Category Archives: Honoring Veterans

Remembering Our Local Heroes this Memorial Day

When we started working with the Pensacola Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association back in 2011, there were 7 active members. They are our local heroes! Since that time we are down to three still with us and only two of them here in Pensacola. We have had a request for recordings of the stories of those who have passed. 

Local Heroes

George Mills USN Veteran retired after 30 years USAF Civilian



James Landis SCPO, USN (RET.)



Myron Jay Carraway ETC USN (RET.)



Jacob Gallawa SCPO USN (RET.)


We honor the service and sacrifices these “every day” guys gave to our country. We love and miss you all. 

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Rotary Tree of Remembrance 2017

Rotary Tree of Remembrance 2017

The Rotary Tree of Remembrance was on display during December 2017 in Pensacola, Fl.’s Cordova mall. The tree provided shoppers an opportunity to remember loved ones by placing a yellow ribbon on it. In addition to placing a yellow ribbon, mall visitors could also make a contribution to six children’s charities. They are Gulf Coast Kid’s House, The Studer Children’s Hospital of Sacred Heart, Simon Youth Foundation, Covenant Care Hospice, and Rotary Camp Florida.

In it’s fifth year, the opening ceremony recognized our local Pearl Harbor Survivors, Frank Emond and William Braddock, as honored guests. The Tate High School Chorus, directed by Cynthia Domulot, entertained attendees with a series of holiday themed musical numbers.

Rotary Tree of Remembrance

Rotary members from the CROP (Combined Rotary of Pensacola) and volunteers from the recipient charities manned the tree during shopping hours.

Donations collected totaled over $4,800.00. Checks were presented at the January 11th morning meeting of the Cordova Rotary Club.

Rotary Representatives, Carl Bachman and Robin Foley present donation check to Stacey Kostevicki, Executive Director of Gulf Coast Kid’s House.


Rotary Tree of Remembrance
Adrienne Maygarden accepts donation on behalf of The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart


Rotary Tree of Remembrance
Christie Parker, Aaron West and Odin Berg receive donation to Covenant Care Hospice.


Tree of Remembrance
Elaine Sites and Annette Massicotte received check for Reading is Fundamental Pensacola.


Rotary Tree of Remembrance
Robin Foley accepts donation to Rotary Camp Florida.


Tree of Remembrance
Group of donation recipients.


Following these presentations, Billie and Robert Nicholson of Rusty Buggy Enterprises were recognized for their media support for the past five years.

Tree of Remembrance
Billie and Robert Nicholson of
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Remember Pearl Harbor

76 years ago, Dec 7th, the U. S. military installation in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was suddenly attacked by the Imperial Japanese naval service. This attack caught the American military by surprise, sinking    or damaging 18 ships, destroying 350 aircraft, and resulting in the deaths of 2,403 sailors, soldiers, and civilians and wounding another 1,000.

Why attack Pearl Harbor?

In an attempt to thwart Japan’s expansionist actions in Asia, America had issued economic sanctions and trade embargoes against them. Assuming that without money and goods, like oil, Japan would curb its expansionism. But instead, Japan held its ground. After a month of negotiations, neither side would budge and war appeared imminent.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the base of America’s Pacific Fleet, was the perfect point for such an attack. Located 2,000 miles from the U. S. mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan, military leaders were not expecting an attack there and consequently it was relatively undefended. To the Japanese, however, it was the perfect target – the home of almost the entire naval fleet. With America’s naval vessels destroyed, Japan would be free to continue its expansion.

Pearl Harbor
07 Dec 1941 — Mortally Wounded and Sinking — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

As a result, America declared war on Japan and entered World War II. Just three days later, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war on America as well. Americans fought on two fronts – European and Pacific. They were responsible for ending the Pacific front battles by using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. American soldiers fought with British and Russian allies on the European front.

Local Pearl Harbor Survivors Remember

Pensacola has two remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors. Their stories share personal details of the attack.

Frank Emond, a Navy musician, on the stern of the USS Pennsylvania, shares his account of the beginning of the attack.

William Braddock, a Marine, at breakfast on Ford Island, located in the center of Pearl Harbor, had a close up view of the mayhem.

The battles extended until 1945. Over 400,000 American citizens made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom and democracy. The courage and resolve of our military extend today as they protect and secure our nation. We must always Remember Pearl Harbor.

