Evans to be honored Sunday

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Covington County hero will be honored next weekend in Florala.

The Opp VFW Post 6622 has invited the public to attend a National Medal of Honor Day Memorial Service “to honor the family members and personal sacrifice Army Sgt. Rodney J. Evans of Florala.”

The service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on National Medal of Honor Day, Sun., March 25, at the Rodney J. Evans Memorial Building at Florala State Park.

“When our Auxiliary was re-chartered in early February, I wanted us to get involved right away in something special for veterans,” said president Susan Herrin. “I knew we had several patriotic holidays coming up, but those were at least two months down the road at that time. So, I looked for patriotic holiday in March and found ‘National Medal of Honor Day.’

“I have to say, even I did not realize this was an official holiday and the website I found — homeofheroes.com — notes that while this should be among our most revered, few Americans know of its existence,” she said.

From that point, Herrin said she researched Medal of Honor recipients for Covington County and came across Evans’ award.

“His story touched me like nothing has before,” she said. “Here was a young man who had already survived one tour of duty in Vietnam, then ‘re-upped’ after his wife was killed, and was so close to coming back home when he was killed. He could have done so many things differently, and yet he chose to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Evans was killed while serving as a squad leader in a reconnaissance sweep near the Tay Ninh Province in Vietnam on July 18, 1969.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty.”

“At that point, I called Mayor (Robert) Williamson’s office in Florala and told him what I was hoping we could do, and he was very enthusiastic,” she said.

Herrin said the guests of honor will be Joseph Rodney Evans, Pamela Evans Stewart and Joe Evans – all family of the late soldier.

“The Patriot Guard Riders will be escorting the family members to the venue,” she said.

“This is the first big event for the new members,” said PGR captain for the area Larry Clifford. “It’s not our first as a group. We expect six to eight new members will ride with us, but I don’t know for sure how many bikes are coming. It could be anywhere from 12 to 20 or more.”

Guest speaker for the event will be John B. Givhan.