Back from ‘vacation’

Local Army chaplain tells The Citadel Club about his year in Iraq

February 25, 2005

Index-Journal senior staff writer

Lt. Col. R.J. Gore calls his presentation ‘My Iraqi Vacation,’ but admits there wasn’t much time for rest and relaxation during his year there.
In 2004, Gore was Group Chaplain for 172nd Corps Support Group in Balad, Iraq. Since his return home this year, he’s found a lot of interest in his story and, Thursday night, he repeated his presentation on his year in-country to the Greater Greenwood Citadel Club.
“I understand Vietnam vets a lot better,” he said. “It’s not something that I like to think about. I don’t like thinking about Iraq — it was not a fun experience.”
Gore, who is also dean of the Erskine College seminary, said he has not turned down any invitations to lecture on his experiences.
“Our group of 3,300 soldiers lost ten soldiers, killed in action over there,” he said. “Going through this process reminds me of going through that very painful process.
Gore’s presentation was supported by a collection of photos that compresses 13 months of experiences into about 30 images. 
“The pictures begin with Ft. Polk, and the grubby World War II facilities with asbestos tiles and brown water — and all of that is to make Iraq look good,” he said.
The pictorial continues with images of the military base in Iraq, and humanitarian aid projects in a village north of Balad.
“Part of our mission there was not only to oversee the renovation of a school, and the building of a water project to provide clean water,” Gore said. “These people did not have clean water until we finished this project.”
“I think I’m most interested in getting the war from a chaplain’s perspective,” said Lee Foltz, Greater Greenwood Citadel Club president. “You hear the stories about combat soldiers and support services, but there hasn’t really been a lot about said the spiritual side of it.”
“This is not a picnic, it’s a difficult time,” Gore said. “I hope people appreciate what our soldiers are going through. I hope that people get a sense that what we’re doing is not in vain. “We’ve accomplished some good things,” he said. “The soldiers putting their time in now are doing something that may make it so my kids don’t have to live in a world so unsettled and unsafe.”

Charles Harrison

Charles William Harrison, 76, of 4818-A Old Laurens Road, died Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005 at his home.
Born in Greenwood County, he was a son of the late George Gordon Sr. and Fannie Mae Reynolds Harrison. He was a member of Whitehall Church of God and a veteran of the Army and Korean conflict.
Survivors include a daughter, Teresa Crowder of Newberry; a brother, Robert G. Harrison Jr. of Greenwood; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Graveside services are 11 a.m. Saturday at Harrison Memorial Cemetery, conducted by the Rev. Grady Lothridge.
Visitation is 5-8 tonight at Parker-White Funeral Home.
The family is at the home.
Memorials may be made to HospiceCare of the Piedmont, 408 W. Alexander Ave., Greenwood, SC 29646.
Parker-White Funeral Home, Ware Shoals, is in charge.

Dr. Harry P. Irwin, Jr.

GREENWOOD – Dr. Harry Penrose Irwin, Jr., 83, resident of 123 Colonial Drive, husband of Evelyn Simpson Irwin, died February 22, 2005 at Self Regional Medical Center.
Born February 21, 1922 in Coatesville,Pennsylvania, he was a son of the late Harry Penrose Sr., and Ruth Ballentine Irwin. He received a BA Degree from the University of Delaware and M.Ed and Ed.D Degrees from Duke University. He was a retired US Marine Corps Veteran of WWII earning the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Dr. Irwin began his teaching career in the Delaware School System serving as both teacher and principal. He later served as business manager of the Salisbury City School System in Salisbury, NC.
In 1962 Dr. Irwin joined the faculty of Lander College as Department Head of Education and Director of Student Teaching. He also established the first soccer program at Lander and served as the first coach of the team.
Dr. Irwin was a member of Main Street UnitedMethodist Church where he taught in the Sunday School Department and was a member of the HUT Sunday School Class of the church. He was a member and past president of the Greenwood Lions Club, a coach of the Pony League Baseball Team at the Greenwood Recreation Center and was one of the founding members and former Chairman of the South Carolina United Methodist Foundation.
Surviving in addition to his wife of the home are a son Harry Robert Irwin of Aylett, VA, three grandchildren, David Walter Irwin of Ashland, VA, James Robert Irwin of Aylett, VA and Rebecca Lynn Irwin of Lynchburg, VA.
Dr. Irwin was predeceased by two brothers, David Hiram Irwin and Robert Wilmer Irwin.
Funeral services will be conducted 11:00 AM Saturday at Main Street United Methodist Church with Rev. Jim Dennis officiating.
Entombment will be in Greenwood Memorial Gardens Mausoleum.
Pallbearers will be Gene Ouzts, Bill Logan, Mac Bond, Tommy Chalmers, Ed Shelley and Walter Roark.
Honorary escort will be members of the HUT Sunday School Class of Main Street United Methodist Church along with Fred Alewine, Tom Day, Billy Dukes, Ken Flichum, Clyde Garren, Dr. Hayden Igleheart, Dr. TerryMarshall, Bill Nicholson, Bob Walters and Rev. John Williams.
The body is at Blyth Funeral Home and will be placed in the church at 10:00 AM Saturday.
The family is at the home in Belle Meade and will receive friends at the funeral home from 7:00 to 9:00 Friday evening.
Memorials may be made to the Dr. Harry P. Irwin Scholarship Fund, c/o Lander University Foundation, 320 Stanley Avenue, Greenwood, SC 29649, Main Street United Methodist Church, 211 N. Main Street, Greenwood, SC 29646 or to South Carolina United Methodist Foundation, PO Box 5087, Columbia, SC 29250-5087.
For additional information please visit Blyth Funeral Home is assisting the Irwin family.