Two upcoming ceremonies will honor our local Pearl Harbor Survivors  Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, 3 PM at the Rotary Tree of Remembrance ceremony in the Food Court of Cordova Mall and also on Thursday Dec. 7, 2017 at the World War II Remembrance ceremony,  10 AM, at National Naval Museum located on NAS Pensacola.

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Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge 2017 Awards

Pensacola Chapter Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge

The Pensacola Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge presented awards to the following Pensacola Citizens for their outstanding community involvement:

Adult Community – George Washington Honor Medal

Frank Emond
Photos by

Frank Emond – A Lifetime of Doing Good

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Sarah Seelman and Jaque Taylor – Giving Back: Quilters Support Community and Honor Vets Through the Final Salute

Information Warfare Training Command, CDR Christopher Eng, USN and School District of Escambia County, Malcolm Thomas, Superintendent – Saturday Scholars

Youth Community – George Washington Honor Medal

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge
Award accepted by her parents

Madeline Bookout – World War II Oral Histories

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Tyler Carach – I DONUT need a reason to Thank a Cop

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Jessica Hatton – McDonald House

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Casey Scott – The Currie House

Educator – George Washington Honor Medal

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Steve Tuley – Teaching through Drama

Public Communications – George Washington Honor Medal

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

The Appleyard Foundation, Dick Appleyard

The University of West Florida Historic Trust, Robert Overton, Exec. Dir.

The John Appleyard Storytelling Cottage

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Jill Hubbs – They Were Our Fathers

Youth Essay – George Washington Honor Medal on Ribbon

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Ethan Besemer, Dakota Fulton, Savannah Hush, Destiny Lewis James Todd, Alexander Wilson

Youth Essay – Certificate

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge

Donald Reyes,   Ricora Jones, Tierra Gooden, Caeley Farrior, William Kane,

Liberty Bell Award – Adult Community

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge
Accepted by CDR Eric Sieb,USN

Petty Officer First Class David D. Hernandez, USN

Navy Participation in Community Events

Liberty Bell Award – Special Events

Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge
Accepted by the Honorable Lacey Collier

The Northern District of Florida U.S. District Court


Lifetime Achievement- American Eagle on Stand

Pam Schwartz

Pam Schwartz

“Life is a gift which is better when shared.”

Rusty Buggy Enterprises provided documentary coverage of this event and has created a DVD capturing the event. Order your copy to relive the event over and over.

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2016 Rotary Tree of Remembrance a Big Success



The Fourth Annual Rotary Tree of Remembrance was on display at Cordova Mall in Pensacola from Sunday December 4 through Tuesday, December 27, 2016. Pensacola Cordova Rotary, Rotary E-Club of the Southeast USA & Caribbean,  sponsored the Rotary Tree of Remembrance at Cordova Mall, located at 5100 N. 9th Avenue in Pensacola, FL. Local Combined Rotary Clubs of Greater Pensacola members served as volunteers during shopping hours at the mall to share the purpose of the tree.

The opening ceremony, held outside Dillard’s entrance at 3:00 PM on Sunday, December 4th, included entertainment by the Tate High School Choral Group, under the direction of Cynthia Domulot.

Tree of Remembrance
Photo by:

An observance of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, the Japanese attack that resulted in the US entering World War II was included. Lt. Col. Cass Phillips, USN (ret.) represented our local Pearl Harbor survivors.

“I am really proud to be in this place with our local Pearl Harbor survivor, Cass Phillips,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward. LCdr Phillips was among many who filled out ribbons of remembrance for the tree.

Tree of Remembrance
photo by:
Tree of Remembrance
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Tree of Remembrance Touches Hearts

Holiday shoppers’ hearts were touched as they stopped to remember loved ones and place gold ribbons on the tree.  “This is an opportunity to extend the spirit of holiday giving by making a contribution to local youth organizations,” said Dave Reed, Pensacola North Rotary member. This year’s contributions totaled $11,023.00. Checks were presented to recipients at the Januart 5th meeting of the Cordova Rotary.

Tree of Remembrance
Photo by:

Donation Beneficiaries

Tree of Remembrance
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Donation beneficiaries include Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, Simon Youth Foundation, Rotary’s Camp Florida, Covenant Hospice and Reading is Fundamental Pensacola.

Rotary participants from:
Pensacola Cordova
E-Club of Southeast USA & Carribbean
Five Flags
Gulf Breeze
Pensacola North
Perdido Key
spent many hours at the tree assisting shoppers as they placed ribbons on the tree. Over a 1,000 ribbons were placed on this year’s tree.

