Veterans Program Luncheon Hosted By Martha Dandridge Washington Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Amid chuckles and amused groans, Jane Chambers, Regent of the Martha Dandridge Washington Chapter (MDW), National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), shared an account of “The Worst Road Trip” with honored veterans and guests at the annual MDW Veterans Day luncheon on November 9 at the First United Methodist Church in Dandridge.

Regent Chambers noted that 100 years ago on July 7, a convoy of nearly 100 vehicles including troop carriers, light trucks, sidecar motorcycles, reconnaissance cars, field kitchens, blacksmith shops, and a Renault light tank began what turned into the 1919 Transcontinental Convoy. The trip began in Washington, D.C., and took 62 days to cover 3,251 miles following the Lincoln Highway to its destination in San Francisco.

The convoy, which embarked the year after the end of World War I, was intended to highlight The Good Roads Movement, which urged the improvement of the nation’s dirt and gravel tracks into an organized and paved highway system. Twenty-eight-year-old Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower joined the convoy as an observer, and his report of the problem-plagued journey did much to promote the Townsend Highway Bill which was then under consideration in Congress.

Although the convoy experienced breakdowns and other less serious issues on the first leg of the journey, when it reached Nebraska, serious problems were encountered including driving over or around rickety bridges, sliding into ditches at the sides of mud-covered tracks, pulling heavy vehicles through sand, and running perilously low on water and fuel in Utah.

In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act which made possible the construction of 41,000 miles of good, broad highways, something he had seen the value of while serving in Germany in World War II.

After the entertaining presentation, the chapter honored 24 veterans of the Vietnam War and the Vietnam War era with certificates and pins. Regent Chambers noted that the program was to commemorate the Semicentennial Anniversary of the Vietnam War and that the chapter is a commemorative partner.

The veterans that were honored included the following: U.S. Army: Michael Babel, Becky Bolin Anderson, Larry Cantrell, Wayne Cooper, Michael Ganey, Thomas Hixon (represented by Patsy Hixon), Ernest Jarnigan, Billy Latham, Jerry Loveday, Donald McGhee, Richard Morgan; U.S. Marine Corps: Murrell Jarnigan (represented by Ernest Jarnigan), Donald King, Sr., Norman Long, Albert Sheppard (represented by Deborah Sheppard); U.S. Air Force: Roy Biesecker, Robert Pete Wyatt; and the U.S. Navy: Stephen May and Allen Wolbach (represented by Tammy Wolbach).

Samuel Hammer, Jr., veteran of the U.S. Navy, who had been ill, was presented his certificate and pin on October 7. He passed away October 10.

Those who could not attend included: U.S. Army: Buford Blanton, Gary Knecht, and Arthur Lee. Cathy Mullins, who was to have represented deceased veterans Paul Mullins, U.S. Army, and Robert Hager, U.S. Air Force, was also unable to attend. Those veterans and deceased veterans’ representative will be presented their certificates and pins at a later time.

In addition to the presentation by Regent Chambers and the recognition of veterans, Vice Regent Jill Evans offered opening and closing remarks, Corresponding Secretary Jane Busdeker read “Soldier Poem” by Angela Goodwin, and Chaplain Elizabeth Finchum offered a prayer before the luncheon began.

Two special features of the program included, first, the presentation of the Patriot Table, simply set with a burning candle and a framed list of the names of all of the chapter members’ Revolutionary War Patriots. Prospective Member Janet Guyett, a U.S. Navy veteran stateside service 1977-1990, and Regent Chambers, herself a U.S. Army veteran of Desert Storm, rendered salutes in memory of all Patriots that forged the path for this great nation.

Next, the Missing Man Table Ceremony was presented. The Missing Man Table, meticulously set by chapter member Karen Chambers, included the following: a small table set for one, a white tablecloth, an empty chair, an inverted crystal goblet, a slice of lemon, grains of salt, a single red rose, a red ribbon, a burning candle, and a Holy Bible. Kevin Poe, U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Regent Chambers rendered salutes. Every item and action in the ceremony is symbolic of the lives of those lost or missing in action.

For information about the DAR, contact Registrar Karen McFarland at (865) 258-8670 or Regent Jane Chambers at (865) 591-3857.

Vietnam War and Vietnam War Era Veterans honored by Martha Dandridge Washington Chapter, NSDAR, include: Front (L. to R.) Michael Babel, Roy Biesecker, Becky Bolin Anderson, Larry Cantrell, Wayne Cooper, Michael Ganey, Patsy Hixon (representing Thomas Hixon), Donald King. Sr.; Back (L. to R.) Ernest Jarnigan, Billy Latham, Norman Long, Jerry Loveday, Stephen May, Donald McGhee, Richard Morgan, Tammy Wolbach (representing Allen Wolbach, Robert Pete Wyatt.

Kevin Poe, U.S. Army veteran, and MDW Regent Jane Chambers, U.S. Army veteran, render salutes at the beginning of the Missing Man Table Ceremony.

Source: Submitted by Jane Busdeker, Corresponding Secretary, MDW Chapter, NSDAR