MCTC remembers Iraq, Afghanistan vets
HUNTINGTON -- Retired Army Sgt. Cory Payne was up at 4 a.m. Monday, reading aloud the names of heroes.
As director of Military Programs at Mountwest Community and Technical College, he was the first reader to kick off MCTC's participation in Remembrance Day National Roll Call, an event in which 69 schools from 33 states participated Monday.
Volunteers from the college and the community read aloud the name of every person killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. That's 6,599 names, along with their rank, branch of service and home state. West Virginia Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, closed the ceremony with a moment of silence, after reading the list of the 37 killed who were from West Virginia.
"It's vitally important that we not only honor our veterans, but provide services for veterans who made it possible for us to have a free country," said Plymale, whose father, Shearl Plymale, was stationed in the Philippines and Japan at the end of World War II. His father didn't ask for much, Plymale said, but the one request he had was to have a military funeral for his passing in 2010.
Others who participated Monday included MCTC faculty, staff, students and their relatives, as well as representatives of the Cabell and Wayne sheriff's departments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Army recruiting office at the Huntington Mall and others. Some who read names had served in the conflicts and recognized names of those killed.
"I know some of them," Payne said. "One lived right beside of me when I was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. When his name came up, I could remember sitting there working on his car because he didn't know how to do it.
"One guy had four Marines killed there, and he heard their names read and then he left. He was a little upset, but he stayed back and watched. ... You just can't forget them."