Hattiesburg’s Memorial Day ceremony pays special honor to Operation Iraqi Freedom fallen soldiers

On Monday, 173 names were called out, honoring the lives of fallen Pine Belt soldiers.
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 7:12 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - On Monday, 173 names were called out, honoring the lives of fallen Pine Belt soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The City of Hattiesburg and Hattiesburg Veterans Committee’s 40th Memorial Day ceremony gave special honor to three soldiers killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom: Joshua Bunch, William Blount and Anthony Magee.

Chairman of the Hattiesburg Veterans Committee Ted Tibbett said the three soldiers honored were special and young enough to still have surviving family members.

“They are the last three, and we hope the very last three on our pillars,” said Tibbett. “We will always honor them and the others for their service to our country.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, who led the charge into Iraq in March 2003 as head of the Third Infantry Division, was the guest speaker at this year’s event. Two of the three Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers that were killed in action and honored at the event were under his command.

Blount said that people need to continue to recognize Memorial Day.

“War is ugly, death is ugly, but this is an opportunity for us to express the feelings of our country for the family members who are left behind,” Blount said. “They are the ones that are suffering today. It’s very important to recognize their suffering, their pain and help them heal.”

The family of Hattiesburg native Ensign Jesse L. Brown was also honored during the event.

Brown was the country’s first Black Naval aviator. His plane was shot down in 1950 during the Korean War. The major motion picture “Devotion” honored his life and was released in 2022.

Brown’s daughter Pamela Knight said she tries to attend the event annually in memory of her father.

“It’s just been a blessing, and I’m just so appreciative of all the things that the City of Hattiesburg has done to honor their favorite son or one of their favorite sons,” said Knight.

The entire ceremony can be viewed on the City of Hattiesburg’s Facebook page.

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