Jason “Sunny” Young Honors War Heroes Who Attended Carver High School, With Veteran’s Memorial Monument
After returning home from the Vietnam War in January 1970, Jason “Sunny” Young, Carver High School Graduate, Class of 1963, decided to come home to Gadsden to visit family and friends and attend his first class reunion. To his sad surprise, he learned that his close childhood friend and classmate, Thomas Dewitt Jones had been killed in the war he had just returned home from.
Several years went by, and during one of his visits to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., the idea was born to build a monument dedicated to the memory of not just Thomas, but to all veterans who attended Central/Carver High School, joined the military and lost their lives in combat. It was not until the Business Meeting held at the end of the 2012 reunion, that Jason expressed the idea and his desire to construct a monument to honor Central/Carver “Fallen Wildcat Heroes”. He received an overwhelming vote of confidence from alumni attending the reunion that year and began working on the project soon after returning home to Los Angeles.
For the next two years, Jason put forth an arduous and challenging effort to identify alumni war casualties, contact family members for photos and information, collect personal background information which included spending countless hours researching various veteran casualty websites to gather military background and profile information.
Jason made a startling discovery while doing research on his friend and classmate Thomas Jones, at the military casualty sites. He discovered that Thomas lost his life in Vietnam on August 16th, 1969, and that he, Jason was in Vietnam at the same time, although at a different location. “I was shocked to make such a discovery, but it drove me to press on with this project”.
Weeks prior to the 2014 reunion, Jason and his cousin Jerry “Homerow” Pearson began work on building the structure on which bronze plaques of each veteran would be placed. Jason said, “it was truly a labor of love, as each new idea my cousin and I came up with, just seemed to fall in place, and after several days of intense work, we stood back and looked at what we felt to be a masterpiece”.
On Tuesday, July 1st, during the 2014 school reunion, the monument was unveiled, and named the “Central Carver Veterans Memorial Wall of Honor”. Upwards of two hundred people attended the ceremony; most veterans wore their military uniforms or parts thereof, and attendees were given the opportunity to speak about their relationship with veterans pictured on the Wall of Honor. Family members were given the opportunity to speak first, and many of their stories were heartfelt, and many tears freely flowed. The following is a list of Central/Carver war casualties recognized and honored that day:
Freddie Bee Glover, PFC, US Army – Glenn Edward Ford, PFC, US Marine Corps, Class of 1967 – Harold Carstarphen Jr., CPL, US Army – Herbert Lindsey, SFC, US Navy – Thomas Dewitt Jones, CPL, US Army, Class of 1963 – Ormond Mitchell Miller, PFC, US Marine Corps, Class of 1967 – Melvin Baker, SSGT, US Army – Johnny Green Stamps, PFC, US Marine Corps, Class of 1968 – and James Edward Joshua Jr., PFC, US Marine Corps. It was a wonderful event, one which is still talked about today. Two additional names have been added to the memorial since the 2014 ceremony: First Lieutenant Arthur Jackson, a 1942 graduate of Carver, and class president, who lost his life in the Korean War and Pvt. James Rufus Mathis, U.S. Army, Carver High Class of 1963.
It was during the ceremony when people were taking turns speaking about the event, veterans being honored, and other experiences while in school, that the then Gadsden City Councilman Billy Harris made the suggestion that the monument should be placed inside the Carver Museum, as an act of respect for our “fallen heroes” and a valuable contribution to the community. His suggestion received an enthusiastic round of applause from attendees, and several offers to assist with the effort from veterans and non-veterans alike. At the end of the program, the monument was left in-place on the Carver grounds, as it would be viewed during the grand opening of the Carver Museum, which was held the following day. There were several dignitaries in attendance for the opening, including Mayor Sherman Guyton, and other elected officials. At the conclusion of that event, the monument was placed inside the facility for safekeeping and to work out logistical details regarding permanent placement.
In the interim, however, Mr. Tyrone Livingston, a close friend of Jason and himself a Vietnam Veteran, proceeded with the video production project. Tyrone has many years of experience in the area of photography, video, and audio production, and as a combat veteran, he readily took control and proceeded with the project. From the footage provided him, he produced two DVDs, one of which was of the ceremony which took place outside on the grounds of the Carver complex, and the other was a special voice-over production with photographs of each veteran, and graphic war footage of WWII and Vietnam, which was narrated by Livingston. This production received rave reviews, and people are still requesting this item.
The entire monument and video project have been one which required inordinate dedication, commitment, and sacrifice, the net result has been the priceless gift to the memory of Central/Carver High School, “Fallen Heroes”, the Foundation Museum, community, and alumni.
Jason said “although it has taken a long time to achieve our goal of permanent placement of the monument, the time, effort and resources have been well spent, and I would like to acknowledge the diligence of former City Councilman Billy Harris, the late Mr. Dexter Sims, current City Councilman Thomas Worthy and Mr. L.C. Riddle for their continued advocacy for appropriate and permanent placement of the monument. A very special thanks go out to my cousin Jerry “Homerow” Pearson, who worked tirelessly alongside me to make this endeavor a reality. Lastly, I would like to say, it gives me great pleasure and happiness to know that the monument will be on proud display during future Central/Carver High School Reunions”.
The Central Carver Veterans Memorial Wall of Honor may be viewed at the Central Carver Legacy Museum 1030 Tuscaloosa Avenue Gadsden, AL 35901 (256)549-4742
Carver High School Home of the Wildcats
My Worthy Sons
A Poem Dedicated to the Central-Carver Wildcat Heroes from their Beloved Wildcat Home
By Jason Young
It is to you, my beloved sons that time has been given to preserve memories of you on this day, and at this sacred place.
The days you came unto me for nourishment and sustenance in your quest for worldly gain, your noble efforts were well-intentioned, but they could not avert the pain.
Although decades have passed since you last came, time still resonates with your spirit, and these consecrated grounds still carry my name.
Your suffering and sacrifice give significance and meaning to the ideals of giving, and your images of pride and dignity seen here will forever be etched in the minds of your dear brothers and sisters, still among the living.
Our demise has returned us to the dust from whence we came, that “wildcat” spirit within those left behind shall always remain.
So let everyone who looks upon your faces pridefully proclaim, we all miss your physical presence, but we’re so glad you came.