By Paula Walter
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of United States Marine, Corporal Worley Wayne Hall, who was killed in action while serving his country in Vietnam. He was the first know casualty of the Vietnam War in Johnson County. According to Worley’s 94-year old mother, Faye Hall, her son graduated from Johnson County High School in 1964. He was drafted in the Marine Corp on January 17, 1966. According to Hall, Worley was able to come home one time after finishing boot camp in California. “ He wasn’t there but just a little bit until they shipped him out,” Hall recalled. “They sent him to Vietnam on July 6,1966.
According to Hall, her son was on patrol duty when he was killed March 27, 1967. “John (Worley’s father) was at work when they came to tell me he was dead,” recalled Hall. Worley is buried close to his childhood home. Hall continues to visit his grave. “He was an only child,” she added. Corporal Worley Wayne Hall was remembered in this year’s Memorial Day Program at Ralph Stout Park.
Welcoming remarks were made by Master of Ceremony, Richard Dionne, with the presentation of colors by Johnson County’s Honor Guard. The National Anthem was sung by Nancy Davis and Pledge of Allegiance was led by Navy Veteran, Don Payne. Ron Drake, pastor of Community Church, led the group gathered for the ceremony in prayer. After the posting of the colors by the Johnson County Honor Guard, music was provided by Lindsey DeBord Yoggerts.
After the opening ceremony, Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons, Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter, Tennessee State Representative Timothy Hill and Tennessee Senator Jon Lundberg each spoke of the sacrifices made to secure our freedoms. There was a common thread in their speeches as they addressed the sacrifices made for their fellow Americans, their courage and a willingness to lay down their lives for Americans in order to secure the freedoms held dear. They acknowledged the bravery and heroism exhibited by our military to keep Americans safe and free.
After music by Nancy Davis, Judge William Bliss Hawkins shared his memories of Worley Hall. They were classmates at Johnson County High School and members of the graduation class of 1964. “He was the devoted son to John and Faye Hall of Forge Creek,” said Judge Hawkins. Worley liked to hang out with his friends and have a good time. “He had such an interesting character,” he added. Worley liked to run the roads, was a good friend, drove fast, was outgoing, honest and liked to help others. He was loved by his family and friends. “And on the battlefield, brave, and brave when he signed his name, brave when he took his oath and stepped forward, he assumed his duties and responsibility,” said Judge Hawkins.
Worley’s name can be found all over Johnson County. His name is on the monument at Ralph Stout Park, on the Johnson County Veterans Memorial Wall, on the Johnson County Courthouse Lawn Monument, at a post placed by VFW Post 6908 and American Legion Post Number 61, at the Johnson County Courthouse decoration for Memorial Day Weekend and at Worley Wayne Hall, VFW Post Number 6908.
Judge Hawkins closed with a quote from a poem by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that says “…Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground, Mother Earth will cover you, lay your body down.”… Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground, Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down.” Stephen Stills.
After music by the Johnson County Middle School Intensity Group, Terry Reece, Army Veteran, read the list of all the Johnson County Veterans who died this past year. They include: James Patrick “Jim” Coyne, US Navy, Korea; Robert Courtner, Sr. US Marine; John H. Arnold, US Army, Korea; Eugene A. Loggins, U.S. Army, WWII; James C. “Pastor Jim” Hutchinson, US Army, WWII; Ramon S. Britts, US Army; Marvin K. Fritts, U.S. Marine; Rubin S. Stout, US Army, WWII and Korea; Harold E. Garland, US Army; F.T. “Bud” Inman, U.S. Air Force; Robert S. Walker, US Army, Korea; Dallas J. Porter, US Army; Edward K. Cook, Jr., US Navy, WWII; James Paul Pass, Jr. US Army/National Guard, Desert Storm; Kerry G. Gentry, US Army, Vietnam; R. D. Garland, US Army, WWII; Harry Wills, US Army; John Henry Church, US Navy; David Byerly, Jr., US Marines; Herbert Ray Lewis, US Army, WWII; Harry Wills, US Army; John Henry Church, US Navy; David Beverly, Jr., US Marines; Herbert Ray Lewis, US Army, WWII; Ronald Ausherman, US Air Force, Vietnam; T.R. “Bill” Blevins, US Army; Roy H. Allen, Jr., US Marines, Vietnam; Jesus “Jay” Torres, III, US Army; Marion J.Taylor, US Army, Korea; Elmer G. Brookshire, Sr., US Army, Korea; John Henry Goins, US Navy; Richard A. “Rick” Farley, US Army; Paul K. Tucker, US Army; William E. “”Bill” Neely, US Air Force, Johnson County Honor Guard; Billy W. Horne, US Army, Korea; John “Johnny” L. Mealy, US Navy, Vietnam; Lonnie G. Taylor, US Army; Thomas E. Barry, US Army, Korea; John T. McPherson, Sr., US Army, Vietnam; Erby Johnson, USA Force; James L. Pardue, US Army, Korea; Emery H. Blevins, US Army.
The ceremony closed with a wreath presentation, riffle volley and taps and the closing prayer by Steven Spencer, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.