Six new inductees to join Patriots Association Hall of Honor at Nov. 8 luncheon

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Six new members will be inducted into the Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association’s Hall of Honor at the annual Patriots Day Luncheon on Nov. 8 at The Venue at Coosa Landing.

They are Jimmy Ray Bozeman, Craig Ford, the late James Tollie Godfrey, Donnie R. Hunter, Russell S. Jones and the late George Franklin Towers.

Members of the Gadsden City High School JROTC lead the Gadsden Veterans Parade down Broad Street on Nov. 6, 2019. The parade and the annual Patriots Luncheon that precedes it are set for Nov. 8 this year.
Members of the Gadsden City High School JROTC lead the Gadsden Veterans Parade down Broad Street on Nov. 6, 2019. The parade and the annual Patriots Luncheon that precedes it are set for Nov. 8 this year.

The guest speaker will be retired Air National Guard Brigadier Gen. Jeffrey L. Newton, assistant commissioner of operations and chief of staff for the Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs. Newton has extensive military logistics management and readiness experience, and served overseas in Operations Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

The luncheon will be followed by the annual Veterans Parade on Broad Street.

Bozeman retired as a master sergeant from the Air Force after 36 years’ service. He’s had many overseas deployments — Italy, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are among his stops — and took part in operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Southern Watch. He was deployed in response to hurricanes Frederick and Hugo and for the blizzard of 1993 in Gadsden. He’s active in his church and community affairs.

Ford, the current mayor of Gadsden and a native of the city, was a longtime state legislator and has a more than three-decade military career after graduating from Auburn University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1991. He currently is a major in the U.S. Army National Guard and commander of the Fort McClellan Training Site.

Godfrey, an Army sergeant first class, grew up in Hokes Bluff and joined the military at age 17. He spent 11 of his 20 years of service overseas, with three tours in Germany, two in Vietnam and one in Korea. He was credited in the book “We Were Soldiers Once and Young” by one of its authors, Lt. Gen. Harold Moore, with “saving many lives during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley” in his role as battalion ammo sergeant.

Hunter spent 39 years in Army National Guard and Active Guard service, retiring as a sergeant major. He deployed to both Kuwait and Iraq, earning combat patches and numerous medals. He has coordinated Gadsden’s Veterans Parade for several years, participated in high school career days and various fundraisers, and also was involved in launching the Patriots Association’s Memorial Day ceremony, serving as keynote speaker in 2008 and organizing the National Guard rifle squad.

Jones had 39 years of military service in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Alabama Army National Guard, retiring as a master sergeant. He received multiple honors in various roles during his career, which included a deployment to Afghanistan. Locally, he helped set up military equipment for high school career days and RiverFest, helped establish the Patriots Association’s Memorial Day Ceremony (he serves on the group’s board) and was squad leader for the rifle salute squad.

Towers, a chief gunner's mate in the U.S. Naval Reserve, died on Oct. 31, 1941, in a German attack on the U.S.S. Reuben James, a destroyer escorting convoys. He is considered Alabama’s first casualty in World War II. He is known for providing a flare gun to a Navy firefighter to use to signal for help from a lifeboat. The firefighter later sought out Towers’ family and found them in Gadsden.

Doors at The Venue will open at 11 a.m. and the program will start at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $25 and are available from Patriots Association members, at The Chamber of Gadsden & Etowah County (1 Commerce Square) and the Greater Gadsden Area Tourism office in the Downtown Civic Center (623 Broad St.).

The parade downtown will start at 2 p.m.

Call Greater Gadsden Area Tourism, 256-549-0351, for more information.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association to add six to Hall of Honor