Veterans are recognized for defending freedom in military
Subheadline: Brown, 99, among those honored
Orease Brown was presented a gift recently, but what he gave back to his country in the form of military service was the gift of freedom to all Americans.
Brown, 99, and a World War II veteran, was among seven veterans thanked for their service during a special ceremony Nov. 8 for the veterans who attend the Robertville Senior Center.
“Veterans Day is a way to tell our veterans thank you for all they did for us,” Ethel Best, site manager of the center said. “Mr. Brown is one of the few remaining World War II veterans in our nation and we wanted to take the time to thank him and all of our veterans at the center for all of their service to our country.”
Also recognized were U.S. Army Pernell Coger, James Snooks, Rose Hamilton, Jeanette Johnson, William Whitten and Paul Singleton. Each received a certificate of appreciation and a gift.
Brown, who lives in Tarboro, entered the Army in 1945 after being drafted. He was trained in the Infantry and was sent to Germany in 1946.
“I did guard duty during World War II,” Brown recalled. “It was dangerous but it was my job.”
While in Germany, Brown and one of the other soldiers who had been assigned to work with him, faced an enemy that could have been deadly, however, he and the soldier survived.
“We were in a foxhole and a bomb exploded in between the two of us,” he said. “We were jarred by the explosion. I was scared when it happened, we were lucky to still be alive.”
The blast caused Brown to suffer an injury to his left ear, an injury he deals with today, according to his son, Nathaniel Brown.
Following the ordeal, Nathaniel said his father was placed on rest and recuperation by the military for a year to recover. He returned to service on guard duty in Rome, Italy and Africa. He served a total of four years in the military.
Following his service, Brown returned home in 1945, attended agricultural school and married Annie Mae Appleton. The couple had Nathaniel and also five daughters, Elastein Stewart, Lovenia Pinckney, Doreatha Blassingame, Sarah Henderson and Authoree Simmons. Brown was a truck driver for Ardsley Construction in Savannah and retired in 1996. After retiring, he worked for John D. Carswell, who operated a transportation company.
Brown was thankful for the ceremony and those who recognized the veterans.
“I am good and I thank God for them,” he said.
Some of the other veterans shared their stories of how they entered the service and what the military meant to them.
James Snooks, 80, also of Tarboro, began his service in 1959 as a member of the U.S. Army Infantry. He was stationed in Germany and his primary responsibility was serving as a telephone operator for his platoon. While subject to being transferred into a war zone at any point during his service, Snooks said he was never given that assignment.
“I was drafted and spent 27 months in the service, and it was peaceful and quiet service,” Snooks said.
“I played an important part in communication during my service. I was very lucky to not have to go into war.”
Snooks said he appreciated those who recognized his service and offered advice to those who were currently serving.
“Keep prayed up,” he said. “You never know what you might face, be positive. You have an obligation to the country and we appreciate all of you.”
Pernell Coger, 82, of Pineland, served in the Korean War and was stationed near Seoul, Korea. He served as an amphibious truck driver (trucks capable of operating on land or in water). In his eight years of service, he was also stationed in Virginia and Alaska.
“I served in Alaska before it was a state,” Coger said. “I’m proud of what I did and happy to be of service to our country. Every young man and woman should spend six months in the military and experience it so they can see what freedom means.”
Jeanette Scott Johnson, a resident of Robertville, served as a Food Service Specialist Inspector and was stationed in Fort McClellan in Alabama and Fort Gordon in Georgia, inspecting the kitchens on the bases.
“I signed up in 1977 for four years,” she said. “I wanted to have a better life for me and my children, a life they would be proud of and a life I could be proud of. I was certainly glad to serve my country, it was an honor.”
Johnson said she also served in Maryland, later was supposed to go to Fort Jackson, but instead was sent orders to serve in Alabama.
“I was set to go to Fort Jackson and the papers said I was headed to Alabama,” she said. “You have to go where you are assigned, so that’s where I went. I was proud to have a job that was very important to the military, making sure the bases had good kitchens.”
She said she felt as though it was a privilege to sit in the company of the other veterans who served before she enlisted.
“I see my senior vets and it’s an honor and privilege to know I am trying to walk in their footsteps,” she said. “I love God, my country and my family.”
Paul Singleton, 74, of Pineland, enlisted in 1964 and served as a finance clerk for three years. He was stationed in Germany for two years.
While he did not serve directly in the Vietnam War, Singleton said the war was not discussed that much but he did think about it.
“There were some very tense times, we could have been called to serve at any time in Vietnam and every day you were waiting on that call,” he said. “I thought about having to go to Vietnam. I knew someone who lost his life there and kept thinking that it could have just as easily been me.”
While serving in Germany, Singleton had the opportunity to visit areas such as Holland and Denmark. He said he was thankful to have had that experience.
“We were welcomed very well there,” he said. “We were treated good and the people there accepted us very well; that was different from what we saw when we came home. Some of the soldiers made Holland and Denmark their homes. The people there appreciated what we did for them.”
Singleton said he recommended those who wanted to serve in the military to pursue their dreams.
“It was a good opportunity,” he said. “I received a lot of education there and good training.”
The ceremony featured several speakers. Those coordinating the program wished to thank those who helped with the event, including Hardeeville Police Chief Sam Woodward and Rhonda Cradle, Margaret Bostick, Tamika Bailey, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Bostick Funeral Home, Benjamin and Derrick, Marlene Bostick Smith, Audrey Brown and Deloris Orr.