Tree of Remembrance
Photo by: Robin Foley

Students from Interact Pace High School, Interact  Gulf Breeze High School
Rotaract from University of West Florida & Pensacola Rotaract also volunteered to work at the tree.

A special thanks to volunteers from Naval Air Station Technical Training Command (NATTC) Pensacola, who manned the tree during it’s first week.

After the holidays, Scouts will retire the ribbons placed on the Tree of Remembrance at the Boy Scouts’ annual U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony. This service will be scheduled for later in the year.

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Rotary Tree of Remembrance 2016

Rotary Tree of Remembrance

Rotary Tree of Remembrance
Photo by: Rusty Buggy Enterprises

 The Fourth Annual Rotary Tree of Remembrance will be on display at Cordova Mall in Pensacola from Sunday December 4 through Tuesday, December 27, 2016. The opening ceremony, to be held outside Dillard’s entrance at 3:00 PM on Sunday, December 4th, is open to the public.


Pensacola Cordova Rotary, Rotary E-Club of the Southeast USA & Caribbean, and Combined Rotary Clubs of Greater Pensacola are sponsoring a Rotary Tree of Remembrance at Cordova Mall, located at 5100 N. 9th Avenue in Pensacola, FL. Donation beneficiaries  include  Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, Simon Youth Foundation, Rotary’s Camp Florida, Covenant Hospice and Reading is Fundamental Pensacola.


The Rotary Tree of Remembrance is a Rotary International community-service project provided by the Rotary Club of Pensacola-Cordova, the Rotary E-Club of South East USA and the Caribbean, and the Combined Rotary Clubs of Pensacola. Holiday  shoppers are touched as they remember a loved one with a gold ribbon placed on the Tree.

Rotary Tree of Remembrance
photo by: Rusty Buggy Enterprises

Remember Loved Ones

“This is a great opportunity for families and friends to remember loved ones,” said Dave Reed, Rotary North member, “and extend the spirit of giving by making a contribution to these youth organizations.” Reed plans to be among the Rotary club members, Rotaract and Interact club members as well as charity representatives, who will be volunteering their time to greet the public and receive donations.

Rotary Tree of Remembrance
Photo by: Rusty Buggy Enterprises

The December 4 Opening Ceremony will include an observance of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day . Several Pearl Harbor survivors living in the Pensacola area are expecting to attend. The Tate High School Choral Group, under the direction of Cynthia Domulo, will provide musical entertainment. After the holidays, Scouts will retire the ribbons placed on the Tree of Remembrance at the Boy Scouts’ annual U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony.


For additional Information Contact: Carl Backman, 850 602-1825




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Pearl Harbor Survivor William Braddock Celebrates 94th Birthday

Happy 94th Birthday, Sgt. Maj. Braddock

Braddock Celebrates 94th Birthday
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Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima Survivor, Sgt. Maj. William (Bill) Braddock, USMC (RET.) celebrates 94th birthday with family and friends. In true Louisiana fashion, his son Dale had the fish, shrimp, fries and hush puppies piled high in addition to a giant pot of gumbo simmering on a back burner.

Braddock 94th BirthdayBraddock 94th Birthday


Some members of the Pearl Harbor Initiative, which was responsible for co-ordinating the 2011 honor flight for six Pearl Harbor Survivors to return to Pearl in celebration of the 70th commemoration of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  joined Bill’s children and grand children as they honored their “hero Dad.”   Honor flight trip co-organizer, Lt Col Bill Phillips and his wife, Kathy, Rick Carraway, wife, Theresa and daughter, Samantha, and photographer/authors Robert and Billie Nicholson listened with smiles as Bill’s daughter, Carole, shared stories about how their dad had taught his kids how to swim. They learned so well, all five served as life guards at Corey Station. Three of his children still live nearby and the others are just a phone call away.

Sgt. Maj. Braddock shared details of his preparations for this year’s hunting season. His hunting club has already been out cleaning  and repairing tree stands and setting up feeding stations.

Braddock 94th Birthday

Happy 94th Birthday to you!

When it was time for cake, Sgt. Maj. puffed up his chest and blew out the candles, including those hard to extinguish sparklers.

