Veterans Day

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008

Young vet speaks at Veterans Day event

By Billy Davis

Batesville war veteran Bubba Bryan, who saw Iraq from the cockpit of an attack helicopter, thanked a gathering of veterans for enabling him to serve his country.

Bryan recognized the small group of veterans who attended the Veterans Day service, held Tuesday morning in downtown Batesville.

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With a cold rain blowing, the veterans and other attendees huddled under a pavilion in the aptly named Memorial Park. Panola County’s memorial to its war dead is located in the park.

“Those who came before me paved the way for me to serve,” said Bryan, standing beneath the awning of an RV to shield him from the rain.

Bryan, who wears the rank of chief warrant officer, served a 12-month tour in Iraq, where he flew the AH-64 Apache helicopter. He told The Panolian in a prior story that his aviator work consisted of 16-hour days.

“Sometimes it was quiet and sometimes it was like the Wild West,” he recalled.

Still reflecting on past veterans, the helicopter pilot told the assembled crowd Tuesday that veterans represent “very brave people among us.”

He recalled that a fellow pilot, Danny Dunn, risked his life when Iraqi Army soldiers mistakenly opened fire on a company of U.S. soldiers.

As the two sides exchanged gunfire, “he landed that aircraft in the middle of the firefight,” Bryan said. “He probably saved 150 to 200 people.”

To conclude his speech, Bryan returned a good luck charm to World War II veteran Doug Henderson. Henderson had given Bryan a 1906 dime that had already come back from the Vietnam War and a previous trip to Iraq.

Henderson, who served in the 8th Air Force, had worn the dime with his dog tags aboard a bomber, and then as a P.O.W. after the bomber was shot down.

Robert Rawson emceed the program, explaining in a prepared speech that Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, a day to honor the end of World War I, which came at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918.

A campaign kicked off in 1953 to expand the day to honor all veterans, and Armistice Day has been known as Veterans Day since November 8, 1954. 

The local celebration was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.