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Donations spur veterans memorial
Holtman Thomas and Burch
Mayor Jim Thomas, center, recently accepted Veterans Memorial Walk donations from former 3rd ID Chief of Staff retired Col. Larry Burch, right, and Vietnam veteran George Holtzman, chairman of the memorial committee. - photo by Photo by Randy C. Murray

Want to help?
• To donate to the memorial, make checks payable to HDDA — Veterans Memorial Fund, 115 E. M.L. King Jr. Drive, Hinesville, GA 31313.

Mayor Jim Thomas accepted two large donations last week on Hinesville’s behalf for construction of the Veterans Memorial Walk at Bryant Commons. Former 3rd ID Chief of Staff retired Col. Larry Burch gave Thomas a check for $5,000 in memory of Col. William Wood, who was killed in action in Iraq in October 2005. Babs Holtzman donated $10,000 to the cause in honor of her husband, Veterans Memorial Walk Committee Chairman George Holtzman, who presented the check. Holtzman is a Vietnam veteran, a Purple Heart recipient and a member of the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee, which planned and approved the design for Veterans Memorial Walk.
“(The gift) is for (George’s) service, but not only for what he did in Vietnam; it’s also for what he continues to do at Fort Stewart,” Babs Holtzman said. “When he believes in something, he goes at it full time. He’s very patriotic. I’m real proud of George.”
Holtzman said her ties with the military are not just through her husband’s service. She called her father “a Navy man” and said she grew up “a Navy brat.” Her father was wounded during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, she said.
George Holtzman said he served in the Army from July 1966-July 1969 as a preventive-medicine technician. His service in Vietnam (July 1967-July 1968) was based out of Cam Rahn Bay, though he was attached to medical teams around the country. He said he came into that military occupational specialty having just completed N.C. State University’s associate degree program in entomology.
Holtzman said he went into Vietnamese villages capturing, dissecting and checking rats for fleas that carried contagious diseases. If the fleas were found to carry diseases, the U.S. Army exterminated the rats in that village, and the villagers were inoculated for the disease, he said.
Through her father’s and husband’s service, Babs Holtzman said she knows what military men and women go through and believes the Veterans Memorial Walk is a fitting way to recognize their service and sacrifice. Her donation will be used to purchase a bench that will be placed in the Army’s reflection area along the memorial walk, she said.
Burch’s $5,000 gift is in memory of his former friend and colleague. Burch served as 3rd Infantry Division’s chief of staff when then-Maj. Gen. William G. Webster was the Marne commander.
“(Col. Wood) and I were initially assigned together in Vilseck, Germany, back in 1998-1999,” Burch said. “He was serving as the commander of an infantry battalion attached to the 3rd ID at the time he was killed. As a lieutenant colonel, I believe he was the highest-ranking (3rd ID) officer killed in Iraq. Because he was already on the promotion list for colonel, he was promoted posthumously.”
Burch’s donation will be used to buy an ornamental tree in honor of Woods, Holtzman said.
According to a brochure produced by the Veterans Memorial Walk Committee, the memorial will be “a place of reverence, respect and reflection to honor all American military veterans.” To donate to the memorial, make checks payable to HDDA — Veterans Memorial Fund, 115 E. M.L. King Jr. Drive, Hinesville, GA 31313.

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