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Sid Riley

Sid Riley

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Meet Steve Adkinson - Middle East Wars Veteran

The continuing conflicts in the Middle East and the manner in which the younger generations of American warriors responded to their call to duty, and their demonstrated bravery and patriotism must lead us to one indisputable conclusion, …. A significant quantity of today's generation is ready and able to defend America and perpetuate established military traditions as well as any who fought before them. They have earned our gratitude and respect. Those who served in these wars against Muslim radical terrorist are American Heroes.

Marianna resident Steve Adkison ranks with the best of them. He served bravely in the Iraq Wars, Desert Storm, the Somalia humanitarian intervention, and the 1994 U.S. Occupation of Haiti following military coup and removal of elected President Jean Aristide.

Steve Adkinson looks like a Marine. His tall, muscular frame combines with a pleasant, reassuring air of confidence and determination. It is obvious that after the Marine Corps had trained and molded him into a soldier, he was well prepared to do his duty. It is difficult to get Steve to talk about his experiences while in these war zones. “I had rather put those memories into my past and concentrate now on the future,” he states.

Steve was born in Milton, Florida in 1972. He was raised in Milton and graduated from Milton High School in 1990. His Mother is Carol Dickenson, who currently resides in Hollywood, Florida. Steve has one brother and 2 sisters.

Immediately after graduation from high school, Steve joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He was sent to the famous Marine training center at Paris Island, South Carolina for his basic training. After becoming a full fledged marine he was sent to the School of Infantry at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. He was trained in being a forward observer, calling in close air and artillery support for ground operations, and clearing mine fields for armored vehicles and troops. After completion of that school he was immediately sent to Iraq to take part in Desert Storm.

Steve describes the choking air environment which existed for weeks in Kuwait as a result of the many oil wells which were set afire by the retreating Iraqi army. He was assigned to 1st Battalion - 6th Marines. His unit was out front as the forces moved across the desert on its way to Baghdad and the deposition of Saddam Hussein. His unit was part of Task Force Ripper. Their role was primarily clearing paths through the heavily mined areas so that troops and supporting armor was able to advance. Often they were under artillery fire as they performed their duties. Steve recalled one instance when an armored vehicle became entrapped in razor wire and was stopping progress. Under fire, he ran to the vehicle and cut the wire to free the vehicle.

After Baghdad was taken and Saddam had fled to be found later hiding in an underground bunker, Steve was pulled back to Okinawa. Then the conditions in the Somalian civil war had worsened to a point that allied forces were called in to provide humanitarian assistance to the thousands of refugees which were crowded into camps and living in famine conditions. The government had completely collapsed and the country was being ravaged by tribal war lords who plundered and killed thousands of innocent Somalian citizens.

While in Somalia Steve was involved in distributing food to the starving refugees. “It was terrible,” Steve explains. “We would give the food to the starving families and almost immediately government soldiers would use force to steal the food from them for their own use.

Steve also worked and fought with the unit portrayed in the popular movie now being shown, “Lone Survivor'. Steve knows some of the Marine hero's who were characters in that movie.

Finally Steve came home, almost at the end of his eighteen month tour. However, before his separation date arrived, Steve was called back to take part in an operation which was required in Haiti after a military coup had removed the democratically elected President Jean Aristide. Mob rule had erupted on the Caribbean island, and an American supply ship had been forced away from the Port au Prince port. The marines of the 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry, 10th Marine Division came ashore in an operation named “Operation Uphold Democracy”, took control of the Port au Prince airport and seaport, and restored Aristide to office.

Steve separated from the military at the end of his tour, which occurred while he was on duty in Haiti. He returned home and began attending Gulf Coast College where he played on their baseball team. He then transferred to the University of Alabama in 2000. After college he began working in the booming construction industry, remodeling homes.

He then met a wonderful Jackson County girl, Georgeann Smith, who was the granddaughter of well known Coach George Riley. They married in 2007, just as the housing bubble burst and the construction industry was almost shut down across the nation. In 2007 Steve and Georgeann took over operation of the long time Italian restaurant in Marianna, Tony's Restaurant. The near depression national economy finally resulted in them closing the restaurant in 2009.

At the present time Steve Adkison is a member of the Sales Department at Marianna Toyota. He has one son, aptly named “Riley” Adkison.

We all owe Steve a debt of gratitude for his valiant service as a U. S Marine. Steve, we salute you!

Meet Leroy Boone, a Local American Hero

The Viet Nam War was a long, brutal war fought against an elusive and cruel enemy in the steamy jungles and stagnant rice paddies of an impoverished nation located on the other side of the planet. For two years of his life, local Campbellton native Leroy Boone was immersed in that horror.

At the home of C.B. Boone and his wife Alia, located just outside of Campbellton, one morning in 1946 Leroy Boone entered the world. He attended St. Paul School in Campbellton all twelve years, and graduated in the class of 1964.After high school Leroy attended Chipola College, also working as a student-bus driver for Chipola's bus system to help pay for his education. Meanwhile, the Viet Nam War was building up, and Leroy could see a draft notice in his future. Thus, in 1967 he enlisted in the U. S. Army.

