Category Archives: veterans

Bodies of solders slain in Mexican War returned to U.S.

The remains of 11 American soldiers killed in the Mexican-American War, likely including at least some Tennesseans, are finally returning today to American soil, according to news releases from U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, and Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg.

From DesJarlais:
Washington, D.C. – Last year, Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04), introduced a resolution urging the Government of Mexico and the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs to expedite the release of identified remains of 11 American Soldiers who fought in the battle of Monterey in 1846.

170 years ago, Brigadier General Zachary Taylor led a 6,000 man military force composed largely of Tennessee Volunteers and Texas Rangers to capture the town of Monterrey. During this battle the United States suffered 120 casualties, 368 were wounded and 43 were reported missing.

According to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology, the uncovered remains of the 11 U.S. soldiers were found at a construction site near the Texan border. The remains were identified as American soldiers who died in combat after an examination of the buttons sewn into their uniforms as well as two U.S. half-dollar coins excavated in the area. Continue reading

TN GOP congressmen: Khan’s a ‘hero,’ but no criticism of Trump

When asked about a harsh exchange between Donald Trump and the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in action, Republican members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation are strive to avoid taking sides, reports Michael Collins.

The GOP lawmakers called Capt. Humayun Khan, killed by a suicide bomber in 2004 as he tried to save other troops, “an American hero” but were careful not to condemn Trump for ramping up his feud with the slain soldier’s parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

“The issue here is not one of the Khan family’s patriotism or sacrifice — that is indisputable — it is about stopping the encroachment of radical Islam,” U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin said. “Donald Trump remains the only candidate in this race with the strength to combat this threat and to keep Americans safe, which is why my support for him will not waver.”

Black said Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, have clarified via social media that Capt. Humayun Khan “is an American hero and that his family, like every Gold Star family, is deserving of our respect.” Continue reading

John M. Jones, politically active publisher and ‘Merrill’s Marauders’ vet, dies aged 101

John M. Jones, publisher of the Greeneville Sun and World War II veteran who was part of “Merrill’s Marauders” serving behind Japanese lines in Burma, has died at age 101. Jones was also politically active as a Democrat in the 1950s and 1960s, subsequently forming ties with some of the state’s prominent Republicans.

Excerpts from the Greeneville Sun’s report: Continue reading

WWII soldier buried in TN 74 years after death

News release from Tennessee National Guard
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee National Guard honored a World War II POW who was laid to rest July 15 at Mountain Home National Cemetery in Mountain Home, Tenn., following the identification of his remains nearly 74 years after his death.

U.S. Army Air Corps Pvt. Evans Overbey, a native of Wise County, Va., was a member of the 93rd Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group during World War II. He died at the age of 25 on Nov. 19, 1942, at POW Camp Cabanatuan in Luzon, Philippines, after suffering from pellagra, a disease associated with niacin deficiency and malnutrition.

Overbey fought in the Battle of Bataan, was captured, survived the Bataan Death March, and participated in the Philippine Island Unit Campaign prior to being captured in the Philippines.

He was initially buried in Common Grave 717 at Camp Cabanatuan Cemetery. His remains were intermixed with 10 other Soldiers and were reclaimed by the U.S. at the close of World War II. At that time, the remains of all 10 Soldiers were interred in an unknown Soldiers’ grave in San Francisco, Calif.

New West TN Veterans home site announced

News release from Department of Veterans Services
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Department of Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Debra Payne and Department of General Services Deputy Commissioner John Hull in partnership with Tennessee State Veterans Home Executive Director Ed Harries formally announced the site of the future West Tennessee State Veterans Home today at 11293 Memphis Arlington Road in Arlington. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) support the milestone announcement made in their district.

“More than 214,000 Tennessee Veterans are over the age of 65 years old, which is 42 percent of our state’s Veteran population,” Grinder said. “We are fortunate to have four existing Tennessee State Veterans Homes, but we know more of these high-quality resources are needed to serve our aging Veteran population. Shelby County has the largest Veteran population in the state which exceeds 56,000 Veterans.” Continue reading

Remains of slain TN soldier returning home after 66 years

Army Sgt. Bailey Keeton Jr.’s remains are returning home Thursday in a motorcade more than six decades after his death and will be laid to rest Saturday with full military honors in what a brother calls the “prettiest cemetery in Scott County,” reports the News Sentinel.

“The way this is being handled, it’s a really good thing,” said Ron Keeton of the honors for his brother, a soldier killed at age 20 on a frozen battlefield in North Korea 66 years ago.

Another brother, Arnold Keeton of Indiana, who hadn’t been born when his brother was killed, is a pastor and will officiate at the 12:30 p.m. services Saturday in the chapel of West-Murley Funeral Home on Alberta Street in Oneida, Tenn.

Gov. Bill Haslam has declared Saturday a day of mourning and ordered flags to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset “in honor of Sergeant Keeton’s ultimate sacrifice.”

“Bailey Keeton Jr. answered the call to serve his country and we are grateful that his family will finally have the closure of laying him to rest in his home state,” Haslam said.

