American Legion Post 42 of Ocean Springs, Miss., was busy this past Memorial Day weekend handing out poppies by members and Auxiliary, including four past commanders and the current commander of Post 42: from left to right, Sandy Reid, Brenda Smith, Robert Endt and Ed Wise. Missing from picture is past commander Tom Adams, who also participated at the entrance of Walmart in Ocean Springs. This event could not be done without the many Post 42 volunteers, especially the Auxiliary who stepped up to give a few hours of their time to the wonderful display of patriotism by Post 42 members at Walmart.
Pershing Square in Ocean Springs consists of 360 veteran honor memorial bricks, now completed, who served in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East wars. Each honor brick has a story - there is a honor brick honoring a Medal of Honor recipient, several honor the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and one for a survivor of the Bataan Death March from WWII. A WWII servicemember who comes to mind with an honor brick from Ocean Springs is Adelchi Pilutti. He entered the Army on Jan. 1, 1941. A member of Post 42 prior to his death at 90, he was a member of the 508th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne. He led his squad at night behind enemy lines prior to the actual invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Later he participated in the Battle of the Bulge. He was chosen to represent Mississippi in 2004 at the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. There is a brick for Korean Seabee veteran John C. Norris, who helped build a Korean orphanage and later personally funded the complex. An honor brick for the service of Gary Gollott of Ocean Springs as an Army tank driver in Korea comes to mind. His current wife Laurie Gollott and Joan Weems led the OS Garden Project in establishing the Gold Star Memorial next to Pershing Square. Two brothers who served two tours in Vietnam were Michael and Joe Williams from Ocean Springs. Tragedy struck the night Michael returned from Vietnam. who. with his brother Joe Williams had returned a few months before. were passengers in a vehicle accident that took both boys' lives. Ocean Springs was in shock, Their sister Kathleen is the wife of Ben Esquibel, Army Ranger and Special Forces veteran of Vietnam and a member of Post 42. Many bricks honor more recent sacrifices of living and deceased servicemembers in Mideast wars.