A surprise award ceremony was held for a local hometown hero Saturday night during his 40 year high school reunion at the First United Methodist Church Christian Fellowship Center in Smithville.
Sergeant Major Eddie N. Evans, US Marine Corps, whose military career spanned 30 years from 1974 to 2004, was formally recognized for receiving the Bronze Star Medal in 2004. Evans' fellow 1973 DCHS Classmates and teachers attending the reunion rose to their feet as Captain Nathaniel McClung, US Marine Corps, made the presentation.
"We have an American Hero here in our midst," said Captain McClung in an interview with WJLE. "This is a certificate for the Bronze Star Medal that was previously received by Sergeant Major Evans at the end of his service in 2004. We wanted to bring this certificate to this 40 year class reunion and honor him in front of his hometown," said Captain McClung.
Sergeant Major Evans said this recognition was quite a surprise. " I came here to attend my 40 year reunion and I wasn't expecting this since I received it (Bronze Star Medal and citation) in the mail when I retired. It was a good honor and a surprise in what they did in recognizing this. I have not seen most of these people (classmates) in 40 years," said Sergeant Major Evans in an interview with WJLE.
Having his mother, siblings, and other family members attend the ceremony made the evening even more special for Sergeant Major Evans. "I was surprised for them being here but it was good to see everybody because I don't get a chance to come up here and see my family that often. I live in Rockwood, Tennessee," he said.
In making the presentation, Captain McClung read from the following certificate: "The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Bronze Star Medal to Sergeant Major Eddie N. Evans, United States Marine Corps for service set forth in the following: For heroic achievement in connection with operations against the enemy as Regimental Sergeant Major, Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, while assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, from January 6 to June 24, 2003."
"During movement, to secure two vital bridge heads in An-Nasiriyah, Iraq Sergeant Major Evans, along with security vehicles and the Regimental Commander, moved up to 1st Battalion's 2nd Marine Regiment area of operations to check on their progress in securing the southern Euphrates River Bridge and northern Saddam Canal Bridge."
"During this movement, the Regimental Commander came under direct fire from Iraqi positions from the west of the railroad bridge south of An-Nasiriyah that included small arms fire and rocket propelled grenade fire. Sergeant Major Evans, without regard for his personal safety, directed the movement of the security element and the Regimental Commander's vehicle to a more secure position. His quick and selfless actions ensured the safety of the Regimental Tactical Command Post and ensured the Regiment's ability to continue to fight, resulting in the Regimental Combat Team's completion of their first objective. He significantly contributed vast experience and expertise gained from previous combat operations."
"By his zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional dedication to duty, Sergeant Major Evans reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United State Naval Service."
"The combat distinguishing device is authorized. For the President, James T. Conway, Lieutenant General, US Marine Corps, Commanding General, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force."