceremonies for all branches of the military.
Thank you for your service, Technical Sergeant Stephen Goshorn!
June 7, 2021
Colonel Kevin Shwedo is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Col. Kevin Shwedo served for 32 years in the Army culminating his career as the Deputy Commanding Officer of Fort Jackson. Col. Shwedo upon retirement started service as the Executive Director of the SCDMV. He was originally appointed by Governor Nikki R. Haley on January 14, 2011 and confirmed by the South Carolina Senate on February 1, 2011. He is responsible for overseeing the functions and responsibilities of the entire agency.
In previous assignments, he served as a project officer at the U.S. Army Infantry School and later as a platoon leader in the 197th Infantry Brigade. He moved to Germany where he commanded two infantry companies. Colonel Shwedo then taught leadership at the U.S. Army Engineer School for two years and later served as the Senior Combat Arms Analyst to the Director of Officer Personnel Management at the Total Army Personnel Command in Alexandria, Virginia.
At Fort Carson, Colorado, he served as a Battalion S-3 for 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment. Following graduation from the Command and General Staff College in 1991, Colonel Shwedo was assigned to Fort Polk, Louisiana and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Battalion S-3 and Executive Officer for the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment and the S-3 for the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Armored Division.
In El Paso, Texas, Colonel Shwedo served as the Director of Personnel and Deputy Chief of Staff for Joint Task Force Six. In July 1995, he moved to South Carolina where he took command of the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson. He then served as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 for the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) during the Division Advanced Warfighting Experiment. After graduating from the Army War College in 1999, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Forces Command in Atlanta where he served as the Special Assistant and Speechwriter to the Commanding General of United States Army Forces Command in Atlanta, Georgia.
Colonel Shwedo then successfully commanded the largest Basic Combat Training Brigade on the Army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Following command, Colonel Shwedo was reassigned to Fort Monroe, Virginia for duty as both the Chief of the TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) Commanding General's Planning Group, followed by selection to become the G-3 (Director of Operations, Plans and Training) for United States Army Accessions Command.
His awards include the Order of the Palmetto (the State’s highest civilian honor), Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with seven Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Service Achievement Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters) and Global War on Terrorism Medal (Service).
Col. Shwedo is very active in 33 Committees and Boards that assist organizations around the state that either support the military and their family members or serve to provide oversight to charitable organizations supporting some of the more vulnerable citizens in the state.
Thank you for your service, Colonel Kevin Shwedo!
June 1, 2021
Sergeant Jonathan Mayberry is our “Veteran of the week.”
Sgt. Mayberry served eight years in the Army before he was medically retired due to wounds he received in combat. He enlisted in 2002 as 13 Bravo and was stationed with the 1st Armor Division in Baumholder, Germany. Starting in March of 2003, Mayberry’s unit went on a 15-month deployment to Baghdad.
After returning from the middle east Mayberry served in the 2nd Infantry Division for a year with 1/37 Field Artillery (FA) Battalion and then a year later would deploy again with 3rd Infantry Division 1/10 FA in 2007-2008. He was later medically retired in 2010.
Sgt. Mayberry was awarded three Army Commendation medals, two Purple Hearts, an Army Achievement Medal, Unit Presidential Citation, two Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, Iraq campaign with one star, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon and 2 Overseas Service Ribbons.
From his own battle with mental health, Mayberry has made an unpaid career advocating for others who also have the same battle. As a supporter and Veteran of the Warrior PATHH program, he loves spending time with other Veterans at the Big Red Barn Retreat in Blythewood and practicing equine therapy as well as other services that are offered.
Thank you for your service, Sgt. Jonathan Mayberry!
May 24, 2021
Chief Master Sergeant Dayne Peterson is our “Veteran of the week.”
CMSgt Dayne E. Peterson is the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the 169th Fighter Wing, McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, South Carolina. As command chief, he serves as the principal advisor to the Wing Commander on matters of readiness, health, welfare and morale, professional development, and the effective utilization of more than 1100 enlisted personnel assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard.
Peterson has served in the Air National Guard and active-duty for 35 years and plans on retiring next year. He has made it his life’s work to serve our country and the men and women who wear the uniform. He will always say that he’s the voice that speaks for the McEntire Joint National Guard Base and how much of an honor it is to represent so many fine men and women.
In his career, Peterson has been awarded a number of medals including; Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, AF Organizational Excellence Award (2), AF Good Conduct Medal (3), Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal (4), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Medal, AF Longevity Service (6), Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 1 ‘M’ Device (1), USAF NCO PME Graduate Ribbon Air Force Training Ribbon.
Peterson has been stationed all over the U.S. along the east coast including Maryland and South Carolina, in the Midwest in Ohio and Illinois and the south in Texas and Mississippi. He is an active volunteer at the Big Red Barn Retreat and Warrior PATHH program in Blythewood, S.C. and a life time advocate for the National/State Guard and reserve components.
Thank you for your service, CMSgt. Dayne Peterson!
May 17, 2021
Staff Sergeant Jason Ramos is our "Veteran of the Week."
Staff Sergeant Jason Ramos, US Army, Airborne Infantry, 2010 to 2021 Active Duty, is now currently serving in the US Army Reserve, recently selected for and pending promotion to Sergeant First Class.
Ramos has two combat deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, 2010, 2012-2013, Global War on Terrorism with Chosen Company, 2-503rd, of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade.
His notable awards include the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), Airborne Wings/Parachutist Badge, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, numerous achievement and commendation medals.
Ramos lives and works in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife Crystal and their five-year-old son, Jackson, named after members of Jason’s company in Afghanistan who were killed in their 2012-2013 deployment by enemy fire.
Ramos became a Financial Advisor with First Command Financial Services in 2020 after serving 11 years on active duty and transitioning into an operations support role with the US Army Reserve. Jason graduated Summa Cum Laude from Purdue University Global while serving on Active Duty, a benefit of service Ramos wholeheartedly advocates for when possible.
Staff Sergeant Ramos is the operations and training non-commissioned officer for HHC, 2nd Brigade, 98th Training Division, Ft Jackson, SC, and fulfills a number of roles within the unit in support of the Company Leadership Team.
Staff Sergeant Ramos is a member of the Purple Heart Association, the National Infantry Association, the PeeDee Veteran’s Advisory Council, and is involved in various groups at his Church, St. Peter’s Basilica, where he and his family attend Mass weekly.
As a result of his wounds in combat, and military experience on and off the battlefield, Ramos is intimately aware of the importance of effective planning, and applies those principles to his career as a Financial Advisor.
May 10, 2021
Lieutenant Colonel Matt “Cobb” Webb is our, “Veteran of the Week.”
LTC Webb served for 20 years in the Air Force from 1991-2011 retiring as a 13B Air Battle Manager. Webb is a Mission Crew Commander and E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System qualified.
Cobb was stationed all over the world holding various titles including the Senior Weapons Director- 932nd Air Control Squadron in Rockville, Iceland. Master Instructor/evaluator-32nd Training Squadron at Tyndall FB in Florida, and spent time in Manta, Ecuador and Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.
Cobb deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Allied Force and Counter Drug Operations (Detachment Commander). He has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal and GWOT Expeditionary Medal.
