Independence Day Past and Present

Present, July 4th 2020 - Members of the 461st Air Control Wing deployed in theater with their JSTARS aircraft. 

Past, Mike Christian was born on October 17, 1940, in Huntsville, Alabama and enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17. Mike had a humble upbringing and according to Senator John McCain (who served with Mike) he did not even have a pair of shoes until he was 13 years old. Mike Christian trained and worked in the Navy initially as an aircraft mechanic and aviation electronics technician. He earned a Bachelors Degree from Purdue University while serving in the Navy and continuously proved himself through his dedication, patriotism and ambition. He was accepted and entered the Naval Flight Officer Training School at Pensacola, Florida where he earned a commission as a Naval Officer and Aviator. He became the Navigator-Bombardier on an A-6 “Intruder” was assigned aboard the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier and sailed for duty in Vietnam in February 1967. Within a month Mike was flying combat missions over north Vietnam. On April 24, 1967 his A-6 Intruder was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to eject and was captured. Mike spent 2,141 days (almost 6 years) as a Prisoner-of-War in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’, a dilapidated old prison used to confine American Prisoners by the North Vietnamese.

Conditions in the Hanoi Hilton were cruel, brutal, depriving, isolating and of the harshest circumstances. While on the prison yard one day Mike Christian found a dirty old white handkerchief in a drainage pipe that he smuggled back to his cell. He planned to make an American Flag from this. His fellow prisoners saw Mike spending days cleaning up the dirty handkerchief making it as white as he possibly could, he then used blue ink to create the field, ground up roof tile rubble to make a red dye for the bars and he sewed in the fifty stars with a makeshift fashioned bamboo needle and white threads from his prison blanket. Once the Flag was created, Mike stitched it inside of his shirt.

According to Senator John McCain, who shared a cell with Mike Christian, “It was the practice of the prisoners that every afternoon before they got their ration of soup, they would hang Mike's shirt on the wall and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, repeating the Pledge of Allegiance may not be the most important part of the average American day, but for those men in that stark prison cell, it was the most important and meaningful event of their day.

 

One day, the Vietnamese searched the cell and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, removed it and him, and for the "benefit" of the other prisoners beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours. Then they opened the door and threw him back inside. Mike was not in good shape and the others tried to comfort and take care of him as best they could.

The cell had a concrete slab on which the men slept and a naked light bulb in each corner of the room. After things had quieted down for the evening, in the corner of the room, sitting beneath that dimly lit bulb with a piece of white cloth, a piece of red cloth, another blue shirt and his bamboo needle, was Mike Christian. His eyes almost swollen shut from the beating, he was fashioning another American flag.

Mike Christian was not making that flag because it made him feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was for his fellow prisoners to be able to pledge allegiance to our Flag and to our country.”

 Lieutenant Commander Mike Christian was liberated as a Prisoner-of-War on March 4, 1973. Christian died from smoke inhalation in a Virginia Beach, Va., fire in September 1983. Story shared by cdkeith06

MEMORIAL DAY IS MONDAY THE 25TH OF MAY 2020!

The Talladega Hall of Heroes Committee will conduct a Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony on Monday, the 25th of May.

 

The Ceremony will take place on the Talladega County Courthouse Lawn adjacent to the Veteran's Memorial Monument.  The ceremony is set to begin promptly at 11:00 a.m.

 

Participants will include local musician Jeff Woods, the American Legion Post #17 Mortorcycle Riders, The Talladega County Sheriff's Honors Team, as well as the members of the Hall of Heroes Museum Committee.   

 

The ceremony will consist of an opening prayer, the National Anthem, a reading of the list of names of Military Personnel from Talladega County who have paid the supreme sacrifice, TAPS, and an Honor Guard Salute. A wreath will be placed in front of the monument immediately prior to the ceremony.

 

Because of the limited timeline, there will not be a guest speaker, and no seating will be provided.

Safety masks appreciated!

Thank you to everyone who came out to support the Talladega Hall of Heroes Monday, November 11th celebrating Veterans Day! Free activities included the Parade, Special Ceremony, and a Hot Dog Social!

 

This year we revised the Parade Route, adding reviewing stands, a Live Radio Broadcast (WVOK), and increasing the vehicles on parade.

Our next event will be Memorial Day.

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