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County readies to honor veterans

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Veterans Day activities scheduled

From Lebanon to Mt. Juliet and across Wilson County, residents and community leaders will come together this week to honor local veterans.

Liberty State Bank's annual Veterans Day Breakfast will be the first of the week's events, set for today at 8 a.m. in the East West Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

According to Liberty State Bank North Cumberland Branch Manager and Loan Officer Chris Crowell, hundreds of military veterans and their families attend the annual breakfast. This year, Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan will serve as the featured speaker following the breakfast.

On Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11, the Mt. Juliet Breakfast Rotary Club will host its annual Veterans Day Breakfast at Victory Baptist Church, located at 1777 Tate Lane in Mt. Juliet. The program will begin at 6:45 a.m. with music and Toby Keith's "American Soldier" video.

Col. Joseph Kuchan of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Command Group will be this year's featured speaker at the Mt. Juliet breakfast. Kuchan will discuss the 101st's participation in Desert Storm as they conducted the largest air assault mission in the history of the division during the conflict. World War II veterans will be featured and honored for their service at the breakfast. Organizers say approximately a dozen World War II veterans and their spouses are expected to attend.

Special musical appearances at the Rotary Club breakfast will include The Do Wops, a popular local group, who will be dressed in uniforms reflecting the World War II era as they perform vintage songs of the day as will the Mt. Juliet High School Band and Chorus.

The Mt. Juliet Breakfast Rotary Club hosts the breakfast each year to show appreciation and support for veterans as well as active duty servicemen and women. The event is free for veterans and their spouses as well as members of the community.

Local Veterans Day activities will culminate in Lebanon at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, when the annual Veterans Day Parade travels from the Lebanon Wilson County Library to the new Veterans Park at the Wilson County Courthouse. Organizer and retired Lt. Col. Jim Henderson said the parade will include Gold Star Mothers, Grand Marshal United States Army Lt. Gen. (ret) John M. Pickler, high school bands, veterans, military organizations and many others.

Pickler will also serve as the guest speaker following the parade. He retired with over 36 years of service in the Army and is a 1965 graduate of West Point as an artillery officer and has served in many duty stations throughout his highly honored career including that of Chief of Staff Forces Command (FORSCOM). Pickler and his wife, Karen, make their home in Wilson County.

"We encourage you to attend and show your support for our veterans," American Legion Post 15 Commander Bob Haley said of the Veterans Day Parade and ceremony.

One day later, on Saturday, Nov. 12, Wilson County Concerned Citizens for Veterans will hold its 26th annual Veterans Banquet in the East West Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon at 6 p.m. All veterans are encouraged to attend the event, during which Smith County native Lt. Col. (ret.) Tillman W. Payne III will serve as guest speaker.

A 1977 graduate of Gordonsville High School, Payne graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force. While in the military, Payne was trained as a logistics plans officer, coordinating supply, transportation and maintenance units. His service included duty in Spain as a division chief and South Korea as a unit commander. He was twice hand-selected to serve as an executive officer to top-level officers, once at the Pentagon and later at the Defense Logistics Agency. After 20 years of service, he retired from active duty in 2003.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force, Payne returned to Tennessee and accepted a position as assistant public defender with the 15th Judicial District Public Defenders Office in Wilson County. In 2008, he began private practice law and currently has offices in both Carthage and Nashville. He is married to the former Kimberly Renee Boyd of Riverside, Calif., and the couple has two sons, Chase and Tillman IV.

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