For a second year, the Mississippi Chapter 33 of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge are raising funds to provide scholarships to other veterans’ descendants. No matter that the chapter’s few remaining members are in their late 80s, 90s or 100s; they are committed to supporting direct descendants of Mississippians who fought in the freezing, fierce conflict Winston Churchill called “the greatest American battle of the war.”
The chapter began the scholarship program last year, awarding $1,000 scholarships to six applicants about to enter college. This year, contributions are being raised for a scholarship fund to be divided among 11 recipients in January 2017. Their GPAs range from 3.7 to 4.0.
“They represent some of the finest young people you might ever meet,” said chapter member Dr. James Hunt of Columbus. “They are scholars and good representatives for Mississippi. They are our future leaders who will carry forward the flag of the ‘Greatest Generation’ and the principles for which they stand.”
Chapter members have a strong desire to help youth; they also hope to ensure that the sacrifices of war are not forgotten.
Most of the scholarship applicants were able to attend October’s annual state meeting of Battle of the Bulge veterans at Lake Tiak-O-Khata in Louisville. They heard veterans tell of their experiences.
“These stories will continue to be told and re-told through the years because of these students, and hopefully we will retain the segments of history which made this country great and free,” Hunt said.
Recipient Ashley Malone’s great-grandfather, Wallace H. Gentry, left Louisville at 19 to serve in World War II. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge and was also captured during the war. After returning to Winston County, the Bronze Star recipient operated grocery stores, including Gentry’s Big Star. He lived with affects of war-time injuries sustained when his transport was bombed. Although he passed away when Ashley was very young, the 17-year-old feels a heightened connection to her great-grandfather because of the scholarship and her interaction with other Battle of the Bulge veterans.
“It’s a great honor, and I know that if my great-grandfather was still alive, he would be excited about it,” said the Winston Academy senior who aspires to go into pediatric medicine. “He would know that what he did was appreciated and about how he was able to help his great-granddaughter.”
Ashley’s mother, Bridgette Blackwell, said, “It means a lot to me to know they (veterans) are doing this. In a way it’s kind of a legacy of my grandfather’s to Ashley, and she has someone in her life that she knows was a hero.”
How to help
Contributions to the scholarship fund may be sent to the chapter treasurer, Mrs. James Stanley, 220 Sweet Water Dr., Pearl, MS 39208.
Scholarship recipients include Joseph Brummett (Oxford); Caitlyn and Ryan Fournier (Pensacola, Florida); Chatham Kennedy (Brandon); Christina Temmerman (Steens); Caroline Rhett (Hattiesburg); Margaret Grace Lyon (Guntown); William Young (Madison); Carley Naugher (Pontotoc); Summer Ables (Ridgeland); and Ashley Brook Malone (Louisville).
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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