The Greenville County Republican Women’s Club conducted its annual Americanism program at its monthly luncheon meeting June 25 at the Poinsett Club.
Geri Warren is president of the club. Member Patty Stoner chaired the event, which featured an address by Master Sgt. Ken Gause, USAF (Ret), Col. Bob Davis speaking about the Wounded Warrior Project and the main address by Lt. Col. Bill Connor, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Air Force JROTC cadets from Southside High School presented and retired the colors.Junior ROTC in Greenville Schools
Sgt. Gause, AFJROTC aerospace science instructor at Southside High School, spoke about the Junior ROTC program in Greenville schools and some of the awards his cadets have received and opportunities that have been presented to them.
The goal of the Air Force ROTC program is to instill values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment in high school students.
Wounded Warrior Project
Col. Bob Davis, husband of Kathy Davis, the club’s first vice president, spoke about the Wounded Warrior Project.
According to the Wounded Warrior Project, more than 30,000 troops have been injured in recent conflicts, many of them suffering traumatic brain injuries, amputations and severe burns. Wounded Warrior Project provides services and programs to ease their burdens and aid in their transition back to civilian life.
Thousands of Wounded Warrior backpacks have been delivered to the hospital bedsides. They contain comfort items such as a tee shirt, shorts, toiletries, a phone card, CD player and more. For more information visit their web site at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
Connor, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and a candidate for lieutenant governor, began by referring to what Col. Bob Davis said earlier in the program about how important Psalm 91 was to soldiers in the past. It is sometimes referred to as the Warrior Psalm.
As teams got together to pray before going out on missions, Connor would read this Psalm to them as a means of strength and protection.
“I believe God gave us this Psalm for protection and blessing during battle. Everyone got involved with these prayers voluntarily before missions, including our Muslim interpreters. We prayed in Jesus’ name before we went out, and He provided incredible protection. I believe completely in the power of prayer.” Many came to know God while serving in the military in Afghanistan, Connor said.
[Psalm 91:5-10 says: “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.]
Connor said the young troops in Afghanistan, average age about 20 or 21, gave him great hope for the future, and that he sees the same commitment in the Young Republicans he meets around the state.
“We have a great generation behind us,” he said.
Connor’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all career Army officers. His great-grandfather was the son of a Confederate veteran in South Carolina.
While in Afghanistan during the Taliban spring-summer offensive in 2006, Connor set up units to keep the Taliban from killing police officers.
“I saw the strength of American troops,” he said. “Our free system in America, which rewards hard work, ingenuity and initiative, produces these incredible young men and women who made this mission work. He noted that he saw the same type of heroes today that the nation saw in World War II.
Connor spoke of two South Carolina National Guard soldiers he knew who were killed in action in the southern region of Aghanistan that are exemplary of the troops serving there.
Sgt. Edward Philpot, based out of Mullins, S.C., was killed Oct. 30, 2007, leaving behind a wife and three daughters. “He loved his wife and their three daughters immensely, and they were his foundation of enduring love and support,” Connor read from his book, Articles From War: the Writings of Lt. Col. Bill Connor, J.D.
Sgt. Philpot was a born-again Christian, and his strength and motivation were tied to his relationship with Jesus Christ. He always participated in group prayers before going on missions and faithfully read his Bible.
Staff Sgt. James Bullard of Marion, S.C., was killed by enemy fire when he got out of his vehicle to lay suppressive fire on enemy positions to assist his gunner. Connor said that he truly followed our Lord’s admonition that greater love has no man than this than to lay down his life for his friends.
Staff Sgt. Philpot had just gone on leave before being killed and had about three months left in his tour of duty. While on leave, he returned home and saw his wife Amber give birth to their son, Hayden. She gave birth early though she had been expected to give birth after her husband returned to Afghanistan. Philpot regularly listened to taped sermons he received from his small Baptist Church in Marion.
Connor was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts and leadership in Afghanistan. His book can be ordered from www.billconnoronline.com. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Christian schools in South Carolina.
Connor lives in Orangeburg with his wife Susan and their children Peyton, Brenna and Will. He is an attorney and also serves as the chairman of the board of Orangeburg Christian Academy. Bill and his family regularly worship at Christ Church of the Carolinas in Columbia.
Col. Bob Browning, USMC (Ret), read the Republican Creed:
I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon.
If I can seek opportunity, not security, I want to take the calculated risk to dream and build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for dole. I prefer the challenges of life to guaranteed security, the thrill of fulfillment to the state of calm utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, save my God.
It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations; to face the whole world boldly and say, "I am a free American."
Patriotic music was played by Glenn Christianson on the piano, and soloist Sharon Cochran sang the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful.” Captain Pam Sowell of the Army Nurse Corps Reserve, and a member of the club, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Liz Seman, County Council district 24 and a member of the club, spoke about a press conference the previous day on Truth in Spending legislation that would place city and county government transactions online and make records available to the public free of charge.