President Mark Killingsworth presided over today’s meeting. Lynn Walton provided the opening prayer and Cole Grissett led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. The meeting was held by Zoom due to COVID-19 meeting restrictions. Joe Bost thanked those who helped with today’s meeting.
Mike McPhail then introduced today’s guest speaker, Colonel Richard Weaver. Col. Weaver is the 36th Commander for the Joint Forces Training Center at Camp Shelby.
Col. Weaver noted that tomorrow, November 11, is Veterans Day. He thanked the men and women who have served our country and those who continue their service. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day on November 11, 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1911. On June 1, 1954, Armistice Day was changed by Congress to Veterans Day. It is set aside to honor all the veterans of all our wars. Col. Weaver noted that the men and women who fought America’s wars preserved our freedoms and the peace we enjoy. He says we should never forget their service, nor should we forget those who lost their lives and those Missing in Action. Being well prepared for war is the best way to achieve peace. Many of our veterans return home and continue to serve their communities as doctors, nurses, teachers and in many other capacities
Col. Weaver reports that the Air Force ROTC is coming back to Camp Shelby soon. Training opportunities at Shelby now include training for the use of unmanned vehicles. Additionally, he is working on strategies to improve the working relationships with all parts of our military. He has established frequent meetings with every commander in Mississippi as they pursue this goal.
There are currently 1,800 full-time personnel stationed at Camp Shelby. The unit is non-deployable. As training ramps up, there will be as many as 11,000 soldiers at Camp Shelby throughout the year. Due to the COVID outbreak, some units aren’t traveling for their training. He is focusing on units in California and New York, in hopes he can lure them back to Camp Shelby. They are constantly looking for ways to protect those who come for training and the full-time Shelby personnel.
Col. Weaver says Camp Shelby has a tremendous economic impact on the Pine Belt economy. He is pleased that the military is one of the three economic pillars of the Pine Belt. The other two are medical and educational.
He encourages Pine Belt residents to continue to show their support for our military. He says some communities are not as welcoming to the military as ours.
Despite COVID, the Camp Shelby Military Museum continues to operate. Col. Weaver compared the museum to the D-Day Museum in New Orleans. Mississippi has a great military history and a visit to the museum will teach you many things about that history.
Mark thanked Col. Weaver for speaking to our club and then announced we will start meeting at the Holiday Inn once again beginning on November 17th. He also announced that the Board of Directors will meet immediately after that meeting.
There being no further business to come before the club, Mark thanked those who were able to attend today’s meeting and adjourned the meeting with our motto: “Service Above Self.”