The 121st annual Newton Soldiers Reunion event continues Thursday when the afternoon service begins at 4 p.m. on the east side of the Court Square. The Reunion Service will feature special guest Command Sergeant Major Gary L. Littrell, recipient of the prestigious Medal of Honor.
Littrell will provide special remarks at the service, following welcomes by Newton Mayor Pro Tem Anne Stedman and Catawba County Commission Chairperson Kitty Barnes. Col. Bradley McRee will be the featured speaker for the patriotic service.
The Newton-Conover High School Band will perform a prelude concert from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m., and will also perform the national anthem during the service. R. Clayton Todd, Jr. will lead the audience in the singing of “The Old North State” and “America the Beautiful.”
Littrell will also participate in the parade at 5 p.m. According to information from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, he was honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” in Vietnam in 1970. Sgt. First Class Littrell, a Vietnamese-speaking Ranger, was assigned as an adviser to the 23rd Battalion, 2nd Ranger Group, of the South Vietnamese Army. The force of 473 South Vietnamese Rangers encountered an enemy force of approximately 5,000 troops, with only 41 of the 473 walking from the scene after four days and nights. Littrell repeatedly abandoned positions of safety to direct artillery and air support by day, and marked the unit’s location by night. “Assault after assault was repulsed as the battalion responded to the extraordinary leadership and personal example exhibited by Sfc. Littrell as he continuously moved to those points most seriously threatened by the enemy, redistributed ammunition, strengthened faltering defenses, cared for the wounded, and shouted encouragement to the Vietnamese in their own language… through his indomitable courage and complete disregard for his safety, he averted excessive loss of life and injury to the members of the battalion. The sustained extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Sfc. Littrell over an extended period of time were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him and the U.S. Army.”
Littrell is one of only 87 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, and one of only 56 living recipients who performed actions in the Vietnam War.