Braddock 94th Birthday

What’s next for the Pearl Harbor Survivors? Col. Phillips revealed some of the plans for a Dec. 7th trip to the World War II Museum in New Orleans. The three remaining Survivors will be part of a remembrance presentation and get special behind the scenes tours. When asked about the trip, Sgt. Maj. Braddock smiled and said, “We’ll be taking things one day at a time.”

birthdayHappy Birthday, Hero!


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George B. Dodge, Sr. Recipient of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge National Award

George B. Dodge, Sr.

US Navy veteran, George B. Dodge, Sr., is the recent recipient of the Pensacola Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge national award, “The George Washington Honor Medal,” for his extensive work in building the Pensacola Veterans Day Parade to the level at which it was recognized by the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. as a “Regional Veterans Day Site.” He built the Pensacola Veterans Day Parade from a paltry 128 people in 2010 to nearly 3,000 participants in 2013.

Veterans Day Parade


Dodge worked for three years as a Veteran’s Advocate with the Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council. This Freedom Foundation Honor also recognizes his many efforts in the Escambia County community in park restoration, significant blood donations to One Blood of Florida, and his leadership as President of the AHEPA Pensacola Charitable Foundation, Inc. which awards scholarships to worthy students seeking to attend college or who are attending college. Under his leadership as President of AHEPA, Daphne Chapter 296, he brought a very successful National Convention to Pensacola for the first time in over a half century.

Dodge worked with Boy Scouts of America, Troop 432, for over twenty years. He was assistant scout leader helping with badges and camp outs. He was awarded the Marion C. Leach Conservation Award. He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow.

George B. Dodge, Sr.

His public service works through his own 501 (c) 3 as founder and President of “First Nations Intertribal Association, Inc.” took Dodge to many of the US Native American reservations as well as Guatemala and Honduras. While there, Dodge delivered clothing, appliances, medical and school supplies to those in need. He was the only one to bring hurricane relief to the Chitamacha Chocktaw people of Louisiana following devastating hurricanes in 2005 and 2006. He also assisted in preparations for Hurricane Ivan in Escambia County, FL in 2004. Following that devastation he chain-sawed many dangerous trees and tree limbs away from homes and streets and distributed food and water to those in need. He was recognized by Florida’s governor, Charlie Crist, with the “Governor’s Points of Light” Award in 2008.

George B. Dodge, Sr.

George B. Dodge, Sr. joined the Greek Fraternal organization “American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA)” in 2008 and served as President for three years and Vice President for one year. He worked with Jodie Butler who founded the “Meals of Honor” program, which feeds homeless veterans, to make it a part of the Greek Fraternity “AHEPA” in 2013. During his tenure with AHEPA Dodge earned the District One Chapter President of the Year Award, the District One Distinguished Service Award, the Chapter 296 Community Service Award, the Service to Chapter Award, the Leadership in Church Award, and the Lifetime Marital Devotion Award. He is also a founding member and fifth year President of the “AHEPA Pensacola Charitable Foundation, Inc.”

George B. Dodge, Sr.

Dodge is also an active member of the prestigious “Thunderbird Honor Guard” based in Fort Walton Beach, FL. This Native American Honor Guard presents and retires “Colors” at special public events.

George B. Dodge, Sr.

Dodge entered the University of West Florida in 2003 to earn his third Masters Degree. During his tenure he wrote, promoted, directed and performed in his first (and very successful) play “Native American Heritage Theater,” organized a two day “Native American Festival” which was the largest festival of it’s kind ever accomplished on the University of West Florida Campus, and established the university recognized student organization, “First Nations Intertribal Student Organization of UWF.”

Goerge B. Dodge, Sr.

In 2004, he organized the first of many Mission Trips to Native American Reservations. The first of these trips was to the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Dodge earned the “University Of West Florida Presidents Leadership in Diversity Award” upon graduation with an MA degree. It is worthy of note that there is only one of these honors presented per year. Also the festival he created at UWF continues to be part of the annual “Festival On The Green” tradition at this University. He also has aided Mayan Indian People of Guatemala with school supplies and delivered clothing to the poor of Honduras. A book written by Robert and Billie Nicholson, The Cheyenne Sisters Mission, details one of his trips.

George B. Dodge, Sr.Dodge is currently the “Veteran’s Service Officer,” the “Veteran’s Day Parade Director,” and the director of the “Corpsman Unit” with the Corporal J.R. Spears Detachment #066 of the Marine Corps League of Pensacola, Florida, beginning 2015.



