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Memorial Day 2023 – Vietnam veteran to speak about ‘honoring and remembering’
Public invited to Monday observance at Averitt Center
Phil Crowley
Vietnam veteran Phil Crowley, shown above, will be the keynote speaker at Monday's 11 a.m. Memorial Day observance at the Averitt Center. - photo by Special to the Herald

Statesboro’s American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 invites the public to join together in honoring the community’s local heroes during Monday’s 2023 Memorial Day Observance. 

Vietnam veteran Phil Crowley will be the keynote speaker for the annual event held inside the Averitt Center for the Arts.

The program, which begins with a musical performance at 10:30 a.m., will begin at 11 a.m. 

Chester McBride
A cross honoring Statesboro native Chester McBride is shown above outside the Bulloch County Courthouse. United States Air Force Staff Sgt. McBride was killed during his third tour in Afghanistan in December 2015 after sacrificing his body to save the lives of his battalion from a suicide bomber. All Bulloch County natives killed in military action since World War I have a cross similar to McBride's this week at the courthouse. - photo by JIM HEALY/staff

During the introductory music, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office will post the colors. Post 90 Commander Gary Martin will welcome guests and Post 90 Chaplain Mark Skarhus will offer the opening prayer. 

A 1966 graduate of Statesboro High School, Crowley arrived in Vietnam during the TET Offensive of 1968. He served with the 6th Battalion and 14th Artillery in Pleiku, Dakto, Kontum and BenHet. While in Vietnam, Crowley said he was given the nickname “Country” since he was from Georgia. He is married to Denise and they have a son and a daughter.

“I’m going to focus on honoring and remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom in all wars from the Revolutionary War to the present,” Crowley said. “I love my country very much and I fought for it in Vietnam. 

“For me, Memorial Day is a very important day. I hope people who are enjoying the day off with a barbecue or on a trip will just take a moment and just remember. I don’t want these lives, these people, to be forgotten. I don’t want their sacrifice to be in vain.

“I would like people to live a life to their fullest. Because not to do so, and not to remember, would be a disservice to the men and women who were killed for our freedom.”

After the prayer, Post Senior Vice-Commander Charles “Skip” Campbell will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Averitt Center Director Robert Faller will welcome guests. 

A letter from a grieving mother will be read by Tara Dunn-Ofray and will be followed by observation of the entombing of fallen veterans of Bulloch County who lost their lives in World War I and II, (Atlantic and Pacific Theater); the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Iraq/Afghanistan War and other current hostilities. 

Crowley will then offer his keynote address and, during part of his speech, he, too, will offer remembrances of people he served with who lost their lives.

“There is a portion of the address where I will honor the men I served with and were killed,” Crowley said. “I will call their names. I lost a lot of brothers in action and also to Agent Orange and to personal demons that overtook them when they returned.”

The Memorial Day Observance is hosted by the American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 and Averitt Center for the Arts. It is supported and sponsored by various local businesses and individuals. 

Also, veterans and others in attendance at Monday’s observance are invited to the Legion Post on Rucker Lane in Statesboro for hamburgers and hot dogs.

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