State Veterans Facilities Plan Memorial Day Tributes

The William F. Green, the Bill Nichols, Floyd E. “Tut” Fann and the Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Homes and the Alabama State Veterans Cemetery are extending a public invitation to Memorial Day programs on Monday, May 28. These events will be a time to celebrate the men and women who have served our nation faithfully, and to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while standing on the front lines of freedom.

The W. F. Green ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. at 300 Faulkner Drive in Bay Minette. John D. Drinkard, the founder of Healing 4 Heroes, will deliver the keynote address. Healing 4 Heroes is a veteran owned and operated nonprofit that pairs veterans with dogs that have been rescued from high kill rate shelters throughout the southeast, giving both the veteran and the dog a second chance at life. The program also includes a rose ceremony for families of W. F. Green residents who passed away in 2017. The Armed Forces Honor Guard and Boy Scout Troop 78 will perform military honors with a rifle salute and folding of the American Flag. Music will be provided by the First Baptist Church of Bay Minette. State Rep. Randy Davis will render Taps to conclude the program.

The Bill Nichols home will host a joint program with Alexander City which begins at 10 a.m. at 1784 Elkahatchee Road in Alexander City. MSgt. Jessica DeNise Player, the commandant of the Enlisted Professional Military Education Instructor Course (EPMEIC) at Maxwell AFB-Gunter Annex, will provide the address. She leads a faculty of four in validating and delivering 20 days of education to newly selected EPME faculty members to support 80 schools. She also oversees the pre-service training for 120 EPME faculty members annually by developing policies and procedures that ensure Community College of the Air Force accreditation for the four-week course is maintained. The program will also include a rose ceremony for families of Bill Nichols residents who passed away in 2017.

The Tut Fann ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at 2701 Meridian Street in Huntsville. Maj. Gen. Neil Thurgood, the Director for Test at the Missile Defense Agency, will be the guest speaker. General Thurgood enlisted in the Army in April 1983 and was commissioned in 1986. He spent much of his career flying Chinooks and serving as an aviator with the 213th Combat Aviation Company, the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). The Col. Robert L. Howard events begin at 7 a.m. with a flag lowering ceremony at 7054 Veterans Parkway in Pell City. The program, featuring guest speaker Gary Horton, starts at 10 a.m. Horton joined the U. S. Army in 1972 and served with Colonel Howard in Vietnam with the elite Army Airborne Rangers. After leaving the service, he renewed his commitment to young people by dedicating his time and talents to creating American Freedom Assembly, which brings pride, hope and optimism to a generation in short supply.

The Alabama State Veterans Cemetery in Spanish Fort will host a ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Daphne High School Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps will present the colors, Trail Life Foley Troop AL-0169 will lead the pledge, and Ms. Monika Renee Cosson will sing the National Anthem. Sgt. Bill Bergman, Military Order of the Purple Heart command, will lay the wreath—a tradition honoring all U.S. service members who lost their lives in defense of the United States. Retired Army colonel Pat Downing will introduce Sergeant Major Bryan B. Battaglia, USMC (retired), who will deliver the keynote address. Battaglia is the former senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was the senior noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. The ceremony also features a flag folding ceremony, a dove release, and an Honor Guard salute.

Everyone is invited to attend these special remembrances.