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Wayne DAV chapter celebrates 75th year

By Mary Ellis
Reprinted with permission from the Commonwealth Journal

Through the years, our military veterans have continually stood the test of time with their family members along side them. Many servicemen were drafted back in the day, while others considered it a 'calling' and volunteered. Lots of men and women came home from the military after fighting a good fight, while others sadly gave all - their lives.

As we're only days away from Christmas, a different kind of battle continues to rage in 2020 and has already claimed a massive number of casualties. This first ever COVID-19 stricken year, marks 100 years for a powerful Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization.

The DAV was founded by World War I veterans to assist disabled military personnel and their families.

It's even more special for Wayne County veterans as their local DAV Chapter 105 will celebrate its 75th year in 2021, and their oldest living member is 95 years old.

Orman Burton is an inspiration, as he served with General George S. Patton's Army in Germany before moving on to Austria. (Patton drove forces deep into Nazi Germany by the end of the war. Monday, December 21, will mark 75 years since his death, not from the war, but due to an auto accident in Germany.)

Since Burton's return from serving our country, he and his wife Elaine have been a part of the farming community in the Conley Bottom area for many years. He actively farmed until reaching the age of 72 in 1997.

To this day, the DAV organization continues to assist disabled military men and women and their families through various means. The DAV lives up to its motto - fulfilling their promises to the men and women who served.

In an effort by locals in the military to conquer and overcome, there was blood shed and lives lost. Even today, this creates an ongoing need to honor those who fought for our freedoms and came home with mental and physical disabilities.

One hundred years was reason for celebration in 2020 for the DAV organization, but there wasn't one due to COVID-19. In 2021, Wayne County Chapter 105 will continue to give back to Wayne, McCreary, Clinton, Cumberland and a portion of Pulaski County.

For our veterans who made it back home, their wartime experiences have kept lots them from living a normal life as we know it. Battle scars create dramatic aftermaths. One local veteran referred to the Vietnam War, comparing his time in service to putting guns into the hands of children to do battle.

Not only locals, but folks around the world still grieve lost loved ones or the missing in action. Those losing a family member or perhaps even the boy next door brings sorrow up close and personal.

Wayne County's War Memorial just outside the Justice Center in Downtown Monticello contains all names of our local servicemen dying in different conflicts - a remembrance of the loss of lives here in our hometown.

Wayne County Chapter 105 is not only comprised of five counties, but entails 250-plus members from Kentucky and several other states. Commander Jeff Morgan spoke recently of their 20-member Honor Guard being the biggest in the Commonwealth.

Morgan is the youngest member at age 58 and Bob Back is the senior participating Honor Guard member at 90 years of age. The Honor Guard provides many heartfelt military services at gravesites. Their final respects and tribute consists of a 21 gun salute, taps and folding of the U.S. flag to present to family members.

After a local veteran's last request was a military funeral, Chapter 105 former Commander Don Lair took the idea of an Honor Guard before the DAV which approved funding support. City and county governments also provided monies to make the military services possible.

During the onset of 2020, the local DAV Honor Guard offered the special tribute upon request, but now they cannot follow through with those type services due to coronavirus. It takes at least 12 members to conduct a service and for the longest time, they were averaging about a funeral a week.

Chapter 105 is the only DAV Chapter in the area conducting these type services and, on occasion, it's difficult when it involves a veteran or family member they know. Funeral homes normally contact the Honor Guard when family members request the service.

They are not compensated and it's a year-round tradition. Under normal circumstances, the only requirement for Honor Guard services is the deceased honorably discharged veteran be from any branch of service.

Anyone interested in joining Wayne County DAV Chapter 105 may contact Commander Jeff Morgan at 606-307-8719. Especially in this time of unrest, Chapter 105 appreciates and thanks all veterans 'past and present' for their service. They would like to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas time.

This story was posted on 2020-12-22 08:40:57
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Veteran Burton served with Gen. Patton's Army

2020-12-22 - Wayne County, KY - Photo from writer Mary Ellis, The Commonwealth Journal.
Orman Burton, now 95, and the oldest member of Wayne County's DAV chapter, is shown at right as an Army soldier in the European theater of World War II. He and Elaine made their home in the Conley Bottom community.

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