They are ordinary men and women who happen to be American heroes. They are our family members, friends and neighbors.
Their powerful stories of courage, sacrifice, allegiance, heroism and determination graced the pages of The Times and Democrat during a 14-week Stories of Honor series from the end of May through August.
On Wednesday, the veterans were all recognized and honored at the South Carolina State University Fine Arts Center.
"The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten," T&D Publisher Cathy Hughes, quoting President Calvin Coolidge, told the veterans, their families and community members gathered at the ceremony. "We are not forgetting our veterans here in our community."
The T&D series Stories of Honor began May 26 and concluded Aug. 25 with a special section bringing together the stories of the men who having served our country in the armed forces.
Each Sunday’s Magazine featured an honoree with a special section that included the stories of two more honorees, both generals who graduated from South Carolina State University and its celebrated ROTC program.
The honorees were selected from nominations by T&D readers.
S.C. State was the presenting sponsor of the Stories of Honor series, for which Fogle’s Piggly Wiggly and Orangeburg County were title sponsors.
Supporting sponsors were Jimmy Jones Toyota of Orangeburg, Planet Fitness, the City of Orangeburg, Department of Public Utilities, Bill Connor Law Firm, Grubbs Furniture, The Garden Gate Florist and C&M Enterprises.
The series can be reviewed in its entirety at TheTandD.com.
As part of the ceremony, each honoree received a framed copy of the article as it appeared in T&D. Hughes also read a portion of each veteran's story and a brief video clip was shown highlighting each veteran's story.
Family members of the the veterans were also recognized for their support and sacrifices.
Those veterans in attendance were also provided an opportunity to share a few words, with many of them expressing appreciation for the recognition as well as remembering their veteran colleagues who were not able to be in attendance.
"It means the world and all to me," Vietnam veteran the Rev. Wallace Gleaton said. "I have always told people that we didn't really get recognized ... when I came back from Vietnam. Every chance I get to be among people and celebrate things like this, it is a therapy for me."
Gleaton praised the support of his wife and children.
"It is outstanding, it is outstanding," he said.
Retired U.S. Army Vietnam Col. Jackie Fogle said veterans should all be honored.
"Overall, I don't think veterans are probably given the recognition for the service they have done, but I think that is improving," Fogle said. "It is better now than it used to be."
S.C. State President James Clark said the university has always had great respect for the military and through its ROTC program has formed men and women to be prepared to give of themselves in service to country and fellowman.
"We not only understand but appreciate what you do and what you have done and what you will continue to do," Clark said. "For that I would like to say 'thank you.' Thank you for your service, thank you for your commitment to this country, thank you for your commitment to your fellow neighbors and to mankind in general."
Clark said personally he appreciates veterans due to his service on the Experimental Aircraft Association board. Clark said the group comes together annually and honors war pilots. He invited all the veterans in attendance to be his guests at the event next summer.
Clark's oldest brother was a Korean War veteran, and he remembers stories of war and how Korea was "the coldest place in the world."
"These gentlemen committed themselves to something greater than them," S.C. State Professor of Military Science and department chair for the Bulldog Army ROTC Battalion Lt. Col. Rodlin Doyle said. "Whether it be peacetime, war or whether they were drafted or volunteered, they all took roughly the same eight-word oath that said they would defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic."
Doyle said the "warrior spirit" imbues and connects all the veterans present and their "willingness to sacrifice one's life for their country."
"These gentlemen are exemplars in deserving of this great honor," Doyle said. "Greater love has no one than this to lay down one's life for one's friend."
S.C. State's dining services Sodexo helped to cater the reception.
Here is a look at the veteran honorees:
- Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and Korean War Purple Heart recipient George B. Price
Price served in the Korean War in 1952 with Company L., 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. He served in west central Korea at the Battle of Old Baldy.
There he was wounded when a fragment hit his upper right leg and thigh, striking his saphenous nerve.
After Korea, Price served in Vietnam from 1963-64 as an adviser to the regiment commander of the Third Regiment, First Infantry Division.
After various military assignments around the globe, he was promoted to brigadier general, where he was assigned as the assistant division commander, 1st Armored Division.
Price was the first graduate of S.C. State’s ROTC program to be promoted to general.
- U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty
Twitty, 56, has been on five combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait and has served in 174 countries.
The three-star general is a 1985 graduate of South Carolina State University and one of 22 generals to come out of the institution's Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Twitty obtained the rank of three-star general in 2016. He is one of three from S.C. State to obtain the rank.
