by Debbie Adams
The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA)
celebrated Flag Day, the Army’s 248th birthday, and new recruits in a ceremony at the Vinton
War Memorial on June 11.
Col. (Ret) John Miller, president of the chapter AUSA, was master of ceremonies for the event.
He introduced Vinton Mayor Brad Grose, an Army veteran himself, who welcomed guests and
noted that the Town of Vinton is deeply patriotic with two monuments to veterans within its
three-square miles of territory – the Vinton War Memorial and the High Ground Monument.
The War Memorial was opened to the public in 1948, built to honor those who made the ultimate
sacrifice in World War II. The Vinton-Roanoke County Veterans High Ground Monument, on
the grounds of the War Memorial, was a project initiated by citizens to honor residents who were
killed in action, along with military men and women who have or are currently serving. It was
dedicated in 2011.
The mayor thanked all those who have served in the military, especially those in the U.S. Army
who have remained “constant, consistent, and honorable,” over the years. “I am proud of what
the Army has done for this nation in spreading freedom and defending the flag.”
SFC (Ret.) Rob Hankins, Vice President of the AUSA chapter, in observance of Flag Day, read
the poem “Old Glory,” which says, in part, “I am the flag of the United States of America. I
stand for peace, honor, truth and justice. I stand for freedom. I am recognized all over the world.
I have fought in every battle of every war for more than 200 years: Gettysburg, Shiloh,
Appomattox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the
beaches of Normandy, Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, in the Persian Gulf and a score
of places long forgotten, by all but those who were there with me. I led my Soldiers, Sailors,
Airmen and Marines. I followed them and watched over them. They loved me. I was on a small
hill in Iwo Jima. I was dirty, battle-worn and tired, but my Marines and Sailors cheered me. And
I was proud. I have been soiled, burned, torn, and trampled on the streets of countries that I have
helped set free. It does not hurt, for I have been soiled, burned, torn, and trampled on the streets of my own country and when it is by those I have served in battle with, it hurts. But I shall overcome, for I am strong. I have slipped the bonds of earth and from my vantagepoint on the moon, I stand watch over the uncharted new frontiers of space. I have been silent witness to all of America’s finest hours. But my finest hour comes when I am torn in strips to be used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the field of battle, when I fly at half-mast to honor my Soldiers, my Airman, my Sailors, my Marines, and when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving
mother, at the graveside of her fallen son or daughter. I am proud. My name is ‘Old Glory.’ Long may I wave, dear God, long may I wave.”
The JROTC Color Guard from the Susie G. Gibson Science and Technology Center in Bedford
presented the colors, followed by the playing of the national anthem by the 29th Division Band,
and then the Pledge of Allegiance.
Guest speaker for the ceremony was Major General Cedric T. Wins, USA (Ret.), who is
currently serving as the 15 th Superintendent of Virginia Military Institute (VMI).
Wins is a 34-year veteran of the U.S. Army and a 1985 graduate of VMI with a Bachelor’s
Degree in Economics. He was also a standout basketball player– one of the top five scorers in
school history. He was commissioned into the Army as a field military officer. He holds a
Master’s Degree in Management from the Florida Institute of Technology and another Master’s
Degree in national security and strategic studies from the National War College.
During his years of service, he held leadership and staff assignments in the 7th Infantry Division
(Light), Fort Ord, California; the 2nd Infantry Division, Eighth United States Army, Korea;
Combined Army Support Command (CASCOM), Fort Lee, Virginia; Office of the Deputy Chief
of Staff, Operations, G-3/5/7, Headquarters Department of the Army and the Joint Staff, The
Pentagon; the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; Strategic Planning, J-8, U.S. Special
Operations Command (USSOCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; Program Analysis
Evaluation Directorate (PAED), Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8; and the Requirement
Integration Directorate (RID), Army Capabilities Integration Center, Joint Base Langley-Eustis,
Virginia. He was deployed in Egypt and Afghanistan.
Wins presented a brief history of the U.S. Army, which had its origins in 1775
during the Revolutionary War with the Continental Army, even before the Declaration of
Independence was signed. Virginia provided two of the first six companies of soldiers for the
He said that Virginia’s commitment to the U.S. Army has not abated in the years since. He
applauded the two dozen military installations in Virginia, its two military colleges (VMI and the
Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets) and Mary Baldwin’s Virginia Women’s Institute of Leadership.
He noted that military service is “not an easy task,” born out by the fact that less than 1% of
adults in the United States serve in the military and only about 6% have ever served.” Those who
have chosen to enlist in the armed forces, have served “in national crises and peace time” and
“continue to step forward to answer the nation’s call.”
CPT Shelby Mueller, USAREC, introduced Cooper Purl, a recent Salem High School graduate,
who is entering the U.S. Army to serve as a combat medic. Purl was sworn in by Major General
Wins. Four William Byrd graduates in the Class of 2023 also are joining the Army – Sam
Bautista-Cardenas, Dennis Friedel, Holley Morehead, and Samuel Wilcox.
The ceremony concluded with the cutting of the Army’s 248 th birthday cake with the ceremonial
saber and the singing of “The Army Song.”
The AUSA is a national, non-profit organization providing the voice for the Army and support
for soldiers. It looks after the “Total Army,” all ranks, all components with membership open to
The local Allegheny-Blue Ridge Chapter includes 49 counties in Southwest Virginia and in West
Virginia up to Huntington. Its primary uniformed constituencies are the Army National Guard,
the Army Reserve, the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, 20 Army Junior ROTC programs in
Virginia and 14 in West Virginia and 8 Senior ROTC programs in colleges and universities, the
Army recruiters and Army Civilians. The chapter is also very active with the local Virginia
Veterans Care Center and the VA Medical Center in Salem.