3 weeks ago

11 brothers from Alabama, 158 years of US military service

TUNICA, Miss. (AP) — The sons of Ben and Hattie Davis give special meaning to the term “band of brothers.”

Eleven in all, their combined 158 years of service to the U.S. military make them brothers in arms as well as brothers raised on a family farm in rural Alabama.

Seven of the 11 gathered in mid-July at a hotel and casino in Mississippi for a reunion thick with brotherly love and military pride. They laughed together, told stories from their days growing up and serving the country and reminisced about what it was like to be black in the U.S. military in the 20th century in America.

But in the end, they talked less about racism than the lack of respect all veterans feel from their fellow Americans.

“Being in the military, it was a fine thing,” said Lebronze Davis, who fought in the Vietnam War and has survived cancer and heart surgery. “We all think we’ve done an outstanding job.”

In 2017, the Davis men were honored by the National Infantry Museum Foundation. The names of the 11 brothers and their uncle are engraved on four paving stones installed at the museum.

“What these brothers did out of love for both family and country is nothing short of remarkable,” foundation president Pete Jones said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Their sense of duty is unrivaled, and is the kind of spirit that makes our nation’s armed forces the greatest in the world.”

Sixteen siblings — the 11 veterans, plus three sisters and two brothers who did not enter the military — grew up on a 60-acre (24-hectare) cotton farm in Wetumpka, Alabama, where their parents worked hard to put food on the table. Mom was the disciplinarian, dad had a softer approach.

“Their moral and ethical values were pristine,” said Arguster, the youngest at 67 years old.

When the boys graduated high school, it seemed natural to enter the military.

Military experience runs long in the Davis family. The brothers’ uncle, 99-year-old Master Sgt. Thomas Davis, survived Pearl Harbor’s surprise attack.

Ben Jr. was the first brother to enlist. He joined the Navy in 1944, while World War II was still raging.

Arguster served in the Air Force for four years and then the Air Force Reserve until 1998.

Lebronze, 70, saw the heaviest fighting of the group: He survived jungle ambushes as an Army soldier in Vietnam, where he developed advanced napping skills.

“I can go out in any bushes and sleep like a Holiday Inn,” Lebronze said. “You learn how to do it because you are so tired. But guess what, you can hear a gnat go by you.”

The brothers talk often, and try get together every year. This year, seven of them traveled to Tunica, Mississippi, for some gambling and buffet action to celebrate three July birthdays. They spoke with an Associated Press reporter in a meeting room at the Horseshoe hotel.

The Davis roll call features a mix of personalities.

Octavious, the brothers agree, is the jokester. An Army veteran, he drew riotous laughter when he told a bear-in-the-woods joke.

“We just like to get together and talk trash and just have a good time,” said Octavious, 80. “All of us are close.”

Lebronze is known as the straightforward brother. Brothers Frederick, 68 — the serious one — and the more practical Julius, 73, joined him in serving in the Army during Vietnam.

Eddie, 89, also served during Vietnam, but that was just part of his 23 year career with the Army and Air Force. He has a more spiritual side, while Army veteran Nathaniel, 75, is no-nonsense.

Washington, a six-year Army veteran, has passed away. Ben, Alphonza, who served 29 years in the Army, and Calvin, who did four years in the Navy, couldn’t attend.

In their years after serving, the brothers have worked for the U.S. Postal Service and the Bureau of Prisons, as electricians and businessmen. And they clearly have shared personality traits: friendliness, strong work ethic, mutual respect.

They remember being disrespected too, like the white-only drinking fountains and “colored-only” waiting areas they endured while growing up in the years of legal segregation.

“These were the norms we saw,” Nathaniel said.

But the brothers said they didn’t experience much racism in the military. Julius does recall when his base in Mobile, Alabama, was put on alert the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

“Everybody thought that black people were going to tear the town up,” he said.

Octavious says the brothers don’t often talk with one another about their military experiences. Lebronze won’t watch war movies and he doesn’t even dream about his time in Vietnam.

But they all boomed a collective “no” in response to one question: Are veterans respected as much today as in the past?

