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The Versailles Republican

July 10, 2014 • Headlines

Karter McIntosh and Quincy Bradford appear to be having a fun time during Vacation Bible School at Tyson United Methodist Church.
This little girl got into the spirit of the holiday while atop a float during the Milan 4th of July parade.
The Versailles State Park started filling up around 7 p.m. on July 3, as people staked out vantage spots for the evening fireworks display.
Tom Tepe Autocenter
Tom Tepe Autocenter
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Honor bus trip
World War II veteran humbled by trip

Mary Mattingly

“Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God. ” Reading out loud those inscribed words from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery gives chills to Bob Briggs. They mean more today after a special tour of the nation’s capitol and the cemetery.

Luke Messer and Bob Briggs
Pictured left, Indiana Congressman Luke Messer presents Bob Briggs a US flag. He was one of four veterans who placed a wreath at Arlington Cemetery and received a flag and certificate.

The Versailles resident recently returned from a trip of a lifetime. He and about 24 other veterans went to Washington DC as part of a three day honor bus tour, organized by PG Gentrup, a Vietnam veteran from Lawrenceburg. He has been bringing Hoosier veterans, at no cost to them, to our nation’s capital twice a year since 2008. 

Bob Briggs

Pictured right is Bob Briggs holding the American Flag.

Briggs, 91, was one of two World War II veterans on this June tour. He was asked to place the WWII wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (The other veteran on the trip had become overheated.) “I felt so honored to do that and represent this area of Indiana,” he said humbly at his home. “The wreath was very pretty, red, white and blue. I never expected to lay the wreath. It was an unbelievable honor.” He was duly impressed with the soldiers in constant guard of the tomb, their professionalism and precision. United States Congressman Luke Messer, 6th District, was there, and presented the veteran Marine with a Challenge Coin as a memento, and a US flag that was flown over the Capitol during George H. Bush’s days as president.

Briggs brought son Dennis, a Vietnam War veteran, with him to DC. Neither one had to pay for the trip since they are veterans. It is funded for veterans through Dearborn County and the Dearborn County Community Foundation. The elder Briggs had open heart surgery in 1988 (the day George H. Bush was elected president, he recalls) but is in good health, mentally and physically.

It was Briggs’ first trip to DC, and quite memorable. “I enjoyed it,” he said, listing the various memorials he saw: Lincoln, World War II, Vietnam War, Korean War, and the Iwo Jima monument, plus visits to the Atlantic and Pacific theatre and air force museums, and Arlington Cemetery. They also viewed the White House from Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Capitol, Washington’s Monument, and on the way back, stopped at the 9/11 Flight 93 plane crash site in Shanksville, PA. He particularly enjoyed the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Center, as he has always had a thing for planes. The group saw as much as they could of the Capitol in the two-night, three-day trip.

Briggs became a Marine, but never went overseas, “Thanks to the atomic bomb. It saved us. But, we were willing and itching to go,” he said at his home on Main Street. He was a mechanic on the dive bomb planes and served from March 1923 to June 1946. He left behind a young bride in Switzerland County and would later have three children, two boys, Dennis and Greg, and daughter Jennifer Sparks.

Although a dairy farmer, he has always been fascinated with planes. “I was a farm boy, but I wanted to fly real bad. But, I figured I’d kill myself if I did!” he said, and laughed. The retired farmer said, “I went from airplanes to artificial breeding!” He worked for 42 years for ABS, American Breeders Service. Briggs moved to Versailles when he married Imogene 21 years ago.

His days in the Marines reinforced his penchant for cleanliness, orderliness and discipline. Imogene confirms this, “Oh I never have to pick up after Bob! He folds his plastic grocery bags in a neat little square. He folds his dirty blue jeans into the laundry basket. He is a very, neat organized person!” He adds, “We always left the barracks cleaner than we found it.”

The Briggs family tradition of serving our country continued with two more generations. Two grandsons carry on the tradition, James Sparks, a pilot at the San Antonio base, and Tanner Briggs, served in Iraq. Briggs is proud of them, but while he may not say it, without his own service and influence, his sons and grandchildren, may not have served.

Fatal accident in county

A Batesville woman was killed in a single vehicle accident on SR 46 west of Spades Road. State police report around 9:30 Monday morning an individual jogging along the road noticed a vehicle had apparently crashed into a deep ditch on the north side of the roadway. When troopers arrived on the scene they discovered the vehicle had left the roadway on westbound SR 46 and went through some trees into the ditch where it crashed head on into a culvert.

The driver was still in the vehicle, a 2008 Toyota Corolla, and was deceased. The driver was later identified as Kristen J. Duncan, 48, of Batesville. Investigators believe she ran off the roadway, for undetermined reasons, around 11p.m. Sunday night. A nearby resident told investigators they heard a noise at around that time but at the time thought it was just fireworks. Duncan was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

The crash is being investigated by Trooper Clifton Elston. He is being assisted by S/Tpr. Jason Hankins. Also assisting at the scene was Indiana Conservation Officers, Ripley County Sheriff’s Department, Sunman Fire and Rescue, Ripley County Medic, and the Ripley County Coroner’s Office. The crash remains under investigation.

Pick up this week's edition of The Versailles Republican for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

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