Just days before Veterans Day, there was a gathering of people at the Dallas Country Club for the sold-out Stars and Stripes Luncheon co-chaired by Annie and Teal Griffeth on Monday, November 7. The day’s purpose was not just to support the Sons of the Flag‘s tenth anniversary, but to honor a group of vets like World II’s John “Lucky” Luckadoo and Jack Stowe and the Korean War/US Air Force’s Jerry Brown. The celebration had started the night before with a red carpet party and screening event at SMU’s Meadows Museum.
While her husband/Sons of the Flag Honorary Co-Chair Guy Griffeth presented U.S. flag lapel pins to guests just before the luncheon got underway, Honorary Co-Chair Louise Griffeth recalled how her family got involved — “Not long after Teal’s deployment, his father and I met Sons of the Flag Founder Ryan ‘Birdman’ Parrott and we learned about terrible long-term effects of traumatic burns.”
Master of Ceremonies Zach Sutterfield, who is a Sons of the Flag burn survivor ambassador, welcomed guests including Shannon Graham, Debbie Raynor, Rusty Duvall, Jeff and Darell Rice, Pat and Steve Schiff, Joan and Jeff Eleazer, Nancy and Gene Carter, Judy and Charles Tate and Linda Perryman Evans, who enjoyed the event’s annual tradition of the National Anthem performed by 94-year-old Donald Graves, an Iwo Jima Marine survivor, which drew a standing ovation.
Don is the last remaining of the 335 Marines in his platoon who fought in one of the deadliest battles in the Pacific in World War II at the age of 19, where 7,000 Marines were killed.
This was followed up by a keynote discussion moderated by Ryan with veterans from World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam Conflict, Desert Storm, Afghanistan War and September 11 first responders. Each veteran recounted moving accounts of their experiences, some wistfully and some tearfully. The speakers included Pete Bielskis, Tom DeCarlo, Dr. James Nicholson, Doyle Vergon, Dennis Bielskis, Gary Tanner and 9/11 first responder John Walters III.
Major sponsors in attendance were Presenting Sponsors Lisa and Clay Cooley, Red Carpet Movie Sponsor — the Griffeth family and Medal of Honor Sponsors Katherine and Austin Wyker.
Sons of the Flag new President/CEO Sherry R. Whidby said, “In this tenth year, I am honored to have been handed the torch by our founder to lead the organization going forward. We are planning to help fund cutting-edge burn care research at Parkland Hospital and other medical facilities in Dallas.”