Sgt. Maj. Kerry Dyer of the University of North Georgia honors veterans at the North
Sgt. Maj. Kerry Dyer of the University of North Georgia spoke at the NGV annual dinner
Sergeant Major Kerry Dyer, Chief Military Science Instructor, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega was the guest speaker at the North Georgia Veterans 8th annual dinner at the Big Canoe Clubhouse on Nov. 9, a fitting opening to the Veterans Day weekend.
Sgt. Maj. Dyer is a decorated veteran who has served in various roles in Germany and Fort Knox, with deployments to Kuwait and Iraq. He has held his current position at the University of North Georgia since January 2016.
Colonel Brent Cummings, Professor of Military Science at the University introduced Sgt. Dyer to the more than 100 dinner guests as “the epitome of a soldier.” He shared that Sergeant Dyer was soon to be forced to retire after serving the maximum 30 years.
“Sergeant major, it has been an honor to serve with you,” Cummings said. “It’s not just about himself. The Dyer family is about a family of service. His daughter is married to a serviceman. His son is at the U.S. Army Military Academy as a junior. His wife is a retired sergeant major. His entire family is an American family that serves.
“It is an honor for me to introduce you tonight as the best soldier that I have ever served with in my time and I have served with a lot of great soldiers.”
The table of the missing soldier, honoring those veterans who lost their lives in
Dyer recognized the veterans in the audience and told the story of Pfc. Jack Lucas, World War II hero who threw himself onto a grenade to save his fellow squad members during the battle of Iwo Jima.
“Lucas was left with more than 250 pieces of shrapnel in his body including six pieces in his brain and two in his heart, and endured 26 surgeries in the following months,” At the time of his heroism …. Lucas was just six days past his 17th birthday,” Dyer told the group.
Lucas received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman in October 1945.
“By his own admission, Jack Lucas was not a superman,” Dyer said. “He was an ordinary man who chose to do something extraordinary. But I believe that everyone who chooses to wear our country’s uniform is doing something extraordinary.
The North Georgia Veterans Choir provided patriotic music at the annual NGV dinner.
“Fortunately, this country has been blessed with citizens who have taken their civic responsibility seriously and have taken arms and marched to the sound of the guns whenever and wherever the rights of men and women have been threatened.
“As of the 2017 Census bureau count, there are over 21,369,602 veterans in the US and 690 thousand in Georgia alone. These citizen-soldiers were not seeking personal gain or fame. Their country called and they answered. Theirs was a simple patriotic response. They recognized their civic duty and acted accordingly.
“Ladies and gentlemen, our men and women in the military have superb training, the best equipment and able commanders and they have another great advantage… they have the example of American Veterans who came before.”
Dyer reminded the audience of the current long-term war that the U.S. is fighting.
“As we approach this Veterans Day, please be reminded of the past 16 years our nation has been at war,” Dyer said. “We will continue to fight to defend our freedoms and combat terrorism. We honor every soldier, sailor, airman, marine and coastguardsman who gave some of the best years of their lives to service to the United States and stood ready to give themselves on our behalf.”
Dyer’s patriotic fervor came early in his life.
“I must have been seven or eight years old at the time but I remember so vividly, one of my teachers by the name of Mr. Proctor, who was a Veteran himself who had served in Vietnam,” Dyer recalled. “On or about Veterans Day not only did he require us to recite the pledge but he would set up the old overhead projector, we did not have PowerPoint back then. And he would read “Old Glory” and while he was reading you could hear a needle drop within the room.”
The poem “Old Glory” can be found at bos.ocgov.com/legacy3/newsletters/pdf/OLDGLORY.pdf
The University of North Georgia Cadet Color Guard presented the colors at the dinner. The North Georgia Veterans Choir provided patriotic music.
Outgoing NGV President Norm Hoechstetter “knights” incoming President Pat Bodelson.
Norm Hoechstetter passed the NGV president’s gavel to new president Pat Bodelson and in a lighthearted gesture, “knighted” Bodelson with a sword.
The North Georgia Veterans organization is open to all veterans, anyone who has served in any branch of service, in any capacity, for any period of time. All that is required is an honorable discharge. Registration is required for the NGV monthly luncheon at the Big Canoe Clubhouse. Please visit the website www.ngvets.org to register.