NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - Dozens of service organizations came together to support Veterans in the east at the National Guard Armory in New Bern.
The outreach event was organized by NC Works and provided free hot meals, essential item packs, and haircuts for Veterans.
Among those to provide services for the former service members was the Disabled American Veterans organization, which provides lifelong membership and services to Veterans from benefit claims to medical transportation services.
“Usually when a Veteran comes to use and they have questions, we try to play the give and take to try and pull out from them exactly what they’re looking for,” said James Hunter of DAV Chapter #26.
For some that is a hot meal and for others, it is a ride to their doctor’s appointment.
After calling the DAV transportation line for their local chapter, volunteers will arrange the wheels for the Veteran.
“We will arrange for a pickup location, take them to their appointment, and bring them back home,” said Commander Robert Gracie of DAV Chapter #40. “This is all free of charge.”
The DAV also provided ready-to-go essential item packs. Something that Vietnam Veteran Karl Rush took advantage of, not only for himself and his service dog but also for a friend.
“I got quite a bit of stuff here... some for my dog, which is wonderful,” said Rush. “But I got a few things that actually I don’t need but I know I have a friend that was not able to get here. So, I’m going to take him socks and some other stuff.”
DAV representatives say that coming out to events like this is helpful for them to make new connections and share information about benefits that Veterans may not know they qualify for.
“There are a lot of Veterans honestly that don’t feel they deserve it just because they are standing upright and walking, but there are a lot of wounds that are invisible,” said Hunter.
Those looking to join the DAV will be met with the familiar faces of fellow Veterans at the chapters here in the East.
“I’m a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans,” said Rush. “They have what they call service officers that will help you get the benefits that you need as well as deserve.”
More information on how to become a member can be found here.
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Saturday marked the 38th anniversary of the Oct. 23, 1983 Beirut bombing in Lebanon that killed 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers.
Many were Jacksonville residents who were members of Camp Lejeune’s 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit that were ordered to Beirut as part of a peacekeeping mission between Christian and Muslim groups.
In honor of the fallen service members and survivors who served in Lebanon from 1958 to 1984 and in Grenada, veterans city leaders and military officials gathered for the annual observance, which was virtual this year out of an abundance of caution due to the pandemic.
“This is a sad day for me because I just can’t get the explosion out of my head,” recalled Beirut veteran Virgil Young.
Beirut Veterans of America president Myron Kyle echoed Young, thinking about how not all of the service members made it back home.
“They came in peace has taken on a different meaning throughout the years,” said Kyle. “It provides comfort for the families that were left behind.”
Young said how family is more than blood.
“Even in the time of crisis when I wanted to commit suicide, I had my Beirut Marines to help my wife out tremendously,” said Young. “So, to come down here to honor my brothers on this wall, I’ll be here until the day I die.”
Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips said he promises the city will always be in support of that honor.
“The promise that we made 38 years ago still stands good today and we will continue that, not just with me, but with future leaders of the city to come,” said Phillips. “We will always maintain that promise to never forget what they did.”
The memorial site is available to the public 24 hours, seven days a week.
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A crowd at the Freedom Fountain in Jacksonville on Sunday called for the support of a marine officer who was relieved of duty after he was seen in a viral video questioning military leaders for the attacks at Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members.
One of Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller’s Facebook post said “Colonel Emmel, please have the MPs waiting for me at 0800 on Monday. I’m ready for jail.”
Cynthia Lacorte, who organized the protest, said she was happy with the turnout of the rally as some people held signs and prayed.
“We have a great military community here full of marines and sailors and their families and we love each other and support each other,” Lacorte said. “We want to let the base know that we’re not happy with Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller being held in jail on no charges whenever we have 13 dead.”
Scheller is currently being held in pretrial confinement at the Regional Brig for Marine Corps Installations East at Camp Lejeune. He has not yet been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Lacorte said she wants to be a voice for those afraid to share.
“There’s a lot of people in the community upset about this,” she said. “A lot of DOD employees and a lot of active duty cannot come out and speak out. I’ve had a lot of people thank me for being a voice when they cannot.”
Also in attendance was Rep. Phil Shepard (R-Onslow) who said he felt it was his responsibility to support his constituents’ right to protest.
“I’m glad to be here and be with them,” Shepard said. “I’m glad that we, in America, can still protest, and peacefully, as you see this group is doing, without causing any property damage.”
Protesters said they will continue to show up at the Jacksonville Freedom Fountain every weekend until Scheller is released.
HAVELOCK, N.C. (WITN) - Hubie Tolson is an acrobatic pilot that took to the skies for thousands of people at the 2021 Cherry Point Air Show this weekend.
Flying has always been in his life. Tolson’s mother is a pilot and he has been taking off from runways for over 40 years. This weekend in Havelock, he performed two stunt shows.
“I have just had the best time you can have on this earth, I think, it’s just fabulous,” Tolson said. “You basically had to force the aircraft to the ground because the lift is so good and the sky’s blue and the smoke is hanging in the air and the crowd is awesome.”
Tolson’s one of many civilians and military demonstrations that were shown at the air station on Saturday and Sunday for a monumental anniversary.
“Being on this base for the 80th anniversary is a humbling and exciting thing to be able to participate in,” he said. “I’m very happy to be here.”
Twisting, turning, and completing flips airborne, Tolson says he keeps one thing in mind while he flies: don’t hit the ground.
“I’m thinking I want to make it look exciting and fun for the spectators while being very safety conscious,” he said.
The aviation demonstrations were not the only thing available to the public at this weekend’s event. There were also dozens of static displays of historic and modern aircraft and military defense equipment.
“Right now, we’re showing all the kids our full kits, our M240 Bravos, our stinger missiles,” said Lance Corporal Alec Allaire. “It definitely lets everyone know what we’re capable of.”
Last year’s air show was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the anticipation for family fun was high amongst visitors.
“All the kids, the love holding on to the 240, picking it up. Even though it probably weighs half of their weight, they love picking it up,” said Allaire.
HAVELOCK, N.C. (WITN) - Thousands of people gathered at Cherry Point Air Station to celebrate the 80th anniversary with an air show.
Featuring civilian and military aviation acts, crowds were dazzled by the superior size and capability of the aircraft.
“Every man, woman, and child here today on the flight line, the level of patriotism is through the roof,” said air show enthusiast Henry Kyle. “It’s as high as a kite, all the way to the stars.”
After over a year of separation from the COVID-19 pandemic, the outdoor event on Saturday was full of excitement.
“We’re super excited to open the gates, bring the community in, and show them what the Marine Corps, Naval Aviation, and all of our other aviation acts are all about,” said the station’s commanding officer, Colonel Mikel Huber.
For the grand finale, the Blue Angels flew their 34th flight demonstration this year.
“It’s awesome for me!” said Blue Angel #5, Commander Ben Walborn. “I grew up watching air shows as well. I was a little seven-year-old that looked up and saw these airplanes land back in the 80s. I said ‘I wanted to do that. It’s great.’”
The dedication to the children in attendance is all part of a day’s work for the commander.
“We’re out here to inspire those folks to maybe seek a career in the Navy, Marine Corps, or just to motivate them to do whatever it is they want to do in life.”
The Cherry Point Air Show will continue on Sunday, September 26th, at 10:30 a.m.
However, due to an increase in COVID safety measures, all cars entering the station must present a previously acquired pass.
Every story you see here is written, filmed, edited, fronted, and day-turned by Maddie. As an MMJ with WITN, she really does it all!