Since retirement, Webb’s contributions to the York County VA have been unmeasurable. He singularly developed a benefits checklist - one for each benefit for which a Veteran or their family would be eligible to receive, training modules presented to Veterans in the York county community, office SOPs and more. His efforts have streamlined our claims operations and allowed this office to quadruple the number of claims and encounters.
Thank you for your service, LTC Matt Webb!
May 3, 2021
Mildred Oberhofer is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Mildred is one of the few remaining WWII Veterans and she celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, May 1. She served in the Women’s Air Corps for almost two years. Prior to enlisting, she was machine operator at a bullet factory making weaponry for the military.
Mildred was originally stationed in Selfridge Field, Michigan. Once she finished her basic soldier training, she was assigned to Baker and Cook’s school at Westover Field, Massachusetts.
Mildred grew up in a small-town inn White Plains, Kentucky as the only daughter of a local coal miner. She met and married her husband, George, of 52 years (now deceased) while in service to our country. They lived in Germany for many years where her husband was stationed as a Master Sergeant in the Army.
They retired at Fort Bliss, Texas and lived for several years in El Paso. Later they moved to Los Angeles, California where they spent the next 40 years together. In the Fall of 2016, Mildred left the west coast with her daughter to start a new life of leisure in beautiful Clemson, South Carolina.
Thank you for you service, Mildred Oberhofer!
April 27, 2021
Corporal Steven Diaz is our "Veteran of the Week."
Steven Diaz, a Marine who was severely injured by an IED blast in Iraq in 2005, has been left with numerous permanent scars to include Post-Traumatic Stress, a seizure disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Steven's military service earned him the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Ribbon. After losing more friends to the trauma of post-war life than by enemy action, he knew what his next mission in life would be.
In 2010, Steven became one of the founding members of "Hidden Wounds." Steven serves as the Program Officer and oversees all areas of Hidden Wounds' daily operations to make sure the mission of providing Veterans the help they deserve are met. Apart from his non-profit work, Steven serves on various boards to help advocate for Veterans and to help the community better connect with them.
Corporal Diaz is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor's in Business Administration. He is a founding member of UofSC’s newest alumni affinity group just for Veteran Alumni all across the country. He was also recruited in 2019 by Northwestern Mutual and currently serves as a financial advisor and a Veteran Ambassador helping transitioning Vets deal with post-military life.
Steven currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his lovely wife, Laura and three-year-old son Thomas.
Thank you for your service, Steven Diaz!
April 20, 2021
Henry Howe is our "Veteran of the Week."
Henry moved to Columbia in 1968 when the Army assigned his father to Fort Jackson. He is a graduate of E. L. Wright Elementary School, Dent Middle School, Spring Valley High School, and the University of South Carolina. Upon his graduation from USC, he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and left Columbia to pursue his career as a Weapons Systems Officer. While in the Air Force, he flew T-37, T-43, F-4, AT-38, F-16, and F-15 jet aircraft.
When he retired in from the Air Force in 1995, Henry came home to Columbia to care for his parents and start a second career. After a brief career with the Richland County Sheriff Department, Henry was hired as a museum technician with the U.S. Finance Corps Museum. He moved into the position of curator for the Finance Corps Museum in two short years and remained there for seven years.
In 2011, Henry transferred to the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum and assumed the roles and responsibilities of museum director and curator. During his tenure with the BCT Museum, he has guided the museum through a complete renovation of their artifact collections, a major overhaul gallery space, and comprehensive redesign of their museum storyline. Recently, Henry had been a major motivator behind Fort Jackson’s centennial recognition, spearheading efforts to research, write, and publish two books chronicling the history and heritage of Fort Jackson. Additionally, he orchestrated the Post’s centennial lecture series; bring together recognized authorities on the social, economic, and cultural history of Fort Jackson in an effort to foster enthusiasm and interest in Fort Jackson’s 100th birthday.
In 2019, he was promoted to Director of the Fort Jackson Museum Community, assuming the responsibilities for the administration, management, and oversight of all four museums located on Fort Jackson.
Currently, Henry and his wife Sonja live in Blythewood, South Carolina.
Thank you for your service, Henry Howe!
April 12, 2021
Staff Sergeant LaGinia Dove is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SSgt. Dove served 10 years in the U.S. Army from 19998-2008 in 1st Battalion, 311th Regiment. Dove was apart of providing mission-focused training and enables team-building actions for designated units during post-mobilization training at CAJMTC, IN in order to prepare them for operating in a COIN environment while executing their DMETL tasks in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She deployed with this unit in 2004 (OEF).
SSgt. Dove received three Army Achievement Medals while she was active duty before moving to Spartanburg once she was honorably discharged. She currently continues to serve as a fifth-grade school teacher and tutor, as well as a little cheer coach and a full-time mom of three children.
Thank you for your service, Staff Sergeant LaGinia Dove!
April 5, 2021
HM2 Ricky Holbert is our "Veteran of the Week."
HM2 Ricky Holbert is currently serving the United Stated Navy as the inspector-instructor Corpsman at Camp McCrady in Eastover, SC. His main job is to perform technical and administrative medical assistance to supporting the mission and functions of field units. His 8 years of honorable service has earned him awards such as the Navy Marine Achievement Medal 3rd award and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
HM2 has served at a number of reserve platforms including NOSC Atlanta, SEAL Team 18 and now 4th LAR F Co. He has earned warfare qualifications in expeditionary warfare and Fleet Marine Force warfare.
When HM2 is not at work he is enjoying his family, getting fitness session in, or studying for the next test or qualification. Although he loves his job he is thriving to commission as an officer and continue to serve.
Volunteer work includes over 150 hours in the toys for tots program, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and volunteering at food banks.
Thank you for your service, HM2 Holbert!
March 29, 2021
Candace M. Terry is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Candace Terry served in the Navy from 2002-2010 as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive. She worked as a Russian and Persian Farsi Crypto analyst serving at both Ft Meade, Md, and Ft Gordon Ga. After her service she attended both the University of Kentucky and University of South Carolina where she obtained her BA in Russian Studies and MSW respectively.
At both universities she served as the President of the local Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapters where she worked as an advocate for holistic services and supports for Veterans on the university campuses. During her time at the University of South Carolina she was recognized as one of the top student Veteran advocates across the nation when was selected to attend the Student Veterans of America Leadership Institute.
Prior to that she was selected to be a part of the women Veterans’ fellowship at Purdue University Campus, IUPUI, the Focus Forward Fellowship. Through her work at the University of South Carolina, Candace was able to cultivate the relationships and skillset for her next chapter as the Director of Governmental Affairs at the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs (SCDVA.) In this role she acts as the primary lobbying for the department advocating for policy change to positively impact the lives of Veterans in the state of South Carolina.
Thank you for your service, Candace!
March 22, 2021
Sandy Bostick is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Sandy Bostick was born June 8, 1974 in Winnsboro, South Carolina. She currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina. She is proud to have a 20-year-old daughter who is in her third year of college at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State College (NCA&T) in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Sandy enlisted in the Army National Guard in August 1994 as a Food Service Specialist (94B). After graduating from Basic Training, she completed Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in January 1995 at Fort Lee, Virginia. In December 1996, Bostick signed up for active duty and was Stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii in 1998, Fort Drum, New York in 2000 and finished her 11 ½ year time in service due to an injury in Iraq at Fort Polk, Louisiana in 2005. Sandy deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom I & II in April of 2003 and returned to Fort Polk, Louisiana 15 months later in July 2004.
