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Veterans Day celebration planned

POSTED: November 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.

One of the nation’s most distinguished military officers will be the keynote speaker during Dawsonville’s Fourth Annual Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 11.

  

Portions of Col. Jesse L. Johnson’s three decades of military service have been chronicled in 19 books.

  

Johnson, who now lives in Lumpkin County, has received more than 70 honors, including the Distinguished Cross, four Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.

  

“He is supposed to be a superb speaker,” said Larry Freeland, who will serve as the event’s master of ceremonies. “His biography alone is absolutely incredible.

  

“I highly encourage the community to come out and hear this man speak and support our veterans. They deserve this.”

  

Sponsored by the Veterans Affairs of Dawson County, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and Dawsonville and Dawson County officials, the local observance will begin at 3 p.m. with a parade. A formal ceremony follows at the Dawson County Middle School football stadium.

  

Dawsonville is one of just two nationally recognized Veterans Day sites in Georgia, having received the designation last year from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  

A flyover is scheduled as part of the formal ceremonies, which will begin about 4 p.m. and also include the naming of the county’s Veteran of the Year.

  

In addition, a ceremonial Unwavering Line, which includes men and women in period military dress and representing 12 major wars, will pay homage to 230 years of U.S. military history.

  

“It’s quite inspirational and moving,” Freeland said.

  

World War II veteran and lifelong Dawson County resident George David will serve as the ceremony’s grand marshal and will lead the annual parade, which winds from Dawson County Middle School through downtown Dawsonville.

  

“Last year, the parade was a mile and a half long,” Freeland said.

  

Veterans and active personnel from all military branches, as well as local Dawson County law enforcement and emergency services, will participate in the event.

  

A private banquet will be held for all veterans and their spouses prior to the parade.

  

Johnson entered the Army as a private before serving in the Airborne Division, Airborne Infantry in Germany and Vietnam War.

  

He later participated in the Iranian hostage rescue attempt, the Grenada rescue of American medical students and the search for Brig. Gen. James Dozier, who was held captive by the Italian Red Brigade Terrorist Organization.

  

In June 1990, he assumed command of Special Operations at Mac Dill AFB in Florida. Within two months, his command deployed to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm.

  

Johnson retired from the Army and relocated to Kuwait in 1996, where he worked under contract to the U.S. government.

  

He also received the Soldiers Medal, three Silver Stars, two Legion of Merit awards and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

 

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