Chapman Memorial honors its veterans

by Alan Hodge

Alan Hodge/MIW photo Veterans with American flags, rear from left to right, Willie Petrea, David Short, Steve Smith and, front left to right, Chris Hall, Wayne Overcash, Steve Tench, Clyde Williams, were honored by Chapman Memorial Baptist Church on Sunday, Nov. 7. Pfc Abigail Kennedy, far left and Pfc. Anthony Timmerman, far right, served as the ceremony’s honor guard.

The old hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” seemed appropriate Sunday at Chapman Memorial Baptist Church, as the congregation honored a group of its veteran members.

Seven veterans received flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol.

They included:

• Chris Hall, petty officer 3rd class, U.S. Navy, 1993-1995;

• Wayne Overcash, sonar technician, U.S. Navy, 1960-1970, and master sergeant, U.S. Air Force, 1970-1984;

• Willie Petrea, specialist 4th class, U.S. Army, 1967-1970;

• David Short, corporal, U.S. Army, 1958-1961;

• Steve Smith, airman 1st class, U.S. Air Force, 1960-1964;

• Steve Tench, petty officer 2nd class, U.S. Navy;

• And Clyde Williams, seaman 1st class, U.S. Navy, 1944-1946.

Two other veterans were unable to attend the ceremony but will receive flags later. They are Henry Fletcher, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, serving from 1942 to 1946, and Christian Reynolds, a corporal in the Army, serving from 1990 to 1993.

N.C. National Guard Color Guard members Pfc. Abigail Kennedy and Pfc. Anthony Timmerman presented the flags during Sunday’s ceremony.

Chapman Baptist pastor John Thomas conceived of the idea for Sunday’s special service, a first for the church at 608 Valleydale Road. “We had a similar ceremony when I was a pastor in Alabama,” Thomas said. “I decided we should try it here.”

Each veteran who received a flag Sunday took it in hand and heart.

“It is very touching,” Hall said. “I’ve never received anything like this before. It will be a cherished gift.”

A veteran of the Navy and Air Force, Overcash declared he would pass his flag on to his daughter, Crystal Osei-Bonsu who retired from the U.S. Air Force.

“It is a privilege to receive it,” he said.

Williams took pride knowing each flag had flown over the U.S. Capitol. “I’m going to put it on the mantle at home,” he said.

The idea of giving his flag a special place of honor at his home also appealed to Short.

“It means a lot to get this flag,” he said.

Smith agreed. “It is going to get a place of honor at home,” he said. “I want others to see we served a great country.”

Petrea was overcome with pride. “This is the first time a gift has been given to me for being a veteran,” he said.

Tench also felt pride in military service. “Getting this flag is a great honor,” he said.

“We want to recognize our nine veterans,” Thomas said during the ceremony, “but all veterans deserve our honor and respect.”

The congregation sang a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, and in the children’s sermon, Debra Taylor reminded the kids of the cost of the liberty we enjoy as a nation.

“Freedom is not free,” she told them. “Every day we should thank our veterans because each one gave up something to serve.”

“We thank God for them,” Rev. Thomas said.

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