He was soon off to Montgomery for induction, and then moved to Fort Benning, Georgia for basic infantry training. After basic he reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he entered an armored unit and began training in operating an armored patrol vehicle with an “intelligence specialist” MOS. These armor plated vehicles carried two 16 mm machine guns, and were used throughout the combat areas to provide security for other units involved in mine sweeping, road and bridge construction, security patrols, and to engage in reconnaissance.

When the Fort Knox training was completed, Leroy was given a month's leave at home. That month passed quickly, and he was soon boarding an aircraft in Dothan to arrive in Bien Hoa, home of the 12th CAV Division. Leroy's first experience in Viet Nam was not pleasant. When the airplane began to attempt to land it encountered heavy fog conditions, turbulence, and had to repeatedly perform missed approach maneuvers. “I thought for sure I was going to get killed in an airplane crash before I ever had a chance to fight in the war,” Leroy stated.

Leroy was quickly processed and assigned to Headquarters Troop as part of an armored unit in 3rd of the 5th CAV, 9th Infantry Division. His unit began working on special assignments throughout the combat areas. “I always felt much safer tucked away inside of our armored vehicle and felt sorry for those soldiers who were scampering around our vehicle on foot. I saw many of them mowed down from enemy fire while I fired my 16 mm machine gun trying to offer them some protective cover,” Leroy stated. “In one fight we were ambushed and lost 120 of our men and had 300 injured. It was very disturbing to see so many American soldiers laying around dead or suffering from wounds.”

Leroy suffered wounds himself from hot shrapnel hitting him as explosions took place nearby. One injury occurred when he was working with a minesweeping team and his armored vehicle hit a mine. A second event during the massive TET Offensive resulted in more serious injuries when his unit was ambushed by a large number of Viet Cong. When his tour of duty was nearing completion, Leroy was still located at a rehabilitation center in Qui Nhon. In July 1968 he left Nam and finally received his honorable discharge at Fort Carson, Colorado. He returned to Jackson County with his body permanently scarred with over 15 shrapnel wounds, and the breast of his uniform covered with medals. He had earned two purple hearts, the Army Commendation Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Viet Nam Commendation Metal with 60 devices, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the National Defense Service Medal.

After returning home in 1968, Leroy went to work at Dozier School for Boys, where he was employed until 1973. 1972 was a meaningful year for Leroy. It was at this time he fell into love with Edith Lewis , a Malone girl, and was married. They raised two children, a boy and a girl, and are now enjoying four grandchildren. While working at Dozier, Leroy continued to attend Chipola College, working to become certified as a law enforcement officer. He took courses at Chipola during this time that were being taught by Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Roy Hutto. After completion of all requirements he became a deputy for Jackson County Sheriiff’s Office, working for Sheriffs Ronnie Craven and Charles Applewhite. He was a deputy for six years, and then went to work as an agent for Met Life Insurance for two years.

At this time he found his intended career, as he joined the family at Rahal Miller in Marianna. He has worked as one of their leading sales personnel for 35 years. Leroy has led a rich, full life. We all respect and thank him for his outstanding service to the nation, as well as his demonstrated example of a loving father, devoted husband, outstanding citizen and great employee.

The Owners and the Staff of the Jackson County TIMES sends a hearty WELL DONE to a fine Jackson County native!!

When I think of Leroy Boone as my friend think of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.l: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. I’ve never seen Leroy on any side but the side of what’s right and good for everyone. Leroy loves his God, Family and this Great Nation and we love Leroy here at Rahal-Miller.

When we close every commercial I think of men and women in uniform like Leroy. “Thank you and may God Bless this one nation under God.

Rickey Miller

America's Greatest Generation

Profiles of Courage Sponsored by Rahal-Miller

The generation of Americans which is now reaching 80 years of age and beyond has been appreciatively and appropriately deemed to be “Americas Greatest Generation”. They were children during the era when the nation's population was struggling through the Great Depression, then just as they graduated from high school and became young adults they were pulled away from homes and suddenly thrust into a worldwide conflict thousands of miles from their comfortable homes and families. Finally they conquered the evil forces that threatened our world and the war ended,enabling them to come back home to lead the nation through a post war era of remarkable economic prosperity. Hubert Mitchell was part of that elite group.

Baby Hubert Ellis Mitchell was born in 1926 during the heart of the national depression, on the family farm owned by William and Lee Mitchell. Their land was located six miles South of Graceville. Little Hubert attended Union School through the 8th grade, and Graceville High during the 9th grade. Then in 1940 Hubert's father passed away, and his Mother moved to Mariana to be near other relatives. From that point Hubert attended Marianna High, graduating in the class of 1944. One month later, at the age of 17, Hubert was in the U.S. Navy.

His first assignment was basic training, which took place at the Bainbridge Naval Base near Baltimore, Maryland. After basic training he was given advanced training to become an electrical technician. All of this took place as the bloody war ensued in Europe and in the Pacific. Throughout this initial training Hubert knew he would soon be immersed in this violent struggle.

