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Military History and Armed Forces Symposium 2022

Apr 29th - May 1st

April 29 – May 1, 2022

All active military personnel and veterans will receive free admission to Discovery Park during all three days of this event.

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The 2022 Military History and Armed Forces Symposium on Fri., April 29 through Sun., May 1 will feature a variety of programs and interactive activities that explore the past, present and future of the American military. From presentations and panel discussions from special guests to static and active demonstrations of military equipment and vehicles to gallery talks, this comprehensive event will be the largest ever held in this region. Guests will also experience historical interpreters and period musicians throughout the museum and park.

Friday’s events have been designed with students in mind and will provide both military-and-history-related content perfect for school groups. For student group scholarships, email Sheridan Wells at swells@discoveryparkofamerica.com or call 731-599-1132.

Representatives from all six military branches will be available for recruiting information, job opportunities and education. Volunteers from veteran service organizations will also be in attendance to offer information on services, programs and benefits that are currently provided for veterans.

In addition to bringing back the popular Lantern Walk this year, the 2022 event will include a members-only reception with entertainment provided by Operation Song and an early-American folk dance with live music and dance instruction provided by the 52nd Regimental String Band. The band will also be performing during a church service in Discovery Park’s late-19th century chapel on Sunday morning.

Guests will experience:

  • Black Hawk Helicopter and seven ground assets
  • Historical interpreters
  • Static and active military vehicles and equipment on display
  • Period Musicians
  • Weapons and transportation demonstrations
  • Experts on a variety of topics relevant to the past, present and future of the military
  • Gallery talks with Discovery Park educators
  • Jason Pate photo exhibit, “A Country Divided: Photos from the Civil War”
  • The U.S. Navy “Nimitz” Virtual Reality Experience

Sponsored by Union City Coca-Cola and Dixie Gun Works.

Special guests include:

Bill Allen, USN (Ret)

Bill Allen was a World War II Navy medic who is one of the last remaining D-Day survivors. He joined the Navy soon after graduating from Murfreesboro Central High School in 1943. He was onboard the LST-523 on June 6, 1944, and also on the day that the ship went down. He has been retired for over two decades and enjoys time with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Maj Gen Tommy H. Baker, USA (Ret)

Maj Gen Tommy H. Baker is the commissioner for Tennessee’s Department of Veteran Services (TDVS). He has served as the commissioner, TDVS, since December 2020. He retired from the Tennessee National Guard, with 41 years of service, as the deputy commander to the adjutant general.

LtGen John “Glad” Castellaw, USMC (Ret)

LtGen Castellaw is a 36-year veteran of the Marine Corps, where he held several commands, including chief of staff for the U.S. Central Command during the Iraq War. Since retirement, he has served as an advising expert in matters of national security, with emphasis on climate change. He lives in Alamo, Tennessee and is the founder and CEO of Farmspace Systems, a company specializing in drone and aviation technology in agriculture.

Wanda Castellaw

Wanda Nelson Castellaw is a Tennessee native and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in educational psychology. As the spouse of a Marine, she spent 36 years in the military family, moving over 25 times all over the world. The frequency of military moves created a non-traditional career path, including jobs ranging from human relations analysis to executive director for a trade association. Currently, she works with her husband’s business, Farmspace Systems LLC, supporting development of a groundbreaking screening process for contagious viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 and unknown virus strains.

Dr. David Coffey, Professor

Dr. David Coffey is professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he teaches U.S., Latin American and military history. He is the author of several books, including “In Harm’s Way: A History of the American Military Experience.” He also served as an editor of four award-winning encyclopedias on military history.

Dr. Elvernice “Sonny” Davis, Chaplain (COL) USA (Ret)

Dr. Elvernice “Sonny” Davis, Chaplain (COL) USA (Ret) retired from the U.S. Army in 1997 after 30 years of distinguished service as an Army chaplain. He recently published a book, Reflections of an Army Chaplain, that details his conviction that racism is deeply rooted in pathological misconceptions that perpetuate social, political and spiritual instability.

COL Many-Bears Grinder, USA (Ret)

In January 2011, Governor Bill Haslam appointed COL Many-Bears Grinder, USA (Ret) as the commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services. She was the first woman to serve the State of Tennessee in this capacity, supporting a half million veterans in the state.

To accept the appointment, she retired from the Tennessee Army National Guard as an active guard and reserve colonel with more than 35 years of service. The Operation Enduring Freedom combat veteran served in Afghanistan as the head of secretariat for the International Police Coordination Board.

She holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College and a master’s degree in human resource Development from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in public service from Maryville College in 2016 and was inducted into the Fort Benning Hall of Fame in 2004. Her military awards include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.

