Unicoi County community honors its first responders, military members, veterans

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Sep 12, 2017 at 3:39 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County community came together to honor its first responders, military service members and veterans Monday evening in a Patriot Day Service at Unicoi County High School.

Several hundred people attended the service, organized by and hosted by the county’s churches.

Held in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, the service featured a keynote address by Randy Kington, a Marine Corps veteran paralyzed during his service in Vietnam, who spoke to the crowd about the honor of “service over self.”

Music was provided by the churches’ community choir.

Special honors were also presented in recognition of the Erwin Nine, a group of nine Army Air Corpsmen from Erwin who returned to town after their planes were shot down and they were held captive together in German prisoner of war camps during World War II.

A framed, canvas emblem designed in recognition of their service were presented to the Erwin Nine’s last surviving members — George Hatcher, Dick Franklin and Stanley Norris — or their representative.

In addition to the Erwin Nine and all Unicoi County veterans, the night’s honorees included members of the Erwin Police Department, Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol, Erwin firefighters, members of the county volunteer fire departments, Unicoi County Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Herndon and paramedics and emergency medical technicians with MedicOne ambulance service, 911 employees and the county’s Swift Water Rescue Team.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

This story was revised to correct the last name of Erwin Nine member Dick Franklin.