Burlington Vet tourney scheduled

Published 9:47 am Monday, June 22, 2009

BURLINGTON — It’s a fundraiser whose inspiration was the bravery of war heroes who could call the town of Burlington home.

It all started at the funeral of Theodore U. Church, always known as Tuc, a helicopter pilot who at the age of 32 was shot down on Memorial Day 2007 in Iraq. One of his friends at that funeral was Chris Saunders.

“I went to his funeral that they had at the former South Point High School and was kind of taken aback by everything,” Saunders said. “I just started thinking and kind of had the idea of a basketball tournament.”

His goal was to come up with a basic marker to put in the Burlington Commons to honor Tuc. And like all good ideas, it started to grow.

“I expanded on the idea. If we have a memorial for him, what about all of the other Burlington veterans,” Saunders said.

That was the impetus for the inaugural Burlington Veterans Basketball and Horseshoe Tournament.

Now in its third year and with a slight modification, those participants can see the fruit of the labors of those organizers.

That’s because at this year’s tournament the monument honoring Burlington heroes will be unveiled.

Right now, the memorial has the names of four Burlington soldiers etched on its face: Benjamin Butcher, Gregory Maynard, Roger Smith, and Tuc. But Saunders wants to see more names on it.

One in particular he is checking on is William Pigman who died in 1863.

Pigman was part of the seventh Kentucky infantry and is buried in the Burlington Greenlawn Cemetery. His father was a Burlington river boat pilot.

Saunders needs to verify his status in the Civil War before he can proceed with adding his name to the stone.

“If anybody can bring forth any more names to add,” Saunders said.

While the original purpose for the fund-raiser has been satisfied, proceeds now will go toward maintaining the Burlington Commons and as well as other things for the community.

“This is Burlington’s annual celebration of our fallen soldiers,” he said.

This year’s tournament will be July 11 for basketball and corn hole has been substituted for horse shoes.

It is the only tournament in the United States endorsed by three recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor: Woody Williams, Ernie West and Ron Rosser.

The basketball tourney will be a 4 on 4 with a 6-person team, full court double elimination with a maximum of one current or former college basketball player per team. Players must be men 16 or older.

The last date for early registration is June 28. There will limit of 15 teams with one team being last year’s champions.

The cornhole tournament is unrestricted.

For more information contact Saunders at (304) 412-4852.