Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 2, 2013

Military groups form alliance

Eastern Kentucky Military Historical Society and First Friday veterans find common ground, but do not merge

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — In the end, everyone agreed they would be better off as good friends.

Jim Fields and Wayne Davison, organizers of the monthly First Friday veterans’ coffee gatherings at The Lamp Post Cafe in downtown Ashland, met with board members of the recently formed Eastern Kentucky Military Historical Society in the basement at Highlands Museum and Discovery Center to determine if the groups had enough common ground to consider some sort of a partnership.

“We had 24 vets at our last meeting,” Davison reported, noting the informal group has thus far been based on camaraderie and fellowship, with no formal programs or events. Along with fellow organizer Jim Fields, Davison said, “We are not sure where we’re going,” and noted they recently became aware of another informal group of veterans who meet at Olive Hill’s Dairy Queen and hope to reach out to them as well. “I know we like the fellowship ... the camaraderie.”

Fields said the group recently distributed information about the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North East, as well as contact information for Veterans Administration issues. “We encourage everyone to be registered with the VA even if they have no intent of using them for anything,” Fields said, before adding the informal group may divide up into smaller teams to form “a system to check on” one another while also working to learn more about the individual stories of participants.

“We need to work on World War II and then start on the Korean War,” he said before noting interest in personal tales of life in the military, such as Davison’s years of service aboard submarines, as well as “those who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes and things like that.”

In turn, members of the military historical society explained their goals as well as the organization’s origins as a military roundtable group. While the two organizations objectives and missions fit nicely together, everyone seemed to agree the groups should each remain under its own umbrella.

“We will be semi-partnering with the group at the Lamp Post Cafe. We decided this would be better than trying to merge the two groups as most felt our goals were mainly different,” said EKMHS chairman Matt Potter.

Spokesmen for each group agreed there is at least one goal the two groups should be able to combine forces for, and before adjourning last week, agreed to investigate the cost for a charter bus to Dayton for a tour of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Group members agreed September would be a good month for the journey to Dayton, although EKMHS board member Bill Martin will report back to the group with details during a future meeting.

The informal veterans’ group will meet at 9 a.m. Friday, with many members planning to arrive by 8:30 a.m., at The Lamp Post Cafe. For more information, call (606) 325-5283.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.