GLASGOW — Twelve veterans were honored Saturday morning during opening ceremonies of the 13th annual Vet Jam at the historic Plaza Theatre in downtown Glasgow.
The veterans were presented with citations of valor by Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, and Glasgow Mayor Harold M.D. Armstrong on behalf of Sen. David Givens-R, Greensburg, plus a plaque from Vet Jam.
Among those honored was Owen Lucky Jr., who served in the Marines during Vietnam.
Lucky's brother, James Alfred Lucky, served with the Army's 9th infantry division during Vietnam. He was killed in action on Jan. 25, 1969. He, too, was honored during the opening ceremonies.
“We couldn't honor you without honoring him, because he paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Ernie Wagoner, organizer of Vet Jam, when talking to Owen Lucky Jr.
After accepting the plaques for himself and on behalf of his brother, Owen Lucky Jr. told the audience the 50th anniversary of his brother's death occurred earlier this year, and even after all that time he still doesn't have closure.
“He stays with me every day of my life. He did his duty. He understood what MacArthur said in his last speech at West Point when he spoke of duty and honor and country, and he understood what Sherman said in his march from Chattanooga to Atlanta and that is 'War is hell,'” Owen Lucky Jr. said.
His brother received several medals during his military service, including the Silver Star which was awarded to him on the day he died. He also received the Meritorious Bronze Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
“I'd rather have him any day back than all of that,” said Owen Lucky Jr.
He urged everyone to always remember what duty, honor and country means.
“Without us remembering that we will never really have a good grasp on Americanism,” he said. “Without patriots we are losers.”
Several members of the Disabled American Veterans of Glasgow-Barren County, Chapter 20, were also honored during the opening ceremonies.
Members of the DAV present to receive their awards were Billy Houchens, Dan Atkinson and Mike Wilson.
Houchens served in the Army during Vietnam, while Atkinson served in both the Marines and the Air Force during the Vietnam and Germany. Wilson served in the Navy during Vietnam.
“Our Barren County DAV, Chapter 20, does so, so much. They do usually way over 100 funerals a year for veterans. They are at every ceremony they are asked to be at if they can be at it. The question is and we've talked about this the past couple of years. These guys are getting older. I'm getting older. Whose is going to fill these shoes, as George Jones said. Whose going to fill these shoes?” Wagoner said.
He continued that there is a need for younger veterans to step up and take part in the DAV.
“If you know any young veterans out there, encourage them to get involved in something.,” Wagoner said.
When it came time to present Wilson with his citations and plaque, Riley said: “I truly appreciate all the work that Mike has done for veterans in this community. I know a lot of people do the same thing.”
Armstrong also commended Wilson for his work for veterans.
“He does a wonderful job and I really appreciate being able to give you this award on behalf of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Armstrong said.
Wagoner also talked about the work Wilson has done for veterans.
“Mike has done a whole lot for our community. He is one of the reasons why we have our new veterans resource office down here right off South Green Street. We really appreciate all the work you've done,” Wagoner said.
He continued to tell about some health issues Wilson is facing.
“We would like to ask everyone for your prayers for what he's got facing him. In the days ahead he's going to have to start taking some chemo treatments. That big C ugly thing has popped up, and we are going to beat it. God bless you,” Wagoner said.
Other veterans honored during opening ceremonies were: Curtis Wood, Army, Vietnam and Desert Storm; Don Price, Army, Vietnam; Artimus Thomas Delmer Pyle, Marines, Vietnam era; John Russell Zurmehly, Army Reserves, Operation New Dawn, Iraq; and Joe L. McCue, Marines, Vietnam.
Wagoner's father, William E. Wagoner, Army, World War II; and Joe T. Hall, his father-in-law, Navy, World War II, were also honored during opening ceremonies.
Three people were also recognized for their volunteer work with Vet Jam. They are: Clayton and Maria Lancaster and Lily Ryherd.