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Being the first ever female commander of VFW Post 6740 is an incredible achievement, but not a huge concern for Ginger Graham. Although she is proud of the achievement, her biggest concern is helping veterans. According to Graham, she believes it is her life's calling. She has worked diligen…

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Monday marks 100 years since the first observance of the holiday now known as Veterans Day (then called Armistice Day), but the celebrations of those who’ve served started early in Columbia.

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Panera Bread's largest franchisee, Covelli Enterprises, will salute those in uniform with free meals Monday, in honor of Veterans Day. The offer will be valid at 28 locations across South Carolina and Georgia, including Midlands locations.

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Matthew Reichl is a fun, baseball-loving American. He is an active member of the community and the baseball coach for Ridge Spring Monetta High School. You would never be able to tell from talking to him that he is a recipient of the Purple Heart, served in seven combat deployments and 16 ye…

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Patrick Jones has served the United States Army for 44 years. His desire to join was only for steady employment and benefits. After his first four years, spent in the Infantry, Jones moved over to Public Affairs where a love for everything Army-related began. He retired after 28 years, and s…

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John Michael, as his friends call him, is a local native to Chapin, South Carolina. Morris joined the Marine Corps after a short stint at Midlands Technical Community College and decided to take the path less traveled, trying out for one of the Marine Corps most difficult jobs, Recon. 

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Rob Gardner is a true example of the old saying, "Needs of the Army." Though Gardner was an artilleryman by trade, during his tours in Iraq, he spent almost no time behind the artillery gun. Rather, most of his time was spent on high profile raids, clandestine night operations and many other…

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Pfc. Andrew McLean died Friday after suffering a medical emergency. McLean, from Fayetteville, N.C., was a part of 3rd Battalion 60th Infantry Regiment. The Army’s next-of-kin notification process is complete.

Sergeant First Class Bryan Lewis. Ethan Gardner photo. Bryan Lewis is an example of how far hard work and a passionate drive will take you. Not only has Lewis served for 30 honorable years in the United States Army, he also runs a business that was passed down to him by his late father. Lewis prides himself on keeping the…

Army Veteran Katie Nash – photo provided. Not everyone who serves is immune to injuries during military service. Katie Nash knows all too well the importance of taking care of yourself. She was a member of an airborne unit while serving seven honorable years in the US Army. Nash continues to suffer from lower back pain and other injuries sustained…

James Crosby (left) with Soldier Salute host Ethan Gardner. James Crosby comes from a Marine family. His father proudly served, which motivated James to follow in his fathers footsteps. When the attacks on the World Trade Center shook the world, Crosby was ready to fight. It is unfortunate that his fight was a short one, but his injuries are a…

Veterans, VA staff, and visitors at the Dorn facility were treated to a surprise visit Tuesday by two of the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders, and team mascot “Sir Purr.” The “Top Cats,” as these young ladies are known, visited with veterans, posed for pictures, and shared their team spirit with Panther fans. The visit was coordinated through the Panthers’ Community Relations…

Cotney (left) with Gardner after their Soldier Salute interview. If there were ever a man who put his country before himself, it would be Waco Cotney. A recipient of the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars for Valor, Waco’s lineage in South Carolina goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War. His family originally fought as Loyalists in the…

Micah poses in front of his new truck Friday afternoon. Photos provided by the Wooten family. One young Newberry resident was the recipient of a big surprise Friday afternoon. Micah Wooten, a 17-year-old volunteer firefighter, just completed the recruiting process to become a Marine. His father, Matt Wooten, was confident his son would complete the defining right-of-passage during training, known…

Students were taught CPR on an adult-size bust model, then on a child-size model. Chris Timmers photos. Wil Solis, the Voluntary Service Specialist at the VA, introduced 31 of his summer student volunteers to a life-saving skill Monday morning. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of techniques designed to pump the heart to get blood circulating, and deliver oxygen to…