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Pensacola Scout Troop Honors Pearl Harbor Survivors

Pensacola Pearl Harbor Survivors to honor Boy Scout Troops

Four local scouting groups: Troop 628, Venture Crew 628, Frontier Girls 324, and Cub Scout Pack 499 participated in the flag salute during a recent program honoring the survivors presented at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Hundreds of visitors turned out for that program saw the scouts “strut their stuff,” but with so many others vying for the survivors’ attention, the scouts didn’t have much time to interact with these amazing National Treasures.

At their request for some additional time, program organizer Dianna Roberts, CBTR, Inc. arranged an awards ceremony to present certificates of appreciation to the scouts and included some time for the Pearl Harbor Survivors, Cass Phillips, 94, Bill Braddock, 92, and Frank Emond, 96,  to speak with them.

Pearl Harbor Survivors Receive Honorary Scout Memberships

Following the presentation, Scout leader, Rob Works, made a special presentation of Honorary Scout Memberships to the three Pearl Harbor Survivors. Troop 628 and Venture Crew 628 presented honorary membership certificates, troop pins and official hats.

Pearl Harbor Survivors

“When I was a child, I wanted to join the Scouts,” recalled survivor, Cass Phillips, “but my parents couldn’t afford the costs for the uniform, so I never got to do it. This membership fulfills a life long dream for me.”



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Remembering Pearl Harbor, the Day and It’s Heroes


Pearl Harbor Survivors Honored

Hundreds turned out at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday morning, January 17, 2015, to pay an emotional tribute and farewell to the remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors from the Pensacola area. Local authors and Pearl Harbor historians, Billie and Robert Nicholson, who chronicled the survivors’ return to Pearl Harbor in 2011, were also honored.

As part of the Museum’s Discovery Saturday series, called Remembering Pearl Harbor, the Day and Its Heroes, the program opened with an Invocation offered by retired Navy pilot, Christopher Robinson, Pastor of Deliverance Tabernacle Church in Milton, Florida, followed by the singing of The National Anthem by gospel singer Richard Long, Pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Pensacola.

There was standing room only in the Museum’s Blue Angels atrium hanger as a rapt audience listened to tributes and presentations by Lt. Gen Duane D. Thiessen, USMC (Ret), President and CEO of the Museum’s Foundation, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and Pensacola NAS Commanding Officer Capt. Keith Hoskins, USN.

Surrounded by the Museum’s vintage aircraft hanging overhead, the actual morning of the attack was described in vivid eyewitness accounts by remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors, William Braddock, 92, Cass Phillips, 94, Frank Emond, 96, and Jay Carraway, 92.

Survivor Cass Phillips said when he first noticed the “meatballs” painted on the side of the airplanes flying in, he thought it was just another Sunday morning exercise and commented about how realistic they were – until they started dropping bombs. Over two thousand four hundred Americans lost their lives in the attack.

WCOA 1370 Talk Radio Host Don Parker’s talk, Attack on Battleship Row, December 7th, 1941, included original archival footage and a description of the Japanese high command.

Publicist and emcee Dianna Roberts read the national winning Pearl Harbor essay by 7th grader, Jenny Anderson from Camano Island, WA entitled, Ingenuity, Sacrifice and Teamwork.

Pensacola Naval Air Station commanding officer Capt. Keith Hoskins, USN, spoke about NAS Pensacola during WW II just after the attack when Pensacola NAS mobilized to become the world’s foremost military aviation training center. Hoskins, a former lead solo pilot with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, called the men, “heroes”, and admitted he was “humbled to be on the same stage as them.”

Pearl Harbor Survivors Receive Proclamations from Mayor

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward read a city proclamation honoring the men for their bravery and courage under fire and how they had all sacrificed and fought “so we can sleep well every night.” Recently deceased Pearl Harbor survivors Jim Landis and George Mills were honored posthumously with the sounding of Taps by veteran bugler, Scotty Mills.

Boy Scout Troop Read Survivors Stories

The highlight for the men was the reading of their stories from the Nicholson’s book, Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye, by Pensacola honor scouts from Boy Scout Troop 628 and Venture Crew 628 while standing on the stage next to the survivors. “We should  remember the motto of these Boy Scouts – ‘Be Prepared’, said survivor Cass Phillips. “We were not prepared for what happened that day. People need to hear these stories and remember our history and learn from it.”

Story Credit: Dianna Roberts

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