Military Matters: East Mississippi Veterans Foundation reaches major milestone

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The East Mississippi Veterans Foundation has reached a huge milestone in its efforts to bring a memorial park to the area.

The first $76,000 of the overall $400,000 cost to bring a veterans memorial park to East Mississippi has been raised. Foundation president Jeff Summerlin said $70,000 will be used to bring the RF-4C Phantom II that once flew at Key Field back to Meridian to be placed on display.

“It’s going to be exciting to see something that was a part of the community for 11 years come back and be a part of the memorial park that’s going to honor our service members and our veterans,” said Summerlin.

Once the plane is in Meridian, the foundation will begin working on the Wall of Remembrance that will honor service men and women and highlight major conflicts.

This is expected to happen after the aircraft boneyard that is currently housing the plane reopens.

“Once the boneyard goes back to work and has the manpower to give us the aircraft, we’ll set a new date with our mover and go out and bring the aircraft back to Meridian,” said Summerlin.

Despite minor setbacks due to COVID-19, Summerlin remains optimistic about the project and says the finish date for the memorial park will depend on the foundation’s fundraising availability.

“Hopefully once this passes we’ll start getting donations from the area businesses and individuals and organizations there in Meridian to possibly continue moving forward on the project,” said Summerlin.

The G.V. Sonny Montgomery Foundation has pledged an additional $10,000 to help fund the project.

Donations can be made at EMSVF.org, any Meridian Citizens National Bank or by mail at East Ms Veterans Foundation, P.O. Box 4755 Meridian, Ms 39304.