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OUS veteran ceremony set for Thursday

On Thursday, Ohio University Southern will have its annual Veterans Tribute ceremony and this year, the featured speaker will be Ray O’Connor, author of “She Called Him Raymond — A True Story of Love, Loss, Faith and Healing,” will speak at noon.

The book is about Clarence Raymond Stephenson, an Ironton man who piloted a B-17 bomber in World War II and his wife, Helen Gregg, who grew up in the New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. They met in 1942 and married. He died during the war in a plane crash.

She later remarried and had children.

“Ray was named for Raymond Stephenson,” said Teresa McKenzie, OUS’ Accessibility coordinator and Veteran’s Service coordinator, of the fact that the author didn’t know he was named for his mother’s first love until she revealed the secret when she was 80 years old.

O’Connor wrote the story based on his mother’s letters.

“He is going to talk about his book and he is going to give a free, autographed copy of his book to every veteran in the audience.”

Afterwards, Stephenson will go to the OUS library and talk about his book and the writing process with those who are interested.”

VFW Post 8850 will attend the ceremony and present the colors.

Ashland’s Paul G. Blazer Junior ROTC will do a POW/MIA ceremony.

“It is a very profound ceremony,” McKenzie, who is a U.S. Air Force veteran, said. “For me, it brings it home because it is about the missing and the POWs.”

The Ironton High School Varsity Singers will perform two patriotic songs.

“I’m very excited,” McKenzie said. “We do this every year, but this year, I am excited because I want to hear about Raymond and Helen. It was a short life they had together.”

The VA’s Veteran Homefront is bringing 20 veterans to attend the event.

The ceremony is scheduled from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Immediately after, there will be a reception with light refreshments in the lobby.

There will be four vendors with information for veterans to see if they qualify for assistance or benefits including the VA, Lawrence County Veterans Services commission, ResCare and OUS’s therapeutic equine program.

O’Connor will begin Thursday by speaking to students at Ironton High School and will attend a charity event at Consigned Books from 5-8:30 p.m. with proceeds going to Harvest for the Hungry food pantry.