The Four Oaks Chamber of Commerce recognized the late Mr. Samuel W. Smith and Mr. Eric T. Brewington as the 2019 recipients of the Four Oaks Chamber Veterans Recognition Program. Joan Pritchett, Executive Director of the Four Oaks Chamber presented the awards at the Four Oaks Middle School, “Honoring Our Veterans Program” held on Thursday, November 7th, 2019.
The late Mr. Smith, Chief Boatswain Mate, United States Navy, Retired was the recipient of the Lifetime of Service Award.
Samuel Smith entered the United States Navy soon after graduating from high school and served in uniform over twenty years. He saw combat in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was eligible for three purple hearts during that time, but only accepted two. If he had accepted the third, he would have had to accept retirement from the Navy on the disabled list, but he still wanted to serve.
Sam and his wife Mabel moved to Four Oaks several years ago. He had served in different Veteran organizations before moving here. Sam joined the American Legion Post 346 and made an immediate impact. He volunteered to be the membership chairman and was responsible for achieving 100% membership for the post during the three full years of his chairmanship. He enthusiastically joined in other activities of the post including fundraising. He was involved in fostering the rich and growing relationship of the post with the area schools and the Four Oaks community.
Sam’s fundraising efforts put the post on a firm financial footing, which in turn assisted in serving the needs of the veterans in the area. During Sam’s years at the American Legion post, Sam served as commander, sergeant of arms, membership chairman and building and grounds chairman. Sam’s positive attitude and good humor made him an excellent ambassador not only for the post but for the Four Oaks community. Sam was proud to be a citizen of Four Oaks and would help his town in any way he could.
Sam passed away in August 2019 and his loss has been profound. It is said that no one is irreplaceable, but Sam Smith comes close. Tom Britt, Earl Smith and Reggie Parker of the American Legion post 346 accepted the award on behalf of the late Samuel W. Smith.
Eric T. Brewington
Eric T. Brewington, Lieutenant-Colonel, Untied States Air Force was the recipient of the Dedicated Service Award.
After retirement from the Air Force, having served in various conflicts including Iraq and Iran, Brewington found himself as the lead instructor of the United States Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at South Johnston High School. At the time he took the reins, the program was in dire shape, having been put on probation. Within the few years he has taken command, it has become a nationally recognized distinguished unit.
The impact he has on the young lives of the troops has been remarkably profound. Lt. Col Brewington moved his American Legion membership to the Four Oaks post and immediately involved his cadets with the activities of post 346. He has assisted the post and the community in involving himself and his family and cadets in the Memorial Day program, the placing of flags on the graves of our community’s veterans during the Memorial day period, assisting with presentations at the Four Oaks Elementary School, and with the legion’s fundraising efforts. He has had a very positive influence on many of these young people. He has personally turned around the negative performance many of them had at school and steered them toward graduation and economic independence thereafter.
Many of his cadets are now serving the military forces of the United States, influenced by the example he showed them while they were students. In addition to this responsibility he is the post’s new commander. His devotion to his country, his students, his school and his community is why he deserves the Dedicated Service award.
Some of the highlights from the Four Oaks Middle School Veterans Program included comments from guest speaker Rudy Baker- Colonel United States Air Force Retired, performances from the Four Oaks Middle School Touring Band, directed by Mr. Sam Carter, the School Honor Choir, directed by Mrs. Catherine Lavin and special readings from several of the students.