Tuesday morning started with a quick drive to Fayetteville, NC—home of Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Division. After a group interview in-studio at WFNC AM-640 Radio, we headed over to our morning event—and what a great event it was! The generous owners of Pilgrim’s Journey Book Store—just outside of Fort Bragg—hosted a pancake breakfast, and we had over 100 veterans and military families join us. The Fayetteville Observer covered the event; and what an honor it was to meet so many incredible veterans, and discuss key issues. It was truly a highlight of the tour thus far.
From here, we made our way to Columbia, South Carolina—where we held a meet and greet at the downtown Memorial Park. On the way, I did an interview to preview the next days event in Tallapoosa on WGMI AM 1440 the train on the “What’s Up West Georgia” show with Jerry Segal and in-studio with Jerry was Sammie Robinson and Andy Lee. While in the city, we met a number of great events in Columbia, and had the chance to talk with the South Carolina Radio Network. This network is the “Associated Press” of South Carolina, providing news to over 35 radio stations in South Carolina—ensuring our message was heard statewide. Shortly thereafter, LTC Russell did a lengthy radio interview with WEBY 1330AM, which broadcasts in northwest Florida. Another great segment, delivered in a key market (and we’ll be in that area by Thursday). The day ended with dinner in Columbia, during which I was able to meet up with my Battalion XO from my Iraq tour—truly one of my military mentors. He’s now at Fort Jackson, and it was great to share a beer with him (Rakkasans!). Shortly thereafter, we were off to Atlanta.
Wednesday morning also started off great—with another op-ed posted, this time in the Tampa Tribune (we’ll be there Friday). We were also joined by two new tour speakers this morning—Beverly Perlson and Darrin Selnick. Both made an immediate impact, and we’re honored to have them along. Bev is the founder of Band of Mothers, and a fierce advocate for the troops; and Darin is an Air Force veteran, and after serving 8 years at the top levels of the Department of Veterans Affairs, brings an expert perspective to the challenges at the VA. We all headed out to Gainesville early in the morning, where we sat down with the editorial reporter at the Gainesville Times. We look forward to their writeup about the tour, and our “We Can Do Better” message. From there, we made our way to Tallapoosa, GA — on the western border of Georgia. And what happened next was awesome.
We rolled up to this town of less than 3,000, only to be greeted by one of the most patriotic groups of Americans I’ve ever met. Our noontime event was packed with local veterans, police, the mayor, business leaders, and patriotic citizens. We gave speeches, and then held a robust Q&A—not only was this a patriotic group, but they were informed (and the event was covered by local press). From the event, we visited the town’s veterans memorial—a stunning (stunning!) series of monuments to the fallen and past wars (including 9/11). It was all privately funded, and a true testament to what people can accomplish when they put their hearts and minds to important tasks. God bless Tallapoosa, GA and the example they set.
From there we drove to the one, the only—Fort Benning—home of the infantry! We held an event at the VFW on Victory Drive (just outside post), and met lots of great veterans and military supporters. The events was covered by the Columbus Ledger Inquirer, as well as two local television stations. A sample of what we talked about today—and everyday—is here. Another successful completion to a long day. But, alas, no trip to Fort Benning is complete without a trip to Ranger Joe’s military clothing store…so the RV made a quick pit stop there before leaving town. Next stop, Florida…and I sign off on this post from the road to Pensacola.