Cochran to headline WWII event

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran will be the keynote speaker for this Saturday’s celebration honoring local World War II veterans and commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of the war.
Saturday’s celebration is one two events sponsored by the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum this week to pay tribute to World War II veterans of Oktibbeha County and to celebrate the county’s rich history in aviation research and innovations.
A “Public Forum and Panel Discussion: History of Aviation in Oktibbeha County” will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Activity Room Annex Building of the Starkville Sportsplex and will feature such speakers as Dave Raspet, Chester McKee, Terry Camp, Ernest Russell, George Bennett, Mel Swartsberg, Estel Wilson, Stuart Vance, Tom Hardy, Greg Stewart of Aurora Flight Sciences and will be moderated by Roy Ruby, retired MSU vice president for student affairs.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans at Mississippi State will host a ceremony honoring Oktibbeha County’s World War II veterans with Cochran, R-Miss., as keynote speaker.
The free event will be held in the Colvard Student Union’s Foster Ballroom and is open to the public. Other hosts include the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.
Jennifer Gregory, vice president of tourism development for the GSDP, said the event is a result of a joint project of the three organizations to compile and preserve an oral history of the county’s military contributions to the war through its veterans.
Gulf States Manufacturers Inc., is providing one-of-a-kind steel medallions commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II for each of the veterans attending Saturday’s program.
In addition to Cochran, Gregory said those on the program include Ruby, William Freeman, adjutant general for the Mississippi National Guard, and MSU President Mark Keenum. Former Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck will serve as moderator for the program.
Veterans wishing to be recognized who have not been contacted or received an invitation to the event are asked to RSVP by contacting Gregory at 323-3322.