Burlington tournament keeps on remembering fallen veterans

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BURLINGTON — It started out as a way to honor those Burlington natives who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Now the annual Burlington-Veterans Memorial Tournament sponsored by the Concerned Citizens of Burlington continues its quest to honor all of its native sons who are fallen veterans.

“It’s a day of remembrance for the soldiers who were killed and their families,” according to Chris Saunders, the driving force behind the event, now in its fourth year. “Instead of mourning, I am doing a day of celebration. It doesn’t always have to be a solemn remembrance, but to celebrate the fact that they were with us for a while.”

This year’s tournament will be Saturday, July 10, starting at 7:59 a.m. at the Burlington Commons Park.

There will be a 4 on 4, full court basketball tournament with a true 3 point, NBA distance shot. Teams are limited to six players and may have up to two with college experience.

Mark Lambert, an area Cornhole event organizer, will run the Burlington Cornhole games that will be played on ACO certified boards with ACO certified Cornhole bags.

The original impetus for the inaugural tournament was to fund a memorial that was erected last year with the names of four fallen soldiers from Burlington: Theodore “Tuc” Church, an Army helicopter pilot who was shot down and killed in Iraq on Memorial Day, 2007, Gregory Maynard and Roger Smith, both of whom served in Vietnam and Benjamin Butcher, who served in Korea.

“I kind of knew Tuc and I knew his older brothers,” Saunders said. “I had the idea of the basketball tournament in my head for several years, but had no reason to do it. You need some kind of kick in the pants and I thought about the basketball tournament when he got killed. I thought we ought to put up a monument.”

That monument was dedicated on Oct. 3, 2009. This year another name will be added, that of William Pigman, who served in the Civil War in the same Union regiment as Asa McCoy, the first casualty of the famed Hatfield-McCoy feud in Mingo County, W.Va.

“They both enlisted in Mt. Sterling, Ky.,” said Saunders, who is constantly looking for the names of more Burlington vets to engrave on the marker.

Proceeds from this year’s tourney will go toward funding the placing of engraved bricks around the memorial and erecting a wall nearby.

Saunders wants to place 900 bricks at the site that can be engraved in memory or honor of another or for oneself.

Registration forms for the basketball competition can be picked up at the service desk at the Walmart in South Point or can be found under the notes section on the Burlington Veterans Memorial Tournament Facebook page.

Cost is $90 per team if registered before Sunday and $120 per team from June 28 through July 10. There is a limit of 15 teams.

Cornhole pro spotlight registration will begin at 10 a.m. the day of the tournament and will cost $30 per player.

That competition begins at 11 a.m.