| (Editor’s Note: 1973 South Panola High School grad Barbara Deloach has been keeping up with classmates who are currently serving in Iraq, and she sent in the following report.)
By Barbara Deloach
Three members of the SPHS Class of ’73 had no idea that 32 years after graduation they would find themselves in a strange country, with the same purpose: serving their country. Stationed in various cities in Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Lewis Mitchell, Staff Sgt. Harry Sanford and Sgt. 1st Class Larry Young are being missed so much by the Class of ’73 and their families.
Larry Young is presently serving at FOB Dogwood, Iraq as a mortar track commander. He has been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge. Young has served our country for 22 years.
He enlisted in the Army on May 14, 1973, just one or two days after graduation. He received his training at Fort Jackson, S.C. and Fort Stewart, Georgia.
After his training he was assigned to HHC 1/181 Armor and HHC 2/5 Armor at Fort Hood, Texas, where he served for three years. Upon completion of his duties there he was released with an honorable discharge.
In 1986 he joined the National Guard’s Troop B 1/108TH Armored Cavalry in Batesville where he served as a 11C mortarman until being deployed to Iraq with the 155 Infantry of the 155 Brigade Combat Team.
Young sent a greeting to his classmates and he sends all of his love to his family.
Jerry Lewis Mitchell has served 32 consecutive years in the military and is presently serving our country in Iraq with the 1/198th Armor, FOB Hotel, Iraq, HHC 150th Engineers, FOB Dogwood, Iraq, 106th Forward Support Battalion, FOB Duke Iraq, all under the 155BCT Brigade from the state of Mississippi.
Mitchell enlisted in the military Oct. 17, 1973, five months after graduation, and was trained at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and Fort Ord, Calif.
From there he went to Southeast Asia where he served with the 833 Ordnance Co. and then came back to Fort Ord, Calif. and served with the 3/32 Infantry Brigade.
Mitchell finished that tour of duty and returned home to Batesville where he joined the National Guard’s 1/108th Armor Cavalry in Batesville .
Mitchell has served there for approximately 22 years. Next, he was attached to Alpha Company 2/198th in Oxford where he presently serves.
He is a Vietnam era vet, an Operation Iraqi Freedom vet, and a SFOR 10 vet, having served in Bosnia.
Mitchell sent home this message: "I have had great fun and if I had to do it again I wouldn’t hesitate. I love my country and all of those that live in it.
"Thanks a lot for my loving family throughout the years especially to my dear Mom. Also a BIG hello to all my co-workers and friends at Crown Cork and Seal, Inc. of Batesville, and to the great class of 1973 of SPHS and to the loving members of New Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church and Sandy Springs A.M.E. Zion Church."
Mitchell is the son of Maisy Mitchell and J.T. Thornton of Batesville.
He married SPHS graduate Nancy Nash-Mitchell. He is the son-in-law of Reverend Walter Nash Sr. and Mrs. Nina Belle Nash of Batesville.
Harry Sanford is now serving in Al Isandersriya, Iraq, with the 155th Combat Infantry Team as a mortar platoon sergeant.
Sanford joined in Batesville after graduation from SPHS in 1973. He took his training as an armor crewman in Fort Knox, Ky.
In his 31 years of service, he has had two temporary service duties in Garwin Field, Boise, Idaho, and duty at Ft. Benning, Ga., in support of troops going to Bosnia.
Sanford said his decision to join the Army was one of his best. He said he takes much pride in the many places he has visited by way of the military that would not have been possible otherwise.
"I have been adding up the pro and cons of being here," Sanford said in a message home. "Crime rate, high gas prices, floods/hurricanes are part of life in the U.S., the same as here," Here in Iraq, one of your main jobs is to stay alive. So I guess it evens out."
With his laptop computer, Sanford keeps in contact with family and friends. He always ends his communication with his signature, "IN SERVICE OF AMERICA."
Harry is the son of T.Q. and Virgil Sanford of Courtland. He is married to Dorothy Fields-Sanford of Brownsville, Tenn. He has four children; two boys and two girls.