Published 6:14 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023
GATESVILLE – William Glenn Ward of the Sandy Cross community near Hobbsville is part of the reason why so many red blooded Americans stop and pay tribute on Nov. 11 to our nation’s brave military veterans.
Ward, who just turned 79 on Nov. 7, served in Vietnam from Dec. 19, 1969 to March 7, 1971. He was stationed at Long Binh Military Base with the 720th Military Police Battalion B Company under the 18th Military Police Brigade.
His company, known as “The Bushwhackers”, was responsible for protecting the 22 square miles around Long Binh by preventing North Vietnamese and Viet Cong infiltration of waterways and land areas around the base. The Bushwhackers joined infantry soldiers on the front lines conducting patrols and ambushes, and participating in search-and-destroy missions and defending local villages.
The Military Police Company was not recognized for performing along with infantry in a combat situation until this year…..over 50 years after the fact.
On July 24, 2023, on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, Ward, along with 55 former members of the 720th Military Police Battalion’s B Company, were awarded the Bronze Star for “meritorious service in a combat zone”.
Congressman Bob Latta, R-Ohio, was instrumental in getting the MP’s the recognition they deserved. Congressman Latta stated, “This is an important step in recognizing the MP soldiers who were deployed by the Army to perform duties outside their original intended assignment.”
At Saturday’s Veterans Day ceremony held inside the historic Gates County Courthouse, Ward stood proud among others who served our nation.
The featured speaker at the ceremony was Margaret Ann Bays Tankovich, Colonel, Retired, United States Army, formerly of Gates County.
As the daughter of a 30-year Army veteran, Tankovich said she learned about patriotism at a very early age.
“I remember how my heart skipped a beat at parades when I would hear our National Anthem or when the color guard passed in review and displayed Old Glory,” she recalled. “I remember how my father looked in his uniform, and I remember the pride in his voice when he talked about how fortunate we were to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I also remember how much he cared about his fellow soldiers.”
Tankovich followed in her father’s footsteps. She was commissioned in the US Army on the same day she graduated from East Carolina University in 1969. Two years later she married a Viet Nam war veteran. They went on to serve active duty tours in Germany, Korea, and Japan.
She retired in 2000 with over 30 years of military service and now watches proudly as her youngest daughter serves in the US Army.
Upon asking the veterans in the audience to stand, Tankovich listed some of the reasons they all chose to serve in the military, to include patriotism, opportunity, tradition, a chance to test the limits of our capability, a chance to be trained in a skill that will transfer to civilian life, and to be a part of a lifetime bond based on shared core values, goals, and experiences.
She then asked others in the audience of the importance of honoring military veterans.
“It is important because freedom is not free,” she stressed. “Those who take the oath understand they may be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice. There are those who gave it all, and we honor them on Memorial Day. Those who survive did not give their lives, but they all gave up something. All of us understand that service means time away from home and family, sometimes for months or years. Many of us know veterans who have returned with life altering disabilities from physical injuries or PTSD.
“Yes, it is important to be thankful for the gift of freedom our veterans have served and fought for, but as President John F. Kennedy pointed out, ‘As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them’,” she concluded.