A ‘banner’ way to honor U.S. military vets
● By Steven Hoffman
Last week, banners honoring five U.S. military veterans were hung on lightposts in downtown Oxford.
Motorists and pedestrians can now see these Hometown Hero banners that pay tribute to the military service of CPL. Curtis R. Teel, SPC. John Mosley, Petty Officer John “Jack” Lynch, CMGST. Robert Stewart, Jr., and Petty Officer John W. Orcutt, Jr. The local Oxford American Legion Roy W. Gibson Post 535 is hopeful that many more Hometown Hero banners will be on display in time for Memorial Day of 2016.
John Thompson, a council member for Oxford Borough, was at a convention for borough officials when he saw information about the Hometown Hero banners that had been put on display in other municipalities. He liked the idea, and talked about it with Oxford Borough officials and members of the local American Legion Post.
“It’s a good way to recognize veterans in our area,” said Thompson, who served in the Navy. “I want to emphasize how important our veterans are—past and present.”
Thompson, who is also a Finance Officer with the Oxford American Legion Roy W. Gibson Post 535, said that every time he talked to people about the Hometown Hero banners, they were supportive. The Oxford American Legion Roy W. Gibson Post 535 paid for the first five Hometown Hero banners. This kind of support for veterans in Oxford is not unusual. According to Thompson, Oxford is very good at honoring its servicemen and servicewomen. He mentioned several illustrations, including the fact that the Memorial Day ceremonies are always well-attended. Efforts are also made to honor those veterans who can’t made it out for the Memorial Day Parade. A local high school student, Kassidy England, completed a project last year that resulted in a permanent display honoring those people who attended Oxford Area High School and also serviced in the military. The Wreaths Across America effort that places wreaths on the graves of military veterans each December is also productive in Oxford.
The Hometown Heroes banners are one more way to honor military veterans. The banners can honor any U.S. military veteran in the area, not just Oxford Borough residents.
Thompson said that he was very pleased with the banners that are already in place. The first group of veterans to be honored includes Mosley, who served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1964. Teel served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Stewart is a U.S. Air Force member who was in the Iraq War. Orcutt was in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II. Lynch served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.
Thompson’s duties in the Navy found him aboard the U.S.S. Cole on Oct. 12, 2002, the day that it was hit by a terrorist attack. Seventeen U.S. sailors lost their lives that day, and 39 more were injured. One of Thompson’s friends who died in the attack was from about a half an hour away. Thompson said that he thinks there will be a lot of interest in honoring veterans with these Hometown Hero banners.
Families will need to send photos and information about the veteran's service in the military, including the branch of the military that he or she served in. Thompson will forward that information to the company that makes the banners. Thompson said that families interested in honoring a loved one with a banner should contact him between now and April so that the banners can all be ready in advance of Memorial Day.
“I’d like to have the banners up for the month of May,” Thompson said.
Anyone who wants more information about honoring a loved one with a hometown hero banner can call Thompson at 610-335-5476.