Lanett honors employees for service as veterans

Published 8:00 am Saturday, November 11, 2023

LANETT — A total of 16 employees were honored by the City of Lanett on Friday in a special Veterans Day program at city hall. Each served in a branch of U.S. military service prior to their current employment with the city. They include police officers Patrick McCullough and Patrick Vinzant, who were with the U.S. Army, Willie Brown and Alvin McCarley, who were with the U.S. Air Force, and Darryl Dawkins, Brittani Reaves and Jeremy Reaves, who served with the U.S. Army National Guard; Will Scroggins of the Lanett Fire Department, who was with the U.S. Marine Reserve; Recreation Department employees Maki Potts and Tristan Meadows, U.S. Army National Guard and Gary Wright, who was with the Air Force; Airport Manager Richard Carter, Air Force; Street Department employees Anthony Rudd, Jessie Marshall and Christopher Ryan Taylor, all with the U.S. Army, and Grounds Department employee Bobby Atkins, who served with the U.S. Army National Guard.

The 11 a.m. program began with the singing of the National Anthem by Sergeant Dwayne Fears of the Lanett Police Department. The colorguard from the Lanett High JROTC brought in the U.S. and Alabama state flag and the opening prayer given by Council Member Tamalita Autry. Gary Wright led everyone in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and Teddy Morris introduced guest speaker Jarquez McCullough.

A Valley native, McCullough retired from the Army with the rank of sergeant first class. He served as a nutritionist and a human resource officer during his stay in the military. His service took him to the 121st Combat Support Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, the Army Medical Recruiting Brigade in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Hawaii Recruiting Company in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he retired.

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His awards include three Army Commendation medals, the Joint Service Achievement medal, eight Army Achievement medals, four Army Good Conduct medals, a Korean Defense Service medal, the Army Gold Recruiter badge and an Expert Marksman badge.

McCullough holds a B.S. in Business Management from Post University and is currently working on a degree in heating and air technology at West Georgia Tech.

He is married to the former Ericka Greenwood of Lanett. They have three daughters, thirteen-year-old Chasity, eight-year-old Emori and three-year-old Sage.

McCullough thanked Mayor Jamie Heard and members of the city council for being able to speak at a Veterans Day service.

“I don’t have any prepared remarks,” he said; “I will be speaking from my heart today, and my heart is with our veterans and those who are on active duty in the military.”

McCullough asked for and received applause for one group in the military he said doesn’t get enough credit for what they are playing in today’s military: women.

“They are not getting the appreciation they deserve,” he said. “The same is true for veterans. They help our communities in so many ways.”

There were two people in particular McCullough wanted to mention, both of whom died while in service to our country. One was a roommate of his who died in 2011 and another was a sergeant who died in Africa in 2017.

“I was close to both of them,” he said. “I learned so much from Staff Sgt. Blanks. He taught me how to breathe the mountain air when we were running in Colorado.”

McCullough said that everyone in service has both good days and bad ones.

“For me, the good days far outweighed the bad days,” he said. “I still miss the friendships I made while in service and the camaraderie I had with my fellow service members.”

He has fond memories of a big, hulking guy from a small town in Missouri.

“His goal was to earn enough money to buy a single-wide trailer with a front porch,” McCullough said. “I keep in touch with him from time to time. He has that trailer now and loves sitting on the front porch.”

“At first, he didn’t know how to interact with a person of color, but he became a very good friend when we got over that. I will never forget one day when we were running, and he stopped to hug me,” McCullough. “He told me I had changed his life. That meant a lot to me.”

McCullough said he wanted to thank his wife Ericka for what she means to him.

“When I was in the military there were times I was away from her for a long time, but she never complained,” he said. “When she gave birth to our daughter, Emori, it was a c-section. Everything went well with it, but duty called the next day and I had to leave. I was away from my family for a long time.”

Such sacrifices are common for those in service.

“If you know a veteran show them some love and appreciation,” McCullough said. “Only one percent of Americans have ever served in the military. The vast majority of those who have served are truly-special people. Let’s thank our veterans this weekend. God bless them, God bless everyone here today, and God bless America.”

Heard thanked McCullough for his comments and presented him a plaque on behalf of the council.

Airport Manager Richard Carter then came to the lectern to present a plaque to Lanett resident Brad Lynn, who recently received a highly prestigious Wright Brothers Award from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This award goes to pilots who have accumulated at least 50 years of flying either in the military or in commercial flying or a combination of both.

Lynn had more than 50 years, partly in the military and partly as a pilot for United Airlines.

“My family and I have lived in Lanett longer than we have lived anywhere else,” he said. “We have been here 24 years now and love it here.”

When he retired from United, Lynn was allowed to take his family with him to Amsterdam, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. While he was taxiing the big plane after the passengers departed. the grounds crew gave him some teasing to remember them by. They hosed down the front of the plane with water cannons.

“I thank you for this award and the recognition,” Lynn said. “It means a lot to me.”

The program concluded with Gary Harris playing Taps on the trumpet.