Arguster says he has grown weary of the overused phrase, “thank you for your service.”

His preference?

“I would much rather hear them say, ‘Thank you for helping to keep this country free.’”

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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4 mins ago

7 Things: Alabama House speaker remains neutral on toll roads, Jones dodges a bullet, Tuberville drubbing his opponents and more …

7. No more student debt for disabled veterans 

  • On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will forgive permanently disabled veterans’ student debt. Disabled veterans will also be exempt from paying federal income tax on the student loans.
  • The current system does allow eligible veterans to enroll in a debt forgiveness program, called the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, but veterans must have a VA service-connected disability rating of 100%, and due to the complicated nature of the process, only around 20% of eligible veterans are actually enrolled in the current system.

6. More jobs for Alabama

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  • On Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that Vuteq, a Japan-based auto manufacturing facility, will be opening a new facility that will serve the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. plant currently being constructed in Huntsville.
  • The first Vuteq location in Alabama will provide 200 jobs; construction on the facility is expected to begin in October and be completed by September 2020.

5. Birthright citizenship could be on the way out

  • Speaking outside the White House, President Donald Trump said that he’s “very seriously” looking at ending at the “ridiculous” birthright citizenship policy. He could use an executive order to end the policy.
  • Trump said that because people can just walk into the United States, have a child and that child becomes an American citizen, it encourages illegal immigration. The only issue with Trump’s statement is that the 14th Amendment designates citizenship to people born or naturalized in the United States.

4. Dems now say Trump is anti-Semitic

  • President Donald Trump said that Jewish Americans show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” for supporting Democrats, and now Democrats in Congress have called Trump’s statement an “anti-Semitic attack,” which means the president, who wants to be supported by all Jews, is somehow anti-Semitic for attacking liberals who want to cut off financial aid to Israel that keeps them safe.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was quick to speak out in a tweet where he said, “To my fellow American Jews…when he uses a trope that’s been used against the Jewish people for centuries with dire consequences he is encouraging – wittingly or unwittingly – anti-Semites throughout the country and world. Enough.”

3. Tuberville is crushing it

  • Recent polling data released by Moore Information Group and the Tuberville for Senate campaign took responses from 400 likely Republican Alabama voters, which shows former football coach Tommy Tuberville taking a strong lead in the 2020 U.S. Senate primary.
  • Tuberville leads with 33%, U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) came out at 17%, former Chief Justice Roy Moore polled at 15%, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill was at 13% and State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) trailed behind at 1%.

2. Doug Jones can sleep easy — he’s not racist

  • State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) has confirmed that he’s not going to run against Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in the 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate primary.
  • Rogers initially said that he would only run if he could raise $500,000, and after months of consideration, he never raised the sufficient funds, but Rogers also weighed in on the controversy between Jones and the Democratic National Committee against the Alabama Democratic Party and the Alabama Democratic Conference, saying that he doesn’t think Jones is a racist. Rogers said he “wouldn’t dare call him a racist.”

1. House Speaker McCutcheon neutral on Mobile Bay Bridge and Skyway project tolls

  • As the battle over tolls in Alabama rages on, one member of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority says he is attempting to keep an open-mind ahead of the Authority’s meeting on October 7.
  • Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) issued a statement acknowledging the need to alleviate congestion on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but made it clear that he needed more information, stating, “The devil lies in the details of determining how we can most effectively address the issue.”

3 hours ago

Watch: ALDOT Director John Cooper, State Rep. Matt Simpson clash over I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge project

Wednesday at an informational meeting for members of the Mobile County legislative delegation, things got a little heated between Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper and State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne).

According to Mobile’s FOX 10 WALA’s Tyler Fingert, Cooper had previously planned not to speak at the meeting. That would have been keeping in line with what appears to be Cooper’s low-profile as the I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge brouhaha has transpired.

However, he broke that silence and spoke for a little more than 20 minutes about the hurdles he and his agency had faced in getting the project in line with what he said were requirements of the Federal Highway Administration and the issues with the Mobile County and Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) potentially removing the project on their long-term Transportation Improvement Plans (TIP).