Sue Hoppin

Sue Hoppin is a nationally recognized expert on military spouse and family issues working to bridge the cultural gap between government, private and public groups and military communities. She is an advocate, published author and consultant with more than 20 years of experience and expertise in military community programs. She is the founder and president of the National Military Spouse Network.

Kevin Rumley, USMC (Ret)

Kevin Rumley, USMC is a combat wounded (32 surgeries) Marine Corps veteran, receiving a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat. He is also a person in long-term recovery, remaining a vocal community advocate for harm reduction modalities, including medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and needle exchange clinics. He is a licensed clinical addiction specialist, certified clinical supervisor, licensed clinical social worker, and IATP certified expert trauma professional. He serves as the program director for the Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC), a treatment-based alternative to incarceration for justice-involved veterans. He is a guardian ad litem (GAL), serving as a volunteer court appointed special advocate for children. In his free time, he plays the drums with local Asheville musicians, including Tyler Ramsey (from Band of Horses) and the Electric Owls.

Lt Col Amber Saldaña, USAF

Lt Col Amber Saldaña, USAF is a career active duty Air Force intelligence officer born and raised in Halls, TN. She has spent most of her career in support of special operations forces and missions. Throughout her career, she has led teams of intelligence professionals in support of Air Force and Joint Special operations and Combat Search and Rescue in the CENTCOM and EUCOM theaters. She is the recipient of the Legion of Merit and two Bronze Star medals, among many other decorations throughout her career. She was most recently the chief of the Joint Intelligence Support Element at Special Operations Command Europe and plans to retire from the Air force this summer.

Historical Interpreters

These groups will be at Discovery Park of America on Fri.,  April 29 and Sat., April 30 only.

Army of the TN Re-enactors and Friends

Join this group of American Civil War historical interpreters to learn about the lives of soldiers. ( Fri. and Sat. only)

Mid-South Living History Group

The Mid-South Living History Group is led by Matt Inman and based in Corinth, Mississippi. This group will display artifacts pertaining to World War I and World War II. (Fri. and Sat. only)

52nd Regimental String Band

Formed in 1990 and based in Memphis, TN, the 52nd Regimental String Band has provided mid-19th century music and entertainment to audiences from Iowa to Georgia and Virginia to Louisiana. (Fri. and Sat. only)

The Living Historians 

Join this group of Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II historical interpreters to learn about the lives of soldiers. ( Fri. and Sat. only)

Sons of the Confederate Veterans Camp 176 in Union City, TN

These historical interpreters will inform guests about the daily lives of soldiers and the important events that happened during the Civil War. (Fri. and Sat. only)

Special Events

All the programs, panel discussions and other events during the symposium are included with park admission or membership. However, tickets to the Lantern Walk, members-only reception and an early-American folk dance are free but limited and must be reserved in advance here.

Fri., April 29, 2022
5:30 – 7 p.m.
Military Gallery

Join many of the symposium’s special guests and members of Discovery Park for a private VIP reception. Meet and hear stories from Bill Allen, one of the last remaining D-Day survivors. Entertainment will be provided by Operation Song and the 52nd Regimental String Band. Operation Song’s Mission is to empower veterans, active duty military and their families to tell their stories through the process of songwriting. A cash bar and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

Membership cards will be checked in advance for this event. Click here to purchase or renew your membership. Tickets to the members-only reception are free but limited and must be reserved in advance here.

Sat., April 30, 2022
5 – 7:30 p.m.
Discovery Park Rotary Pavilion

Whether you dress in period attire or come as you are, you won’t want to miss our inaugural early-American folk dance featuring live music provided by the 52nd Regimental String Band and a dance instructor. A cash bar and food trucks will be provided. Tickets are free but limited and must be reserved in advance here.

Sat., April 30, 2022
7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Or
9 – 10 p.m.
The Settlement

Take a tour through the Settlement at Discovery Park as historic interpreters portray events and share stories as they sit around the fire, make themselves comfortable on the front porches or just go about their lives. Joining the cast this year will be actress Flo Roach. Roach and the group of historical interpreters will enlighten you on all perspectives of those living in South Western Ky. during the Civil War as you move from place to place observing the performances. Experience the stories of Johnny Clem known as the “Little Drummer Boy,” Gen. Lee and Gen. Grant, a Civil War sniper, the Lady in Mourning, the mother of a soldier and more during the Lantern Walk.

To allow as many guests as possible to enjoy the Lantern Walk, please reserve tickets in only one of the two time slots. Tickets to the Lantern Walk are free but limited and must be reserved in advance here.

Fri., April 29, 2022 and Sat. April 30, 2022
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Discovery Park Grounds

The U.S. Navy “Nimitz” Virtual Reality Experience is a state-of-the-art immersive experience, with a virtual reality mission, electronic lead capture, and digital technology at every touchpoint. The goal is to transform and elevate the way people think about the Navy, while generating a high-caliber recruit pool.

