Honoring Northeast Arkansas’s finest on Veterans Day

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 their fellow 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 stormed the beaches of Normandy, fought on islands in the South Pacific and marched across Europe to defeat tyranny.

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 these heroes’ stories will go untold except to a few close friends or family members. Recently, I had the honor of sharing one hero’s story at a plaque dedication for Batesville native Gerald Farrier’s heroism in the Vietnam War.

Gerald Farrier joined the Navy as a teenager and he rose steadily through the ranks. As chief petty officer on the USS Forrestal, Gerald saved many lives on July 29, 1967, when a Zuni rocket accidently ignited two hundred gallons of aviation gasoline across the ship’s deck. Tapes from the ship’s Pilot Landing Aid Television system recorded Gerald charging headlong into the fire, spraying his extinguisher, undeterred by the raging flames and the imminent danger of explosion, putting the lives of his shipmates before his own. In a blinding flash that momentarily overwhelmed the TV system, this courageous sailor is committed to the ages, personifying the Navy’s creed of honor, courage, and commitment in a manner that is both sobering and awe-inspiring.

Hundreds of sailors, including a young naval officer aboard that day named John McCain owe their lives to Gerald Farrier. Today, the Naval Firefighting School in Norfolk, Virginia, bears Gerald Farrier’s name and is a tribute to the courageous man who paid the ultimate price trying to save his ship and his shipmates.

Take time this Veteran’s Day to honor the heroes in your community. 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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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 their fellow Americans can be free.

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