Memorial Day ceremony to honor local veterans

Memorial Day ceremony to honor local veterans

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Craighead County Veterans Monument Foundation invites all veterans and friends of veterans to this year's Memorial Day ceremony in downtown Jonesboro.

The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, May 25, at the Craighead County Courthouse, 511 S. Main; next to the Doughboy statue.

Guest speakers will include Mayor Harold Perrin and Craighead County Judge Ed Hill. W. Danny Honnoll, commander of the Sons of the American Legion Squadron #21, will emcee the ceremony.

PFC Harold Gene Sellers and S/Sgt. Wallace Howard Cleveland, both of Jonesboro, will be recognized for the sacrifices they made defending the United States.

Sellers, originally from Walnut Ridge, joined the 101st Airborne Airborne when World War II began. He was part of a massive force of paratroopers who parachuted behind enemy lines the night before the D-Day invasion and Battle of Normandy on June 6, 1944, according to a news release from Honnoll.

Sellers is recognized as the first American soldier to lose his life on D-Day.

Cleveland was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps and had flown 7 successful bombing raids as a waist gunner when his crew's B-24 Liberator Bomber aircraft was shot down over Italy on March 3, 1944.

Most of his crew were killed, but Cleveland was able to bail out after the plane caught fire and was reported missing in action, Honnoll said.

"He turned 30 laying in a Nazi POW camp hospital wrapped in a body cast while his sick wife was back home in Jonesboro dying," Honnoll said.

One year and 3 months later, on June 8, 1945, Cleveland was liberated from a POW camp in Germany.

In 2014 a memorial dedicated to the crew members, including Cleveland and those who lost their lives, was unveiled in Farnese, Italy.

The Craighead County Veterans Honor Guard, Sons of the American Revolution Honor Guard, Ladies Auxiliaries, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans Honor Guard will all participate in this year's observance.

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