(Columbia, SC)—Celebrity journalist Rita Cosby, SC Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal and 3 Medal of Honor recipients came together in Columbia on January 20 for a luncheon paying homage to recipients of the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force. MOH recipients who attended were MSgt. John F. Baker, Jr. (US Army Ret.), Col. Charles P. Murray, Jr. (US Army Ret.) and Lt. Michael E. Thornton (US Navy SEAL Ret.) Baker and Thornton served in the Vietnam War; Murrray served in World War II. Thornton keynoted the program SC Women Honor Valor. (Article continues after photo)
Approximately 300 guests attended the luncheon at the Columbia Convention Center.
Lt. Col. W. Thomas Smith, Jr., introduced Rita Cosby, triple Emmy winner and best-selling author who is a correspondent for ‘Inside Edition’ on CBS. Cosby delivered greetings, reminiscing about her days as a journalism student at the University of South Carolina. Cosby also touched on her experiences as a news correspondent traveling to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Guantanamo Bay. Of Guantanamo, Cosby recalled, ‘I got to walk the row.” She said the men and women there work long hours to “do what they can” to keep the country safe. Cosby has interviewed numerous world leaders like President Bill Clinton and entertainers like Michael Jackson.
Smith, a military analyst and journalist, is also in charge of media inquiries for the upcoming convention.
Mezzo soprano Jan Merchant and Dr. Richard Conant performed musical selections, including the national anthem and ‘God Bless America.’ Merchant was a soloist with the Norman Luboff choir and she originated the role of Beatrice in the Broadway hit, ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.’ Dr. Conant, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of SC, has performed around the world in countries like Bulgaria and China and he has sung for world leaders like President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.
Chief Justice Toal welcomed guests and offered remarks throughout the program.
Lt. Thornton delivered the keynote address with poignant remarks about men “who’ve given their utmost.” As he closed his remarks, he asked, “If I was going to die, where better than the arms of your comrades?”
Each MOH recipient received a framed plaque.
Three former SC First Ladies attended: Mrs. John C. West, Mrs. David M. Beasley and Mrs. Carroll A. Campbell, Jr.
Dignitaries, guests of honor and speakers entered the room by walking between two lines of members of the SC Youth ChalleNGe Academy. The academy under the auspices of the SC National Guard helps at risk youth turn their lives around, said MG Nelson Lacy, commander of the SC State Guard. He said what many of the youth in the program need is “a little bit of structure” in their lives.
The program was a prelude to the Medal of Honor Convention 2010 scheduled for September 29-October 3 in Charleston. The convention which will honor the 90 living MOH recipients is hosted by the SC State Guard Foundation and the Citadel. Supporters may contribute at the MOH Convention website.