Members of the yoga for veterans class position themselves on their yoga mats. Jeanne Reynolds photos. Step into the small white building on Winnsboro Road just outside Blythewood and you’ll see blankets, bolsters and blocks neatly stacked on rows of yoga mats. The lighting is soft as half a dozen men and women file quietly into the room. It’s not…

Members of the VA Summer Student Volunteer Program helped package food at Harvest Hope Tuesday. Chris Timmers photos. Thirty six middle and high school volunteers met at Harvest Hope Food Bank Tuesday to package, sort, and ship donated food to families in need, and to the churches that support them. All students who participated are members of the VA’s Summer…

Thomas Grant Jr. photo. The July 5 contest between the Lexington County Blowfish and Macon Bacon will serve as Veterans’ Night at the baseball stadium. A collaborative effort of the Lexington County Blowfish and American Legion Post 7, the event will serve as a salute to the organization’s 100th birthday. Free admission and food inside the VIP Stadium room will…

Photo from Carowinds website. The Carolinas’ shared theme park, Carowinds, is about to offer a special deal for members of the military. According to Director of Communications Lisa Stryker, Carowinds will soon allow free admission for active military, retired military, National Guard, veterans with honorable or medical discharge and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps with valid military I.D. The free admission…

File photo. A representative from Caughman-Harman Funeral Home in Chapin informed the community of a Midlands veteran who has passed away, with no family to claim him. “It is my honor to use the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Program to give this Veteran that final salute. I am reaching out once again asking that you (the public) help us serve…

Daniel Finney, scholarship recipient. Chris Timmers photos. Daniel Matthew Harper Finney, a recent AC Flora graduate, has been named the winner of the James H. Parke Memorial Fund Summer Youth Scholarship award. Working as a volunteer for the last five years at the Columbia VA Health Care System, Finney assisted medical staff from the prosthetics clinic, to surgery, and the…

Jacqueline Johnston (right) poses with her award. Chris Timmers photo. Jacqueline Johnston, a rising senior at Cardinal Newman High School, has been awarded this year’s West Point Leadership Award by the United States Military Academy. Johnston is a young lady of talent and skill. She plays varsity soccer and volleyball, represents her class as Student Council Vice President, and has…

Chris Timmers photos. The Columbia Veterans Affairs Health Care System held a Memorial Day Ceremony to honor fallen, wounded, and active duty Wednesday at the Avenue of Flags at 11:30 am. On hand were a number of veterans and local dignitaries to pay respects to a cohort of citizens whose sacrifices have ensured our safety and freedom since before the…

Jazzmine Thompson. Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center photo. Fort Jackson police took custody of an armed alleged criminal Monday night. The female in custody, Jazzmine K. Thompson, attempted to enter the post. She was found to have a warrant from Fairfield County for two counts of attempted murder, possession of a deadly weapon during a violent crime, and discharging a…

Col. Kevin Shwedo. Photo provided. If you ever think you have more going on than you can manage, just google Kevin Shwedo. You may recognize his name as the Director of the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, but that is just scratching the surface. Kevin retired from the US Army as a “Full Bird” Colonel and soon took on a…

Air Force veteran David Peacock is a student in MTC’s automotive technology program. Photo provided. Military Times selected Midlands Technical College (MTC) as a Military Times “Best College for Veterans” for 2019. MTC is the only two-year college in South Carolina to receive this designation. “We honor our student veterans and are proud to be named a Military Times ‘Best…

Army Veteran Jim Wertman. Photo provided. This week on the Soldier Salute we get to know US Army Veteran and local businessman Jim Wertman. Jim joined the US Army from Connecticut in 1963, attended basic training at Ft. Dix New Jersey, AIT (advanced individual training), at Ft. Steward Georgia as a 716, and became the Military Occupational Specialty for an…

Fort Jackson will celebrate the centennial of the Armistice ending World War One on Nov. 11 with a Veterans Day concert free to the public. The performance will include a choir with bass and percussion, accompanied by organist, Debbie Bauer. The featured band, The Fort Jackson 282nd Band, will perform music by J.S. Bach, Aaron Copland, Marcel Dupré and Maurice…

