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VI Missions to Honor Veterans

As the nation prepares to observe Memorial Day, the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church group, known as Virgin Islands Missions Inc., will recognize six outstanding St. Thomas veterans for their service in the U.S. Army and/or the Virgin Islands National Guard.

The seventh annual Community Recognition Awards Dinner will be at 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, at Dreams Sugar Bay.

The event is the climax of a week-long Virgin Islands Mission Conference featuring guest speakers and preachers from the U.S., the Caribbean region and Africa.

Dr. Bentley Thomas, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, said the church has chosen to honor veterans because they are too often overlooked.

“We want to lift the image of the veterans that have served to keep us safe,” he said.

Kathy Ritter, coordinator for the celebration, said the honorees were chosen because of their exemplary records. The selection process includes recommendations from the National Guard, written applications, and interviews by a panel of VI Missions members.

This year’s outstanding veterans are:

– First Lt. Irma C. George, U.S. Army and V.I. National Guard, retired. She was a trailblazer, entering the Army when women were still part of the Women’s Army Corps. She joined the National Guard in 1977.

– Sgt. Major Leslie L. Rhymer, U.S. Army, retired. A 1964 graduate of Charlotte Amalie High School, he had a 36-year military career and earned numerous awards.

– Sgt. Caroline M. Pickering, V.I. National Guard. A math and science teacher at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School, she also directs the band. She served in Afghanastan in 2003-2004.

– Sgt. First Class Charles George, V.I. National Guard, retired.

– Sgt. First Class Francis Callwood, V.I. National Guard. A well-known musician, he teaches music at CAHS and directs the CAHS Jazz Band.

– Specialist E5 Kenrick O. Bukle, U.S. Army, retired. He is pastor/principal of Tutu Church of God and Holiness Academy.

Thomas said at least 40 pastors are expected to attend the conference, which will be held at the church in Smith Bay. They will preach, teach and let the congregation know their needs. The conference runs May 25 to 29.

Tickets for the Community Recognition Awards dinner on May 29 are $65 for adults and $50 for children under 12. Adult tickets are available at Sweet Stick Party Supply in Barbel Plaza and at the Bible and Gift Shop in Al Cohen Mall. Children’s tickets are available at the door.

For more information, contact Kathy Ritter at (340) 998-3256.

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