Memorial Day, 2010


Prairie View A & M University ROTC Cadets. 

Left to right: Jeremy Wellers, Dwayljan Sims, Christopher Bradley, and Skyeshia Thurman. 

Memorial Day 2010, Chappell Hill Community Cemetery   

Introduction of keynote speaker, Mark Benford by Lawrence Benford (Pictured below). 
   -Lawrence Benford was born and raised in Chappell Hill, Texas. After graduating from Pickard High in Brenham, he atttended Blinn Jr. College and later, Pan American University, Edinburg, Texas. He earned an undergraduate English Degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Later, Lawrence Benford served his country with the Texas Army National Guard for more than six (6) years. He is currently a small business owner, author and lives in Austin, Texas.

"As you probably already know the original keynote speak, [a Buffalo Trooper from the Buffalo Soldier Museum Houston, Texas] is in the hospital. My son Sergeant Mark Benford is the keynote speaker today. Even though Mark Benford was born in Austin, his roots of course go deep into Chappell Hill and Washington County. Sergeant Mark Benford, our son joined the military in 2002. From 2002 to 2003 he served in Korea upon the DMZ in the second infantry division. From 2003 to 2006, he served with the third infantry division out of Fort Stewart Georgia with a combat tour in Iraq in 2005. 2006 to the present, he served with Texas Army National guard 36 infantry division. With a tour of duty in Iraq, 2008 –2009 with the 56 infantry brigade combat team. Sergeant Benford is an instructor at the Texas Army National Guard Regional Training Institute. Let’s give him a warm welcome, Sergeant Mark William Benford.  

Sergeant Benford  address the audience, Memorial Day 2010, Chappell Hill Community Cemetery, Chappell Hill, Texas

"Thank you. First of all let me thank everybody who’s here today. It’s always meaningful that everybody’s here to honor this day and that none of us forget the sacrifice that has been made for us. This nation, our United States of America was birth in war and our beloved long star state had its beginning in war. The turmoil of our world even today echoes the holy scriptures from Revelation Chapter 12. There was war in heaven. So long as the good confronts the evil, there will be war. But we are not here to educate or to debate the pros and cons of war. But we’re here today, set aside by proclamation to honor those brave men and women who have given the full measure of sacrifice for freedom. As I look out at the resting places of the warriors that have gone before me into battle, I’m humbled. And as I look at you, that we’re standing here today veterans that are still standing, I’m grateful for the sacrifices that were made on and off the battlefield.

For most veterans, memorial day is a healing day, it’s a day to remember faces, names, distinct small memories of people who came from good families, who came from good homes, good towns, like Chappell Hill, who are now not able to speak on memorial day. But as veterans, we will always remember that on memorial day we will speak for them. And we will make sure their sacrifices are not forgotten as long as we continue to live. Thank you."

 Col. Eddie Harrison, Buffalo Soldier: 

