Monday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. There is an annual observance of Veterans Day at Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Held at Veterans Plaza, the observance traditionally begins at 11 a.m. I plan to be there for the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Known Soldier. Please take advantage of this opportunity to thank a veteran.

J.L. Vaughn Jr., veteran of the Korean War

Mr. Vaughn served valiantly in Korea with the 25th Engineer Combat Battalion. In 1953, Vaughn’s battalion was repairing a road when an enemy mortar shell fell in their area and he was hit by shrapnel! He went by ambulance to an Army hospital. Later on he had some other health problems for which he was sent to the hospital in Pusan. From there he was transferred to two other hospitals before being transported home to the U.S. to a hospital in South Carolina. Finally, in April 1953, he was transported to Rome, Georgia.

Life after the Korean War

Mr. Vaughn attended Knoxville College where he completed his college education in 1957. He subsequently attended the University of Georgia where he earned his master’s degree. He retired in 1988, after a 30-year career in education.

SGM Thomas Ware, a veteran of VietnamSGM Thomas Ware (U.S. Army, retired), of Atlanta, valiantly served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He was a member of the 1st Air Cavalry Division, U.S. Army, Airmobile Infantry (Vietnam and Cambodia). Sadly, after battling lung cancer, SGM Ware passed away Oct. 25, 2019.

The Battle of the la Drang Valley

Nov. 14, 1965, led by the 1st Cavalry Division, the Battle of the la Drang Valley involved 35 days of continuous airmobile operations. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 7th Cavalry, with the 1st Battalion of the 5th Cavalry, battled more than three North Vietnamese regiments and a Viet Cong battalion. The 1st Cavalry Division was Thomas’ unit. He was one of the few who survived the awful Battle of the la Drang Valley.

JROTC instructor at North Atlanta High SchoolAfter his service in Vietnam, Ware returned to the U.S. and subsequently was promoted to Sergeant Major, one of the few African Americans promoted to that rank. Upon retirement from the Army, SGM Ware became the lead JROTC instructor at North Atlanta High School. That is when I met him. In 1996, my son, Paul, enrolled in JROTC at North Atlanta High School and SGM Ware was his instructor. We have great memories of SGM Ware’s command of North Atlanta’s ever-competitive, high-achieving rifle team, of which Paul was a member. SGM Ware encouraged and inspired Paul to become a successful leader.

American heroes

Although these veterans never met each other, they have several things in common. These men are both Christians and active members of their respective churches. They are both natives of Georgia, and they are Army veterans, husbands, and fathers. Vaughn and Ware both had careers as educators when they completed their military service. These veterans loved their family and friends, their homes and their country. Vaughn, and Ware answered our country’s call to service with steadfast courage. Bravely they carried out their orders. I remain exceedingly grateful to them for their service to our country, and for their instruction, mentoring, encouragement and education of our youth. J.L. Vaughn and the late SGM Thomas Ware are American heroes.

To the late SGM Ware’s family, our sincerest thanks for his service to our country and our heartfelt condolences to you. To J.L. Vaughn, and all our veterans, many thanks for your service. Happy Veterans Day!

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, avid cyclist, history enthusiast and ardent reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at

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