Sarrell to keynote Monday ceremony

Posted 5/24/19

Capt. Will Sarrell (ret.), a longtime U.S. Army and Tennessee Army National Guard veteran, will deliver the keynote address Monday at the annual Memorial Day observance on the Bradley County …

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Sarrell to keynote Monday ceremony


Capt. Will Sarrell (ret.), a longtime U.S. Army and Tennessee Army National Guard veteran, will deliver the keynote address Monday at the annual Memorial Day observance on the Bradley County Courthouse Plaza.

Preparations for the 2019 Memorial Day program are being finalized by coordinator Pedro Gonzalez.

This year's recognition event is scheduled for 11 a.m. in downtown Cleveland. Brandi King, senior communications specialist at Whirlpool, will once again serve as the emcee. 

Gonzalez has been intricately involved in planning for this year's program, along with others who will participate.

The annual celebration is in recognition of veterans from the Southeast Tennessee region, those who have served in peacetime and wartime, those currently on active duty, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The feature event will be the presentation of the Bill Norwood Service to Veterans Award.

The Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council will announce this honor. Council Chairman Cid Heidel will be unavailable due to illness. Substituting for Heidel will be fellow Council member Kim Dees who will present the prestigious award.

Others on Monday's program are the Bradley County Veterans Honor Guard, and the ladies of the Aldersgate Garden Club.

Kathay Pegram, representing Quilts of Valor, said her organization will not be participating in the Memorial Day program, due to a lack of time to prepare a quilt for a deserving veteran. She said they will be presenting a Quilt of Valor at the Veterans Day service on Nov. 11.

The U.S. Naval Cadets from Chattanooga, and the Cleveland High School Band, will not be participating this year.

Expected to attend Monday are Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, and representatives of local veteran organizations. 

Sarrell enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 17-year-old in 1985, and spent almost eight years on active duty, serving in communications and military intelligence at Fort Riley, Kan., and in Augsburg, Germany.

After receiving an honorable discharge in 1993, he enrolled at Bryan College in Dayton, and earned a degree in psychology.

In 1998, Sarrell joined the National Guard, retaining his active rank of sergeant. He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in August 2000, then completed the Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Okla. Sarrell then became Fire Support Officer, 1st Squadron, of the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment's Howitzer Battery.

Sarrell has had three overseas deployments, all with the National Guard. 

The first was in 2004-05, serving with the 278th during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then came duty as a Fire Direction Officer in Samarra and Tuz, Iraq. This second tour sent him to Camp Bucca, Iraq, to serve as the Administrative Officer (S1) with the 181st Field Artillery Battalion (FA BN) based in Chattanooga, fulfilling the mission of a brigade-sized element.

After initially retiring in 2011 as commander of Headquarters Battery 181st, Sarrell applied to come out of retirement to join his former unit on a third deployment in 2012-13. This time, he served as leader of a team accompanying Jordanian military into Afghanistan, after they were trained by soldiers of the 181st. He also served as assistant training officer in Jordan.

Sarrell's awards and commendations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Combat Action Badge, among others.

Sarrell retired again on Dec. 7, 2014, with over 23 years of combined active and National Guard service.

He is married to his college sweetheart, Pam. Together they have eight children, one of whom they adopted through their shared passion of being foster parents.

They live in Pikeville, with five of the eight children still at home.


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