"It is indeed a pleasure to be here again today. This is a wonderful occasion, a wonderful opportunity, it’s something that is really deep touching and has a profound effect on my heart to recognize the fact that we have been here before [Memorial Day, 2009] and we will continue to be here in the future for the same reason, that’s to honor those who’s gone before us and who have given their time, life, their energy, their all, so that we can have a better life. I can recall many many stories that were told to me when I was a little kid about the contribution that many of our people made to make this place a better place--the Buffalo Soldiers. And the Buffalo Soldiers are a group of people who had a mentality about things. That mentality was started in 1866 when they were organized. They had a philosophy that if they would do well, if they would make a contribution, if they would carry out the orders of the mission of army that we would have a successful time, we would develop factories, schools, churches, communities, homes, farms, all the wonderful stuff we need to produce, food and fiber for our lives. And if we would provide that type of protection, guidance and support, then the country would be a better place. That philosophy didn’t come to them overnight one day. It was passed on down to them, all the way to the development of this country in 1776 when this country was developed. The idea says that we need to provide support and development to the community and if we do that, we would have a better life for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and all the rest of the neighbors and their kids and their grandchildren. Some of the people that we could name specifically. We could name many of them and if you go out through the cemetery here, you’ll see many of the positions where some of those heroes that are buried here in this cemetery as well as many other cemeteries. But one of the guys that I’d like to tell you about, that you may not know about. His name is Hoarce Rivers. Hoarce Rivers grew up a little cross the A-wall creek over in Giddens, Texas. But he eventually got drifted to the army at the same time as I did and he flew one of those helicopters. And he was a good helicopter pilot, one of the better ones. He got shipped to Korea and to Vietnam and he flew combat missions every day. One day when he was coming back from combat missions, he noticed a two and half ton truck. The driver had tried to cross the Mekon River. And the water is too deep and the truck drowned out. And water kept rising and it wouldn’t be but a few minutes before the water would cover the whole truck and him too. After the driver climbed out (the top of the two and half ton truck is canvas and didn’t hold him very well), he found himself bobbing around in the water. Captain Hoarce Rivers saw his predicament and responded to his fellow commerade. This was a heroic act. He said, "that’s one of my Fellow American Soldiers, I can’t let him be swept down the Mekon River and drown." So he figured out a way to fly the helicopter backward with high water rushing by. His vision and his judgment were somewhat impaired. however, he devised a plan. Captain Rivers decided that if he would fly his helicpoter downstream and then back the copper upstream, he would eventually inch his way to the stranded soldier. He mauewenvored the chopper close to the cab of the truck. This allowed the soldier to safely step from the top of the canvas truck into the helicopter. Captain Rivers plan worked and he was able to air lift him safely home. He received important awards for this act of bravery. Captain Rivers returned [to Washington County, Texas] to teaching at Pickard High School. I think the Benfords went to class with him. He was able to impart his philosophy, his leadrship skills and his zeal to all the students at Pickard High. As a result, you can find many of his students, the Benfords and the Willburns and among others who came through  his classes at that time at Pickard High School doing well, wonderful well because he inspired them with his life, with his ability to say, I will do good, I will help somebody else, I will put my life in peril to support somebody else. That philosophy is the same philosophy of Buffalo Soldiers. Now, it's beeing passed down  to a new generation and we are happy to see that type of philosophy going on right now with this Memorial Day tribute. We know the Benfords are in the military now and they are doing well. Young lady is one of the beautiful voices in the world. And when she sang that song, did you notice how your heart tingled? You know there’s something about that song, but there’s also something about [the] person who’s singing it or playing it. It means a lot. Have you ever listened to those words and see what they mean? You know it’s one of those things where those guys were giving it all. They were trying to provide a better place to for all of us to live. And I want to thank the community for doing this ceremony. I want to thank the guys from Navy ROTC. Those guys wearing those pretty uniforms who will be going on active duty pretty soon. I remember back in 1953 wearing a uniform just like that with a gold bar on my collar. It’s a wonderful feeling. Those guys and the young lady have a wonderful future ahead of them and the zeal that they have. They will carry it on. They will keep this thing [this event] alive and their children will pick it up and keep it alive. So I want to say thank you so much for coming. Thank you so much for caring. We appreciate  all the wonderful things you do for the veterans. And God bless you!   ____________________________________________

Jeremy Wellers – Navy ROTC - Prairie View A&M University
"[Good] Morning. It’s an honor to come out today and participate in a day that we get to appreciate our military and be thankful for everything they’ve done for us. I really have to say for our veterans. I’m just learning how to wear these and put these on. (he’s pointing to gold bars on his uniform shoulders) But I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to do what our veterans have done before. It’s truly a different time for military today than it was before. It was a lot harder for them back then. They had  to serve their country like I’m doing here today. They had to persevere, endure, suffer because the military was not always the favorite part of our nation. It wasn’t the best thing in the news. But today it’s a little bit easier for us because the public appreciates the military, enjoy having the military and we have a lot better face than what we had in the past. War’s different. Things they had to see back in the day were a lot tougher, things they experienced, they didn’t have all the technology we have today to make things easier. But if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the nation that we have today and I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today. We’re here from the Prairie View ROTC [and] we are recently commissioned as officers from the Navy. But if it wasn’t for the ROTC, I wouldn’t have what I have. [And] if it wasn’t for the veterans, I wouldn’t have joined. So thank you for inviting us out here. [I] just want to let you know [that] if anybody is ever interested in joining, there’s a way to join. You can serve your country through boot camp or enlist or go the officer route like I have.
"Thank you."


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