Join us as we celebrate our veterans and the incredible work being done by Forever Young Senior Veterans. We’re honored to have their Founder and President Diane Hight on the show along with two decorated Marines, Jim Brown and Don Thompson.
Forever Young Senior Vets can be found on the web at http://www.foreveryoungvets.org/ . They meet at Germantown Baptist the 3rd Thursday of each month at 10:30 AM.
If you wish to help Forever Young and our veterans please follow this link to donate.
Diane Hight – Founder & President – Forever Young Senior Veterans
Diane Hight founded Forever Young Senior Veterans in 2006. Her organization grants wishes for military veterans, 65 years and older, which includes WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans.
She has honored more than 2000 veterans by taking them on military “Trips of Honor” to places like Washington DC, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Italy, England, and Belgium. She’s honored more than 700 WWII veterans with A USO-type show celebrating their service.
Last year, Diane was awarded the Points of Light by President George H.W. Bush. She is a Jefferson Award Winner, which is the Nobel Peace Prize for volunteerism at a local level. She is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Collierville and was selected by the Commercial Appeal as one of twelve who made a difference in Memphis in 2010. She is an Honorary Marine, and received the National Patriotism Award from the Daughters of the Revolution in 2012. She also received “The Legion of Honor Award” in 2013, from The Chapel of Four Chaplains for her outstanding, sacrificial service to the community.
Diane is originally from Morrilton, Arkansas, but currently lives in Rossville, TN with her husband, Greg, a pilot for FedEx Express. She has three grown children and five grandchildren.
Jim joined the Marines in Charleston, WV shortly after graduating from Clay County High School. While in the Marine Corps, he served as a Machine-Gunner in the Korean War, at the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon Landing, Wonsan Landing, the Chosin Reservoir and back to Hanhung in North Korea.
After Korea, he was transferred to Marine Corps Aviation and trained as an Aviation Structural Mechanic in Millington, TN. After school, he served as an Instructor in that school from 1951-1955. Jim was transferred to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan until 1956 and returned to Millington as an Instructor until 1960.
In 1960, Jim was transferred to VMF-235 in Beaufort SC where he served until 1964. From 1964-1967 Jim was the Curriculum Supervisor of AK schools in Millington. Jim served in the Republic of Vietnam as the Wing Analyst Chief at DaNang. From 1968 through 1970 Jim served as Course Supervisor and Senior Marine of AK in Millington. Jim retired from the Marines Corps as a Master Sergeant in August of 1970.
In 1967 Jim graduated from Memphis State University with a BS degree in Secondary Education. Jim earned his masters in Educational Administration ples 45 post graduate Credit Hours from the University of Memphis in 1967, and completed all the course work for his Doctorate in Education from the University of Memphis.
From 1970 to 1995 he as an educator with Memphis City Schools. Jim served as a Vocational Teacher, an Administrator, and a Vocational Evaluator for MCS.
From 1995 to 2001 Jim served as a Commissioner of the Board of Education, Memphis City Schools. Jim was elected as Vice President in 1998 and President in 1999.
Jim’s civic activities are Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fleet Reserve Association, Marine Corps League, Optimist Club, Exchange Club, Raleigh Masonic Lodge, Memphians for America, Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve.
Jim’s military awards include:
The Purple Heart with Gold Star
Presidential Unit Citation with 2 Bronze Stars
Navy Unit Citation with 1 Bronze Star
Combat Action Ribbon with 2 Gold Stars
Good Conduct Medal with 1 Silver Star
Navy Expeditionary Medal
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service (Campaign) Medal with 3 Gold Stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
United Nations Service Medal (Korea)
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Don Thompson is a 1960 graduate of Catholic High School where he was an outstanding football player. He continued playing football for the U.S. Marine Corps throughout his military career.
Don owned and operated Thompson Body Repair Shop and was the President of both the Memphis Junior Chamber of Commerce and the
Northeast Memphis Optimist Club.
He is also a strong supporter of Theatre Memphis as well as the University of Memphis. Don is a prominent Catholic Layman and an advocate for
strong law enforcement agencies and a booster for the Forever Young organization.
Our Memphis History thanks these men for their heroic service and Diane for her passionate support of our military.
Research team: Joe V Lowry, John Robilio
Moderator: John Robilio
Editor: Trish Gully
Producer: Mark White