Twitty currently serves as the deputy commander for the U.S. Army European Command, where he runs the day-to-day operations in the European Theater that consists of 51 countries.
Twitty was selected as a 2004 S.C. State Distinguished Alumni and inducted into the S.C. State University Army ROTC Hall of Fame in 2009. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the nation's third highest award for valor, for his gallantry in combat in Iraq in 2003.
Twitty was inducted into the U.S. Army ROTC Hall of Fame in 2018.
- Vietnam veteran and retired U.S. Army Col. Dr. Brian Chermol
Chermol joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17 and enlisted in Special Forces.
He attended Infantry Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He also attended Airborne (Paratroop) School and Ranger (Commando) School.
Lt. Chermol was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Chermol was the youngest commissioned officer since World War II.
Chermol saw action in the Dominican Republic, South Vietnam, El Salvador and Afghanistan.
During his tour in Vietnam, Chermol received the Bronze Star for valor for returning to an open rice paddy to defend a wounded non-commissioned officer adviser from a Viet Cong assault.
Chermol received the Silver Star while serving as company commander in South Vietnam. He also receive South Vietnam's highest award for valor.
Upon his retirement after over 30 years of service, Chermol became a mental health consultant at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg. He retired from RMC in 2001.
- U.S. Army World War II Capt. Herbert Smith West Sr.
West, a Bamberg resident, served as a U.S. Army captain in World War II in the 77th Infantry.
He received awards for his bravery, including the Silver Star when he single-handedly took out two machine-gun nests that had the platoon under his command pinned down during their invasion of Leyte Island.
West received a Bronze Star for meritorious service and leadership during preparation to invade mainland Japan and the Battle of Okinawa.
West attended Clemson University from 1946 to 1950 under the G.I. Bill and earned a degree in textiles, an industry he worked in until he retired in Bamberg, where he has lived since 1964.
- Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Major Marion E. Mack
Marion Mack was an serviceman with the 43rd Field Artillery out of Fort Jackson in Columbia from 1951 to 1954 before serving in the U.S. Army Reserve for 31 years.
During his time at Fort Jackson, Marion taught everything from senior communication and map reading to health and drill and ceremony.
He stayed for approximately a 1-1/2 years at Fort Jackson, where he also served as the driver for the colonel who was in charge of the S3 Training Section.
Marion served in Germany after World War II, where he learned about the goodness of humanity.
Upon returning to the States, Marion went Claflin, where he learned the carpentry trade. Marion ended up owning his own business, M&M Builders.
Marion is a former member of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, where he served as chairman of the building committee and was instrumental in the development of the Leadership Orangeburg initiative. He presently serves on the Appeals Committee for the city and county of Orangeburg.
Marion’s military awards include: Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Military Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and Occupation of Germany Medal.
- U.S. Army Major Hercules Mack
The Bowman native graduated from Benedict College in Columbia, where he joined the ROTC program and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in 1983.
He served in Operation Desert Storm during his military career and also traveled to Germany and France as part of his service.
Mack was a combat engineer and performed a variety of construction and demolition tasks, including building bridges under combat conditions.
Mack's military career spanned from 1983 to 1993, the last two years of which he served in the U.S. Army Reserves. He was an active duty serviceman as a member of the 5th Engineering Battalion out of Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Currently, Mack is the director of the Orangeburg Area Development Center, where he manages a child development program, after-school program and a recreational program for Orangeburg County.
Mack's military awards include: Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal.
- North resident and Vietnam U.S. Army veteran the Rev. Wallace Gleaton
The 71-year-old Gleaton served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1969.
Gleaton was transported to Fort Jackson in Columbia and then was transferred to Fort Polk in Louisiana for training.
He then went to California and in May 1968 was sent to Long Binh in the southeast region of Vietnam as part of the U.S. Army's 378 Maintenance Support Group. The group supplied the U.S. Army's infantry and other units in the field.
Following his tour of duty in Vietnam, Gleaton was sent back to the States in 1969, where he served out the remainder of his military service at Fort Carson in Colorado with an artillery unit.
After Fort Carson, Gleaton joined the 360th Reserve Center in Columbia with the U.S. Army Reserve. He was there for approximately three years.
There he helped work on logistics and maintenance equipment and other machinery before being discharged as a specialist E-5.
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Gleaton currently serves as the commander of the S.C. Veterans Group of North.
- U.S. Army Vietnam veteran infantryman Jerry Sims
Sims was drafted into the Army in 1966.
