Today we hiked at Kennesaw Battlefield on this spectacular fall day. On the drive home we passed the Confederate cemetary and then Marietta's Town Square where the military had just ended their tribute to our Armed Forces. Seeing the military band and men in uniform brought tears to my eyes as I comtemplated all those who served our country well. I thought of my brother Orville, known as OK to some and Ken to others. He passed away 4 years ago, one year almost to the day as my brother, Jerry (Gary). He was the most cheerful, out-going guy you'd ever want to meet, ready with a smile and ready to lend a hand. I remember when I was a little girl my mama cried every day because he was in Korea tucked into a fox hole at the tender age of 17. He lied and told them he was 18. I really didn't understand then, but later realized the danger he was in. There was much happiness when he returned. Years later, he suffered from post traumatic stress as a result of the war and confided to me about this one day after my mother died while driving to her apartment in his truck to go through her things. He told me that he would never get closure on that part of his life and was having terrible nightmares. I felt so sorry for him, but not nearly as bad as I did when he contracted lung cancer. Seeing him in the hospital, and me massaging his swollen feet, made the little girl in me want to crawl up in his arms and tell him everything would be all right, but I knew better.
So, I guess today, I'm remembering the dedication of our men in uniform. My other brother, Sam was in the National Guard. My father-in-law, Clarence, was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. My brother-in-law Michael MacIver, served in Viet Nam, my brother-in-law Garland Hardison, served in the US Air Force, and my son-in-law, Bobby Christine, served in Iraq and is a Jag with the Guard and was, at one time, a Green Beret. His father, Alex, came home gravely wounded from Viet Nam after serving 2 tours retiring as a Colonel with 3 Purple Hearts. He lost and arm and leg and suffers from a muscle disease presently.
Suffering, pain, heartache, separation of loved ones and so much more scars our nation and hearts today. But because of brave, willing men, we have freedom in this great United States today. I bow my head in prayer to honor each and every one. War is so terrible, but God's word says "That there will be wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end..." Matthew 24:6. These are merely the beginning of birth pangs...
If you've read this far, indulge me with the post of OK's obiturary that describes his military service with honor. One of the finest to have served our country well. What a hero!!
Orville Kenneth O’Neal
Funeral: 10 a.m. Monday at St. Ann Catholic Church, HWY 53, Gulfport
Orville Kenneth O’Neal, 70 of Gulfport, born March 1, 1933, died Thursday, March 27, 2003 in Meridian, MS.
Mr. O’Neal was a native and except for the 22 years of service in the United States Army was a life-long resident of the Coast. He was a loving husband, supportive father, an avid golfer, a great friend to many and a valuable community member. After retiring as a Master Sergeant from the Army, he worked in data management at Litton in Pascagoula. From there, he was drawn to the sea and earned his Captains License and worked on assignment to private yacht owners. He was an active member of St. Ann Catholic Church in Lizana.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Samuel and Maggie O’Neal; By a sister, Gail Hardison; and by a granddaughter, Michelle Williamson.
Survivors include his wife, Helen Fayard O’Neal; his three sons, Kenneth K. O’Neal, John J. O’Neal and his wife Arlene, and Joseph M. O’Neal and his wife Ronna; his two daughters, Louvine Williamson and her husband Michael, and Elizabeth Weiss and her husband William; his brothers Samuel O’Neal Jr from Gulfport, Jerry O’Neal and Sylvia from West Glacier, Montana, his sisters Doris P. Swarnowicz and her husband John from Gulfport, Dianne MacIver and her husband Mike, from Mobile, Ala, and Brenda Lott and her husband Bruce from Marietta, Georgia; and Ken’s thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation will begin at 10 am St. Ann’s with a Recitation of the Rosary at 10:30 am with the Reverend Peter Mockler officiating. Celebration of the Funeral Mass will be at 11 am. Burial will be in Long Beach Cemetery.
Active pallbearers will be Kenneth O’Neal, Michael Williamson, John O’Neal, Joe O’Neal, William Weiss, and Jerry O’Neal.
The family prefers contributions to St. Ann’s Building Fund, 23529 Highway 53, Gulfport, MS, 39503.
Master Sergeant Orville K. O’Neal
United States Army Retired
January 15, 1950 to May 31, 1973
Master Sergeant Orville K. O’Neal had the privilege to serve with the following units throughout his distinguished military career:
1st Cavalry Division
2nd Infantry Division
2nd Armored Division
31st Infantry Division
United States Army Air Defense/Missile School
While assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea from 1950-1951, Sergeant O’Neal earned the “Combat Infantry Badge” for Courage, Valor and Duty. He served as an Army “Sniper” and “Platoon Sergeant” during the Korean War. Afterwards, he attended various schools within the Army. He specialized in electronics, ground radar and guidance systems. This training enabled him to become an instructor at the headquarters of the United States Army Air Defense School in Fort Bliss, Texas, from 1966-1973.
During his distinguished military career, Sgt. O’Neal earned the following medals and awards:
Two Army Commendations Medals with gold Leaf Clusters
National Defense Service Ribbon with Oak Leaf Cluster
Five Good Conduct Medals
Korean Service Medal with Two Bronze Stars
United Nations Peace Keeping Service Medal for Korea
Korean War Service Medal
Two Presidential Unit Citations for 2nd Infantry Division
Sergeant O’Neal also received the following badges: expert rifle, AA artillery, Missile and Drivers badge.
He retired at the rank of Master Sergeant in May 1973.