James D. Lark

PICKENS – James Dewey Lark, 90, husband of Cora Lee Nix Lark, of 902 Trotter Road passed away February 24, 2005 at Cannon Memorial Hospital.
Born in Pickens County, he was a son of the late Noah Lark and Elizabeth Garrett Lark and was a member of Mountain Grove Baptist Church.
Surviving in addition to his wife are daughters, Shirley Batson and husband Carl of Pickens, Nancy Looper and husband Frank M. Jr. of Dacusville, Beverly Willimon and husband Phil of Powdersville; sons, James Marcus Lark and wife Patty of Greenwood, Larry Joe Lark and wife Judy of Clover; brothers, Hubert Lark of Pickens, Fred Lark of Greenville, Milford Lark of Pickens, Earl Lark of Anderson, 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday at Dillard Funeral Home chapel with the Reverend H.C. Couch and Dr. Lloyd Batson officiating. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park and Gardens.
The family will receive friends from 1:30 until 3:00 Saturday at the funeral home prior to the service.
Memorials may be made to the Pickens County Meals on Wheels, P.O. Box 1162 Pickens, S.C. 29671. The family is at the residence.
Dillard Funeral Home is assisting the family of Mr. Lark.

Benjamin Martin

ABBEVILLE — Services for Benjamin Martin, of 505 Haigler St., are 3 p.m. Sunday at Flat Rock A.M.E. Church, conducted by the Rev. Wayman Coleman III. Burial is in the church cemetery. The body will be placed in the church at 2.
The family is at the home.
Brown and Walker Funeral Home is in charge.

Willie Morris Sr.

MOUNT CARMEL — Services for Willie Morris Sr., of Chateaux Acres, is at 1 Saturday at St. Mary A.M.E. Church, conducted by the Rev. Isaac Booker III. Burial is in the church cemetery. The body will be placed in the church at noon.
The family is at the home.
Brown and Walker Funeral Home, Abbeville, is in charge.

Joseph ‘Jobo’ Rucker

Joseph “Jobo” Rucker, 56, died Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005 at Self Regional Medical Center after suffering a stroke.
Born in Greenwood County, he was a son of Louise Mitchell. He was an employee of Greenwood Mills, Harris Plant and was of the Baptist faith.
Survivors include his mother of Washington, D.C., and a brother, James Bailey of Greenwood.
Services will be announced by Parks Funeral Home.

Sally Bell Sanders

PITTSBURGH — Sally Bell Martin Sanders, 82, wife of Eugene Sanders, died Monday, Feb. 21, 2005 in Pittsburgh.
Born in Hodges, S.C., she was a daughter of the late Fate Martin and Bessie Lee Martin.
Survivors include her husband of Pittsburgh; a daughter, Frances Virginia Lee of Anderson, S.C., formerly of Greenwood; and a son, Eddie Sanders of Pittsburgh; five grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and 16 great-great grandchildren.
Services are today in Pittsburgh.
Douglas Funeral Home is in charge.
Announcement courtesy of Parks Funeral Home, Greenwood.


