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WarHorses for Heroes Fundraiser


By Nancy Brannon

WarHorses for Heroes, which provides equine-assisted therapy to veterans who have sustained service-related mental or physical injuries, hosted a Veterans Day Fundraiser on November 17, 2019 at Lichterman Nature Center in Memphis, Tenn. There was delicious food from Me and My Tea Room catering, music by Templeton Thompson and her husband Sam Gay, plus a poignant ceremony remembering fallen or missing service men and women. Rolling Thunder, Mississippi, Chapter 2, narrated by Nancy Rouse, performed a Flame of Freedom ceremony and a Missing Man Table ceremony. The National Rolling Thunder organization, with 90 chapters across the U.S., is dedicated to bringing full accountability for the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action (POW/MIA) of all wars.

The Flame of Freedom ceremony symbolizes remembrance of all military personnel who are on active duty, with the candle lighting the way for their return. “Only certain people are allowed to bring in the flame,” Rouse explained. Bringing in the flame was Gold Star mom Tamela Bussard whose son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nolan Parks Barham, died from his PTSD injuries in October 2014. Cathy Johnston, husband of Air Force Lt. Col. Gaines Johnston, is a Blue Star parent.  Her son, Major Chris Johnston, is a USAF F-16 pilot stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea. Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Cathy Sherman was also among those presenting the Flame of Freedom.

The Missing Man Table ceremony uses a table set with empty chairs to represent service men/women who are missing or killed in service. This ceremony remembered five veterans, with placement of a hat for each on the table, and glasses turned upside down because they cannot be present. Staff Sgt. Jerry William Elliott of Greenville, MS was MIA in 1968 in South Vietnam. Major Charles Franklin Wallace of Ellisville, MS was killed in action in 1967 in Vietnam. U.S. Army Commander Carroll Owen Crain, Jr. of Memphis, TN was MIA in 1967. He was a pilot in the 7th Fleet Attack Squadron aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. USAF Major Thomas Waring Bennett, Jr. of Natchez, MS died on December 22, 1972 when his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. U.S. Coast Guard Radioman Third Class Cecil V. Bratu of MS was MIA/deceased in 1942.

Find more information about WarHorses for Heroes, housed at Oak View Stables in Olive Branch, MS at

Find out more about Templeton Thompson at: and check out her CD “Girls & Horses.” She and her husband Sam Gay wrote and recorded the music for the 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman DVD series. She is working on release of her 8th album called “Hippie Chic Cowgirl.”

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