09/11/11 — Coming Back to Give Back

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Coming Back to Give Back

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on September 11, 2011 12:58 AM

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From left: Master Sgt. Marshall Watson, Sgt. 1st Class Andre Boykin, Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin Gerald and Sgt. 1st Class James Myles, who served as emcee of the retirement celebration for the three Goldsboro High School graduates.

A trio of Goldsboro High School graduates who made their mark in the military returned to Wayne County last week to "give back" to the community.

Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin D. Gerald, 46, Master Sgt. Marshall Watson, 43, and Sgt. 1st Class Roderick A. Boykin, 44, are retiring from the United States Army and were honored with a celebration at the Walnut Creek Country Club.

Proceeds from the event will be used to benefit local charities, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, the Dillard/Goldsboro High School Alumni Association and the No Child Left Behind food program.

The three combat veterans -- each of whom spent at least 25 years in uniform -- chose to come back to Wayne to mark the occasion as a way to inspire others, especially the young people who attend their alma mater, Boykin said.

"It was just a way of coming back and giving back something to the citizens of Goldsboro," he said.

About 200 people attended the event, which was organized by Qui Que Jones.

The three men even invited President Barack Obama to the event. Although the president did not attend, he did reply to their letter and expressed his pride in their accomplishments.

In their letter, the men referred to the positive influence the military had on their lives and how much they wanted to share their experiences with local youths.

"Given the myriad of debilitating influences and distractions gnawing at oiur nation's children in general and the children of Goldsboro in particular, we believe our celebration will provide a few hours of sorely needed clarity and inspiration for the citizens of our dear town," they wrote.

Speakers at the event included Goldsboro Mayor Al King, former Wayne County Commissioner Jimmie Ford and former state Sen. Don Davis of Snow Hill.

Gerald entered the Army in 1986. He served at many duty posts around the world, including Fort Bragg, Germany, Guam, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He retired in August and now lives in New York, where he is professional disc jockey and is working on earning his bachelor's degree in business management.

Boykin entered the Army in 1985. He also served at many duty posts during his career, including Ft. Campbell, Ky., South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Honduras. He is preparing to enroll in the Maryland Institute of Art to pursue a bachelor's degree in digital photography and cinematography.

Watson entered the Army in 1986. He has been stationed at Ft. Bragg and at posts in Germany, South Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain and Spain. A Bronze Star recipient, he holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Park University and is currently working on his master's degree in human resources management at Columbia Southern University.