Remembering the fallen: Memorial Day observances set for Monday

Residents of the Crossroads area will come together to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty Monday, as a pair of local organizations looks to herald in the annual Memorial Day remembrance.The Big Spring Vietnam Memorial Committee will start the day with ceremonies at the local memorial — located near the intersection of Rackley and Swords, near the rear entrance to the SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf — at 11 a.m., according to committee member and spokesperson Jerry Groves.“We'll begin our ceremonies at 11 a.m.,” Groves said. “Our ceremony will include a prayer and a speaker, much like we've done in years past. John Weeks will serve as our master of ceremonies, with Randy Cotton delivering our invocation and benediction. The guest speaker this year will be Texas Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Eddy Spurgin.”Spurgin, a native of Anson, Texas, has spent most of his 28-year-career with the Natural Conservation Resource Services office in Big Spring. As district manager, he oversees operations in Taylor, Nolan, Mitchell and Howard counties.For longer than that, however, he has been an officer in the Texas Army National Guard. He received his reserve commission at Texas A&M in 1980 and steadily worked his way up the ranks and is now a Major General in command of the 36th “Arrowhead” Division headquartered in Austin.Spurgin's unit was deployed to Basra, Iraq, in late 2010 for a 10-month tour of duty which included a number of roles, including train and assist Iraqi security forces — the country's Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, border guards and police units — as well as conducting counter-terrorism operations in southern Iraq.During the division's time in Iraq, Spurgin lost 15 soldiers and had more than 80 wounded in operations against insurgent groups.“I hated to lose even one soldier or have even one get wounded,” Spurgin said in an interview with the Herald following his return to the U.S. “Anytime you lose a soldier, it's a heart-breaking event.”The VMC ceremony has served as a reminder for local veterans of the high price of war and the toll it takes on families and loved ones.