Going to state first time out

EHS’ Logue, Wright will wrestle at state meet

February 25, 2005

Index-Journal sports writer

Vicenti Wright and Kyle Logue managed to do something last weekend that had never been done at Emerald High School.
The Vikings duo became the first Emerald wrestlers to qualify for the South Carolina state individual tournament in just their first full year on the varsity squad.
“It’s not a surprise to get here, but it is unexpected,” said the junior Logue, who transferred to Emerald from Decatur, Ill.
Wright, a senior, finished in third place in the Class AA/A Upper State finals in the 275 weightclass, while Logue finished fourth at 152.
“I can’t take credit for it,” said Emerald coach Travis Harris, who was without a wrestler in last year’s state individual meet. “We’ve had wrestlers that I’ve coached for three years that have never won a match, and then you get these two young men, who are just outstanding athletes and great work ethics. Those two never give up. No matter the situation.
“It goes to show that hard work and dedication can reward you, even as a first-year wrestler.”
Logue and Wright are two of six wrestlers from Greenwood and the Lakelands area that qualified for the state tournament, which opens at 4:30 today at the University of South Carolina Coliseum in Columbia.
The Ninety Six trio of Andy Schuster, Wesley Patterson and Michael Moore will join the Emerald duo in the AA/A tournament, while Greenwood’s Corbett Miller will be a second-seed in 160 from the Upper State in the Class AAAA tournament. Miller, who was 33-5 this year, will face James Island’s Antwain Champaigne in the first round.
Schuster and Patterson enter the state meet as Upper State champions, at 130 and 119, respectively, while Moore is the second seed from the Upper State in 215.
The Ninety Six trio were also named to the North-South Wrestling All-Star Classic. Schuster and Patterson will compete for the North team, while Moore will wrestle for the South squad.
Schuster, who is 35-0 this season, will take on Edisto’s Raymond Bullen, while Patterson, who is 34-1, will lock up with Hanahan’s Kyle Sommers in the first round for the second straight year. Moore, who is 26-2, will face Bullen’s teammate Gho Tyler.
Logue, as the Upper State four seed, will open the tournament with Lower State champion Brandon Blaire of Cheraw.
Wright is the Lakelands wrestler to face the most highly decorated first-round opponent. R.L. Stack may be the second seed from the Lower State, but the Chesterfield senior was the Class AA/A state champion at 215 last year.
Wright, who was 274.4 pounds heading Wednesday, said he’s had some experience wrestling against the smaller heavyweights. However, not all of that experience turned out good, but it’s still something he feels he can learn from.
“The last time I wrestled someone like that was this guy from Walhalla and he jogged around the circle and got me tired,” Wright said. “I was too tired in the third period from chasing him.
“I have to be aggressive this time and stay close without using too much energy.”
It’s that kind of growth and maturity on the mat that Harris believes has helped Wright and Logue reach this the state meet in just their first season in the sport.
“Both of them loss their first match of the season when we went up against Palmetto,” Harris said. “But both of them were able to avenge their losses later in the season. Both of haven’t always been great this year. It was their hard work that brought them here.”
Wright actually did enter this season with one year of wrestling under his belt, competing for the junior varsity squad as an eighth-grader. He planned to join the varsity team as a freshman, but a knee injury during football season forced him to miss the wrestling season.
Wright said fear of re-aggravating that knee injury kept him away the next year. He missed out on his junior season, because he was more than 60 pounds over the 275-pound limit for heavyweights.
But it was losing out that year that motivated him to get in shape for his senior run.
“I knew I was going to have a pretty good season going in,” Wright said. “To get in the Upper State and qualify for state made me feel like all of the work had was worth it. It felt like it was worth the wait.”
For Logue, wrestling was always an afterthought to football and basketball. The Emerald junior intended to sign up for his first season of wrestling as a sophomore in Illinois, but when he was told of a family move in the middle of the season he declined to participate.
But it was a summer camp at Appalachian State that forever changed his mind on the sport.
“Everything for me was always to get ready for football,” Logue said. “Now, I feel like wrestling is my main thing. Everything for me is focused toward wrestling.
“I went to wrestling camp at Appalachian State this past summer and I went 8-0. When it was over, I thought ‘why haven’t I been doing this the whole time?’ ”

Observations ... and other reflections

February 25, 2005

A member of the South Carolina House of Representatives has introduced legislation to lengthen members’ terms from two years to four years. His reasoning is that with such a short term, members are forced to spend so much time trying to get re-elected they don’t have enough time to do the work needed.
That’s one way of looking at it, of course. Another way is that with two-year terms, if bad legislators are elected, they can’t do too much damage before voters have an opportunity to send them packing.

* * * * *

Too many times age has been an arbitrary barrier that limits our productivity as we get older. For some, it’s also a deterrent to social intercourse. That, though, is not necessarily true anymore, and that’s worth noting.
Look at the athletic world. Some professional ballplayers continue to perform well after age 40. Popular or not, if they couldn’t do the job they’d be gone. More and more, though, more and more athletes are extending their careers and more than hold their own.
Consider entertainers. Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery, for example, well into their seventies, are in demand more now than they ever were.
When demographics show we’re living longer, that’s great. It’s even better when “oldtimers” are proving it every day.

* * * * *

Finally, President Bush has appointed the intelligence “czar” that’s been talked about so much. John Negroponte, the U. S. ambassador to Iraq, becomes the first to hold the position created to oversee the 15 different intelligence (spy) agencies created to help protect us and our interests.
The failure of the intelligence services to stop the terrorist attacks on this country has long been documented, of course. It may be that a new “czar” can manage and coordinate our intelligence-gathering and analysis in a way that will provide us the necessary information to fight domestic crime and terror and international terrorists wherever they might be.
One thing that must be controlled, though, and it’s nothing new. In fact, it has been one of the problems all along. That’s the turf protection fights that have had too much of a negative impact on our security. If the White House and Congress provides the support needed, it may work. If not, forget it.