Veterans Cemetery Service in Bloomfield

BLOOMFIELD – Tuesday’s Veterans Day observance here at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery included a Prisoners of War/Missing in Action ceremony, along with a Keynote speech offered by Lt. Col. Edward Gargas of the Missouri Army National Guard.

After entrance music performed by the Bloomfield High School Band; Director’s comments by SMSgt. USAF (ret.) Kenneth G. Swearengin; the Invocation offered by First General Baptist Church Pastor Ronnie Stevens; and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Elmer Wilson, the band performed the “Star Spangled Banner.”

The POW/MIA Table Ceremony followed, led by narrator Gary Kitchen, SFC USA (ret.). Allison Statler performed the traditional hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

Branches of the Armed Services were represented by the United States Army’s James Adams, SFC USA 9ret.); United States Marine Corps’ Tom Love, Capt., USMC (ret.); United States Navy’s Carl Bess, PO1, USN (ret.0; United States Air Forces’ Darryl LaPierre, Sgt., USAF; and United States Coast Guard by Justin Baker, CW04 USCG (ret.).

SMSgt. Swearengin was Tuesday’s Honorable Guest.

Lt. Col. Gargas offered the Keynote Address followed by Swearengin’s closing comments.

The Stoddard County Veterans Honor Guard, Elmer Wilson, Jack Gilles, Jerry Elder, Cotus James, Rick McLean, John Roach, Jesse Deardorff, Mark Hux, Mike Williams, Denny Robinett, Dale Weaver and Justin Steiner fired the closing volley.

Taps and exit music was performed by the BHS Band.


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Journalist Steve Hankins is the latest addition to the SEMO Times family. Steve is an award-winning writer and a 1999 graduate of Missouri State University at Springfield.He wrote professionally for a number of publications, including The Mississippi Rag, the Nation's Voice for Jazz and Ragtime Music; The Branson Tri-Lakes Daily News; The Jonesboro Arkansas Sun; and the Daily Dunklin Democrat at Kennett, Mo. As a Sun staff writer, Steve was awarded first place by Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors for a community service series that explored the state's methamphetamine issue. While at Missouri State, Steve earned The Quill and Scroll Award, the sole honor bestowed by the university annually for excellence in journalism. As a student, he served as music editor for The Free Press of the Ozarks, a tabloid newspaper published at Springfield, Mo. Steve earned a bachelor of science in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minored in creative writing while at Missouri State. He is the son of Malden's Lloyd Elmer and Alice Mae Hankins and lives at Malden with wife Angela; nine-year-old twin daughters Emmalee Jane and Alice Ray; and six-year-old daughter Ella Camille.