He took basic and advanced training at Fort Jackson before shipping out to Vietnam in March 1967.
Sims stayed in Vietnam for nearly 10 months in the 1st Cavalry. Sims was hit by a Claymore mine in a firefight and had to be medevaced out.
He was sent to a field-based hospital in Quin Yon, then to Japan.
From Japan, he was sent to a naval hospital in Virginia. He stayed about three or four days before being sent to the hospital at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He stayed there for about three months.
Sims was discharged in 1968 and went on to work as an automotive mechanic for about 35 years.
Sims is now a volunteer at the Orangeburg VA Medical Clinic, working three days a week, four hours a day.
Sims received the Purple Heart for his service.
- U.S. Army Sergeant E5 Roy Chandler
Chandler joined the U.S. Army in 1950 and went to Fort Jackson for basic training and schooling.
He went on to enter the South Carolina National Guard 118th Infantry Regiment 51st Infantry Division as a company clerk.
Chandler's work as a company clerk as well as his other duties and skills saw him promoted to Sergeant E5.
Chandler was later transferred to a National Guard rifle company unit in Orangeburg in 1956 before bring transferred to a rifle company unit in the Wichita, Kansas, National Guard. In both units, he continued to serve as company clerk.
Chandler became an expert with the M1 rifle, the carbine rifle and the .45-caliber pistol.
In 1958, Sgt. Chandler resigned from the U.S. Army after serving 7-1/2 years in an effort to continue his services in the retail service sector as a member of S.H. Kress Co.
Chandler had quite a career in retail, purchasing Orangeburg's Ferse 5&10 at the end of his career. He owned the store through the spring of 2016.
- Korean War veteran Wallace W. Smith
Smith entered into the U.S. Army, where he stayed for three years before joining the U.S. Air Force for the next nearly 19 years.
He performed his basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia before heading to Fort Lee in Virginia, where he received his advanced individual training. His next stop was Korea as an infantryman.
He was honorably discharged from the Army on Aug. 26, 1957, and soon joined the Air Force in November 1957. Smith was honorably discharged from the Air Force as an E-6 technical sergeant
While part of the 7272nd Air Police Squadron at Wheelus Air Base, he was an administrative specialist whose duties included serving as a vehicle registration clerk.
While in Libya, Smith served as an administrative clerk in the law enforcement and security division. He also served as chief clerk as part of the 635th Civil Engineering Squadron while at U-Tapao Airfield in Thailand, where he maintained squadron security files and forms.
He earned two Air Force Commendation Medals as part of his military service, including for serving as head of administrative section while assigned to the 37th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia from Oct. 15, 1968, to May 29, 1972.
- World War II U.S. Army veteran Charles Leonard Shuler Sr.
Shuler, a 93-year-old resident of Orangeburg County’s Providence community, entered the U.S. Army on Oct. 4, 1944, and was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant on Aug. 6, 1946.
He served with the Anti-Tank Company, 222nd Infantry Regiment, 42nd Rainbow Division in Austria for 17 months. He was in combat for three months. As an automotive mechanic, he also supervised and assisted four enlisted personnel and two civilians in the repair and maintenance of 18 vehicles.
His awards include a Good Conduct Medal, a World War II Victory Medal, an Army Occupation Medal ETO (European Theater of Operations) and a European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with two bronze stars.
- Retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Yeoman Richard Murrey Brownell
Brownell enlisted in the U.S. Navy on March 28, 1948, at Santa Rosa, California, and was stationed with the U.S. Naval Reserve at Treasure Island in California.
Brownell saw his first taste of war on the USS Gunston Hall (LSD-5).
In September 1950, the ship sailed from Japan to participate in the amphibious operation at Inchon, Korea.
Following the Korean War, Brownell joined the Naval Beach Group One unit and then on the staff of the United States Fleet Activities in Yokosuka, Japan. The base served as a significant naval ship repair facility in the area.
From March 1966 through June 1970, Brownell was a member of the United States Naval Construction Battalions -- Mobile Construction Battalion Three and Mobile Construction Battalion Four. The battalions are better known as the Seabees.
Brownell retired from the U.S. Navy in July 1978 but remained with the U.S. Navy for another decade as the housing manager for the Housing Department of the Navy Public Works Center in San Francisco Bay.
Over his long and illustrious military career, he has received a number of awards and citations including: the Navy Achievement medal; the Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star; the Navy Unit Commendation with three bronze stars; Meritorious Unit Commendation; National Defense Service medal with one bronze star; Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars and Fleet Marine Force Combat Insignia, Vietnam Service Medal with one silver star; and Fleet Marine Force Combat and others.
