Army veteran Roger Holloway sat at a table in the Friendship House dining room, surrounded by others who, like himself, had served in the military.

"I think it was nice and fitting for us to get together," said Holloway, a Hopkinsville resident who served in both Korea and Vietnam and was among the last of the African-American Buffalo soldiers whose military service began following the Civil War.

He noted that former President Harry Truman disbanded those units in 1951.

Holloway, who was in the Buffalos' 24th Infantry Division, said he felt a camaraderie as he mingled with the other men seated in the dining room.

He chatted with retired Brig. Gen, Benjamin F. Adams III, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, who was on hand Friday morning to meet the veterans before attending the interment of PFC James Cletuis Williams, 19, a Hopkinsville man killed during the Korean War.

Williams was buried Friday afternoon at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West.

Adams said he was just thanking the veterans at Friendship House for their service and letting them know the state veterans office is available to serve them.

"It truly is an honor to be able to sit down and talk with each and every one of them," Adams said. "We want to be sure we thank them for their service."

Veterans of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars attended the gathering that took place Friday morning at the Friendship House on Faulkner Drive.

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Adams estimated he met 12 to 15 veterans at the event, and he said his visit also provided an opportunity to make sure veterans who haven't gone on an Honor Flight to the war memorials in the nation's capital may do so.

He said there are 400,000 veterans left among 16 million service members from World War II, and every day another 40,000 to 80,000 die.

"They stood up and fought until the war was over," Adams said.

Korean War veterans continued the fight, he added, observing that the 1950s battle was truly a war despite being described as a conflict by a lot of people.

Of Vietnam, he noted that "there's not enough we can do to thank them for their service." They were treated reprehensibly, he said, even though they volunteered to protect their country and sacrificed their lives for greater good.

Adams said several men he met at Friendship House have gone on the Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., while others have not; he said those who haven't will get help to fill out an application to try to get them on a flight.

He said priority is given to War World II veterans, then Korea and Vietnam.

"It is truly a rewarding thing for them and in a lot of ways it helps the veterans open up more," said Adams, noting the flight allows veterans to renew friendships and lets them know people appreciate their service.

"You can see a definite change if they've been on a flight," he added.

Army veteran Keith Litchfield went on one of the Honor Flights this past May, and he recalled that good friend Howard Dixon gave him a cap before he left.

If he didn't have a good time, he was supposed to return the cap.

"I really enjoyed it," said Litchfield, who kept the cap. "It was a fantastic trip."

A resident of Hopkinsville, he dropped by Friendship House Friday morning to take part in the gathering and the visit with Adams, and he noted it was good to see all the men who had served in different branches of the military.

Dixon, an Air Force veteran who lives in one of the Christian Care Communities' garden homes, said he thought it was great Adams visited with the men.

The commissioner spoke with Friendship House resident Johnny Wilson, also an Army veteran, and presented him with mementos recognizing his military service.

Several of the veterans attended Williams' interment later in the afternoon.

Carl Ruddell, an Air Force veteran who was in the Korean theater and stationed in Japan, said he thought it was great that Williams was returning home.

"The young man has been moved two or three times, different times," noted Ruddell, also a resident of the garden homes. "This will be his final resting place."

Adams is slated to return to the local Christian Care Communities campus in October when he will present a new Korean War medallion to Korean veterans.

Lela Hale, professional service coordinator for the local campus and Friendship House, said the commissioner is currently taking applications for the medallion.

She said she has the applications available for anyone who is interested.

"We would love to have a huge turnout for that with as many local Korean vets as possible receiving them," Hale said of the event planned for October.

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