6 was good enough for Matthew Plenty. That’s how many children this AIR FORCE veteran had between wives’ one, and two. And he also loved his COWBOYS! That always made for some good conversation during the few times I visited his Newport News home. Mr. Plenty could talk some “smack” about WASHINGTON. After retiring from the AIR FORCE and settling into a civil service job at FORT EUSTIS, the PLENTYs’ welcomed my wife’s family by their East End homestead all the time. I recall first meeting him at our wedding in 1982! And although my wife stayed in touch with the kids, we hadn’t seen him much over the years- one of those friends you kinda knew was always there. Always. Until Monday. I vividly recall my wife’s reaction when she learned Mr. Plenty had died. She knew he was sick, in home hospice care. We planned to visit, tomorrow.. but LIFE got in the way. I hear he had some fascinating stories to tell about his military service. But now he’s takes those stories with him. TOMORROW now becomes TODAY. I’m finalizing plans, along with a colleague over at SUNTRUST BANK in downtown Norfolk, to talk to- actually, HONOR, some other VETERANS, who have some stories to tell. I personally know two of them. Mr JULIUS GREEN is the husband of my wife’s best friend, Rosalyn. Every now and then, “Roz” would drop a dime about Mr Green’s ARMY years, duty in Korea, Germany, Fort Eustis. Only after pressing for details did I learn that he was the Army’s first African American MASTER DIVER; or in other words, the Army’s version of CARL BRASHEAR.
Army Master Diver
Poking around a little more, I learned Mr. Green attended Warrant Officer School with his neighbor, and another friend of mine, JOHN E. GRAGG… That’s Army Chief Warrant Officer 3, John Gragg. He went on to become the ARMY’s first African American BOAT CAPTAIN.
The Army’s first African American boat captain
Gragg says he was the captain of the big tug that helped pull this ARMY VESSEL OFF a sand bar in the James River in March of 1972. And, boy, does he have more stories to tell.
CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.
Both plan to share them with us at a reception in their honor, 10 AM, FRIDAY, 09NOV13, at SUNTRUST BANK, 150 West Main Street, downtown Norfolk, 12th floor. Also being honored this day, a “young man” who earned 3 PURPLE HEARTS, the hard way. Retired Army Ranger William “Joey” Pocan. TOMORROW is TODAY…The time is now to say THANK YOU to these, and all outstanding veterans. I hope they’ll take a moment to tell us a story.