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Mississippi Magnolia Cross honors work of guardsmen

By Staff
MILITARY HONOR Chief Warrant Officer James K. "Jim" Singley, a member of the 185th Aviation Group of the Mississippi Army National Guard, receives the Mississippi Magnolia Cross from Gov. Musgrove on Thursday. Singley, 57, was the oldest of three guardsmen to receive the award.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Sept. 12, 2003
James K. "Jim" Singley of Laurel is a Meridian native who came home on Labor Day weekend after spending about six months at war.
In a ceremony Thursday at Key Field, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove awarded Singley and two others the state's highest military honor the Mississippi Magnolia Cross. At 57, Singley was the oldest person honored.
A helicopter pilot and chief warrant officer, Singley's activation to fight in Iraq was his first in 30 years. He is a member of the 185th Aviation Group of the Mississippi Army National Guard.
Singley was assigned to B Company of the 7th Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was the oldest person in the company.
He said it felt good to be back home and that his service gave him a greater appreciation of America. Singley flies CH-47 Chinook helicopters, primarily used to move supplies.
Singley was drafted into the Army in 1969. He has served in the National Guard since 1972. He and his wife, Deane, have been married 29 years. They have two children, a daughter, Shay, and a son, Kennon.
Besides Singley, Musgrove also honored two other helicopter pilots from the 185th.
Ralph W. Kastla Jr. and Gregory M. Damms also received the Mississippi Magnolia Cross, awarded by the state to those who have distinguished themselves through exceptional meritorious service.
Singley said he was honored to receive the decoration, but his thoughts were with U.S. soldiers who are still seeing action in Iraq.