During Sunday’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Greenup County War Memorial, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Terry Maggard shared the story of the first time he shared a beer with friends.
Maggard, a pilot whose father died in an airplane crash, said the year was 1956 and recalled being a little boy seeking a soda to fight the heat at an Air Force base in Arizona while his parents hosted a barbecue. His mother gave him permission to get a can from the refrigerator, he said.
“I went to the fridge and there was a whole bunch of different cans,” he said, explaining he grabbed one and took it outside where the other children were playing. Maggard said he took one drink and said, “Yuck!” before passing the can around to the other 4-year-olds in the yard. The next thing he knew, Maggard said he knew he was in big trouble when he heard his mom saying his name with a special tone reserved for bad behavior. His father, he said, came to him later and told him they had made a mistake and he had done nothing wrong.
Six months later, Maggard said a blue car with a white top pulled up to their home and two soldiers informed his mom his father had died in an aviation accident. Later, he recalled her tear-filled eyes, trembling lips and shaking hands as she told him, “Your dad is gone and you are the man of the house now.”
In the years since, Maggard said he has come to appreciate stories about his father as a young man in the Grahn community, hunting rabbits with a .22 rifle or fishing with his friends. He also remembered meeting a man whose life his father saved after he had accidentally been soaked with gasoline and caught on fire at a garage.
The annual Memorial Day celebration in Greenup County was focused on honoring the legacy of local veterans, with particular regard for those who died while serving their country and whose names have been carved into the massive monuments at the war memorial. State Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, read the poem “In Flanders Fields,” which was written by Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Maj. John McCrae during World War I.
Master of ceremonies James D. Timberlake acknowledged veterans present, including Vance Huston, who wore his U.S. Marine Corps dress blues to the event, as well as Tony Floyd of Greenup, an Air Force reservist who appeared to be the only active-duty military personnel in the crowd. Maggard also acknowledged those who continue to support veterans, recipients of the Purple Heart commendation and those who lost friends or family during active military service.
Maggard also introduced Greenup County’s surviving Medal of Honor recipient, Ernie West, who did not speak, but greeted many, including Russell High School AFJROTC cadets, after the ceremony.
Before concluding the ceremony, Timberlake issued an appeal for support from the podium and explained the community-supported war memorial along U.S. 23 is in need of funds to pay for paint and maintenance of some of the display machinery, including an airplane, a helicopter, a tank and a landing craft. Timberlake said the equipment has paint flaking off, with rust visible on metal components, which would not be acceptable when the war memorial board submits annual photos for inspection. Timberlake said members of Amvets 95 and Greenup VFW 1168 gave the renovation project an excellent start with generous contributions.
For more information about the memorial, call Timberlake at (606) 932-3239 or mail contributions to him at 2189 Flat Hollow Road, South Portsmouth, KY 41174.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.