Sandy’s awards and medals include the Army Commendation Medal, 5 Army Achievement Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Strayer University and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration.
When Sandy left the military after hurting my back in Iraq in 2005, she started working at South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce in 2005 as a work study. Then she was hired in February 2006. She has had many jobs working with people with unemployment, working with people with disabilities and her favorite job ever was with the Veteran’s Department to work with Veterans. Sandy’s passion has always been to help others. The title of a Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER) afforded her an opportunity to help Veterans in their transition from active duty to civilian life. She worked on Fort Jackson with soldiers who were exiting the military. Sandy then left South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce in August 2017 and began her new journey at South Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Claims Representative. The job allows her to make a difference in the lives of some many veterans by advocating in front of the Law Judge from Washington, DC.
Bostick volunteers a lot around the community to include her church, food banks, feeding the homeless and specialty walks to raise money for a particular cause, and has worked on and off as a Guardian Ad Litem. Sandy has always felt the need to advocate for people who cannot find their voice, especially children.
Thank you for your service, Sandy Bostick!
March 15, 2021
Destiny Marut is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Warrant Officer 1 Marut has served in the Army since 2013. She enlisted as a 25Q Multichannel System Operator/Maintainer where she reached the rank of Sergeant. In 2018 she commissioned as a Warrant Officer 1 and now is a 152H Apache Pilot. She currently lives in Columbia, S.C. and is stationed at McEntire JNGB with the 151st Aviation Regiment.
Destiny first deployed in 2016 as the J6-3 Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for Horn of Africa (HOA) out of Djibouti at Camp Lemonnier OEF in support of mission New Normal. That same year Marut first flew as a Specialist in Africa and fell in love with it. When she returned to the states in to 2017, she then began to pursue it. Among her awards and medals include the Army accommodation medal, Army achievement medal, and National Defense.
WO1 Marut also helped establish the Warrior Fit Program, A SCNG recruiting tool used to promote fitness throughout the state to eligible candidates from 2014-2016 and again in 2017 prior to commissioning. Destiny is currently the only fully qualified female Apache Warrant Officer in the state of South Carolina.
Thank you for your service, WO1 Destiny Marut!
March 8, 2021
Roland “Rocky” Gannon is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Rocky Gannon was born in Palermo, New Jersey and moved to Ocean City when he was seven years old. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and while he was a junior at Ocean City High School, Rocky enlisted in the Air Force at seventeen. He immediately entered pilot training. Shortly after his high school class graduated, Rocky became a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot. At age twenty he was flying the B-29 Super Fortress. For the next 37 years, he flew six-thousand hours in thirty-four different aircraft, from bombers to transports, from gliders to fighters. He has fifty military awards and decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, ten Air Medals, four Meritorious Service Medals and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm. He flew as a combat pilot in World War II, Korea, the Belgian Congo and 387 combat missions in Vietnam. After World War II, he served three years in the occupation of Iwo Jima and Japan. Fifteen of his thirty-seven years of active duty were served overseas.
Rocky is active in the community, serving on 11 boards and commissions. He is an Eagle Scout, recipient of the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award, the Rotary Four Way Test Award, and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001 he was named South Carolina Aviator of the Year and inducted into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame.
After his retirement from the Air Force in 1980, he became an International Aviation Consultant. Later he became the Executive Director of the Florence, South Carolina Regional Airport, retiring in 1993. He has been married to the former Roberta Gause for 56 years. They have three grown children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Thank you for your service LTC Rocky Gannon!
March 1, 2021
Captain Janay D. Morris is our "Veteran of the Week."
CPT Janay D. Morris (Retired) served in the US Army as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear, and Explosives Officer. She started her career as an enlisted Soldier and at her 10 year anniversary she was selected to commission as an officer. She has served as a Drill Sergeant, Platoon Leader, and retired as a Commanding officer. She has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Missouri Science and Technology and is getting ready to pursue her Doctorate in Business Administration.
The most significant moment in Morris’s military career was serving as a basic training Drill Sergeant. Despite all she has done, the most meaningful part of the job was being able to assist in training the Army’s future Soldiers. This position allowed her to shape the minds and bodies of individuals.
Morris's passion of helping others led her to pursue real estate. She currently lives Columbia, SC. where she works as a Realtor with David Lloyd Realty servicing NC, SC and Georgia. Morris is also a military relocation professional (MRP). She believes the Veterans are some of the most underserved in the market. She enjoys meeting people and watching them fall in love with the beautiful homes they purchase.
Thank you for service, CPT Janay D. Morris!
February 22, 2021
Staff Sergeant Louis Moore Jr. is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SSgt. Moore is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserves as a Light Armored Vehicle Crewman at Camp McCrady in Eastover, S.C. His ten faithful years of service he will tell you, “Is just the beginning.” He plans to do twenty plus years and retire in Lexington, S.C. where he lives with his family.
When not at drill, Moore is constantly doing volunteer work for local and national veteran nonprofits and takes great pride in serving the Veteran community throughout the Midlands. From Toys for Tots to Marine Corps mud runs and Veteran’s Day 5K’s he is always doing something with his family to show his support for those that have served before him.
SSgt. Moore is very proud to be an essential worker as a local truck driver. He also has the most pride in being a family man and the best dad to his two children as he can be. He loves setting a good example for his lifetime sweetheart, kids, and young Marines by always being motivated and leading from the front. Thank you for your service, SSgt. Louis Moore Jr!
February 16, 2021
Staff Sergeant Lawren Tucker is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SSgt. Tucker is currently serving in the Air Force Reserves as a Pharmacy Technician (4P0). She has been in the Air Force for more than seven years and is based out of the 413th ASTS, Robins AFB, GA. She has deployed with her unit to Guyana, South America, New Horizons (NH19).
SSgt. Tucker is from Columbia, S.C. where she worked at Prisma Health Children’s Pharmacy as a pharm tech for the past three years. Tucker also assists in the operation and facilitating of COVID-19 testing at the University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy. She is currently looking to commission in the Air Force as on officer. She has a B.S. in Biology from Francis Marion University and is getting ready to pursue her master’s in Public Health.
The most significant moment in Tucker’s military career was serving as a pharm tech in the New Horizons Exercise where she was able to utilize not only military, but civilian training to offer health services to patients in an impoverished community in a joint operation with her sister services (Army and Marines). She was also able to assist and assimilate other medical AFSC’s in their daily duties and operations. Thank you for your service, SSgt. Lawren Tucker!
Posted on February 8, 2021
Lieutenant Colonel Chaveso “Chevy” Cook is our Veteran of the Week.
Chaveso “Chevy” Cook is an active-duty Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. His career started in the historic 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. After selection and training for Army Special Operations, he transferred to Psychological Operations, continuing service at Fort Bragg. During his military career he’s deployed during “The Surge”, the “Arab Spring”, and the fight against ISIS in roles working with a wide variety of American embassies, local leaders, and non-governmental organizations, in addition to assisting/training foreign militaries, and serving multiple special operations task forces. These and other experiences span Iraq (x3), Qatar (x2), Niger, Jordan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and the United Arab Emirates. He has led small, specialized teams and large formations with a variety of both civilians and military, as well as a multitude of specialties and demographics. Chevy was also fortunate enough to be a psychology instructor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at United States Military Academy (USMA).