Sgt. Perry Loyd. Photos provided by Ft. Jackson WWI Sergeant Perry Loyd did not live to see the day he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, but a ceremony was held Saturday at Fort Jackson to honor him. Sgt. Loyd was acknowledged for his contribution and sacrifice as a volunteer soldier during World War I. Perry W. James IV, grandson…

Photos from previous carnival years, courtesy of Ft. Jackson. Fire Prevention Week is around the corner (Oct. 7-Oct. 13), and Fort Jackson is kicking off the week with a carnival as a fun and engaging way to educate the community on fire safety. The purpose of Fire Prevention week is to bring awareness to community members, young and old, of…

Sgt. Dave Peacock. Don Sornson provided photo. This week on the Soldier Salute, we’re talking to US Air Force Tech Sergeant Retired Dave Peacock. He has had an incredible career and served his country proudly – fulfilling a family tradition that goes back several generations. “My grandfather was an Air Force drill instructor, my uncles were Army in Vietnam, my…

Capt. Tom Byrd. Photo provided by Don Sornson. Retired US Army Captain Tom Byrd talked to us this week about his time in the Army and the Come Meet Your Army Tour that is taking place September 20. Byrd is currently serving as the Community Relations Officer for Fort Jackson and is part of the team that is bringing us…

Photo provided by Fort Jackson. The “Come Meet Your Army” tour at Fort Jackson invites locals to experience day-to-day operations at the military base. During the eight-hour tour, visitors will witness a graduation ceremony, learn to shoot a rifle on a simulator system, and eat lunch with soldiers. Guests can also use this time to ask questions about Fort Jackson…

Specialist Austin Rykbost. Photo provided by Don Sornson. One of my favorite things about serving in the South Carolina Army National Guard was watching my fellow soldiers’ children grow up. A large number of them have gone on to become soldiers themselves.  One of them is this week’s Soldier Salute guest, Specialist (SPC) Austin Rykbost. It’s been a busy couple…

Photo courtesy of Ft. Jackson. According to a release from Fort Jackson, the unemployment rate for military spouses is nearly 26 percent, and more than 85 percent are searching for work. Fort Jackson’s Army Community Service Center and community partners are working to fill local job openings by hosting a job fair Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon at…

Last year’s 5K run/walk. Photos courtesy of Fort Jackson. Fort Jackson will soon be holding an annual event that acknowledges the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  The Run for the Fallen 5K honors fallen soldiers, and survivors of soldiers.  The event will be held at 8 a.m., September 8 at Hilton Field. The…

Brooks Herring. Photos provided by Don Sornson. Although I heard the bearded giant perform at various music venues around the Columbia area, I didn’t formally meet U.S. Navy Veteran Brooks Herring until we brought him in the WWNQ 94.3 The Dude studio to help promote an event. He was in to discuss a fundraiser at The Big Red Barn, a…

B.G. Milford Beagle Jr. By retired Sergeant First Class Don Sornson Jr. Brigadier General (BG) Milford Beagle Jr. is a South Carolina native. Born in the upstate region of South Carolina in the small town of Enoree, when asked about himself he keeps it simple. “I’m a son, I’m a soldier, I’m a spouse and I’m a father,” said BG…

Bobby Hunter. Photo provided by Don Sornson. By retired Sergeant First Class Don Sornson Jr. Petty Officer Bobby Hunter never set out to join the military. Bobby’s father retired from the US Army, and to Bobby, that was not the life for him. “Initially I really didn’t want to go in the military, just that when I started going to…

Ethan Gardner. Photo used with permission. By retired Sergeant First Class Don Sornson Jr. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ethan Gardner joined the Marine Corps as an 0311, better known as an infantryman. It wasn’t the same infantryman that you might be imagining though, Ethan was part of a F.A.S.T (Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team). “We deployed all over the world to…