EMCC dedicates monument
TRIBUTE Bobby Tolliver of the East Mississippi Community College Lions Pride Marching Band plays "Taps" during a dedication ceremony of a monument commemorating the 123rd Medical Collection Company on EMCC's Scooba campus. Photo by Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Oct. 21, 2001
SCOOBA Korean War veterans stood solemnly Saturday among their families, friends and college faculty and staff members as an East Mississippi Community College trumpeter played "Taps."
The dedication ceremony of a monument erected Oct. 10 in front of EMCC's administration building commemorating the 123rd Medical Collection Company (SEP) was a chance for many of the 20 veterans to catch up and reminisce.
Hildreth helped spearhead efforts to buy the stone monument with 89 names inscribed on its four sides. Many members of the Army National Guard company, a separate company not attached to any other unit, were students at what was then East Mississippi Junior College. Hildreth, a Columbus native and resident, was a freshman.
He said members meet each year at EMCC's Homecoming, and it was about two years ago that they decided a monument should be erected on campus. From personal donations, they raised the $4,500 needed.
EMCC President Dr. Tommy Davis said he was a freshman when the men began arriving back on campus from the war.
Brigadier General James McKell said he tried to research the company when he was asked to speak at the dedication. He had difficulty finding material, he said, and quoted two small excerpts from local newspapers. He urged the veterans to write their experiences down for their children, grandchildren and others.
Rev. Wayne Barrett, who led opening and closing prayers at the ceremony, had graduated from EMJC and was back in Scooba from his home in Atmore, Ala., for summer Guard training when the unit was called.
From Scooba, the company traveled to Ft. Benning, Ga. Many went from there to Korea with other units, he said, so by the time the 123rd Medical Collection Company went to Korea in January 1952, there were only about 25 of the original company.
The company included medical doctors, psychiatrists and military personnel assigned to carry out the company's responsibilities and training, Barrett said. They were affiliated with a major evacuation hospital in Seoul, Korea's capital.
He said the monument's erection and dedication ceremony gives him a "humbling feeling."
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.