Event honors soldiers, vets
Radcliff held its third Hooray for Heroes event Saturday


May 18, 2008

RADCLIFF — People packed the parking lots of Wal-Mart and Stithon Baptist Church Saturday to enjoy a festive scene under sunny, near-cloudless skies with pleasant weather. Soldiers, veterans and family members turned out in droves, creating a mini-traffic jam on Wilson Road and Dixie Boulevard throughout the afternoon. Spots to park were hard to find within the vast pavement of the shopping center, as military parents walked with their children, who toted helium balloons and painted faces.

Attendees of the third-annual Hooray for Heroes festival strolled through the parking lot-turned-carnival, bouncing from tent to tent, enjoying free food, games and live music.

The event, held on Armed Forces Day, allows the military town of Radcliff to thank those who serve next door at Fort Knox. Dozens of soldiers in basic training enjoyed a rare moment of relaxation at the event.

Pvt. Kevin Stearns, originally from Maine, sat on a curb with Pvt. Keith Susuico, originally from Guam, each sipping a sports drink and watching the passerby's at the festival. "It's good to see the civilian world again," Stearns said. The two walked around, letting loose with fellow soldiers. "It's pretty cool," Susuico said. "It gives us a chance to get out of the training environment."

Tony Rose, a local man who escaped the Pentagon when it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, spoke inside the church Saturday evening during the second part of Hooray for Heroes. The daytime event featured booths set up by area businesses, churches and civic organizations. And, in addition to free food and live music, there were military-themed booths, featuring rock climbing and a vintage tank that kids could tour. Jeanette Wheeler, of Elizabethtown, worked at a tent sponsored by Energy Sports and Fitness, which offered free two-week VIP passes to soldiers. She enjoyed the jovial atmosphere and abundant sunshine. But Wheeler could have done without the wind.

Energy Fitness' tent blew away earlier in the day and cotton candy kept drifting over from the booth next to it, landing on Wheeler and her co-workers. Still, she said she was happy to be there. "It's a great cause," Wheeler said. Staff Sgt. Chris Powell pushed a stroller amongst the booths. He attended with his wife and two kids. "It's a nice set up," he said. "It's well organized."

Powell arrived at Fort Knox two months ago. He appreciates the soldier support shown by the Radcliff community. "They're pretty welcome to the military being here," he said.

Joshua Coffman can be reached at (270) 505-1740, or at jcoffman@thenewsenterprise.com.

This story, written by Joshua Coffman, was provided to One Knox courtesy of The News Enterprise. Read more stories from The News Enterprise at www.thenewsenterprise.com.