Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown has signed a proclamation supporting the renaming of the Hinesville Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic to the Gibson/ James/Sapp/Smiley Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
A committee comprised of Brenda Acebes, Nolan Fields, Bruce McCartney and Donald Singleton reached out to the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, City of Hinesville and the City of Riceboro to support renaming the clinic for four Liberty County veterans who were killed in the Vietnam War. During their initial research, the committee found Riceboro native John Gibson was a Marine combat infantryman who died in Vietnam on Feb. 7, 1968, while engaging the enemy, and Riceboro native Dan James was an Army combat infantryman who died in Vietnam on Dec. 29, 1968, while engaging the enemy.
At a City of Riceboro meeting on Feb. 1, Mayor Chris Stacey and council approved a proclamation to start the process of trying to rename the Hinesville VA Clinic in honor of the two Riceboro service members who were killed in the war.
McCartney said the committee learned about two more Liberty County natives killed in the Vietnam War. William Edward Sapp was killed by hostile fire on June 17, 1968, and Frankie Lee Smiley was killed on Aug. 25, 1968.
Mayor Brown signed the proclamation indicating the City of Hinesville supported the name change request.
McCartney said the proclamation would be sent to state Rep. Al Williams, who in turn would work with U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter and others to get the proposal to Congress. If passed, the VA clinic would be renamed the Gibson/James/Sapp/ Smiley Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
McCartney said there are more than 800 CBOCs in the Department of Veteran Affairs system, of which roughly 10% are named for individuals, none in the First Congressional District. The process of getting the bill through Congress could take up to one year. McCartney said they will request the bill be introduced at the beginning of 2023.
“In the 116th Congress, there were 25 renamings introduced, but only eight were passed into law,” Mc-Cartney said. “We’re hoping to get it through our first time around.”