Auction raises $5,142 for local Vietnam veteran
Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010 9:07 pm
By: John Brannon, Staff Reporter
By JOHN BRANNON
Saturday evening, Pat Compton of Troy made Chris Cummings a musical offer he couldn’t refuse: Let her sing two songs and she’d donate $100 to the cause.
“I sure wasn’t going to say no,” Cummings mused.
The “cause” was an auction held 7-11 p.m. Saturday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Jones-Walker Post 4862 to raise funds for the family of Vietnam veteran David Stephenson of Union City.
And in due time, with the country-western band “Boot Cut” to back her, Ms. Compton stood before a microphone and sang two favorites — “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and “Walkin’ After Midnight” — and promptly made the promised donation. “I’m both a singer and songwriter,” she told The Messenger.
Stephenson, who was awarded the Silver Star and other medals for combat heroism in Vietnam in March 1969, suffered a major stroke on May 1 and underwent brain surgery at Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah, Ky. He has been transferred to HealthSouth Cane Creek Center in Martin.
Cummings, a Union City police investigator and National Guardsman who served two tours in Iraq, coordinated the fund-raising event. He was assisted by Staff Sgt. Chuck Sadler, a former Guardsman and currently the U.S. Army recruiter based in Martin.
Cummings reported receiving about 50 items for the auction. “The reaction has been tremendous,” he said. “And before the auction began tonight, we’d received about $1,000 in cash donations.”
All proceeds will go to the family. “Their house needs to be made wheelchair-accessible. That’s one of our projects,” Cummings said.
Three major contributors of their time and talents at the auction were “Boot Cut,” auctioneer John Lewis and former VFW Post 4862 commander Ed Southern.
Boot Cut, comprised of Dustin Hamlin, Jason Scott, J.D. Robinson, Lance Lofton and Josh Robinson, performed about 20 country-western songs.
Lewis hawked the goods to the crowd; Southern walked the floor displaying them one by one.
A surprise guest was Ron Kirkland of Jackson, a Republican candidate for the 8th Congressional District seat being vacated by Congressman John Tanner, who is retiring at the end of his current term.
Kirkland served with the 55th Military Intelligence Detachment in Vietnam in 1970-71. He requested Cummings’ permission to address the crowd. “He’s a Vietnam vet,. He’s earned the right to speak. I told him just don’t make it political,” Cummings said.
Kirkland told the crowd he’s a Vietnam vet and proud of it and that his job in the war was easy compared to men like Stephenson who were in the thick of it.
“The David Stephenson story is a remarkable story,” Kirkland said. “I’m glad somebody saw fit to award him the Silver Star. He put his life on the line. He was injured. He was justifiably awarded the Silver Star. Those of you who are Vietnam veterans, thank you for your service, and welcome home.”
Sunday, Cummings said the auction raised $5,142 for the Stephenson family. An additional $690 was received via mail, bringing the total to $5,832.
“It was an incredible success. More than we’d hoped for,” he said. “I had a lot of help and I thank everybody who donated, everybody who showed up and everybody who gave their support.”
Published in The Messenger 5.24.10