Lee Middle School honors veterans at ceremony
From Staff Reports
Lee Middle School held its annual Veterans’ Day program Nov. 2 in the school’s gym, where more than 50 veterans were honored by students, faculty and staff.
During the ceremony, Dr. Bob Heaberlin, Lee’s principal, spoke about the origin of Veterans Day and how it evolved. Heaberlin introduced each veteran by branch of service and read about the each veteran’s military career. Among those honored were:
• United States Marine Corps: Roy Stocking, Kevin Kibodeaux, Earl James Hanners IV, Shawn Stephens and Jeff Chaffin.
• United States Navy: Henry Dewberry, Samuel T. Towery III, Chad Williams, Ron Wilson, Yolanda McKoy, Edwin Bean, William Mullen and Nils Anderson.
• United States Army Air Corps and Air Force: Homer Terry, George Redmond, Michael Olive, Carl D. Wilson Jr., Robert L. Heaberlin, Brad Burkhalter, Kay W. Mack, Lisa Rand, Will Schwartzer, Kenneth L. Rand, Peter Minca, Russ Thomas, Troy Sperberg, Ronald B. Orr and Malcolm Jackson.
• United States Coast Guard: Mark Haldeman.
Maj. Joe Dumas (U.S. Army-Ret.) discussed the various types of military awards that are presented to members of the armed forces. These medals are given for gallantry, heroism, distinguished service, and meritorious service. The top 10 military awards in order of precedence are the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Several veterans in attendance had earned prestigious medals and were recognized by Maj. Dumas. One of the most highly decorated veterans was Col. Homer Terry (USAF-Ret.). Col. Terry was a fighter pilot in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross (two awards) and 11 Air Medals.
Maj. Dumas reminded the audience that Coweta County has two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: Major Stephen Pless, U.S. Marine Corps (1967) and Colonel Joe M. Jackson, U.S. Air Force (1968). Both men were awarded the medal for their gallantry and heroism in Vietnam.
Maj. Dumas is one of four Lee faculty members who also are military veterans. Others are U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 (Ret.) Jeff Bouchard; U.S. Army Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Kevin Wimbley and U.S. Air Force Sergeant Cindy Allen. Maj. Dumas received the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal (four awards) for his service in Asia while CWO4 Bouchard was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
Heaberlin recognized his father, U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant (Ret.) Robert L. Heaberlin, who served in Korea and Vietnam and received the Meritorious Service Medal as well as the Navy and Air Force Commendation Medals. Heaberlin also recognized his father-in-law, Bradley Burkhalter, a World War II U.S. Army Air Corps veteran. Lt. Burkhalter flew 35 combat missions on a B-17 (twice on D-Day) while earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and several combat air medals.
The award-winning Lee Middle School Chorus performed “God Bless America” and the Armed Forces Salute. Chorus director Bonnie Krider played the guitar as eight choral members sang the song “More than a Name on a Wall.” The song, which was written about the Vietnam Wall, was performed by Nikki Steingraber, Hannah McLay, Gracie Robbins, Courtney Copeland, Nele Langhof, Kayli Sample, Caitlyn McNut and Allison Haskell.
The Lee Middle School Band of Champions performed “Nation’s Prayer,” “America the Beautiful” and the National Anthem. The band is under the direction of Rusty Wilson. Laura Roden, president of the LMS National Junior Honor Society, led the veterans and student body in the Pledge of Allegiance. The East Coweta High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC presented the colors of the United States at the program.