After completing school Hubert was whisked away to San Francisco, loaded onto the USS Kansas City, a light cruiser, and transported along with 1500 other new Navy men to the Philippines. Then he was assigned to the USS Nashville, another light cruiser, which was General MacArthur's flagship. The ship had just undergone extensive refurbishing and repair after being hit by two Japanese kamikaze suicide aircraft which killed 132 crew members. Hubert was a replacement for one of those lost sailors.

One of Hubert's most vivid memories of his time on the USS Nashville occurred one day when he and a small group of other 18 year old sailors were in the front of the ship when they saw three PT Boats heading at their ship. Anxious to see what was going on, they began rushing to the fantail of their ship where the visitors would come alongside. Hubert was running across the deck, and as he rounded a piece of equipment he suddenly collided with a senior officer, knocking the man to one knee and sending his hat flying across the deck. Hubert almost fainted when he saw that the senior officer he had hit was none other than General Douglas MacArthur!

Knowing that severe punishment and perhaps a slow death would be his punishment, (MacArthur was infamous for his large ego, strict discipline, and lack of a sense of humor), Hubert thus decided to continue running and flee the scene. So if you see Hubert on the streets of Mariana you might want to call him “Hit and Run Mitchell”! That day, Hubert disappeared through the first door and escaped to the bowels of the ship.

The USS Nashville participated in the Battle of the East Indies Islands. The ship, along with many others, circled the island the night before the invasion, pounding the shore with shells fired from their five turrets of 6” cannon. Then, during the invasion they targeted the Japanese defenses to support the troops struggling ashore. Hubert recounts watching the invasion through binoculars, seeing our brave Marines mowed down like flies. A beachhead was not established until the fifth wave had struggled ashore.

Then the USS Nashville returned to port in the Philippines for repair and resupply. Then they were preparing to move to sea for a large naval battle with the last remaining naval force in the once powerful Japanese fleet. Suddenly the war ended, as two atomic bombs destroyed two large Japanese cities, causing Japan's Emperor to announce surrender.

Soon the battleship USS Missouri came alongside and General MacArthur left the USS Kansas City to board the Missouri for steaming into Tokyo Harbor and the historic official ceremony for the surrender of Japan.

Hubert remained on the USS Nashville, (He says MacArthur neglected to invite him to the ceremony.) and they returned to the United States, brought the Nashville back to the Philadelphia Naval Yard for decommissioning. The ship was later sold to Argentina.

Hubert separated from the Navy in June of 1946, and returned to Jackson County.

He immediately went to work as the manager of the old Gem Theater which was located across from the current location of Nifty Cleaners on Market Street.. He also served as Assistant Manager of the nearby Ritz Theater, working two jobs. It was at this time Hubert attended the newly opened Chipola College, being in the first class in 1947. In 1948 Hubert married a Mariana girl named Gwendolyn Hires and they had two daughters, Donna and Teresa. Sadly, n 1983 Gwendolyn died. In 1985 Hubert was remarried to Joan Rice who had three children.

Next, Hubert went to work for he U.S. Post Office, working there from 1948 through 1957. Finally he went to work for Retail Credit Company (Which became Equafax.), as an insurance claims investigator. He retired from that role in 1997.

Today Hubert is enjoying a life filled with his morning coffee club, looking after rental property, and giving expensive golf lessons to his competitors at the Caverns Golf Course. He deserves these more leisurely years after a lifetime filled with service to his country in a time of need, and a lifetime filled with hard work and devotion to friends and family.

County Honors “Favorite Son”

On Friday morning, in an outdoor setting in downtown Mariana, in a blazing sun, a large contingent of State dignitaries from the Florida Legislature, local officials, friends and family participated in a special ceremony in honor of the lifetime of accomplishment of one of its most “Favorite Sons”, the honorable Wayne Mixon.

Rising from being reared on a small south Alabama farm in the 1920's to become the 39th Governor of Florida and six term Representative for Northwest Florda. Wayne is most recognized for the impact his work has had on Florida agriculture and state economic development during his life. Throughout his career his loyal wife, Margie was a supporting, encouraging force.

In honor of his work, during the last term of the Florida Legislature, the legislative body voted to name State Road 73 from the Calhoun County line to where the highway intersects highway 231, as the “Governor Mixon Highway”. The measure was signed by Governor Scott. The ceremony was led by Representative Matt Gaetz, with Representative and Speaker Pro Tempore Marti Coley, Senator Bill Montford, and Senate President Don Gaetz taking part in the ceremony.

In his brief speech of appreciation Governor Mixon spoke of the development of Agriculture in this area during his lifetime. He recalled his time as a youth when there was no electricity in the rural homes,, when all roads were unpaved, “We lived in the mud,” he recalled. He also referred to having no telephone systems in rural homes.

Then Wayne stated that he was glad to have this particular highway named for him. “In my younger days I drove this road on my way to fish in Dead Lakes, and then passed the other way on the way to my farm,” he recalled. “Florida's agriculture must be cultivated,” he proclaimed, “It will not flourish on its own.” He made this statement in regard to the ongoing need to protect the needs of Florida's farmers.

Although 91 years of age, Mixon remains active and dedicated to helping Agriculture and Commerce in Florida. This old trooper is still fighting for what he believes in. We can all be proud that he is one of us.

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