LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - As family and friends prepare to say their goodbyes to Gulfport native, Army Staff Sergeant Johnny Polk, the coast community took time to honor our military heroes. Army officials say Sergeant Polk died last week from injuries he suffered from a grenade attack in Iraq. Saturday at the Pride of Long Beach festival, people took the time to say 'thank you' to the men and women who serve.
It was a day to sing the praises of our military members and pray for their safety. V.F.W. Post 3937 posted the colors at the Pride of Long Beach Festival. The veterans remember a time when the public didn't support the troops, and they're glad that's not the case now.
Veteran Stephen Harmon said, "It's a lot of great respect I see in the community coming together supporting the veterans because of what we've done for the country. It's overwhelming to see the turnout. It means a lot to veterans."
Seabee Base Commander Edward Brown addressed the crowd.
Captain Brown said, "We have moved two battalions of Seabees. They've gone to the Pacific and they've gone to the central command area, Afghanistan area, to Africa, and every other point. That is unprecedented for this area."
Captain Brown says 1,000 Seabees will deploy over the month of August so having community support here means the men and women can focus on doing their jobs overseas.
"The support we get in the coast from the community is unequal," said Captain Brown. "For our troops to be able to leave their families behind and to be able to go out and do what they do, serving this nation, they need that community. They need to know that their family is well taken care of. They know that here."
Reverend Lee Adams of Little Rock Baptist Church in Gulfport says Sergeant Johnny Polk's wake will be Friday from 6 pm to 8 pm. His funeral will the following day at 11 a.m. Sergeant Polk will be buried in Biloxi National Cemetery.