Chevy’s education includes USMA (B.S. Psychology), the University of Texas-El Paso (M.A. Leadership Development), and Columbia University (M.A. Organizational Psychology). He recently earned his Ph.D. at Tufts University where he focused his research on Human Development, particularly the formation of character. He has also earned a certificate in Community Leadership and Social Change from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice. Chevy’s professional memberships, some of which include the American Psychological Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Forbes Ignite, and his non-profit role as Executive Director of Military Mentors allow him to uniquely serve others outside of the uniform. He’s consulted for industry leading businesses as well as special mission units at the edge of high risk/high stress leadership. Chevy has guest spoken and been widely published on topics of character, leadership, organizational change, diversity/equity/inclusion, innovation, mentorship, social justice, and a multitude of other matters of personal and professional development.
Of his awards and instances of recognition, Chevy is most proud of his three Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medals for sustained community and organizational investment and the 2016 Secretary of the Army Diversity and Leadership Award, given to one Army leader yearly for commitment to equal opportunity practices, Army Values, and professional development.
Chevy and his wife Ashley are from Columbia, S.C. She is his high-school sweetheart, a personal trainer, and avid community supporter. Their most important triumphs are being together for over two decades and their beautiful daughters London and Lola.
Posted on February 1, 2021
Sergeant Major (Retired) Steven Noonan is our “Veteran of the Week.”
SGM Noonan enlisted in the United States Army in 1990 and spent more than 30 years on active duty until retiring in June of 2020. He now continues to serve those who have served as the Director of Training and Standardization for The South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In and out of uniform, he prides himself on taking care of Soldiers.
SGM Noonan has had several deployments throughout his career including multiple training deployments to Central America, Asia, and Europe. In 1990 he deployed to Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Steve also deployed to Joint Forge in 2002 and multiple tours to both Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
His awards and decorations include The Legion of Merit, The Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal and many more medals. He also has earned his Drill Sergeant Badge, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachute Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Air Assault Badge, and parachute badges from ten different countries.
Noonan says the three biggest things he got from the Army is that, “It’s not about me it’s about the team. Making your subordinates better and serving the nation.” Thank you for your service SGM Steven Noonan!
Posted on January 25, 2021
Colonel (Retired) Elisabeth (Liz) S. Litvin is our “Veteran of the Week.”
Col. Litvin received her commission in the U.S. Army in 1995 and retired in 2020, serving 26 years. After completing the Aviation Officer Basic Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama, as an AH-64 pilot, she reported to her first assignment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Liz transitioned to Adjutant General’s Corps in 1998 and served in various Human Resources and leadership positions in Korea, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Iraq, and Fort Bragg.
She served as the commander for 1st Battalion, United States Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) in Minneapolis, Minnesota where her units were responsible to process all enlistments for each branch of the Military across the upper Midwest. She completed a tour in the Pentagon in the Army G1, focusing on building Soldier readiness for the Army. Following War College at the Eisenhower School in 2016, Liz deployed to Afghanistan where she served as the Executive Officer to the Commander of the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Her final assignment was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State as the Human Resources executive agent and advisor to the Commander for the 40K+ Soldiers of America’s First Corps.
Liz is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Frostburg State University and a Master of Human Resource Management from Troy State University, as well as a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University’s Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.
Liz is one of South Carolina’s Ambassadors to the Military Women’s Memorial in Washington, DC. All Women Veterans are eligible to share their stories and she encourages them to visit the memorial at www.womensmemorial.org to learn more. Thank you for your service, Colonel Litvin!
Posted on January 19, 2021
Henry “Hank” Povinelli is our Veteran of the week. Staff Sergeant Povinelli served in the Army from 1967-1969 spending more than a year in Vietnam. He was stationed in Chicago and at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Since his honorable discharge, Povinelli has been a member of multiple VFW posts around the state of South Carolina and has been a major supporter of community service and advocacy for veterans and also volunteers with the AARP.
AARP South Carolina selected Povinelli for the 2020 Andrus Award for Community Service for his remarkable and dedicated support to the company’s vision and mission, which inspired other volunteers. Throughout his years as an AARP volunteer, Povinelli stuffed food bags for the hungry, helped veterans in need, given public presentations on AARP information and resources, moderated a gubernatorial candidate discussion, performed leadership roles at AARP on state and national levels, and much more.
Giving back after a successful career is laudable, but Povinelli’s service to others goes above and beyond. Like every year prior, in 2020, Hank gave ceaselessly of his time and talent to help improve the lives of others. He continued to give of his dedicated time even after receiving a cancer diagnosis and treatment during a pandemic that’s especially deadly to those with underlying health conditions.
Hank never let cancer slow him down. “I always try to stay positive and I don’t believe in looking backward. I want to make things better and get things done.”
Despite all he’s done, Povinelli says some of his most meaningful work has been done with veterans. As a Vietnam Veteran Povinelli is heavily involved in AARP’s work with veterans, especially homeless and at-risk veterans. Povinelli was instrumental in creating the national AARP Virtual Veterans Brigade, which helps disseminate available information, resources, and benefits to veterans and their families through social media channels. Thank you for your service, Hank!
Posted on January 11, 2021
Sarah E. Ziaja is our “Veteran of the Week.” Major Ziaja currently resides in Ladson, South Carolina as a Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) Guide.
Maj Ziaja entered the Air Force in May 2009 as a graduate of the University of Portland Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. At the University of Portland she earned a BS in Civil/Environmental Engineering and Minors in Theology and Environmental Science.
During Major Ziaja’s 8.5 years of service she supported two base infrastructures and assets totaling $12.1B and deployed three times. In 2012, Major Ziaja deployed with the Army as the lead engineer for Provincial Reconstruction Team Paktya, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). While there she also led the PRT’s Female Engagement Team and numerous key leadership engagements with government officials in order to revitalize and stabilize the local infrastructure.
From 2013 to 2015 she was selected for a special duty assignment with the Navy SEABEES where she deployed twice with them to Rota, Spain and Okinawa, Japan as a Company Commander in support of OEF and Major Combat Operations (MCO) response in the Pacific, European, African and Central Command Theaters.
After her assignment with the Navy SEABEEs she was stationed at Joint Base Charleston. There she was the Chief, Operations Engineering for the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron. She was responsible for twenty-one base operating support service contracts, the new resources and optimization section to include customer service, along with the material handling section that supports the entire squadron. During this time, she received medical treatments for the injuries she sustained in Afghanistan and unfortunately after 2 years of unsuccessful treatments she was medically retired.
Since being retired, she desired to continue to serve in some capacity so when she was afforded the opportunity join and work with the people who were bringing the Warrior PATHH to South Carolina it was the opportunity she had been waiting for. It has always been the people that have meant the most to her. It is an honor to her to be able to continue service to our military and utilize the experiences she’s gone through to help them through their healing process. Thank you for your service, Maj. Ziaja!
