GALLERY: CVF’s ‘Salute to Heroes’ kicks off Veterans Day events in Andalusia

Published 2:45 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2023

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The City of Andalusia displays its patriotism year-round, but this time of the year brings special significance as Veterans Day approaches. The first in a series of events was held Sunday when the Covington Veterans Foundation presented its annual “Celebration of Heroes” at the Andalusia High School auditorium.

The event featured a variety of entertainment and recognized attending veterans. This year’s event paid special homage to those who served in the Korean War.

The guest speaker for the event was Chief Warrant Officer Five Mike Carsaro who currently serves as the Senior Warrant Officer Advisor to the Commanding General of the 4th Infantry Division.

“We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to our veterans and today we call for particular attention be given to those who saw combat in the early ‘50s. The Korean War, often called the Forgotten War because it is overshadowed by World War II. But, make no mistake we will always remember our veterans and how you fought for freedom, democracy and our American way of life,” Carsaro said.

The Korean War was fought between 1950 and 1953 and ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

“Korean War veterans along with about 1.8 million Americans left their families, friends and homes to fight an enemy a half a world away. My father and uncle were among them. The war was fought in the harshest of conditions with many veterans facing sub-zero cold in the winter and blistering heat and humidity in the summer,” he said.

Carsaro went on to tell the story of Alabamian Ola Lee Mize, a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Korean War, primarily in defense of “Outpost Harry” where he sustained multiple injuries but continued to fend off multiple attacks from the enemy. Of the 56 Americans at Outpost only eight survived. What he didn’t realize at the time, his actions not only saves the lives of other soldiers, but the defense of Outpost Harry was crucial to bringing about a favorable agreement in the signing of an armistice just six weeks later.”

Covington County veterans lost during the Korean War include: O.C. Clark Jr. (prisoner of war, died in captivity); Ernest C. South (killed in action); Stewart M. Baker (killed in action); Tellis W. Donaldson (missing in action); Wilmer T. Wyatt (killed in action); Rudolph Farmer (killed in action); Carnell Edward Booth (missing at sea); Charles Smith (killed in action); James L.C. Jeter (killed in action); and Lawrence D. Grantham (killed in action). Also killed while in service were Roy Catrett who died in a plane crash over the Atlantic Ocean and Cesario Verde who died in a plane crash in France.

Serving as the emcee was Circuit Judge Ben Bowden, also a member of the CFV. Bowden provided the opportunity for veterans of each branch of the military to stand and be recognized as well as any members of Gold Star families.

MGySgt. Robert Foshee, USMC (Ret.) led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. The official welcoming statement was provided by CVF member Sammy Glover.

Local entertainers added to the patriotic theme. The Lower Alabama Community Choir sang the National Anthem, “America, the Beautiful” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Members of the Andalusia High School band also performed, including “A Nation’s Prayer.”

The Andalusia Elementary Show Choir performed “We Honor You” and “American Dream.”

Bringing the 1950s and the Koran War era to the stage was Colby Carlock and the Hank Williams Revue who performed “Hey Good Lookin’” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” The group was later joined by Ivy Rogers for the song, “Walking After Midnight.”

The Andalusia Ballet performed to “America the Beautiful” choreographed by José Soares who performed along with Mia Baumgartner, Mary-Grace Hammett, Ivy Rogers, Andrés Castillo, and Michael Matthews.

Veterans Day events continue on Saturday, Nov. 11, with a parade in Andalusia beginning at 10 a.m. Veterans may join the lineup at the First Baptist Church at 9:45. The city will host its memorial service at Veterans Memorial Park, behind city hall, immediately following the parade.