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May 14, 2014

Veterans recognized at CCVF Golf Classic

Athens — The Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation honored our nation’s military by hosting the CCVF Golf Classic on Monday.

The tournament is held each year to raise money for The Fisher House, Hope for the Warriors and The Navy Marine.

Organizers of the event said, “The men and women who serve, honor their duty to our country, and as Americans, our responsibility to them is to never forget their sacrifices and applaud their bravery and commitment to us.”

George P. Bush, the Republican nominee for Texas Land Commissioner, a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer, played in the tournament, as well as welcomed the golfers to the CCVF Golf Classic.

Each of the honorees this year wore a different uniform, but they all possess a common thread. In wearing the hats of patriotism, they are the custodians of our freedoms, and we are in their debt.

Phillip Smith, representing Congressman Jeb Hensarling, presented the honorees with a congressional commendation from Hensarling.

Honored for their service to the U.S. were:

• Yeoman 1st Class Andrea Jean (McCallum) Small, one of nearly 400,000 women to take on roles in the military during World War II,  worked as a secretary in Washington D.C.  She witnessed the flag-draped coffin pulled by a horse-drawn caisson traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue carrying the body of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Jean and her husband, Joe, settled in the Corsicana area to raise their three sons.

• Ed DeLoach enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1951, serving as an Electronic Technician aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge, and deployed on two combat tours in the Korean War zone in support of air operations over the Korean peninsula. As a member of the crew, he received the National Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the China Service Medal and the Korean Service Medal with two stars.

• Sergeant Maj. Robert (Bob) Blatnik entered the U.S. Army in 1938, and was with the 1st Battalion, 26th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Big Red 1 during his entire military career, ending in 1945. He served under Gen. Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. during the invasion of North Africa, the Tunisian campaign and the invasion of Sicily under Gen. George Patton. He was in the first wave of soldiers during the invasion of Normandy, advancing through France and Belgium. Battalion Sgt. Major Blatnik has been awarded four purple hearts, the Silver Star, five Bronze Stars, and numerous other commendations. He was one of six Normandy veterans from Texas selected to participate in the return to Omaha Beach last summer, 69 years after D-Day. At 93 years of age, he walked a heartrending journey across a quarter of a mile of sand to the exact spot where he was one of 900 men “storming the beaches.”

• Chief Master Sgt. Dwayne Garner, currently residing in Brownsboro, came from a poor family of sharecroppers. Raised “on the Trinity River” near Trinidad, he graduated from Malakoff High School, joining the Air Force in 1954, and assigned to the supply career field. His first duty assignment was in Germany, supporting reconnaissance missions over Communist countries. Part of his military career was spent on Strategic Air Command bases throughout the U.S. and overseas. In Thailand, he was the non-commissioned officer in charge of requisition, storing, and issuing bombs and other munitions to fly 33 missions daily over Vietnam. Garner served his last duty assignment in the Philippines retiring after 20 years of service with the Bronze Star Medal, two commendation medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation.

The foursome winning first place at the CCVF Classic Golf Tournament were Jack Harrison, Kieth Foisey, John Taylor and Doug Naasz. The golfers who were awarded $400 for their win donated the prize money back to the CCVF.

The next event for benefiting the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation will be Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake. An air show to be held on Saturday, July 5.

For more information about the air show, visit the website www.cclairshow.com

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