Saluting their service

Published 8:22 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2004

By By Chuck Bodiford
Sunday morning First Assembly of God presented their patriotic presentation which is an annual event for the church. The presentation was entitled "Celebration of Freedom, July 4, 1776-2004." It not only saluted or recognized people who had fought for America but those who are currently fighting.
Speaking to a packed house, Reverend Don W. Davis gave an introduction which spoke of the reason for being there and introduced the audience to some distinguished guests who were present. Before giving the presentation over to the choir, the mood was set as Davis said, "There has been a lot of blood shed for the flag and some of that is from our own family and friends."
The presentation was made up of Sara Davis and Doug Waters giving narration on our history as a nation. As they spoke at times a video was played overhead displaying themes associated with America, liberty and freedom. When Davis and Waters were not giving narration, singing and/or dramas where performed by the choir, soloist and drama team. About three quarters into the presentation awards were presented to family members or the actual person when available. Aviation Metal Smith 2nd Class William H.H. Corley, Tech Five Judge Billy G. Ward, 2nd Lt. Randall Albritton, SSG Jeffery Byrd, Specialist Jacob Maholovich, SSG Harold Martin, SSG Tony Wilson, and SSG Terry Spillman where all recognized for their contributions in previous wars or the work they are currently doing in Iraq.
This would not be the only recognition that Spillman received that morning. Mayor Howard Shell came to the podium with a plaque in hand. Shell reflected on dates that have affected us as Americans starting with July 4, 1776 and making his way to January 3, and 5, 2004, which was the sendoff weekend of our local national guard. A choked up Shell presented the "Key to the City" for the outstanding work that Spillman had accomplished in his 33 years with Company A of the 711th Signal Battalion.
Following Mayor Shell was Beverly Madison who introduced Col. Michael Kilcullen and Major Robert McVay Jr. who in turn presented SSG. Spillman with the special "Freedom Salute."
The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. The campaign is designed to publicly acknowledge Army Guard soldiers as well as those that have supported them during the recent Military Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
As part of the salute SSG. Spillman received an American Flag in a wooden case with an engraving that read, "This flag is presented to a true American Hero in recognition for your service and sacrifice in the cause of freedom. Your service will never be forgotten. From the grateful people of this nation." Next SSG. Spillman received a commemorative coin that has both sides mounted on the display case. The coin is given only to Guard members who have served in the special capacities we recognize today. The Defender of Freedom Certificate was then presented to SSG. Spillman followed by a poem that McVay read entitled, "I am the Guard." Following the reading of the poem, a set of lapel pins was presented for SSG. Spillman and his wife: one for the "Defender of Freedom" and one for the "National Guard Team."
After those items of recognition were given to SSG. Spillman, Major McVay had the opportunity to present Spillman with the Meritorious Service Medal for his service with Company A lasting over 33 years. Trying to hold back tears McVay read a letter from Lt. Col. Scott Gedling, Commander of Team 711th. The letter read as follows, "The 711th was truly honored by his service. We are extremely proud of his commitment to excellence and to every soldier here truly misses him as he is absolutely the finest example of selfless service and will always be a champion in spirit and vital member of Team 711th."

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