A dedication ceremony was held for the newly constructed Brotherhood Pavilion at the Veterans Memorial Park of Jackson County last week.

Jim Olyniec spoke at the event, and he said the pavilion was funded by a generous grant by the Bynum Foundation in special recognition to the lifelong friendship of Mark Scott Skelton and Charles Bradford.

He said it is for this special friendship and brotherhood of Skelton and Bradford, as well as all past and present members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, that the pavilion was named the Brotherhood Pavilion.

Dr. Brad Bradford spoke about brotherhood and the brotherhood Charles and Mark Skelton had with one another.

“A brotherhood is being a part of something larger than yourself. Mark and Charles had that brotherhood,” said Bradford.

Bradford read the inscription on the Brotherhood Pavilion plaque during the dedication.

It reads:

The pavilion is dedicated to the brotherhood of men and women in the United States military who serve to protect our country, The United States of America.

Brotherhood: To be a part of something larger than yourself in service to your country.

A unique brotherhood is created among all the men and women who serve in the United States military. The trust, respect and friendships formed within the military, especially in time of ward, forge a brotherhood that is strong and can last forever.

In Jackson County, a strong brotherhood was forged by 164 soldiers of the Alabama National Guard, Company B, 151st Engineer Combat Battalion. Mark Skelton and Charles Bradford, both veterans and officers of World War II, recruited and trained these young men from the farms and towns of Jackson County.

On Aug. 10, 1950, Company B was called to active duty to fight in the Korean War. Skelton and Bradford were not required to deploy because they were veterans of WWII, but they did so willingly. Company B was instrumental in constructing the important roads and bridges necessary for transporting troops and supplies to the front lines.

In the Spring of 1952, each of the 164 soldiers of Company B, led by Bradford and Skelton safely returned to their families in Jackson County.

The Korean War was an important building block in the brotherhood of Charles Bradford and Mark Skelton. Both men were natives of Jackson County, best friends throughout their childhood, classmates in college and soldiers that served side by side.

After serving together in the Korean War, they became neighbors, fellow church members, business partners and leaders in their community. Their strong friendship and brotherhood of these two men, dedicated to their country, spanned over 75 years.  

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