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, honoringthesacrifice.org, 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.

royexum@aol.com

Remembering Dr. Jack Willke - And Response

When I first became active as a Right-to-Life leader in 1975, Dr. Jack Willke (and his wife, Barbara) were the preeminent leaders at the National level.  Rarely did you see one without the other. They literally wrote the book used by Pro-Life activists everywhere, The Handbook on Abortion . I carried it everywhere and studied it over and over. Their books sold ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Placed Under Winter Storm Watch

Hamilton County has been placed under a Winter Storm Watch with a prediction of freezing rain, sleet and snow for Thursday. The new wintry mix is slated to begin around midnight on Wednesday and continue through 4 p.m. on Thursday. There could be up to two inches of snow following up on last week's eight inches.  Here is the Winter Storm Watch: ...WINTER STORM ... (click for more)

Henry Hopes To Bring E-Filing To Clerk's Office This Year; Saving Almost $222,000 On Personnel

Circuit Court Clerk Larry Henry said he hopes to E-Filing of documents and other court papers to the clerk’s office this year.   He said at first it appeared it might take much longer, but that progress is being made to the online program. Mr. Henry told members of the Pachyderm Club that attorneys, litigants and members of the public would be able to go online to view ... (click for more)

Tre Tiller's 22 Leads Central To Region 3-AA Basketball Championship

There just must be something about playing basketball at Chattanooga State that makes the Central Purple Pounders click. Especially when the opponent is the Brainerd Panthers. Facing Brainerd for the fifth time this season and second at Chattanooga State on Monday night, the Purple Pounders defeated the Panthers for the third time. The latest conquest may have ... (click for more)

Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame Dinner Highlights

Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame Highlights   by B.B.  Branton   A softball warrior playing the game for parts of six decades, a baseball pitcher who was nearly non-hittable for Lookout Valley, a pioneer with the Chattanooga Track Club, a legend in the local swim league and a pair of younger brothers who overcame the backyard battles with ... (click for more)