Veterans Day parade features 14 Grand Marshals from diverse military service backgrounds
By Carole Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
Fourteen men and women have been selected for the prestigious honor of serving as Grand Marshals in the 2013 Veteran’s Parade set for tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. in Historic Downtown Franklin.
Representing all areas of the service and wars, past and present, these individuals have been named because they exemplify the character and love for country and family that has made this nation great.
County Mayor Rogers Anderson
In the late 1960s, all young men were well aware that soon after graduation the probability of being drafted into the Army was pretty high.
Rather than be drafted, County Mayor Rogers Anderson chose to maintain at least a modicum of control over his destiny.
So at the age of 18, he enlisted into the U.S. Air Force and “got the first haircut I didn’t have to use Butch [hair] Wax,” he said.
With just a high school diploma, Anderson was a sort of “free lancer” deployed to Wheelus Air Force Base in Tripoli, Libya in early 1968.
He worked in telecommunications serving under then Col. Chappie James, “the best fighter pilot ever,” Anderson said. “He saw something in me.”
Anderson’s stay in Libya was cut short. A 1969 coup d’ etat led by Muammar Gaddafi resulted in the United States military leaving the North African country.
Anderson went from Africa’s 100-degree heat to below zero in Michigan.
“My knees didn’t stop knocking until I got to DaNang six months later,” he said.
During Anderson’s 18-month deployment in Southeast Asia he worked in telecommunications and “received no physical scars but I saw things I never want to see again. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything in the world. The military got some of the boy out of me. It matured me and when I got home I finished college and got serious about life. I have a great love for those men and women who have served.”
Judge Ernie Williams
General Sessions Judge Ernie Williams joined the Marines in 1965 right out of high school.
“My first tour was with the honor guard in Washington D.C.,” he said.
Williams’ six foot two inch stature made him a prime candidate for the color guard where he participated in all ceremonial details and eventually rose to the rank of Senior Guard of the Marine Corps under President Lyndon Johnson.
After three years in the nation’s capital, Williams found himself in the jungles of Vietnam.
Working in intelligence, he was based in Dong Ha near the DMZ.
He was discharged in 1969 and was ready to go on to college before eventually pursuing a law degree.
Trustee Joey Davis
Williamson County Trustee Joey Davis was only 17 when he enlisted in the Navy soon after he graduated from Franklin High School.
“It was a spur of the minute decision,” he said. “Except for marrying Lena and having God in my life, it was the best decision I ever made. It was good for a country boy to grow up.”
Basic training was in San Diego and then on to communications school in Imperial Beach, California.
His first deployment was in Okinawa, then on to the Philippines before temporary duties on two aircraft carriers—the USS Ranger and the USS Oriskany—then back to the Philippines.
After he volunteered to study Russian, Davis was shipped to the U.S. Army Language School in Monterey, California for 52-weeks immersion into the language.
His introduction to that would change his life.
At a friend’s wedding he met Lena. They were married in October 1961 and in 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the couple moved to Morocco, where during the next three years two of their three sons were born.
While in Morocco, Davis offered to learn the Turkish language and it was back to language school in Monterey, much to Lena’s delight. The next move was to the National Security Agency in Maryland where son number three was born.
In 1968, Davis hurt his knee and required surgery.
“The only ship I was capable of serving on was the USS Pueblo, which was in the hands of the Chinese in North Korea,” he said.
After more than 10 years in the military, his career ended with a medical discharge. The Davis family home to Franklin and Davis began a 24-year career with the U.S. Post Office.
Now at age 73, Davis reflects on his service to our country.
“I see the value of having been in the United States Navy. I had the opportunity to see other parts of America and the world. I met a beautiful girl and had the good fortune to marry her. I learned to appreciate what I had when growing up.”
Lt. Rich Casada
The son of Rep. Glen and Jill Casada, Lt. Rich Casada is a member of the “Band of Brothers” 4th Brigade with the 101st Airborne.
He joined the ranks at Ft. Campbell in February after completing a five-month Military Intelligence Basic Officer Leadership Course.
In April, he was deployed to Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost Province, Afghanistan.
Casada was raised in Arrington, graduated from Page High and attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on an ROTC scholarship.
After graduation in 2009, he received his commission into the Army through the ROTC program, but he was granted a delay in active duty to attend law school.
Upon graduating from law school, Casada began his active duty service as a First Lieutenant in Military Intelligence.
While deployed to Afghanistan, his battalion was responsible for security at FOB Salerno as it was closed down as part of the reduction of troops in that country.
“I worked in the S2 shop, a.k.a. the battalion intelligence shop of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, to coordinate for intelligence and reconnaissance assets ... and to provide intelligence to out battalion concerning the security of the FOB and surrounding area,” Casada wrote in an email from Ft. Campbell.
Casada’s battalion successfully completed its mission to shut down the base and turn it over to the Afghan National Army by the end of October, three months ahead of schedule allowing most of the battalion to return home.
The process was accomplished without a single insurgent attack.
It had been attacked regularly each summer since it was established as an American base.
Director of Columbia State Community College’s Franklin Campus, Ralph Walker was a junior at Tennessee Tech with
aspirations of being an engineer when he was drafted into the Army in 1969. Although he was a member of Tech’s ROTC program, at that time only seniors received deferments.
“When I was drafted, it was my intention to be commissioned through ROTC,” Walker said.
Although the commission method changed, the Army was still going to be a career. “I was a mustang.”
After basic training, Walker was sent to Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Upon graduating with honors, his first assignment was in Washington D.C. with the 3rd Infantry regiment, also known as “The Old Guard.”
The regiment conducts memorial ceremonies to honor fallen comrades and assists events to represent the Army in country and around the world.
After some time in Washington, Walker realized he was not the pomp and circumstance type of guy and opted to go to a combat division.
He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne 1-325 Infantry and sent to Flight School at Fort Wolters in Texas and Fort Rucker in Alabama. Fresh out of flight school, Walker joined the 101st Airborne as a Cobra helicopter pilot.
In 1976, he joined U.S. Forces 8th Army 82nd Airborne 1/9 Infantry in South Korea under the command of highly decorated Gen. John Singlaub.
Capt. Walker left Korea in 1977 and went back to the 101st Airborne Air Assault 229 Attack Helicopter Battalion.
In the early 1980s, Walker did another tour with the 8th Army in Korea and returned to the 101st as Operations Officer.
Major Walker was an executive officer when he retired in 1990.
Twenty-one years after he was drafted, Walker returned to college to get a second masters degree in geological physics.
Major Gen. John K. Singlaub
A highly decorated veteran, Major Gen. John K. Singlaub proved his valor numerous times throughout his 34-year military career and in 1947, with U.S. Rep. Larry McDonald, founded the Central Intelligence Agency.
After he graduated from UCLA in early 1943, Singlaub commissioned into the Army Infantry as a second lieutenant.
As a member of a three-man team, Singlaub parachuted behind German lines to work with the French Resistance Fighters in 1944. After the war, Singlaub headed CIA operations in Manchuria during the Communist Chinese revolution, led troops during the Korean War, managed a secret war along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam and worked with the Contras in Nicaragua.
During his military service, Singlaub was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart along with numerous foreign decorations.
Major Gen. Singlaub retired from the Army in 1977, but didn’t stop working to protect the country.
He co-founded the Western Goals Foundation to disrupt subversive activities, terrorism and communism when the House Un-American Activities Committee was disbanded.
In 1981, he founded the United States Council for World Freedom and the U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League.
Posted on: 11/7/2013