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The ultimate honor for veteran

Gregg Evans lays wreath at Tomb of Unknown Soldier
By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Gregg Evans is a member of the Rowan County Veterans Council, the Rowan County Honor Guard and the Rowan County Color Guard.
He’s one of those sharp-dressed guys who does military salutes at veterans’ funerals.
Recently, Evans, 66, added another honor to his resume. He was selected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
“To lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown is the ultimate,” Evans said. “I couldn’t dream that high.”
Evans laid the wreath there in Arlington on July 31. He was accompanied by his stepbrother, Bob Surratt. The wreath was placed in honor of all Rowan County veterans.
A member of the Harold B. Jarrett American Legion Post, Evans is Rowan County’s Veteran of the Year. Serving in that capacity, Evans performs a variety of tasks, one of which is visiting schools, civic groups and churches to discuss flag etiquette.
He also developed an activity ó “The Widows’ Program” ó through which he presents flag pins to the widows of veterans. The pins are triangular in shape and bear the words: “Honoring those who served, U.S. Department of Defense.”
They’re snazzy little offerings ó both dignified and colorful.
“It’s an outward symbol of the flag they’ve got folded in their closets,” Evans said of the pins those widows can wear.
Terry Osborne is head of the Rowan-Kannapolis Alcohol Beverage Control Commission and has been friends with Evans for a long while. Osborne said he observed all that Evans was doing and decided it was time his buddy was selected to lay a wreath at Arlington.
Osborne for years taught at West Rowan High and through contacts at Arlington used to work to have ROTC students from the school selected to lay wreaths there.
“I did it yearly when I was teaching,” Osborne said. “It’s quite an honor.”
Earlier this summer, he made some phone calls, then told Evans that he’d been selected to lay a wreath at Arlington.
“He’s a very deserving gentleman,” Osborne said of Evans. “It’s amazing all that Gregg does for the community.”
Evans served in the Air Force from 1961 to 1965. He was stationed in Japan, then at Florida’s Cape Kennedy. After leaving the military, Evans returned to his native Salisbury where he went to work for Food Town. He eventually retired as a district supervisor for Food Lion.
Evans and his wife, Katie, have three children and eight grandchildren.
While they were in Washington in July, Evans and his wife visited with Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Rep. Howard Coble. Evans said he discussed with those Rowan County representatives improvements he’d like to see made to the Hefner VA Medical Center, though he also noted, “I have no complaints with how I’ve been treated there.”
Evans said his stepbrother, Surratt, is a 20-year Navy veteran, so he felt it only right that he invite him to accompany him for the laying of the wreath at Arlington.
During his visit, Evans was also introduced to members of the Honor Guard there at Arlington and given a tour of their quarters. It was an impressive sight, Evans said.
In the small-world category, Evans’ tour was led by Honor Guard member John Tilley, a native of Statesville whose grandmother lives in Woodleaf.
Evans said the ceremony during which he and his stepbrother laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown was brief, lasting just a few minutes.
“It was more humbling than anything,” he said.

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