Red Cross honors Pine Belt military members

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The American Red Cross South Mississippi Chapter is hosting its second annual Stars and Stripes: Salute to the Military event on Thursday, July 24 from 6-10 p.m. at the University of Southern Mississippi Thad Cochran Center Ballroom located at 118 College Drive in Hattiesburg.

Honorees include retired Col. Sheila Varnado, U.S. Army; retired Lt. Col. Raylawni Branch, U.S. Air Force Reserve; retired Lt. Col. Fred Varnado, U.S. Army; and former Staff Sgt. Steven Effa, U.S. Air Force.

In addition to the awards and recognition for each honoree, a keynote address will be given by Major General Buford "Buff" Blount, III (Ret.), U.S. Army. Major General Blount was the Commanding General, 3rd Infantry Division, in the spring of 2003 when he led his forces in defeating the Iraqi army and capturing Baghdad after 21 days of continuous fighting.

WDAM-TV News Anchor Mike McDaniel will serve as emcee. The evening will also feature entertainment by Rewind featuring Lady Patrice and a silent auction. Several local restaurants will be on hand serving tastings of their favorite menu items.

Tickets are fifty dollars each and can be purchased at the Hattiesburg Red cross office located at 2020 Hardy Street or at door of the event.