Chestnut family examples of great American heroes

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-Forgive me, if forgiveness is necessary, to write something in this column this week which has absolutely nothing to do with politics, state government, budget shortfalls or taxes.
What I write is triggered by the death last week of Judson Chestnut of Gaylesville. Most of you never heard of Judson Chestnut and few even know where Gaylesville is. Gaylesville is a tiny little town in Cherokee County, which happens to be my home county.
Judson was one of six of the sons of the late Webb Chestnut (a State Senator in the 1920s) who wore the suit of the country during World War II. To say they wore it well is an understatement.
Let me call the roll:
Luther Chestnut saw combat duty in Europe and had been shipped to the Pacific for more combat when the war ended.
Robert Chestnut saw naval combat in the Pacific Theater.
John Chestnut was at Guadalcanal with the Army Air Corps.
Woodrow Chestnut landed at Normandy on D-Day, fought all the way across France and Germany and was awarded three Purple Hearts for wounds in action.
Joe Chestnut was killed in action in bitter fighting at Monte Cassino in Italy, a monastery, which the Nazis had converted into a fortress.
And Judson Chestnut, the last survivor of these six brave men, was awarded a battlefield in commission in France for his courageous service in combat.
I wonder if there is another family in Alabama…even in America…which can match this record.
Several years ago Tom Brokaw wrote a book about the men and women who served during World War II and called them "The Greatest Generation." He could have devoted a chapter to the Brothers Chestnut and called them the greatest family.
It has always bothered me that so many fail to say thanks to those who fought and died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy…yes, even the freedom to criticize and ridicule those who even now are fighting for those freedoms.
The death of Judson Chestnut, the last of the Chestnut heroes, gives me the opportunity to say thanks…and I hope it inspires some of you to do the same.
Noting that Sutton never robbed any establishments other than banks, the reporter asked why. Sutton's memorable reply: "That's where the money's at."
That quote comes to mind as Gov. Riley scratches and claws to find some place to cut millions of dollars from the state budgets. He has confirmed the obvious…he has found "where the money's at" in the state budgets. It is in people costs…payrolls, health insurance and retirement benefits.
If $300 million must be cut from the General Fund budget the only place it can come from is either by massive layoffs of employees or significant increases in what those employees pay for their health insurance.
The plan he submitted to the Legislature…while vague on specifics…calls for state employees and teachers to pay more for their health insurance, a perk which is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Overall, Riley's proposed budget and band-aid treatment was received with little enthusiasm in the Legislature. Even some of his own supporters were less than gung ho about some of his proposals.
It is going to be a acrimonious spring at the State House.
The 91-year-old Moorer, a native of Mount Willing, was a naval aviator in World War II and was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.

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