Posted on January 4, 2021
Melissa Wheeler is our Veteran of the Week! Senior Master Sergeant Melissa K. Wheeler is an intricate part of the 20th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. She proudly serves as a direct liaison between the wing commander and the following: Air Force, Air Combat Command, 9th Air Force, 4 groups, 18 squadrons, 22 tenant units, and 19 Wing Staff Agencies consisting of 8000 members.
Sergeant Wheeler was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 4, 1972. She attended Franklin Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, graduating in May 1990. A couple years after graduation, she enlisted in the Air Force in June 1992.
At Osan AB, Korea in 2000 she was awarded the NCO of the Year for 2000. After a 1-year tour in Korea, she was off to Ramstein AB, Germany. Sergeant Wheeler’s travel opportunity grew tremendously when she was assigned to the USAFE Inspector General. They inspected every base in Europe and traveled 300 out of 365 days of the year. She then was hired to be the Trip Coordinator for the USAFE Commander in 2003. After a year, she was ready to move on to the next challenge. Staying at Ramstein AB, she then took a job at USAFE Public Affairs as the NCOIC, Client Support Administrator. Her excellence continued as she garnered the Public Affairs NCO of the Year for 2004 and USAFE’s Volunteer of the Quarter in 2005.
Sergeant Wheeler deployed in 2006 to Phoenix Base in Baghdad Iraq where she served as the Protocol Officer for the Commanding General, Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq. This was her first joint assignment and where she learned to appreciate all branches of service.
After being overseas for 10 years, Wheeler was assigned to Shaw AFB, South Carolina. Sergeant Wheeler first started off assigned to the 20th Operations Support Squadron and served as the First Sergeant for all the Airmen in the 20th Operations Group to include the 3 fighter squadrons, 55 FS, 77 FS and 79 FS. She was the very first core First Sergeant for the Red Flag Exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada. She was so successful, ACC decided to benchmark her efforts and added a First Sergeant position for future Red Flag Exercises.
Sergeant Wheeler then moved to the 20th Security Forces Squadron in 2011 and deployed to an Undisclosed Location in Kuwait. In 2012, she was recognized for her exceptional leadership skills and was assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, the largest single-first sergeant unit in the wing. Her selfless dedication to duty and her commitment to her Airmen was once again recognized when she was named the 20th Fighter Wing’s First Sergeant of the Year for 2012. After a 20-month stint in Maintenance, Sergeant Wheeler moved to the 20th Communications Squadron for a couple months to help out until the inbound First Sergeant arrived. She then moved to the 20th Civil Engineering Squadron in 2014 and deployed to Al Udeid AB, Qatar prior to ending her 7-year run as a First Sergeant. In 2015, she returned to her original career field, and enjoyed her time in the 20th Fighter Wing’s Commander’s Action Group. Thank you for your service, SMG Wheeler!
December 29, 2020
Samuel Allmond is our “Veteran of the Week.” Colonel Allmond has served in the Army for 23 years as an intelligence officer.
Allmond's deployments include Iraq, Desert Shield and Desert Storm as well as twice to Korea. His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Service Commendation Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with three bronze service stars, Kuwaiti Liberation Medal, Global War on Terrorism, Korean Defense Service Medal, and three Overseas Service ribbons.
Allmond currently lives in South Carolina at the Army Central Command USARCENT as the Deputy G6 for Operations Division. Thank you for your service, COL Allmond!
December 21, 2020
Christine K. Rogers is our “Veteran of the Week.” First Sergeant Rogers spent 30 years in the Army, 22.5 on active duty.
Rogers deployments and awards include OIF (2004-2005), OEF (2013-2014). Detailed 1SG for 489th EN, Antiterrorism officer. Bronze Star, Army Commendation Award (5), numerous other awards and commendations.
Rogers currently lives in NE Columbia, SC but originally from Washington, Illinois. She graduated from Ashford University Magna Cum Laude with BA in Social and Criminal Justice. She was also inducted into the Veterans National Honors Society (Salute) and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Rogers would also like to note, “My greatest accomplishment in life has been to raise two beautiful and smart daughters.”
After retirement she joined Eglin, SC VFW 11079, now the Commander.
She is a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, chapter 34-1.
She is always searching for volunteer opportunities to fill her time and has signed up for Meals on Wheels. She believes our elders should always be cared for and looked after and it gives me honor to do this. She enjoys working with veterans at the BRBR (Big Red Barn Retreat) through being a peer to peer facilitator and help with the Warrior PATHH by assisting with preparing and serving meals to WP participants.
Thank you for your service, First Sergeant Rogers!
December 14, 2020
Bryan Hilferty is our “Veteran of the Week.” Hilferty served in the Army and retired in 2012 as an Infantry and Public Affairs Officer.
His tours and deployments include Desert Shield/Desert Storm, OEF 1, OEF 3, OSS. For his service, he received many notable awards, which include Legion of Merit (x2), Bronze Star (x3), Meritorious Service Medal (x6), Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Ranger, Airborne.
He began his notable career by attending basic training in Alabama and graduating Ranger School as the Distinguished Honor Graduate. He then spent 6 months in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait in Desert Shield/Storm as a Platoon leader in 5th Battalion, 18th Infantry. He also conducted thousands of news conferences and interviews in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2003-4 as Director of Communications and Spokesman for all coalition forces there, served in the Pentagon as spokesman for all Army personnel issues 2004-07, designed West Point's current logo, and initiated their new $20 million visitors center as Director of Communications in 2007-9. He ended his career as Director of Communications for the US Army Europe and finally US Army Central.
Hilferty currently lives in Sumter, South Carolina and is the Strategic Communications Advisor to the Commander, U.S. Army Central. He also serves on the boards of the Sumter Rotary Club, the Association of the U.S. Army Palmetto State Chapter, and Gateway to the Army, which is building Centennial Park at Fort Jackson. He is married with three children.
Thank you for your service!
Posted on December 7, 2020
Roxann Yarborough James is our "Veteran of the Week." She is a life member of the Disabled American Veterans, James D. Wessinger Chapter 19, Chester, SC where she serves as Adjutant and District 5 Commander. Her membership eligibility is based on her distinguished service in the USAF 1974-1979 and NCANG 1988-2002 where she was medically retired.
Mar 22, 1974 she left for basic training in Lackland AFB, TX; “3743 WAF Trng” Squadron, technical school in Biloxik then to HQ Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) as a Information Specialist. NCANG 1988-2002 Financial Services; Charlotte, NC. James deployed during Operations Readiness Exercises; ANG Top Dollar Contingency Training Exercise; Operation Northern Watch, Incirlik, Turkey Dec 1999. Her military associations include North Carolina National Guard Association(NCNGA), highest level obtained as Vice President; Enlisted Association of National Guard of US, (EANGUS) NC Chairman, Co-partnered the Women’s Leadership “lunch and learn” program and DAV Chapter 19.
Her medals include the Air Force Commendation Medal with the oak leaf cluster for meritorious service 1994-99. Thank you for your service, Roxann!
Posted on November 30, 2020
Daniel Hennigan is our "Veteran of The Week." Dan served in the Army and retired in 1984 as a commissioned officer career after serving in combat during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada and as a company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps.
