Mathis to deliver Memorial Day message

Service planned for 10 a.m. Monday

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A Marine Corps veteran from Wilson who was injured in Afghanistan will serve as keynote speaker for the Wilson Committee on Patriotism’s Memorial Day service on Monday.

Lance Cpl. Duncan Mathis was injured when he plunged 75 feet into an unmarked dry well during a night mission in May 2013. The Beddingfield High School graduate was 20 years old.

The fall broke Mathis’ legs, cracked his right shoulder and broke his humerus. He avoided screaming in pain to ensure he didn’t draw enemies’ attention to his fellow Marines’ location, applied a tourniquet and assisted Air Force specialists who arrived to rescue him.

“Being a wounded warrior is an honor,” Mathis told The Wilson Times in a September 2013 interview. I didn’t think I would ever be one. But now that I am, it’s an honor.”

After treatment at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he met President Barack Obama, Mathis returned to Wilson to recuperate from his injuries.

Mathis spoke briefly during the patriotism committee’s Veterans Day service in 2014.

“I broke more bones than I can count,” he said at the time. “The generosity I’ve received being home in Wilson has been fantastic and it really, really helped my early recovery come much faster.”

The Memorial Day service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Wilson County Courthouse veterans’ memorial.

This year’s observance will include a moment of silence for Eddie Price, the patriotism committee’s founding chairman, who died April 14 at age 94. Price was a World War II veteran who started Wilson’s Disabled American Veterans transportation program and logged more than 20,000 hours driving veterans to medical appointments.

E. Ray Chambers, commander of DAV Chapter 8 and current patriotism committee chairman, will welcome attendees to open the ceremony. Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose will also offer welcoming remarks.

Junior ROTC cadets from Hunt, Fike and Beddingfield high schools will post, retrieve and raise the colors. Becky Rose, vice president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 13, and Jacqueline Phillips, president of Legion Auxiliary Unit 17, will place a wreath at the memorial in honor of all fallen veterans.

The Sallie B. Howard School chorus will perform three patriotic songs and James A. Faison, the patriotism committee’s chaplain, will give the benediction.

To close the ceremony, the Wilson County Veterans Honor Guard will provide a rifle volley salute and Jerry Howell of American Legion Post 13 will play taps on the bugle.

After the Memorial Day service, hot dogs and beverages will be offered to attendees free of charge while supplies last.