The North Alabama Veterans and Fraternal Organizations Coalition celebrated its 20th anniversary with a luncheon Oct. 6 at The Summit.
Coalition President KC Bertling hosted the event, which consisted of a White Table Ceremony honoring American servicemembers who are prisoners of war, missing in action or killed in action, a slideshow highlighting the coalition’s recent activities, and an address honoring the coalition and some of its past members.
Distinguished guests included Redstone Senior Commander Lt. Gen. Donnie Walker, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and speaker retired Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, among others.
Phillips retired in May 2014 while serving as the Army’s senior acquisition officer. After retiring from the Army, he went on to work in the private sector, retiring in February as the vice president of Army/special operations forces at Boeing.
“There is a significant synergy through this coalition,” Phillips said. “You all perform a great service to our veterans and their families, and all the folks in the Tennessee Valley and elsewhere are so fortunate for what you do every day.”
Phillips thanked the coalition for their continued support of the armed forces in North Alabama, saying that throughout his travels he has found “nothing better than the Tennessee Valley” when it comes to honoring and supporting veterans and servicemembers.
“Our Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, our civilians, our first responders and our veterans have a special place in our hearts, and you being here today so validates that statement,” Phillips said.
He highlighted the stories of three Korean veterans, including Billy Neal, who was in attendance at the event, and Army chaplain Capt. Emil Kapaun, who died in captivity in 1951 and was just laid to rest on Sept. 29 after his remains were recovered.
The coalition consists of 30 member organizations, including: Air Force Association Tennessee Valley Chapter; Madison American Legion Post 229; Clayton E. Moneymaker American Legion Post 237; Association of the U.S. Army Redstone-Huntsville Chapter; Brandon-Wilbourn Marine Corps League, Detachment 820; Disabled American Veterans Chapter 26; General Federation of Women’s Club du Midi Woman’s Club Huntsville; Honoring Veteran Legends; Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Patriotic Degree of the Order Father Jeremiah F. Trecy Assembly 0004; Legacy 4 Korean War Veterans Foundation; Military Officers Association of America Huntsville Chapter; Patriot Guard Riders Huntsville Chapter; Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association Huntsville Chapter; Rocket City Chapter Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association; Rocket City Army Space Professionals Association; Rolling Thunder Inc. Huntsville Chapter 2; Redstone Military and Civilians Club; Semper Fi Community Task Force of North Alabama; Still Serving Veterans; Team Red, White and Blue Huntsville/Redstone Arsenal; the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 2201; Thin Line Support; U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum, Huntsville; Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Memorial; Vets with Vettes and Corvette Owners; Gentry-Isom Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2702; Veterans of Foreign Wars Joyce M. Helson Post 5162; Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1067; Warrant Officers Association Redstone “Silver” Chapter; and West Point Society of the Tennessee Valley.
The coalition also inducted a new member organization at the luncheon: the Muscle Shoals Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
Phillips concluded his remarks with a quote from Neal that was originally published in the Redstone Rocket on Dec. 20, 2017, after he received the coalition’s Veteran of the Year award. Neal said the following:
“I don’t know why people make such a to-do about what I do,” Neal said. “I’m just me. I’m a nobody. I just do what I do. I don’t do it for recognition. I don’t do it to make myself look good. I’m just an old country boy who was raised that I needed to help people that needed help.”