Since retiring his service to the Palmetto State has had no limits, his dedication to serving those who have served is nothing short of admirable. Dan serves as the Co-chair for the Midlands Veterans Engagement Council and trusted advisor to the Columbia VA Health Care System Director, Dr. David Omura. Dan is an executive board member of The Celebrate Freedom Foundation providing educational outreach in a program that focuses on science and technology, engineering and math (STEM). Dan serves as an executive board member of the South Carolina Honor Flights for World War II veterans, Co-chair of the Friends of Fisher House Fundraising program, and vice president of corporate membership for the AUSA Fort Jackson chapter.
Dan was selected by the adjutant general in Army National Guard as volunteer of the year in 2013 for his selfless support of the South Carolina National Guard. Dan is the Founder of South Carolina Midlands First Responder's memorial and is also the founder of 9/11 Remembrance Foundation of South Carolina. He was inducted into the Fort Jackson Hall of Fame in 2016 three years after being named volunteer of the year by the adjutant general in Army National Guard as well as being named South Carolina National Guard state ambassador. Dan was recently recognized and awarded the SC Governor Order of the Palmetto Award on 9/11/2020.
Thank you for your continued inspiration and service, Daniel Hennigan.
Posted on November 23, 2020
First Lieutenant Benjamin Fowler is our “Veteran of the Week.” Fowler is currently in his eleventh year of service in the Marine Corps. He enlisted in August of 2010 as a F-18 engine mechanic and was stationed in Iwakuni, Japan and Beaufort South Carolina with multiple tours to Southeast Asia. In 2015 Sgt. Fowler went into the reserves to pursue a degree in exercise science and was an active member in the Student Veterans Association (SVA) at the University of South Carolina. Fowler started in the officer candidate program through the Columbia office in the spring of 2018 and commissioned as a Lieutenant in August. Currently Fowler is stationed with 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines and returned 2 months ago from a deployment in Norway as a Rifle Platoon Commander. Now he is transferring to be the Combined Anti-Armor Team (CAT) Commander at Camp Lejeune. Ben currently lives in Jacksonville, NC with his fiancé and is set to get married in January. Thank you for your service Lieutenant Fowler!
Posted on November 16, 2020
Corporal Kyle Carpenter is our veteran of the week. Carpenter is well known for being the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. His Medal of Honor citation reads, “...Without hesitation, and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast. When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine…”
Kyle Carpenter graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2017 and now is an accomplished author and motivational speaker. “You Are Worth It” is now on the Commandant’s reading list after it was published in 2019. Thank you for your service.
Posted on November 9, 2020
Lieutenant General Robert “Bob” Caslen Jr. is currently the University of South Carolina’s 29thPresident and former superintendent and president of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. LTG Caslen was recruited to play football for West Point and after graduation in 1975 he served 43 years in the Army, retiring in 2018. During that time, he went on seven tours and fighting in four wars; Gulf War, Kosovo War, Afghanistan War and Iraq War.
Caslen has served in many assignments; the Commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, KS, Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) and Commanding General of the Multi-National Division-North during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Commandant of Cadets for the U.S. Military Academy; Deputy Director for the War on Terrorism, J-5, The Joint Staff; Assistant Division Commander (maneuver), 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized); Chief of Staff, 10th Mountain Division (Light); and Chief of Staff, Combined Joint Task Force Mountain during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Caslen was Commander, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); Chief of Staff, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); Senior Brigade C2 Observer/Controller, Operations Group, Joint Readiness Training Center; Commander, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division (Light); Executive Officer to the Deputy Commander in Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy; J-3 in Honduras for Joint Task Force Bravo; Brigade Operations Officer, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); and Executive Officer, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and as the Chief of Office of Security Operation-Iraq.
LTG Caslen’s awards, medals, badges and tabs are as follows: Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Superior Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit with Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious, Service Medal with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, NATO Medal (Yugoslavia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Joint Meritorious Unit Award with 3, Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, NATO ISAF Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge.
LTG Caslen has been married to his wife, Shelly Caslen, for 42 years and have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren. A true American hero; Lieutenant General Caslen, Thank you for your service.
Posted on November 2, 2020
Sgt. Jared Evans is a Recon Marine, combat-action OIF veteran who served from September 25, 2004-September 25, 2009.
Jared was born and raised in the Midlands and a two-time graduate from the University of South Carolina. He currently serves as the Director of Military Engagement and Veteran Initiatives for the University. Jared says, “My commitment to serving those who serve has been my mindset and approach to life since enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2005…I have had the privilege of carrying that mission forward, since returning to Columbia.”
Among many accolades, Evans is a founding member of the Veterans Alumni Council, USC My Carolina Alumni Association, founding board member, SC Veterans Higher Education Group and the Co-Director of USC’s Veteran’s Day 5k. He also serves as a board member for the 9/11 Remembrance Foundation of South Carolina, Friends of Fisher House of Columbia, Military Veterans Engagement Council for Dorn VA Hospital and Stephen Siller Tunnel 2 Towers 5k Walk and Run.
Jared has been selected as an honoree for The State’s Top 20 Under 40 and the Columbia Business Monthly Best & Brightest 35 & Under. When Jared is not working or volunteering, he loves spending time with his beautiful wife, Leah, and being a girl dad to his three amazing daughters, Brinley, Marley and Sutton.
Thank you for your service Sgt. Jared Evans.
Posted on October 26, 2020
Sgt. Clarence E. Hammett, Sr served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War with the A Co. 23rd Inf. Reg. 2nd Inf. Div. He participated in several battles including Heart Break Ridge.
Hammett received many notable awards during his service. He was awarded a Bronze Star, Combat Medic Badge, Korean Service Medal with 2 stars, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense with one star for his service to our Nation.
Sgt. Hammett served as cadre at West Point after he returned from the war in the summer of 1953 before his discharge where he returned to his home in Blacksburg, SC. He is a resident of Cherokee County but now resides in the Veterans Nursing home in Anderson, SC.
Mr. Hammett has served in many different positions with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of SC and currently is the President of the residents committee of the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson, SC.
Mr. Hammett has great dedication to his fellow Veterans and his Nation.
Posted on October 19, 2020
TerryLynn Di Chiara has been serving veterans for the last 28 years and now works for South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs since its birth in July of 2019. She comes from a very dense family of military. Di Chiara’s parents are veterans as well as her late husband, brother and now son who is serving in the Marine Corps.
The veterans and staff of the state truly appreciate the hard work and dedication she has given every day for 28 years. She was surrounded by military growing up and recognizes the importance of giving back. She has taken that and molded it into making the lives of veterans better. Veterans of South Carolina have been lucky to have her as a loyal supporter for almost three decades.
She now lives in Irmo, South Carolina. She is a proud mother and grandmother.
Posted on October 12, 2020
Tori Evans served in the Army for two years, and now serves on the civilian side as a photojournalist.
While in service, Evans served at the home of the Big Red One at Fort Riley, Kansas and enjoyed being on the culinary team during her service time. Evans also spent time training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Evans awards in uniform include National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon. Her awards as a volunteer include Public Service Commendation Medal (2), Commander’s Award for Public Service, Certificate of Achievement from CIMT Commander for Volunteer Service, Certificate of Appreciation from CG of Fort Jackson for Volunteer Service, Helping Hand Award (FRAL), Marne Spirit Award (FSGA), Order of St. Joan D’Arc Medallion.
