Roy Exum: Hero To Honor Heroes

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

There have been almost a dozen books written about an intense military battle that was called Operation Gothic Serpent. But it is the movie that was made following the Battle of Mogadishu that caused the epic encounter to be known forever as “Black Hawk Down.”

In the award-winning film, actor Tom Sizemore portrays Col. Danny McKnight and, if you want a better look at the hero who was the commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion in Somalia on the bleak night of Oct. 3, 1991, another hero will give you the opportunity when the highly-decorated McKnight, now retired, will speak in Chattanooga at the first annual American Heroes Dinner.

The banquet, which will be held at the Chattanoogan Hotel on June 6, is being sponsored by The Honoring the Sacrifice Foundation, which was started by “Wounded Warrior” Andrew Smith and his family. Andrew, who lost both legs when he stepped on a hidden bomb in Afghanistan on his first patrol after he graduated from college, barely survived the savage blast.

As he recovered from his injuries, Andrew and his wife Tori were drawn to the needs of other soldiers who have been horribly injured that they met during many months of recuperation at Walter Reed Military Medical Hospital in Bethesda, Md. “The goal of The Honoring the Sacrifice Foundation is to provide the needed resources, financial and material, to severely injured men and women and their immediate families, whose injuries were incurred while in service to our country.  

“The foundation does not offer specific programs,” read a news release, “Instead, we answer the direct needs, large and small, of the injured service member. The foundation also seeks to promote community awareness and create opportunities to express gratitude for the sacrifices that our military men and women make on a daily basis.”

Andrew knows what it means when total strangers lift you up. On July 4, 2013, an army of mostly strangers wearing “Team Andrew” T-shirts presented him the keys to a magnificent house in Ooltewah that had been built in just one week. The “house-raising,” inspired by Mark Wilson after his son almost died in a tornado, is viewed by some as the greatest outpouring of love ever witnessed in Chattanooga.

Now Andrew and Tori want to “pass it forward” by helping others who have made a sacrifice for their country. Two heroes, Sgt. Josh Wetzel and Spc. Corey Garmon, are pictured on the foundation’s website and are expected to be among those introduced at the June 6th banquet, which will begin at 7 p.m. The date marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Col.  McKnight had a distinguished career in the Army after graduating from Florida State in 1973. His awards include the Legion of Merit  (2OLC), the Bronze Star Medal W/V Device, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious  Service Medal (5OLC), the Army Commendation Medal (1OLC), the Army  Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal w/Bronze Star, the Armed  Forces Expeditionary Medal w/Arrowhead and Bronze Star, the Combat  Infantryman’s Badge, the Ranger Tab, The Master Parachutist Badge w/Bronze  Star and the Pathfinder Badge.

Tickets to the banquet are now on sale ($60 each) and a VIP party for patrons will be held prior to the dinner. Sponsorship tables and tickets can be purchased on the website,, or by mailing checks to American Heroes Dinner, Honoring the Sacrifice Foundation, PO Box 21806, Chattanooga, TN 37424. Those wishing for additional information should contact Tori Smith at 423/910-9129 and any donations to help injured soldiers can be made to the mailing address. The foundation is a 501c3 charity.

The Questionable Documentation Fee At Car Dealerships

I am in the market for a newer car. Not new, used. My experiences with dealers here and surrounding states mystifies. One dealer charges no documentation fee while another, same town, charges $300, $400 and up to a $1,000 documentation fee. The arbitrary charges from one dealership to the next is an obstacle to purchasing a car.  Imagine, if you will, that when you went ... (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

We welcome your opinions at Email to . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone number. We do not post the contact information, but need it for verification. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Says $4 Million Needed To Put SROs In All Hamilton County Schools

Sheriff Jim Hammond on Thursday night told members of the County School Board that $4 million is needed to provide School Resource Officers for all of the 79 schools. He said currently there are 31 SROs in 29 schools, leaving 50 uncovered. School Board member Rhonda Thurman said she believes the community could come together to provide the necessary funding. "It's something ... (click for more)

Judge Philyaw Denies He Did Not Reappoint Magistrate Because She Was Gay

Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw told a federal jury on Thursday that the fact Elizabeth Gentzler is openly gay had no part in his decision not to reappoint her as a magistrate. "Absolutely not. I have a lot of gay friends, family and acquaintances," he said. However, a court officer at Juvenile Court sided with Ms. Gentzler. Jimmie Cannon said, "Ninety-nine percent ... (click for more)

Central Nips Signal Mountain With Late Rally, 4-3

Since dropping down to Class AA after the 2009 softball season, the Central Lady Pounders have owned District 6-2A competition. The Lady Pounders have rolled out dominate pitching and clutch hitting in a way that has been anything but fair to the opposition.   The dawning of the new season along with a new coach, however, was supposed to signal an end to the tight ... (click for more)

Currie To Get $2.5 Million In UT Separation Agreement

The University of Tennessee announced it has completed an amicable resolution parting ways with former Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics John Currie. The University has agreed to pay John Currie $2.5 million payable as follows: Currie will be paid $2,220,454.60 no later than April 1, Currie has already been paid his salary for December 2017 through February ... (click for more)