By BRAD KELLAR
Friday’s first day of the annual Audie Murphy Days celebration featured a variety of stirring tributes to veterans and patriotism.
Those attending the event at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center heard the tale of the famous Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, had a chance to browse vendors offering an extensive collection of military memorabilia and learned firsthand what it takes to rise to the top of an organization which carries Murphy’s name.
Audie Murphy Days continues today with events scheduled at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center during the morning and at the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum during the afternoon and evening.
Friday morning’s opening ceremonies featured retired Lt. Col. Don Houk, who portrayed General Jimmy Doolittle telling of the daring bombing raid against Japan during the opening days of World War II.
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Slough offered the story of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club at Fort Sill, Okla., an organization exclusively for distinguished non-commissioned officers, which seeks to keep Murphy’s memory and ideals alive. Slough, from Greenville, is president of the club and is the first Hunt County resident to be inducted into the organization.
Members of the Audie Murphy Club posted the colors Friday while Slough’s father, Royce Slough of Greenville, sang the National Anthem.
Ron Wensel served as master of ceremonies for Friday’s activities, which also included musical interludes from Greenville High School Music Director Jordan Ricks and the Greenville Middle School Select Choir, a welcome from John Hanners, the President of the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum in Greenville; recognition of Murphy’s family members who were in attendance, a medley of films and newsreels, Audie Bingo and a spaghetti dinner and concert featuring Mark Wright.
Audie Murphy Days is a two-day event honoring the Hunt County native who went on to become the most decorated hero of World War II and a successful movie actor, as well as all veterans.
The following is a schedule for today’s activities:
Fletcher Warren Civic Center
9 a.m., Exhibition room opens/registration/coffee
9:30 a.m., Morning session, “USO” program
Master of ceremonies, Stacy Foley
Post colors, Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, Fort Sill, Okla.
GHS Flaming Flashes
Bonham Jazz Band
Retire colors, Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, Fort Sill, Okla.
Afternoon activities move to Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum
2 p.m., Trace Chinworth, Women in the Military
3 p.m., Movie, “Stage Door Canteen”
5:30 p.m., Hot dogs, popcorn and soft drinks (donations accepted)
6 p.m., Movie drawing, Larry Winters
6:15 p.m., David Williams, Q & A session about just published book, “Audie Murphy’s Film & Television Co-Stars from A to Z”
7 p.m., Movie, “40 Guns to Apache Pass”
8:30 p.m., Candlelight remembrance at Audie’s statue
Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, Steve Ramsey
“God Bless America,” Brenda Estes
“Taps,” Chip Cole.