Evans now serves the Army on the civilian side as a photojournalist documenting basic combat training. She started her service in 2013 and has contributed to telling the Army story at Fort Stewart, Fort Rucker, Fort Bragg, and Fort Jackson.
She currently lives at Fort Jackson, SC with her husband and two daughters.
Posted on October 5, 2020
Mr. James L. Greene was born in Aug 1950 in Sumter, SC to Mr. Clarence Greene and his wife, Mrs. Catherine Benlow Greene. James lived and worked in Sumter until graduating from High School and moving to Philadelphia, PA before being drafted by the Army in 1968.
Upon completion of his basic and advanced training, James deployed to Vietnam as a member of the famed 187th Infantry Regiment “Rakkasans” of the 101st Airborne Division. While assigned to Delta Company, 3rd Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, James served eight months in Vietnam, culminating with his service as an M-60 Machine Gunner in the battle for Hamburger Hill where he was evacuated on the eighth day of the fight after sustaining critical injuries from an enemy hand grenade.
Upon his return from Vietnam and subsequent convalescence from the injuries he sustained in combat, James attended Columbia Business College in Columbia, SC and worked as a cameraman for the local educational network television station.
As with many Soldiers returning from Vietnam, James found himself at times struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with few places to turn for treatment. After leaving his beloved career in TV and working to find his life’s calling, James and his bride Juliet decided to open a restaurant where James would resurrect his love for creating Southern BBQ.
Over the years that followed, James and Juliet along with friends and family built by-hand, brick-by-brick Greene’s BBQ in Columbia, SC. Today James, Juliet and their friends who help run Greene’s BBQ are pillars of their community where on Thursday nights they can be seen feeding those in need, a famous meal from Greene’s BBQ.
James Greene is a shining example of Service to his Nation, to his family and to his community. He is an active member of his local VFW Post and American Legion and a member of the Rakkasan Veteran’s Association with whom he returned to Vietnam in 2019 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Hamburger Hill.
Posted on September 28, 2020
Stephanie Wright proudly served in the U.S. Navy. She completed her first tour at Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Guam, and then transferred to Naval Security Group Activity in Misawa, Japan. Her tours as an Information Warfare Officer included Navy Information Operations Command, Hawaii, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and U.S. Pacific Command. During these tours she served as the Intelligence Branch Chief on the first Cyber Support Element Team. Her final tour was with Navy Information Operation Command, Fort Gordon, Georgia where she retired.
For her notable contributions to the mission, she has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), Joint Service Achievement Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4).
Stephanie currently resides in North Augusta, South Carolina with her husband, also a U.S. Navy retiree, and her two sons. She is currently working for a notable law firm in Augusta, Georgia and is coordinating with local political leaders on Veteran mental health during transition from the military.
Posted on September 21, 2020
Cheryl L. Woodhouse is a native of Chicago and currently resides in Columbia, South Carolina. She served Basic Combat Training (A Co, 4th Bn. 1st Inf. Bde.), and Advanced Individual Training (D Co.11th Bn., 4th Inf. Bde.), both at Fort Jackson, SC. She was further assigned to Fort Story, in Virginia Beach, VA where she served as a 71L – Administrative Specialist with HHC, 11th Trans Bn. (Tml.). In pursuit of higher learning in her field, she was given a new duty as administrator of the Correctional Facility on Fort Story, VA which truly began her journey of having a massive heart to help Soldiers adapt and overcome to achieve success in the military.
After serving more than 30 years of military service at various stateside assignments, including overseas with temporary duty assignments in Germany, Australia, Italy, Spain, Paris, Amsterdam, and London; 1SG Cheryl Woodhouse toured the globe and left a mark of excellence along the way with many Soldiers and civilians she has worked with over the years. She was part of several organizational clubs and wears various medallions for excellence in Audie Murphy Club, Adjutant General Regimental Association (Bronze), to include the induction into the Order of Saint Maurice (Infantry School), by the Commandant of the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia.
Woodhouse is currently serving as the Public Affairs Specialist for the Columbia Recruiting Battalion at Fort Jackson. This current assignment allows her to connect with Soldiers and help in their mission to recruit the best prospects of future soldiers in today’s Army through various communications: TV, Radio, including social media.
Woodhouse has been married for 39 years to Earnest P. Woodhouse. Together they have two amazing sons: Montrel Woodhouse (graduate of Columbia State University – Masters in Communication) and Jarelle Woodhouse (former soldier/disabled Veteran and pursuing musical engineering). Woodhouse states, “we use the same values we both learned growing up in the military together, and instilled in our family teaching them integrity, values, self-less service, including knowing your worth and going after it without regret and knowing every mistake is a leap forward to greatness at some point.”
Posted on September 14, 2020
Few have personified "the few, the proud, the marines" as has Major James Capers, Jr. He participated in more than 50 missions in Vietnam and was a leader of "Team Broadminded." He repeatedly led his men in to and out of danger; he was always the last man to board the helicopter to safety. His men always came first.
Capers was born in Bishopville, South Carolina in the Jim Crow south. During the Vietnam War, just three generations removed from slavery. He became the first African-American to receive a battlefield commission as part of Marine Force Recon.
During his 22-years of service, Major Capers has been awarded the Silver Star; two Bronze Stars; and Combat V; four Purple Hearts; Vietnam Cross of Gallantry; a Joint Service Commendation Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; three Good Conduct Ribbons; Battle Stars; Navy Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; CG Certificate of Merit; and multiple letters of Merit, Appreciation, and Commendation. There is a push for him to be awarded the Medal of Honor, but it is unknown whether it will happen during the Major’s lifetime. Capers turned 83-years-old last month.
Major Capers was honored weeks ago by the Lee County Veterans Museum (South Carolina Cotton Museum) in his hometown of Bishopville.
We thank the Lee County Veterans’ Affairs Office and the Cotton Museum for sending us information to honor Mr. Capers for his service.
Posted on September 8, 2020
Ethan James has served proudly in the U.S. Marine Corps, and is currently the host of “The Soldier Salute” on 94.3 “The Dude” radio station that is played across the Midlands. The show honors military men and women across our state for their dedicated service.
James has had more than 50 distinguished guests on his show including President of The University of South Carolina, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Robert Caslen, Fort Jackson Commanding General, Brigadier General Milford Beagle, Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Major General (Ret.) William F. Grimsley and many other Purple Heart and combat Veterans across the state.
He is also a member of the American Infidels Veterans Motorcycle Club, dedicated to promoting the American way of life and supporting the local Veteran community through small community actions and large scale fundraisers benefiting Veteran non-profits of the Midlands.
Posted on August 31, 2020
Lamont “Chris” Christian proudly served in the U.S. Army for 32 years. He is a retired Post Command Sergeant Major (Fort Jackson).
Christian, who is from Elgin, South Carolina, is the recipient of many notable awards such as Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Star Medals, 5 Meritorious Service Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals, 4 Army Achievement Medals, 10 Good Conduct Medals, 2 National Defense Service Medals, and more.
Christian currently is leading the launch of the Warrior PATHH program in South Carolina at the Big Red Barn Retreat where he will serve as the Director. The Warrior PATHH (Progressive Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) program is the first ever privately funded program that facilitates and cultivates Posttraumatic Growth. It is his mission to change the narrative for Veterans, active duty service members and first responders in the state from one of PTSD and suicide to one of Posttraumatic Growth.
