A ceremony to honor 13 servicemen and women who lost their lives in the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan will be held Friday at 2 p.m. on the Vidalia Riverfront.
The ceremony will take place in the gray building next to the RV Park.
Thirteen flags will be posted, one for each soldier and marine. The ceremony is being organized by Doug McCallister and Jeff McClure.
“This is actually the brainchild of Doug,” McClure said. “He decided we should recognize the young men and women who died from the pullout in Afghanistan, and it went from there. We’re already working on setting up the memorial on that end. We have sponsors paying for each flag. We’re looking forward to a nice event.”
Major Sherman Clagg (U.S. Army, retired), a member of the Jena Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Honor Guard, will be the keynote speaker.
Clagg is a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army with deployed service to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served with the 44th Medical Battalion, with service in Baghdad and Tikrit, Iraq.
Clagg’s son, John, is currently serving with the United States Air Force in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A rifle salute and taps will be provided by the VFW Honor Guard from Jena.
Representatives from the Louisiana and Mississippi Department of Veteran Affairs will be on site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to assist local veterans with questions and problems concerning their benefits.
A VA Mobile Medical Unit for evaluations, diagnosis, updates, etc., will also be on hand.
The event is sponsored by Point Man International Ministries, Miss-Lou. This organization is also developing a Veterans Memorial on the south end of the Vidalia Riverfront that will include a permanent 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Memorial, with additional monuments to local units and servicemen and women.
Donations are needed to further this project, and can be donated in person.
There will soon be a way to donate through the www.misslouveterans.org web site.
Local musician and American Idol participant Bryce McGlothin will provide the entertainment.
Those being honored are Marine Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, Marine Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 24, Sacramento, Calif., Moraine Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, Salt Lake City, Utah, Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, Corryton Tenn., Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, Indigo, Calif., Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyo., Marine Lance Cpt. Dylan R. Merola, 20, Ranco Cucamonga, Calif., Marine Lance Cpl. Kareen M. Nikoui, 29, Norco, Calif., Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, Lawrence, Maine, Marine Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, Logansport, Idaho, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, St. Charles, Miss., Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, Berlin Heights, Ohio, and Marine Cal. Daegen W. Paged, 23, Omaha, Neb.