By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As several residents of Millington prepared for the escort of the Vietnam Memorial Wall to Munford, many had a visual treat hours before the sound of one motorcycle.
Before the Patriot Guard Riders from Tipton County made there way on Highway 51 last Wednesday in front of the 18-wheeler housing the Wall, locals spotted the old anchor that used to be stationed in front of Millington Transmission located at 7656 Highway 51 North.
More than a year ago, the anchor given to the city by the U.S. Navy was removed. A group, featuring members like former Millington Mayor Richard Hodges and Fleet Reserve Branch 86’s Eugene Leech, raised funds to purchase the anchor back and preserve it.
There efforts were rewarded with a chance to display the refurbished anchor with a POW and American Flag along Highway 51 as the Wall came through town.
“It’s important to have it out here to be seen while the Wall is being escorted,” Leech said, also a member of the VFW Post 7175 and American Legion Post 252. “We wanted to show our appreciation for them doing a big favor for our country. It’s to remember those who protected and served our country.”
Several residents expressed happiness seeing the anchor with a new paint job and still intact. The anchor was sold for $800 after it was removed from in front of Millington Transmission.
Millington Transmission owner Leslie McGroom remembers the moment the anchor was removed from it’s resting place after more than 30 years.
“They came and got it with a wrecker from my property,” he said. “I was very, very, very angry. When I called and told them we needed to clean it up because I felt it was very disrespectful to the (Navy) and the town for this thing to be all rusty, nasty looking. I told them we ought to clean it up, paint it make it look like it does right now. They did an awesome job on it.”
The group trying to save the anchor raised the $1,800 needed to purchase it. With efforts from Leech, the anchor was refurbished for $450.
McGroom reminisced about the anchor from his childhood when his father owned the shop. He said the anchor was a part of his youth and he’s glad its still around to be enjoyed and appreciated as a symbol of the U.S. Navy.
“I drive by here early today,” he said. “I thought it was scrapped all this time, that it was gone. I’m glad to know it has not been crushed or it’s a piece of a car going down the road.”
Instead several cars stopped to view the anchor and say thank you to those who raised money to save it. Hodges said the anchor has been on the back of his trailer for the last few months waiting on a new home to be displayed. But for a day, the veterans request to have the anchor on display to honor the arrival of the Vietnam Memorial Wall was granted.
“This anchor came off a World War I ship, we’re not sure which one,” Leech concluded. “It was likely manufactured in the late 1800s. We feel this anchor should have a future especially here since it’s a Navy town.”
On Oct. 23 the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall made it’s way through Flag City, USA (Millington, Tenn.) escorted by several Patriot Rider motorcycles. The Wall was on it’s way up Highway 51 North to Munford to be on display from Wednesday to Sunday. A part of that display was the Fallen Soldier.
“Our Cost of Freedom Tribute is a one of a kind outdoor tribute, depicting Honor, Respect and Remembrance of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. All conflicts the United States of America has been involved in are represented. Paying respect to veterans, active duty military, police officers and firefighters; anyone whose daily job is to put themselves in harm’s way, to protect and defend our way of life, in locations around the world or here on the home front. It creates a great forum for communities to raise local awareness and the chance to host an event that can raise funds that stay in your community to help local causes. We are committed to helping our nation’s heroes, one community at a time. Create community events to raise awareness and money for your local veterans and those who protect and defend us, one community at a time.