In recognition of Veterans Day, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville honored seven veterans from across Alabama that the Senator recognized by telling their stories of service, sacrifice, and contribution to their communities.
Tuberville highlighted the service and sacrifice of seven veterans from Alabama. These are Sergeant Chris Amacker from Slapout, Officer Eric Prewitt from Havana, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Wishik from Madison, Sergeant Janet Pray from Geneva, George Hamilton from Pleasant Grove, Sergeant Lonnie Phillips from Pell City, and Sergeant Dave Jensen from Foley.
“In 1945, a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama —recognized the need for a day to honor ALL veterans,” Tuberville said. “He led the petition to then-Army Chief of Staff Dwight Eisenhower for a National Veterans Day and organized the first Veterans Day Parade in Birmingham on November 11, 1947. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill officially establishing ‘Veterans Day.’”
Today Veterans Day is a state and national holiday. Banks, government offices, post offices, courthouses, most schools, and many businesses will be closed today.
“It is fitting that the ‘Father of Veterans Day’ was an Alabamian – symbolizing a longstanding tradition among our residents to recognize and show appreciation for our veterans and service members,” Tuberville said. “Every year, we continue this tradition of pausing to recognize our veterans—past and present. Veterans Day reminds us that freedom is a sacred gift—and it is not free. Some endured unthinkable battles and hardships so that we can live in peace.”
The Veteran’s Day Parade in Birmingham today will begin at 11:00 am.
“These veterans—Chris Amacker, Eric Prewitt, Jeff Wishik, Janet Pray, George Hamilton, Lonnie Phillips, and Dave Jensen—are all heroes,” said Tuberville. “Our country is safer because of their efforts, and Alabama’s communities are better off because of their continued service. Their sacrifices— whether loss of mobility, time spent away from family, post-war trauma, or the most vibrant years of their youth— demonstrate America’s strength to the world. President Ronald Reagan summed it up best when he said, ‘Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they’ve suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.’ I hope we will remember the price of freedom and those who have paid it. To all of our veterans, thank you for your sacrifice and endeavors to ensure America remains a country of freedom and opportunity for generations to come.”
“Like Sergeant Chris Amacker of Slapout, Alabama, a gun truck commander in the Army’s 465th Transportation Unit, where he moved ammo and equipment during the Iraq War,” Tuberville said. “His military service was cut short after suffering brain and spinal injuries following an explosive attack on his unit. Sergeant Amacker spent more than a year in an Arkansas rehabilitation facility, relearning how to walk and talk.”
“There is no more commendable action than using skills learned in the military to help others succeed, like Officer Eric Prewitt from Havana, Alabama, does, day in and day out,” Tuberville said. “A graduate of Hale County High School, Officer Prewitt enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1992, where he served as a Yeoman Second Class. Officer Prewitt felt led to return to West Alabama after his time in the military and use his skills to assist veterans wishing to use their GI Bill benefits. In 2005, he became the Veterans Affairs Officer and Diversity Liaison at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. When speaking about his job, Officer Prewitt shared how the military invested in him and that he wants to continue investing in our service members and veterans. His role is a huge benefit to not just West Alabama but our entire state.”
“Some service members were not well-received upon their return to American soil. They fought a thankless war without feeling supported, but still fought out of devotion to their country,” Tuberville stated. “Born in Montgomery, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army through Marion Military Institute’s early commissioning program. Wishik deployed to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, directed to find and engage enemy forces.”
“While scouting for a landing zone for a helicopter to evacuate them, Lieutenant Wishik was struck by numerous enemy attacks, including one explosion that blew him into the air, knocked him unconscious, and killed all but three in his scouting group,” Tuberville continued. “After he and the two other soldiers realized they were outnumbered and unable to turn back, they spent the night pretending to be dead to avoid being captured by the enemy. Lieutenant Wishik’s wise reminder to Americans based on his experience is that ‘You may not agree with the politics of the country, but you don’t take it out on American service members.’”
“The call to serve may run in the family – where, for some veterans, the lessons and values learned in military service are worth passing on generation to generation. This is the case for Sergeant Janet Pray of Geneva, Alabama, who served in the U.S. Army from 1989-2003,” Tuberville continued. “After retiring from the Army, Sergeant Pray continued supporting the Department of Defense in various roles, including as an administrative assistant at Fort Rucker. Her love for education and empowering the next generation prompted her to become a substitute teacher and aide for the Geneva City Schools System. Her encouragement and tenacious spirit has touched the lives of countless students and teachers. Sergeant Pray says the military taught her to lead by example and be responsible for her own actions—lessons she continues to pass on. People like Sergeant Pray keep the American dream alive by inspiring others to take advantage of opportunities our country has to offer and leading by example.”
“For veterans like 100-year-old George Hamilton of Pleasant Grove, the idea of ‘service’ has no age limit. The World War II Navy veteran participates in different events around Jefferson County to share his story and is active in his local congregation at Bethel Baptist Church,” Tuberville continued. “Mission work is a huge part of his life. He has been on eleven trips to Nicaragua and is planning to go again soon. Mr. Hamilton says his only regret about his time with the Navy is not signing up sooner. He reflects fondly on his service, but also on how united Americans were during World War II, with a desire to do whatever was necessary to defeat our common enemy and defend our way of life. Mr. Hamilton continues to remind us of our country’s potential when we are united, saying, ‘If we could get that feeling back in our country today, we could get out of this situation we’re in without fail.’”
“Many heroes gave our country some of the best years of their lives so that we could freely enjoy ours,” Tuberville said. “One such hero is Sergeant Lonnie Phillips of Pell City, Alabama. The two-time Purple Heart recipient left home when he was just 17 years old to join the Marines, serving in the Vietnam War for one year and 11 months. During his time in Vietnam, Sergeant Phillips survived two attacks but sustained life-changing injuries. Decades later, he still has shrapnel in his hip, a painful reminder of the cost of freedom. Sergeant Phillips says he doesn’t regret his service because he hopes it will keep today’s youth from facing the same hardship. But he doesn’t see himself as a hero—just a man who did what his country asked of him during a difficult point in history. His humility and devotion are an inspiration to us all.”
“The sacrifices made by our service members are often overlooked or taken for granted by those of us who benefit from them,” Tuberville said. “Even during the Korean War, often referred to as the ‘Forgotten War,’ there were men and women who willingly answered the call to serve—not for fame or recognition, but to keep our country safe from evil. Like Sergeant Dave Jensen of Foley, who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at 19 years old. After honorably discharging, Sergeant Jensen made another commendable decision to enter public education, teaching the art of woodworking and mechanics during his 30 years as a SHOP instructor. Sergeant Jensen is an example of someone who knew the importance of his role to the overall mission and honorably carried out his part.”
Sen. Tuberville is in his first term as a U.S. Senator following his election in 2020. Tuberville unseated incumbent Sen. Doug Jones in the 2020 election.