At the tail end of his remarks, Cooper and Simpson engaged in a back-and-forth about the Mobile delegation’s role in opposing the project and a potential vote on it by both the Mobile and Baldwin County delegation with Cooper warning Simpson about the responsibility he was taking.

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Cooper accused Simpson of opposing the project without asking questions first, referring to a letter the Mobile County delegation had sent to Gov. Kay Ivey. However, Simpson, who is a member of both the Mobile and Baldwin delegations, refuted Cooper’s claim by pointing to a meeting attended by Baldwin County legislators that was held in Spanish Fort earlier in the summer.

For that meeting, in particular, the Baldwin County delegation had prepared a list of questions for Cooper, which Cooper later acknowledged having addressed.

Exchange as follows:

COOPER: I want to run on. I’ve got a phone call I’ve got to leave for. But I didn’t intend to speak today. But I want you to leave, with these folks trying to be nice and deal with the professional things that they do without I having said to you – you need to understand if I don’t satisfy the Federal Highway Administration there will be nothing.

I need you to understand bluntly that I have not spent begging and cajoling to approve a document and paying these people to do the same just because I like doing it. It’s what was required to get to this point – to give you the option to object to funding the road. That option can only come to you if I can get to you the information you need to know what option you’re voting on.

And I can’t get it in the position you’ve put me in.

SIMPSON: I haven’t seen anything where we get a vote.

COOPER: I beg your pardon?

SIMPSON: The first time you’ve …

COOPER: Sir, you’ve never asked for a vote on anything, but —

SIMPSON: I’m asking for a vote –

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And I’m telling you, I’ll recommend to the governor she let you vote on it.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I will. I’ll recommend to the governor that she let the two delegations vote on it and I’ll further recommend we don’t do it if there’s not a majority in each delegation.

SIMPSON: That sounds wonderful. That is a huge step today.

COOPER: I’m fine.

SIMPSON: Until this point, following the process of going through what we have done, we have no control. Under the law, currently you don’t have to ask us to ask for a vote. It goes to the toll authority.

COOPER: Sir, I’m trying to listen to you patiently.

SIMPSON: OK.

COOPER: All you’ve done that I’m aware of is condemn the project before you ever asked a single question about it.

SIMPSON: Where have you seen I’ve condemned the project?

COOPER: You signed a resolution opposing the project.

SIMPSON: We signed the resolution asking for a better answer.

COOPER: No, you signed the resolution opposing the project.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You didn’t ask a single question. None of –

SIMPSON: When didn’t I ask questions?

COOPER: None of you asked a single question before you did that.

SIMPSON: Sir, have you talked … just because we didn’t have a question you, we didn’t ask questions?

COOPER: All I know is you didn’t ask me anything.

SIMPSON: OK, the Baldwin delegation sent up a letter with about 22 questions — we sent up to you. You came down to Spanish Fort and answered these questions because you wanted to have them in writing, correct?

COPPER: Correct.

SIMPSON: So please don’t say we didn’t ask questions.

COOPER: The Mobile delegation as a delegation asked no questions.

SIMPSON: I’m in both, so don’t say I didn’t ask questions.

COOPER: Sir, I’m proud you are and I don’t wish to argue with you. But I’ll make that recommendation to the governor. But you as a body need to understand you can have that control. With that control comes great responsibility.

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

COOPER: And we’ll present alternatives to you but you need to help us get in a position we can do that.

SIMPSON: There is nothing in the law, and I’m sorry – I go back to the law. We can take your word all day long that you’re going to give us the opportunity to vote on it. But there is nothing in the law that requires this.

COOPER: Sir, I told you that I would recommend to the governor that she put that in writing.

SIMPSON: That means nothing.

COOPER: Well, then I’m going to have real difficulty pleasing you if my word means nothing and if the governor puts it in writing that means nothing. I don’t know what else I can do.

SIMPSON: This is the first time you have approached us. This is the very first time that has been discussed. So please don’t put it back to I haven’t asked question, because I have asked questions —

COOPER: We don’t need to go over whether you did or didn’t. I apologize for saying that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Is that a path forward?

