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Four generations of veterans

Joel Gill of Williamson is part of four generations of veterans who served their nation from World War II to the War on Terror. His father and two uncles – Alva Gill, Elbert Gill and Emerald Gill – left their home in Worth County, Ga., to join the overseas efforts of the Greatest Generation. ’My uncle Elbert was on the draft board to be drafted so he enlisted in the Navy and was aboard a ship in Hawaii when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor,’ he said. ‘Uncle Elbert’s ship was one of the ships that sank at Pearl Harbor and Uncle Elbert was one of the sailors who swam ashore and survived the Pearl Harbor attack.’ Elbert Gill was on two more ships that were bombed during WWII but he survived and returned home to work for the Georgia Power Company. Emerald Gill was drafted into the U.S. Army and served for several years as an infantry soldier all over Europe. He also returned home to work for Georgia Power. ’My father, Alva E. Gill, was drafted three months later. He was married with three kids and he was sent to Manchester, Ga., to work making military supplies at Calloway Mills,’ said Joel Gill. ‘After my father was relieved of his military commitment to the Armed Forces, we moved to Molena in Pike County in 1945 where my father worked as a farmer for Mr. Jimmy Park and his two sons. I went to school for three years at the Molena school house which is now the Molena Nursing Home. Then we moved to the Smyrna Church community where we were living when I went in the Army.’ Joel Gill said his older brother James Gill was drafted and his mother cried for three weeks. ’Me and my cousin Jimmy Gill decided to join the Army and go in on the Buddy System and all three of us were sent to Fort McPherson for our physical and induction into the Army. My brother James was turned down because of his eyesight and sent home but Jimmy and I were accepted and sent to Fort Jackson, S.C. for training.’ While in the service, Joel married his school sweetheart Jeanette Sykes, a Pike County girl from Molena. She was still in school so they moved into an old dormitory apartment in Concord so she could graduate from Concord High School. They had one son together – Joel Robert Gill. Joel later remarried Betty Brown of Woodbury and they had one son – Gary Wayne Gill. They lived at the upper end of Lake Meriwether and their home is now under water. Joel Gill lived in Meriwether County for 41 years before returning to Pike County. ’While I was married to Jeanette, my youngest brother Gary C. Gill joined the Navy and served for 23 years, sailing around the world and serving three tours in Vietnam before retiring,’ said Joel. ‘My two sons joined the Navy too – Gary Wayne Gill and Joel Robert Gill.’ Joel Robert Gill served his tour of Navy duty and returned home to Pike County where he married a girl he graduated with from Pike County High School – Linda Carter. They had two sons. Their son Joel Justin Gill graduated from PCHS and served in the U.S. Army for 10 years. He also served in Iraq where he was injured. He is currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. Their second son, John Jordan Gill, graduated from PCHS and joined the U.S. Army. He is currently serving his country by training as a soldier in California. ’Jordan is to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan after completing his training,’ said Joel. ‘We all wish him a safe Tour of Duty and return home to Pike County.’ With such a rich family history in military service, Joel Gill feels that anyone who disrespects the American flag or members of the U.S. military should be tried as traitors. ’I would like to say from all the Gill family of veterans who served with pride to all of the veterans who died for our country, ‘˜God bless you,’ and to those veterans who returned home wounded or alive and unharmed, ‘˜Thank you for your service and may God bless each of you.”

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