Double Duty

Published 5:18 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

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News Correspondent

JACKSON – Bill Payne has served his nation in the military not once, but twice.

Bill Payne, pastor of Elam Baptist Church, served as the featured speaker at the ceremony. Photo by Danny Bowman Jr.

Nowadays he serves in another way, that as the Pastor of Elam Baptist Church near Garysburg.

Payne was the featured speaker here Monday as Northampton County hosted it annual Memorial Day ceremony. The event was moved inside the county courthouse due to the threat of inclement weather.

Payne noted that he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1979 on the Delayed Entry Program. In August of 1980 he stood on Parris Island’s “Yellow Footprints.”

After his time in the Marine Corps was satisfied, he went home, got married, worked a couple of civilian jobs, but couldn’t get the military out of his blood. He re-enlisted, this time with the United States Coast Guard. He said he went from “Jarhead” to “Puddle Jumper” for those that understood those two terms.

He medically retired in 1995, 100 percent totally and permanently.

“Today is not for me or other veterans. It is the day we remember and honor those who died serving our great country,” Payne. “For me that includes those who died from the silent killers years after their service. Those who lost their battle with PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury, or those that died from exposure to Agent Orange, or other chemicals that took their lives slowly. Today is their day.

“Today, we thank God for men and women that were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. It doesn’t matter what branch they served in. They paid the price for each and every one of us,” Payne added.

Monday’s ceremony opened with remarks by MSGT David Walther, US Army, Retired, followed by the arrival of the official party.

The Northampton Sheriff’s Honor Guard presented the Colors. Jennifer Payne, U.S. Army, performed the National Anthem. Stanley Edwards, US Navy, led the Pledge of Allegiance

Tony Barnes, U.S. Navy, gave the invocation. Walther, recognized the military Veterans attending the event.

Following was the Laying of the Wreath by Steven Jackson, US Army, and Joseph Mitchell, US Army. The Sheriff’s Honor Guard played Taps.

Closing remarks were given by Julian Phillips.

The benediction was led by Barnes.