SIMPSON: We’re trying to find a middle ground.

COOPER: I’m saying, is that a path forward, if the governor would do that? And I don’t know if she will.

SIMPSON: If the governor would allow us to vote, absolutely.

COOPER: I’ll recommend that to her.

SIMPSON: You can put that recommendation on a piece of paper and she can say no.

COOPER: If she does that, will you ask the MPO to put it back in the TIP?

SIMPSON: If you get it in writing first.

COOPER: I said if she does that —

SIMPSON: If you put it in writing that says I will put it to the delegation and let them answer the question, then I will recommend that.

COOPER: — will you ask the MPO to put it back in the TIP?

SIMPSON: If you get it in writing that says —

COOPER: I’ll make that recommendation.

SIMPSON: I think that’s it.

COOPER: You’ve caught it. I hope you’re ready to skin it.

Following the event, Simpson explained to FOX 10 why he saw his questioning of Cooper necessary.

“The purpose of this meeting was to ask questions, and I’m not going to apologize for asking tough questions,” Simpson said. “The project went from $850 million to $2.1 billion, and I think it’s fair to just ask questions, ‘how?’”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

Episode 1: SEC Network’s Cole Cubelic

Dale Jackson is joined by the SEC Network personality and WJOX-FM’s Three Man Front host Cole Cubelic.

Cole describes his path to multimedia stardom — from putting on the pads as a middle-schooler to pharmaceutical sales to calling SEC football games. Cole shares how his wife’s supported him through the lows and how he got to his highs.

Subscribe on iTunes

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16 hours ago

Episode 22: It’s Bo time

With Auburn announcing Bo Nix the starter at quarterback, DrunkAubie reconvenes to react and answer listeners’ questions about the freshman. DrunkAubie also discusses the top traditions and top mascots in college football and offers up some advice for the upcoming season.

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16 hours ago

State Rep. John Rogers not running for U.S. Senate, says Jones showing ‘conservatism’ but not racist

State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) on Wednesday told Yellowhammer News that he will not run in the 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate primary against Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

Rogers began considering a potential bid towards the tail-end of the Alabama legislature’s regular session this spring. At that time, he told Yellowhammer News, “I don’t want to run a campaign just to run. I want to run to win.”

He said he needed to raise $500,000 in order to be competitive.

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However, after testing the waters for months, Rogers has concluded that he cannot raise sufficient funds, saying Jones’ war chest was too much to overcome in a primary. Rogers previously challenged Jones to a public debate, which Alabama’s junior senator ignored.

The state representative from Jefferson County on Wednesday also commented on the ongoing battle that has pitted Jones and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) against the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party and the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC).

Rogers said that he disagreed with the charges of racism against Jones made by the state party’s secretary, Val Bright, who last week penned an open letter saying that Jones and the DNC were targeting “blacks” in their effort to overhaul the party’s structure and leadership.

“Although blacks have been faithful to the Democratic Party and are largely responsible for electing Doug Jones and any white seeking office in this state, once elected on the backs of blacks, the urgency to remove black leadership begins,” Bright stated.

“In other words, as long as we’re working in the fields all is well, but when we move to positions of authority, a challenge begins,” she added. “From slavery through Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement, we are constantly being shown how little respect blacks receive for being hard working and loyal.”

Rogers advised that he does not believe Jones to be a racist.

“Because Alabama is a conservative state, and you’ve got to have some conservatives in the legislature (Congress) — I hate to say that, but it is Alabama, and if you’re going to run for a statewide office, you’ve got to be in the middle of the road,” Rogers said. “And Doug knows that. I mean — I don’t like some of the things he does to show his ‘conservatism,’ but if you want to be expecting to win against a Republican, you’ve got to show some conservatism.”

Rogers continued to say Jones is still his friend and has been “for a long time.”

“I don’t think he’s racist, I wouldn’t dare call him a racist,” Rogers concluded.

RELATED: Rogers: Jones called me, admitted I was ‘right’ on abortion remarks

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn