Veterans Tribute
SSMS students show pride and patriotism with assembly honoring service personnel
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Bailee Petty  presents flowers to Jimmy and Dena Lloyd, the parents of Army Staff Sgt. Chad Lloyd, and to Howard and Mary Pattberg (left), the parents of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Howard Pattberg, during the Freedom Assembly held Thursday at Sulphur Springs Middle School

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Nov. 10, 2006 - Some Sulphur Springs students showed their patriotism Thursday by honoring local veterans, active service personnel and the families of two soldiers who recently died. 

The honors were part of Sulphur Springs Middle School's  Freedom Assembly, held annually around Veteran's Day to recognize the many local veterans, past and present, who have served their country.

The afternoon began with students filing into the gym, each in red, white or blue clothing, followed by the posting of colors by Hopkins County Military Coalition members John Ward, George Mitchell, Walter Grice and Clayton McGraw.

SSMS students Laine Anderson and Ben Watson led the assembly in the recitation of the pledge to the American and Texas flags. The SSMS Select Choir followed with the national anthem.

Coach Steve Diamond said that the Freedom Assembly gets SSMS students "involved in patriotism" prior to Veterans Day each year. The program this year was expanded to include active duty service personnel, their families and staff.

Recognition was paid to SSMS teachers Matt McCray and Timothy L. Couch, both veterans.

McCray, a science teacher, served in the Army infantry from 1986 to 1992, earning the rank of captain before leaving the service. Couch was a captain in military intelligence during his 16 years of service in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. Couch teaches English and assists with the school web site.

Four other school staff members were asked to stand in tribute to their family members who are currently serving stateside or abroad.

Patti Teddlie's nephew, Capt. Mark Horn, was recognized as an Army intelligence officer stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Berry Sudderth's son, Matthew Sudderth, is a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. He recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Sandy and James Noe's son, Chief Petty Officer Bobby Noe, is in the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Unit, stationed out of Portsmouth Naval Base in Virginia. He is a 1986 graduate of Sulphur Springs High School.

Gene McKelroy's son-in-law, Hank R. Taylor of Quitman, was present at the Freedom Assembly to receive recognition. He is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and has served in Port au Prince, Haiti, and Ramadi and Fallujah, Iraq. He recently returned from Iraq and was home on leave. He will be returning to Camp Lejeune this weekend.

Howard and Mary Pattberg and Jimmy and Dena Loyd were present for a special tribute to their sons, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Howard Pattberg and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael "Chad" Loyd, who both recently died.

Staff Sgt. Chad Pattberg was killed Sept. 2 in Jacksonville in an automobile accident while home on leave from active duty.

Loyd paid the ultimate price for freedom on Saturday, Aug. 12. Loyd was killed alongside Staff Sgt. Kevin L. Zeigler, 31, of Braymer, Mo., when an improvised explosive device they were trying to disable exploded near their dismounted patrol during combat operations in Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Loyd, also the son of Margaret Lloyd of Corpus Christi, joined the Army in January 2001 and became a cavalry scout in August 2002. His awards and decorations include the Army Service  Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal,  Driver and Mechanic Badge, Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge and  the M4 Expert Badge.

He was a 2000 graduate of Carroll High School in Corpus Christi, but spent many of his summers visiting his grandparents, Gambrell and Francis Lloyd, in Hopkins County. He is the nephew of Linda Moore of Sulphur Springs.

Loyd's wife, Jessica, also served in the Army in Fort Hood. She and their year-old son, James Thomas "J.T.," now reside in Killeen.

Pattberg, a 1994 Sulphur Springs High School graduate, was "a very proud Marine," having served two tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a helicopter airframe mechanic, as well as in Okinawa, Japan. He was a Marine recruiter and had spent the last 12 years in the Marine Corps.

The Pattbergs' other son, Paul Pattberg, was also recognized for his service as a private first class in the U.S. Marine Corps. Paul is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif.

"Thank you for the brave sacrifices of your sons. This is to show our appreciation for the sacrifices and a symbol our our love for your families," student Bailee Petty told the Loyds and Pattbergs when presenting them with a patriotic spray of flowers on behalf of the student council and student body.

SSMS speech student Seth Maeker played a few lines from a speech Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., leading into a reading of his essay "What Freedom Means to Me."

Maeker noted that we often take our freedoms of speech and religion, to "do what we want to do and be what we want to be," for granted. He said he is reminded how our freedoms are paid for by the men and women who every day put their lives on the line in service, a fact we should never forget.

Speech student Sarah Sapaugh also paid tribute to the veterans as well as current service personnel. She thanked them for "keeping us safe and free," and noted the continued advantages they have provided through their service.

"There aren't enough words to safe how grateful we are that you keep us safe and free," Sapaugh said. She then noted that, as Malcolm X said, "You can't separate peace from freedom. A man can't be at peace unless he has his freedom."

The SSMS band played a medley of patriotic numbers, including "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "America," and the more upbeat "Yankee Doodle."

At the conclusion of the program, Principal Glenn Wilson recalled a sign in  the Loyds' yard the day they brought their son Chad home, which read, "We have freedoms because of the brave."

"It's because of people like Michael Chad Loyd and Sgt. Jeff Pattberg that we have freedom," Wilson said. "They have  become our courage. Chad and Jeff are our American idols. They're our champs and are truly our heroes. Our thanks go to them for all they give and all the freedoms we have."

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