09/15/09 — Thursday is day to remember and say thank you

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Thursday is day to remember and say thank you

By Molly Flurry
Published in News on September 15, 2009 1:46 PM

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Capt. Thomas Gramith

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Capt. Mark McDowell

Wayne County residents can jam to music with soul and honor Seymour Johnson's fallen airmen Thursday evening at The Blue Ribbon Jam Downtown.

The jam, sponsored by the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. and The Goldsboro News-Argus, will donate ticket and vendor sale proceeds to benefit the families left behind when Capt. Mark (Pitbull) McDowell and Capt. Thomas (Lag) Gramith, Seymour Johnson airmen, were killed when their F-15E Strike Eagle crashed in Afghanistan in mid-July.

The fund has collected nearly $20,000 to date.

News-Argus General Manager Hal Tanner III said the newspaper has been proud to lead the Blue Ribbon Fund effort.

"Wayne County has stepped up once again and showed just how special this community really is," Tanner said. "It is no surprise that so many residents have been part of this effort, and we are grateful to all who have given so generously."

The Mighty Saints of Soul are donating their talent for beach music for the evening and will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot beside the Waynesborough House downtown. The location is the site of each summer's Center Street Jam series concerts.

A special intermission will take place at 7:15 and the concert will conclude by 8:30 p.m.

News-Argus staff and DGDC employees will be on hand along with city volunteers to assist with the jam by selling concessions, distributing blue ribbons and assisting jam-goers wishing to make any additional donations to the fund.

The 336th Rocketeers, Gramith and McDowell's squadron, returned to Goldsboro last week from their half-year deployment to Afghanistan.

McDowell and Gramith's deaths marked the first combat-related losses suffered by the 4th Fighter Wing since Operation Iraqi Freedom, when, on April 7, 2003, an F-15E crash claimed the lives of Maj. William R. Watkins III and Capt. Eric B. Das.