- U.S.Marine Corps veteran Kurtis Yarbrough
Yarbrough entered the Marine Corps in 1990.
After graduating from recruit training at Parris Island, Yarbrough went to Meridian, Mississippi, where he received training in aviation operations at his Military Occupational School.
During his military career, Yarbrough was first stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina, where he was working in the headquarters squadron for three years.
Throughout that time, he had various temporary active duty locations, including trips to Norway and Puerto Rico.
Yarbrough was stationed in Japan and California. During his career, he served with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Most of his time in the Marine Corps was in training, where he was responsible for administering physical fitness tests and keeping records.
His last duty station was as a Marine recruiter in Orangeburg from 1998 to 2001.
Yarbrough ended his military career a day before the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, when the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda launched a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States.
He is now a sixth-grade social studies teacher at William J. Clark Middle School and serves as a basketball coach at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
- U.S. Army Veteran Gene Gartman Sr.
Korean War veteran Gene Gartman Sr. served as a quartermaster and infantryman during the Korean War, but also served in the graves and registration unit.
Gartman Sr. entered the U.S. Army in 1945.
Gartman was assigned to the 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1951.
Gartman is the recipient of several awards, including the Combat Infantryman Badge; Distinguished Unit Citation; Army Good Conduct Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation and Navy Occupation Service Medal, Word War II; Korean Service Medal with four bronze service stars; and the United Nations Service Medal.
- U.S. Army Veteran Gene Gartman Jr.
Gartman Jr., 53, was in the U.S. Army for 20 years, having served as a traffic management coordinator.
Gartman Jr. served in Haiti, as part of the 7th Transportation Corps out of Fort Eustis Virginia on a peacekeeping mission, where he received an Expeditionary Medal. Gartman Jr. also went on a peacekeeping mission as part of KFOR, or Kosovo Forces.
Gartman Jr. has had a long career in public service, serving in management positions for health care staffing agencies and working with several disabled veterans outreach programs.
- World War II U.S. Navy veteran Henry Bozard
Bozard served in the European Theater in World War II with the U.S. Navy Seabees, 69th Construction Battalion.
Bozard received his training in Norfolk, Virginia, before being shipped out of New York for Exeter, England, about 80 miles south of London.
Bozard served in England, Scotland and France. He was at Omaha Beach, Cherbourg and Paris before returning to England, where he was then sent to Belgium, Holland and Germany. He served from March 1943 to Nov. 25, 1945.
- World War II U.S. Army veteran Dan Wannamaker
Wannamaker was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1943 and went to Fort Bragg. He later joined the 784th Tank Battalion at Fort Hood in Texas. The battalion was one of the Army's segregated combat tank battalions during the war.
After being transferred from Fort Hood to Camp Swift, Wannamaker found out that his previous battalion at Fort Hood was deployed overseas. Wannamaker never saw combat.
Wannamaker's military service ended and he was called back to South Carolina on July 22, 1944.
- Retired United States Army Vietnam Col. Jackie Fogle
Fogle served with the U.S. Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968.
Fogle's primary mission was training the Mountain Yard and the South Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Group, CIDG, on American tactics and strategy to fight.
Fogle came back to South Carolina after serving with the Green Berets and went to the University of South Carolina, later joining the S.C. National Guard, where he served as a second lieutenant for about 10 years. He later went back on Active Guard Reserve.
He retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel in July 1998.
He came back to South Carolina to serve as director of the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy, a military school for at-risk teens.
He is presently serving on the Orangeburg County Transportation Committee and the Orangeburg County Soil and Water Board. He is a member of the VFW, American Legion and Livingston United Methodist Church.
- Surprise honoree
In a surprise gesture, The T&D also recognized staff member Larry Hardy. Hardy served on active duty as a specialist with the U.S. Army Reserve 40th Transportation Company during 2003. During his deployment to Iraq, Hardy filed periodic reports from the field and shared his stories with readers of The T&D.
Excerpts of some of Hardy's letters from the battle field were read.
- Veteran event
All veterans, active duty members of the armed forces and their loved ones are welcome to attend the eighth annual Veterans Appreciation Luncheon on Saturday, Nov. 2.
The annual luncheon will be held at at 11 a.m at the National Guard Armory located on Stonewall Jackson Blvd. The event is held in honor of Spc. Darius Jennings, who was killed in Iraq 16 years ago.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.