Veterans Park debuts Saturday

Published 3:55 pm Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CONWAY—A park especially for war veterans will be officially dedicated here on Saturday.

Conway officials are gearing up for their War Veterans’ Park dedication that will take place at 10 a.m. next to the Town Hall on US 158.

“We definitely want to welcome people to Conway to join us in honoring veterans, those that fought for our freedom and continue to do so,” said Town Administrator Nancy Jenkins.

Among the items on the program for the dedication will feature several points of interest, including speeches from Northampton County native and retired Navy Captain James A. Woodard and Northampton County resident Charles Youse, a retired Army Major.

The ceremony’s guest speaker will be retired Air Force Brigadier General David L. Johnson.

Before he retired, Johnson served as the Director of Weather, Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. Johnson developed doctrine, policy, requirements and standards for weather support to the Air Force, the Army, designated specified commands and national programs.

Johnson was commissioned a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program in 1973. He has served as a command pilot with more than 3,800 flying hours, primarily in the A/C/MC-130E/H/P, C-21, C-20 and C-9 transport aircraft. He also has flown the T-38, T-39, T-43, MH-60G, MH-53J, F-15 and F-16. His command positions include aircraft commander, squadron commander, operations group commander, airlift wing commander and major command vice commander.

Johnson commanded airdrop and air land operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina for two years, from 1994 to 1995, before Implementation Force operations began.

The general served as Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Support Hope in Rwanda in 1995, and provided forces for and participated in Operation Southern Watch in 1998-1999.

Tiger Town Council members from Willis Hare Elementary School will present the names of each veteran listed on the memorial.

According to Jenkins, the last pieces of the memorial will be put into place today (Thursday). Of those pieces will be five large stones bearing the insignias of the five Untied States military branches.

Jenkins said another piece of the memorial will be a surprise, unveiled at the dedication.

The park consists of the names of area veterans engraved in 262, 8”x8” and 4”x 8” bricks.

The vision for the memorial park began 10 years ago. The project has been made possible through community donations and brick sales.

After the ceremony, a barbecue lunch from Whitley’s Bar-B-Que will be available for $7 per plate.