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Veterans Day: Memorial will honor dead from Iraq and Afghan wars

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Darryl Hammond and fellow members of Murrells Inlet VFW Post 10420 are looking forward to Monday when a Veterans Day ceremony will be followed by the dedication of a monument honoring more than a hundred South Carolinians killed in the global war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

VFW members have been working on the monument project for two years. Brown Memorials of Florence was scheduled to erect the granite tablets this morning. A new flag pole will be installed beside the monument that will be visible from Highway 17.

“One of our members, Jack Novak, happened to mention that we’d lost so many soldiers from South Carolina in Iraq,” Hammond said. “He had a list of them and said, ‘Can you believe we’ve lost so many?’ Gee, I thought about it for a minute and said we need to build a memorial. Little did I know what that entailed.”

Hammond has campaigned for two years to raise the money for the monument by pulling a trailer with a model of the memorial to all sorts of events and fundraisers and asking for donations. It’s been an even bigger job to collect all the names. Hammond said those who died in hospitals of wounds were not always listed as battle casualties. “I just added one from Travelers Rest who was shot by a sniper and transferred to Walter Reed where he died,” Hammond said. “To my knowledge, this is the only monument in South Carolina with all the soldiers we lost.”

The stone will be pure black granite, he said, the same as the Vietnam Memorial. Names of 108 U.S. military personnel from South Carolina have been etched into the stone according to the year they perished — it begins with Desert Storm in 1991 and runs through this year — along with the flags of South Carolina and the United States of America.

“I feel like I know all these soldiers,” Hammond said.

The inscription says: “Remember me. Let us never forget these South Carolinians who gave their lives in the war against global terrorism. Dedicated 2013.”

Among those being honored will be one from Georgetown County, Carl L. Anderson Jr., a member of the U.S. Air Force who died in 2004. “He was a fine young man,” Hammond said.

The VFW Veterans Day service will begin at noon, an hour later than the traditional time to give other veterans an opportunity to attend. “We wanted people who went to the American Legion to come over here,” Hammond said. “Due to circumstances, we thought this would be an acceptable change. It’s going to be a beautiful memorial.”

There will be a variety of other Veterans Day events, beginning Friday with a luncheon at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet at 11 a.m.

The Georgetown County Veterans Affairs Office will conduct a ceremony for Korean War veterans and their families Friday from 11 a.m. to noon at 537 Lafayette Circle, Georgetown. Thirty veterans of the Korean War who responded to a request will be presented with certificates of appreciation from the Department of Defense. A proclamation from the governor will also be read.

On Monday, the Murrells Inlet American Legion Post 178 will conduct its ceremony at 11 a.m., and the annual Georgetown Veteran’s Day parade will begin at 4 p.m. traveling from East Bay Park to Wood Street.

American Legion Post 114 adjutant Marty Alfonsi and former vice commander of VFW Post 10420, Franklin McCray, want to recognize veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan along with all veterans at the parade.

Grand marshal will be Georgetown Fire Chief Joey Tanner.

Parade participants will assemble at East Bay Park at 3:30 p.m. All veterans who need transportation are asked to assemble at the front of the parade.

For more information, contact Richard Hathaway at 546-3765.

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