Patriots Hall of Honor inducts new members

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By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

The Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association’s Hall of Honor luncheon was held on Wednesday, November 9 at Convention Hall. The association honored seven veterans for their sacrifice and dedication to the community.

Before the honorees were inducted into the Hall of Honor, the Gadsden City High School Jr. ROTC posted the colors and Jessica Collier sang the national anthem. Brother Earl Mitchell of Attalla First Baptist Church gave the invocation.

City of Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton then welcomed everyone to the ceremony.

“It’s an honor to welcome all of you here today,” said Guyton. “It just always makes me proud how patriotic Etowah County and all the municipalities in surrounding areas are.”

District 6 Etowah County Commission Chairman Tim Choate spoke after Guyton.

“It’s an honor to be here today on behalf of the county commission,” said Choate. “We want to thank the Patriot’s Association for what you do and what you stand for.”

Shane Ellison, filling in for planned master of ceremonies James “Rick” Vaughan, recognized the 2016 Hall of Honor inductees.

The posthumous inductees were recognized first, with family members accepting the plaque and medal on behalf of the deceased. 

Inductee Winston L. Williams of Fort Rucker served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. In 1954, he left the service, but joined the Army Reserves in 1986. He was the recipeint of the Bronze Star Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean Service Medal. After serving, he taught at Oxford High School until 1962, then worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Gadsden. He was active in his church and as a volunteer in senior and military support organizations.

Howard Allen Woodward, Jr. was inducted next. Woodward joined the Army, but was transferred to the Army Air Corps. He served and particpated in battles and campaigns all over the world. Woodward was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the European-Africa-Middle East Service Medal with two silver stars and one bronze star and the Distinguished Unit Ribbon. He was active in his church and community as a former member of Glencoe City Council and Glencoe Volunteer Fire Department.

After the posthumous inductees, World War II veteran Hubert Ryan Owen was inducted. During his service he lost several toes to gangrene. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the WWII American Campaign Medal, the WWII Victory Medal and the Bronze Star for meritorious service, ground combat and several more. He worked for the Birmingham News, both in his hometown of Birmingham and in Gadsden. He then worked in real estate. He was very active in the community with United Way, Salvation Army, The Lions Club and much more.

Hokes Bluff native Garry Dale Young was inducted. During his service in the Marine Corps, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Award. He worked at both Western Electric and Goodyear. Young is active in his community by volunteering, serving on boards and helping launch the Hokes Bluff City Fest.

James Edward McGriff, a Vietnam veteran that served in the Army, then the National Guard, was inducted. He was awarded the Expert Badge-Pistol 45, Expert Badge Rifle-M16, Air Medal-Republic of Vietnam, Army Commendation Medal and Republic of Vietnam Service Award. He worked at Goodyear and Gadsden Regional Medical Center. He is active in his community, especially in veterans affairs.

Gadsden native Robert Philip Sisson, Jr. was inducted. He is an Army Reserve veteran that fought in the Vietnam War. Sisson has been awarded the Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Honor Medal and more. He is very active in the community, especially the Kiwanis International Club. He also started a local flag display program.

Robert Larry Smith, who served with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, was inducted. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service medal, the Fleet Marine Force Combat Operations Insignia and the National Defense Service medal. He is active in his church and community, especially with veterans organizations.

Guest speaker Laverm “Bullet” Young addresed the crowd about peace, strength and making our country great.

“Peace is not something we take for granted,” said Young. “Make no mistake, peace is not free, nor is it an absolute condition. It comes with sacrifice, commitment and a steadfast determination to remain free.”

John Graham gave closing remarks followed by a moment of silence. Max Dover gave the benediction. Wayne Hammond ended the program by playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.

After the luncheon, a Veterans Day parade was held on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden.

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