The Navy “Nimitz” will be on display all day Friday, April 29 through Saturday, April 30. Participants can pre-register here or register on-site. There will also be opportunities to talk to current U.S. Navy Sailors, participate in physical training (PT) challenges and try out an interactive photo booth. Watch this video to learn more about the Nimitz Virtual Reality Experience.

Event waivers must be signed by all participants. If you are under the age 18, you will need to have a waiver form signed by a parent or guardian. This waiver must be completed in advance for the participants to enter and engage in the event. There are two options for waiver signature for those under 18:

1. Online registration: Go online to https://www.navyevents.com and complete the registration process. Then, print your confirmation or screenshot the QR code. The printout or the QR code must be brought to the event for entry.

2. Day-of registration: You may register on-site on the day of the event. Please fill out the attached waiver with signatures and bring it to the event for entry.

Schedule of Events

Programs are subject to change.

Fri., April 29, 2022

All day (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) Experience historical interpreters, military displays and equipment from the past, present and future, and hear stories from the Civil War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam.

10 a.m. Presentation of Colors

10:10 a.m. “Welcome and Opening Remarks: Inspiring Words for the Next Generation” with LtGen John “Glad” Castellaw, USMC (Ret)

10:20 a.m. “Entering the Military Today: Standards for Entry and Their Impact” led by Johnny Dyer. Panelist include Lt COL Tony Lacy, SFC Tyler Shaw, Srgt Nicholas Sullivan and Capt. Petty Officer Dave Crain.

11:10 a.m. “Death Duty: One of the Last Remaining D-Day Survivors Tells His Story” with Bill Allen, USN (Ret), autograph session to follow in the Transportation Gallery

11: 50 a.m. “Forging Different Paths and Careers in the Military” panel and discussion led by Lt Col Amber Saldaña, USAF and Mark Saldaña.

1 p.m. “Military History 101” with Dr. David Coffey, professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

1:40 p.m. Dr. David Coffey will be signing his book, “In Harm’s Way: A History of the American Military Experience.”

1:40 p.m. Live Recording of “Reelfoot Forward: A West Tennessee Podcast” featuring “A Veteran’s Journey of Redemption” with Kevin Rumley, USMC

2:20 p.m. “Civil War Veterans from Northwest Tennessee: Connecting Untold Stories with Images from the Past” discussion and exhibit demo with Jason Pate

2:20 p.m. Dr. Elvernice “Sonny” Davis, Chaplain (COL) USA (Ret) will be signing his book, “Reflections of an Army Chaplain”

5:30 p.m. Members-only reception with a performances by the 52nd Regimental String Band by members of Operation Song.

Sat., April 30, 2022

All day (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) Experience historical interpreters, military displays and equipment from the past, present and future, and hear stories from the Civil War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam.

10 a.m. Presentation of Colors

10:10 a.m. “Welcome and Opening Remarks for the Day” led by Maj Gen Tommy H. Baker, commissioner for Tennessee’s Department of Veteran Services

10:20 a.m. “Death Duty: One of the Last Remaining D-Day Survivors Tells His Story” with Bill Allen, USN (Ret), autograph session to follow in the Transportation Gallery

11:10 a.m. “Bridging the Military/Civilian Divide: Why the 99% Should Care!” virtual program with Sue Hoppin

11:40 a.m. “Spouses in the Military” led by LtGen John “Glad” Castellaw, USMC (Ret) and Wanda Castellaw.

12:20 p.m. “A Veteran’s Journey of Redemption” with Kevin Rumley, USMC

1 p.m. “Honoring Veterans and Continuing to Serve” with COL Many-Bears Grinder, USA (Ret)

1:35 p.m. “Re-entry for Veterans: What’s It Like and How Can We Help” led by Cmdr. Leanne Braddock.

2:15 p.m. Dr. David Coffey will be signing his book, “In Harms Way”

2:15 p.m. Performance with local veterans and Operation Song

2:45 p.m. “Civil War Veterans from Northwest Tennessee: Connecting Untold Stories with Images from the Past” discussion and exhibit demo with Jason Pate

3:05 p.m. “Vietnam: The Turning Point in Military History” with Dr. David Coffey

5 p.m. Early American folk dance with live music and dance instruction provided by the 52nd Regimental String Band

7:30 p.m. Lantern Walk with Army of the TN Re-enactors and Friends

 9 p.m. Lantern Walk with Army of the TN Re-enactors and Friends

Sun., May 1, 2022

9 a.m. Church service with music from the 52nd Regimental String Band, Ron Powell chaplain in the Chapel. Guests need to enter through the gate by the Chapel.

11 a.m. Discovery Park opens

Special Tours of The Military Gallery at Discovery Park

Included is a collection of military vehicles and weapons, as well as displays about the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and our current military conflicts.

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