TN Memorial Day service pays tribute to seven, including four slain in Chattanooga

News release from governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Major General Terry “Max” Haston of the Tennessee Military Department to pay tribute to seven service members killed in action to include four Marines and one Sailor killed in Chattanooga on July 16, 2015.

Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan of Springfield, Massachusetts was assigned to Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division in Chattanooga where he served as Battery Gunnery Sergeant when he was killed during a terrorist attack on July 16, 2015. He was 40 years old. No family or designee attended on his behalf.

Staff Sergeant David Wyatt was born in Morganton, North Carolina, but grew up in Ozark and Russellville, Arkansas. He was serving as Operations Chief at Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division when we he was killed in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga on July 16, 2015. He was 35 years old. He was laid to rest at the Chattanooga National Cemetery on July 24, 2015. Retired Gunnery Sergeant Brian Marzluf and his wife Gretchen Gilliam Marzluf represented the Wyatt family.

Sergeant Carson Holmquist of Grantsburg, Wisconsin was assigned to Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division when he was killed during a terrorist attack at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Chattanooga on July 16, 2015. He was 25 years old. His wife Jasmin Holmquist received the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal on her husband’s behalf. Continue reading

Disabled vets come up short in legislative ‘sausage-making process’

A state House push to reverse last year’s cuts in aid to disabled military veterans died on the final day of the legislative session last week in the face of Senate opposition, leading to approval of a more modest improvement in the program and multiple promises to seek full restoration of the cuts next year.

“In the sausage-making process we’re engaged in here, something is better than nothing,” said Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, in urging colleagues to vote for the final version of the bill on Friday.

They ultimately did after some convoluted proceedings. The final vote was 58-18, though at one point House members actually voted in favor of continuing the fight, even though that could have meant prolonging the 2016 session.
Continue reading

TN Veterans Home employee charged with theft

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Former receptionist Marilyn Truss has been charged with theft after a Comptroller’s investigation revealed that she stole at least $7,906 from the Tennessee State Veterans’ Home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The investigation was conducted in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Investigators found that Ms. Truss stole money that she collected from visitors and staff who pre-purchased meals from the Veterans’ Home cafeteria. Ms. Truss admitted to taking some of the money for her personal use, falsifying accounting records, and destroying receipts

Investigators identified Ms. Truss as a convicted felon on probation for a previous theft of property over $60,000 in Hamilton County. While working at the Veterans’ Home, she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest because she had violated the conditions of her probation. Management was unaware of her criminal history, and is now using a different vendor for background checks.

Comptroller investigators also noted $1,833 in questionable transactions related to residents’ trust accounts which Ms. Truss assisted in maintaining.

Additionally, investigators found that prescription drugs that should have come to the home were missing. Just prior to Ms. Truss’ resignation in August 2014, management found several opened and unopened mail pouches containing various prescription drugs located under her desk.

On March 9, 2016, Marilyn Truss was indicted by the Rutherford County Grand Jury on one count of theft under $10,000 and one count of making false entries in books or records.

“Many of the problems noted in this investigation could have been prevented with stronger accounting procedures and management oversight,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Our report also notes problems with the Veterans’ Home purchasing process. I am pleased to see that management has taken steps toward correcting these deficiencies.”

To view the investigation online, go to:

Fed court questions TN malpractice law in Iraq vet’s suicide

The case of a widow whose Iraq war veteran husband committed suicide after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs misdiagnosed his post-traumatic stress disorder is testing Tennessee’s stringent medical malpractice laws and highlighting what a federal judge called the laws’ “seemingly unfair” results, reports Jamie Satterfield.

The VA and the James H. Quillen Veterans Administration Medical Center in Mountain Home, Tenn., have conceded Greeneville veteran Scott Walter Eiswert was misdiagnosed and in 2008 committed suicide. The efforts of the National Guardsman’s widow, Tracy Lynn Eiswert, to hold the VA and the Quillen doctors accountable have failed solely because of a few paperwork errors that ran afoul of Tennessee’s medical malpractice laws.

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer tossed out Eiswert’s case in 2013, which he called a “seemingly unfair result” of “procedural hurdles” the Tennessee Legislature created over the past few years to make it tougher for residents to sue medical professionals and facilities.

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals came to the widow’s rescue earlier this year, questioning whether those laws were indeed as unforgiving as they appeared. The appellate court asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to consider whether the laws required “strict compliance” with no room for error or “substantial compliance” with wiggle room for minor filing mistakes.

In a recently-released opinion, the 6th Circuit revealed the state’s high court refused to answer that question because of at least one other paperwork error Greer did not address in his ruling. Rather than declare defeat for the widow, the 6th Circuit is now sending the case back to Greer — with a twist.

The court is drawing a legal road map for Greer, citing specific cases he should consider that could favor the widow.

“On remand, we note several decisions which may inform the analysis of the unresolved issues,” the opinion stated.

All of those cases were decided by Tennessee’s Supreme Court after the widow’s lawsuit was dismissed and have poked legal holes in the “strict compliance” requirements of the state’s medical malpractice laws.