Veterans from World War II onward to Iraq and Afghanistan will be on hand Sundayas First Baptist Church opens Fourth of July week festivities with its splashy 26th annual Carolina Celebration of Liberty.
The flag-filled red, white-and-blue celebration at the historic downtown church will feature flags, musical performances and songs made from all of America’s wars, from World War II to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and conclude with indoor fireworks.
The performances are set for 4 and 7:30 p.m., with doors opening one hour before the performances. All tickets have been distributed for the 4 p.m. performance but about 800 remain for the 7:30 p.m. performance, said church spokeswoman Sylvia Rish. The free tickets are available at the church box office, 1306 Hampton St., which will be open Saturday 9 a.m.-noon.
Along with the First Baptist choir and orchestra, the Fort Jackson 282nd Army Band and the All Star Brass Band featuring students from area high schools will perform. Color guards from all branches of the armed services will salute veterans. This year, veterans of the Korean war will be highlighted, said Rish, although all military personnel will have an opportunity to stand and be recognized.
“We do have a special song that came from the Korean war that will be sung,” she said. SCETV will air an edited version of the hour-long program on July 4 at 7pm.
Among the special guests:
T. Moffatt Burriss, who served in the 82nd Airborne Division and participated in the Waal Rivers Crossing in Holland and capture of the bridge at Nijmegen during Operation Market-Garden in World War II. The Army captain was portrayed in the movie, “A Bridge Too Far” by actor Robert Redford and wrote a book about his exploits, “Strike and Hold.” A documentary, first aired on SCETV and now broadcast nationally on PBS stations, highlights his exploits.
Retired Col. J.R. Sanderson served as a platoon leader in Korea, company commander in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the commander of the Lead Unit Task Force Panther, 3rd Infantry Division in the initial invasion of Iraq fighting in six decisive battles. He retired as chief of staff at Fort Jackson.
Retired Major Gen. Francis Eli Wishart Jr., who served two tours of duty in Vietnam with the Military Assistance Advisory Group and Special Forces. He has held command and staff positions with the 2nd Army, 3rd Army, 108th Army Reserves, 120th Army Command. From 2000-06 he was the commander of the S.C. State Guard and directed The South Carolina Military Department Homeland Defense Program.
Reginald B. Salisbury, an army corporal at the time, went ashore on D-Day at Omaha Beach during World War II. On Aug. 12, 1944 during the Battle at Montaigne, France, his unit was captured by the Germans and he was held as a prisoner of war.
Clifford E. “Ike” Eisenhower, a master sergeant, fought in Korea. His unit was hit with heavy casualties as they fought for Elko and Carson in Panmunjom. He later served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
Joseph N. Tate was serving in Vietnam as a sergeant first class when his armored vehicle was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade. He pulled three of the four men out of the flaming vehicle, never knowing their eventual fate. Forty years later, he met one of the men whom he saved.
Bobby E. Price Sr. was playing minor league baseball when he was called to go to Korea. The first sergeant led his men to take a ridge in Korea, charging the hill five times in two days before finally wresting control from the North Koreans.
James “Boo” Alford was assigned to headquarters 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and later 173rd Special Forces. The command sergeant major was in combat in Korea with the 92nd Military Police Battalion and served for 80 months on four tours of Vietnam.
Theodore S. “Ted” Bell served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In World War II, he was assigned to the famed 77th Infantry Division. As a second lieutenant, he led his 200-man company on a daring night raid on a ridge in Okinawa. Only 22 men in his company survived.
Harvey S. Teal served in Italy and helped fulfill the roles of the military at the conclusion of World War II.