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ILLUSTRATION: Orangeburg Veterans Memorial Park

Orangeburg Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated in 2009. The park is located on Riverside Drive across the street from the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce.

Area residents are encouraged to join the nation in saluting and remembering its fallen veterans at the annual Orangeburg Memorial Day Service at Veterans Memorial Park.

The program will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 26. Veterans Memorial Park is located on Riverside Drive across the street from the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce building. The rain location will be Council Chambers at the County Administrative building.

The featured speaker will be Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Louis Watson, who currently serves as the Battalion Recruiting Operation Officer for South Carolina State University's Army ROTC Program.

Watson's military schooling consists of Field Artillery Basic and Advance Course, the Combined Arms Staff Service School and the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

Watson has served in a number of capacities through the years, including as the Headquarters and Service Battery Commander for 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.

He transitioned briefly into the Inactive Ready Reserves in 1995 and then to the Active Army Reserves with assignments in North Charleston in the 1189th Transportation Terminal Brigade, where he served as a Vessel Chief.

He has combat tours in Iraq with Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In May 2012, he retired from the military with a total of 28 years.

Watson has received a number of awards and decorations 

As a civilian, Watson worked as an Assistant Distribution Manager for Orangeburg's Heilig-Meyers Furniture for about six years.

As part of the program, the family of the late Sgt. Thomas Grant, an Orangeburg native, will be presented the Prisoner of War medal.

Grant, while a corporal in the U.S. Army, was a POW of the Korean War.

He was later killed Dec. 8, 1967, while serving in the Vietnam War.

The program will also include an opening and closing prayer by the Rev. Wayne Manning of Branchville Christian Church, the National Anthem by Jimmy Loftis and the welcome by Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler. Loftis will also provide a patriotic music selection.

American Legion Post 4 will recognize the POWs and Missing in Action. The laying of the wreath will be done by the Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 2779 and 8166.

Taps will be played by Steve Jarvis.

The service is supported by a number of local veterans organizations and by the city of Orangeburg and the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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