Memorial Day remembered and honored in downtown Elizabethton

Published 12:48 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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By Larry N. Souders
Star Correspondent
On a dreary, overcast and cool Monday morning, Veterans and family members and friends gathered at the Carter County/Elizabethton Veterans War Memorial site on East Elk Avenue to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country.
The 11 am ceremony, attended by around a hundred community members, was opened by Bill Carter, the Veterans War Memorial Chairman and Walk Of Honor Committee. He welcomed each person who attended the commemoration and shared the morning’s program.
The Elizabethton High Schools NROTC members presented and raised the Stars and Stripes along with the POW/MIA flag. Reverend Raymond Amos offered the Invocation; Retired First Sergeant Andy Wetzel then led those attending in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Ms. Lorette Bowers then led the crowd singing a beautiful rendition of our Nation Anthem.
Army Captain Rick Walter (Ret.) shared the stories of several service members who have lost their lives and their family’s sacrifices in service to our country. He opened off with the stories of Angus N. MacLean and James Frost, who perished, along with 111 others, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa that was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1918 while on escort duty.
These two families have just received their Purple Hearts for their actions recently. This was due to a flaw in the awards criteria that didn’t permit Coast Guard veterans prior to World War II to receive these medals.
He next shared the story of Pascal Poolaw, a member of the Kiowa Nation, who joined the US Army in 1942. Poolaw saw action in Belgium, where he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star, but his story didn’t end there. He also fought for his country in the Korean War, receiving two more Silver Stars and a battlefield commission to lieutenant. He retired in 1962, only to reenlist a few years later after his three sons went off to fight in Vietnam. He resigned his commission so he could serve in combat as a senior NCO losing his life while attempting to pull a wounded soldier to safety during an ambush on November 7, 1967, during Operation Shenandoah II in Loc Ninh. He was posthumously awarded a fourth Silver Star and a third Purple Heart.
Walter’s closed his portion of the ceremony with a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, “ It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
Army Major Gregg Tester (Ret.) then presented the POW-MIA Remembrance Table Ceremony. This was followed by the reading of the names, via recording, of all 258 Carter County soldiers, sailors and Marines who have perished in combat from World War I until Enduring Freedom Campaign by members of the Boy Scouts of America Troop 516.
First Sergeant Andy Wetzel (Ret.) closed the ceremony by playing Taps.

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