Known as Chris to those close to him, he has been the voice of the Gatorade Hard Work Commercial. He’s had the pleasure of escorting Michelle Obama throughout his training area and sharing his training philosophy as 2-39 Infantry Battalion Command Sergeant Major.
He is an avid supporter of community partnerships with the military by supporting various events like high school drills, ceremonies, parades, volunteer assistance events, and general military support when needed. He is most known for his untiring passion and mentorship of fellow leaders and subordinates in the pursuit of military excellence.
Posted on August 26, 2020
Brooks Herring served in the U.S. Navy as a Gunner’s Mate for six years, and as a U.S. Army Civilian for two years.
His tours and deployments include Hurricane Katrina Relief (2005), Iraq (OIF 2006-2007), Africa (OEF 2009-2010), Afghanistan (OEF, 2011-2013).
His awards include Joint Service Achievement and Navy Achievement (2).
Herring is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He is also a local musician playing all over South Carolina and the east coast. All the tips he receives he donates to the Friends of Fisher House. He is also set to marry Kristin Podrasky in October whom he met on deployment seven years ago. Podrasky, "Kik" is still serving in the Army and returned home safely from deployment in August.
After completing his Doctorate of Physical Therapy, Herring plans to return to the Army Reserves as a PT and running his self-made non-profit "Run Phase" that is created to treat veterans recovering from combat trauma.
Posted on August 17, 2020
Stanley Foreman served for 25 years in the United States Army as a Senior Logistics. He also served overseas tours in the Republic of Korea, Panama, and Germany. His final assignment in the Army was as the Installation Sergeant Major at Fort Bliss TX.
Foreman joined the Office of Executive Policy and Programs in 2012 and served as the Director for the Small Minority Business until 2016. He is presently the Director of Administration in the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In this assignment he is involved in advocating for the state's 420,000+ veterans in all matters that pertain to veterans.
He is married and has three daughters and his wife is also retired military.
Posted on August 10, 2020
Judy McWaters served in the U.S. Air Force and has served as the Chester County Veterans Affairs Officer for the past 41 years.
She helped found and form the South Carolina Association of County Veterans Affairs Officers in 1990 and also served as President of the Association.
Ms. McWaters is retiring from the Chester County Veterans Affairs Office in September of this year.
Posted on August 3, 2020
Michael “Mike” Dial is a Life Member of the Captain John P Monahan VFW Post 12136 in Indian Land, SC. His VFW membership eligibility is based on his distinguished US Naval service. At the age of 18, Mike voluntarily enlisted in the Navy as a designated Operational Specialist (OS). He completed Basic Recruit Training at Great Lakes and initial OS training at Dam Neck Virginia. Upon completion of this training phase he was assigned to shipboard duty assignments with various ships of the Pacific Fleet in San Diego, CA. He continued his duty assignment advancing in his professional and technical skills over the following sixteen years. He separated and retired from active Naval service as First-Class Petty Officer in the Fall of 1994 with several awards including Meritorious Unit Award, multiple Good Conducts awards, and Navy “E” and Sea Service Deployment Ribbons. After his service, he then returned to his South Carolina home in the Rock Hill area.
Dial utilized his Navy team building skills and experiences along with his entrepreneurial abilities to quickly establish himself in the local business community with the Food Service industry by opening several BBQ restaurants and a Catering/Food Truck operation. Over the next 25 years, he continued to grow his business operations and reputation. He has sold some restaurants in Tega Cay and Indian Land, but retains a 521 BBQ restaurant in Lancaster, SC. With his strong Christian convictions and moral character; he has worked with local Ministries to donate food items and meals specifically during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday periods to assist those less fortunate citizens of Lancaster County. He also donates his time in support of the local Veteran activities such as the Veterans Day Military Ball through his catering service and supports VFW Post 12136 with two of its annual Fund-raising events: The Veteran Golf Tournament and “Pig Pickin” BBQ in conjunction with Brews Tavern.
Mike Dial has devoted his time and skills to his family, county and the local citizens of Lancaster county making it a better place to live, work, and enjoy life’s finer moments. He is an inspiration to fellow Veterans and the local citizens with whom he comes into contact.
Posted on July 27, 2020
Millage D. Floyd Jr proudly served in the United States Navy during WWII, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Mr. Floyd, who is from Gaffney, South Carolina, is the recipient of the WWII Victory Medal, Asian-Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct 5th Award and many other awards while serving his country during three conflicts. He retired from the military in Norfolk, Virginia in 1967.
Mr. Floyd now resides in Cherokee County, South Carolina and recently celebrated his 95th birthday.
Posted on July 20, 2020
Samuel “Doc Matt” Matthews proudly served in the U.S. Navy. As a 24-year Veteran, he spent much of his military career as a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman, working alongside the Marine Corps’ Special Operations Tactical Groups in Afghanistan and Iraq (OIF-OEF 2004, 2013). He served as a Patient Admin Chief, a Drug and Alcohol Program Manager, a Medical Officer Recruiter, and a Casualty Assistant Officer for the Navy. He was also deployed to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope from 1993 – 1994.
For his military service to our Nation, Matthews’ most notable awards includes the United Nations Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, six Navy Achievement Medals, and five Navy Commendation Medals.
He currently lives in Goose Creek, South Carolina and works as a Voluntary Service Specialist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. This year, Matthews was named the recipient of the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC annual Experience Excellence Award for creating exemplary Veteran experiences.
Posted on July 13, 2020
Ernest “Rodney” Dixon served in the United States Marine Corps from 1964-2003. He served a tour in Vietnam as a tank crewman and was also in charge of the ordnance in the Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm. He retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant (E9) with numerous awards including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He lives in Moore, South Carolina and is a dedicated member of the VFW Post 9539.
Rodney demonstrates loyalty to the members of the VFW, community, family, friends, church, and those in need. He exemplifies the ability to recognize the needs of others and does not hesitate to fulfill those needs.
Just a few examples of his acts of kindness, Mr. Dixon purchased a vehicle for someone who could not afford a replacement car. He donates food to Veterans in need and the local homeless mission. He also repairs items inside and out at the VFW post 9539, and is always looking for the next person or organization to help.
Many of the projects he does at the VFW post are completed and no one ever knows who got the job done! He participates in fundraising events such as the annual Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston. He is well known in the community, and businesses by his generosity, and service to others.
Mr. Dixon does not seek recognition and does most of his acts of kindness and generosity confidentially. He is excellent representation of the Veteran of Foreign Wars and the genuine love he has for his fellow comrades, family, friends, and the community.
Posted on July 7, 2020
James “Jim” Aughtry, Jr served as a 1st Lieutenant in the tank company, 65th Infantry Regiment from 1952 to 1953 during the Korean War. Mr. Aughtry, who is from Gaffney, South Carolina is the recipient of the Silver Star for Gallantry in action in the vicinity of Kundong-Myon, Korea. He is also the recipient of the CIB, Korean Service Medal W/2 Bronze Stars, UN Medal, and National Defense Medal. Mr. Aughtry lives with his wife Margie of 74 years in Gaffney (Cherokee County).