Heroes in Northeast Arkansas

Veterans are a reminder that the freedoms many Americans take for granted are not without sacrifice. Right here in Northeast Arkansas we have brave men and women who have put their lives on hold, and many times their lives on the line, so other Americans can be free.

Some veterans flew helicopters over Vietnam, some spent time on massive ships during Korea. Still others have slugged across the rugged terrain of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan. Our greatest generation of veterans stormed the beaches of Normandy, fought on islands in the South Pacific and marched across Europe to defeat evil.

The heroes of America’s wars are our family, friends and neighbors in Northeast Arkansas. We see them at church, in the grocery store and working in their yards. Most of their stories will go untold except to a few close friends or family members. On this Veterans Day, let us remember the heroes here at home:

• Lieutenant Colonel Sean Gavan of Cabot serves in the Arkansas National Guard and has been deployed overseas three times, first to Egypt and the last two deployments to Baghdad for Operation Iraqi Freedom. LTC Gavan worked as an intelligence officer with analysts to identify threats to stability and counter insurgency operations throughout Central Iraq. Next summer LTC Gavan will be deployed a fourth time to Afghanistan.

• Woody Freeman of Jonesboro was a First Lieutenant in the secretive Armed Services Courier unit during the Vietnam War. The Armed Service Couriers were a small group of men selected by the military to carry our nation’s most sensitive information. Freeman carried top secret information from the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army, Navy, Air Force and even President Nixon in 1970 and 1971 throughout every corner of Vietnam.

• Delbert Brickey of Batesville served as a Corporal in the 160th Army Infantry during 1953 in Korea. Brickey spent nearly six weeks on the front lines of battle handling specialized heavy weaponry. After an intense battle along the 38th parallel, Brickey and a fellow soldier were the only two survivors left from his platoon. For his service and commitment in combat Brickey was awarded a commendation medal and combat infantry badge.

• Ninety-five year old World War II veteran Walter Bowsher of Bull Shoals defines America’s greatest generation. Bowsher served in the Marine Corp from December 1941 until December 1945. For 3 ½ years Bowsher was Japan’s prisoner of war. Bowsher survived many close calls but perhaps none closer than when the truck he was riding in near Seoul, Korea went over a land mine. The blast blew Bowsher through the top of his rag top truck. For his service, Bowsher was awarded two Purple Hearts and numerous other awards.

Take time this Veteran’s Day to honor the heroes in your communities. We are all blessed to live in a country that produces such selfless men and women who would put our nation’s freedoms ahead of their own well-being.

God bless them and God bless America.

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