Mary O’Neal recognized for service to veterans

Mary O'Neal stands between Lacy Shepherd, left, 2011 NC AMVETS commander, and State Sen. Gene McLaurin.

Mary O’Neal stands between Lacy Shepherd, left, 2011 NC AMVETS commander, and State Sen. Gene McLaurin.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

For decades, Richmond County native Mary O’Neal watched at her late husband, former Army Command Sgt. Major Edward O’Neal, was honored for his dedication and commitment to veterans after O’Neal retired from military service in 1976.

On Thursday, it was Mary’s turn.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Mary O'Neal, left, and Patricia Davis represent AMVETS Auxiliary 316, Hamlet, in May during the wreath-laying ceremony at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park in Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Mary O’Neal, left, and Patricia Davis represent AMVETS Auxiliary 316, Hamlet, in May during the wreath-laying ceremony at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park in Rockingham.

State Sen. Gene McLaurin, a Democrat running for a second term in the state legislature, led the Senate in honoring the lifetime service of a woman who has done much more than simply sit at her husband’s side. As Ed served, so, too, did Mary, in a variety of leadership roles in auxiliary units across the globe.

In North Carolina, Mary O’Neal served as state president of the AMVETS Auxiliary in2013 and, this year, is a national executive committee member for AMVETS Auxiliary of North Carolina.

“I have known Mary for many years and have always admired her spirit of true loyalty, service and dedication to our veterans,” McLaurin said in a news release issued Friday. “Her tireless work has led to many veterans receiving care packages, calling cards to call their families (and) countless services for disabled veterans and their families.”

If O’Neal hadn’t earned the respect of everyone by her commitment to veterans before May 24, she cemented a lasting impression on May 24. Only 18 days after her husband passed, O’Neal participated in the wreath-laying ceremony during the annual Memorial Day observance at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park. The flag of the Special Forces, a command her husband had held, flew that day over the park.

On Thursday, O’Neal was accompanied on the Senate floor by members of her family and Lacy Shepherd, who served as commander of the North Carolina AMVETS in 2011.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Mary O'Neal poses with U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson during the Memorial Day observance in May at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park in Rockingham. The pair stand in front of the Special Forces banner. O'Neal's late husband served as Special Forces commander.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Mary O’Neal poses with U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson during the Memorial Day observance in May at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park in Rockingham. The pair stand in front of the Special Forces banner. O’Neal’s late husband served as Special Forces commander.

O’Neal serves Richmond County in a number of ways, including the Richmond County Involvement Council, Richmond County Schools Vocational Advisory Council, the Richmond County Literacy Council, the Social Ministry Committee and the Feed My Sheep food ministry.

After reading from a senatorial statement,¬†McLaurin led the body in giving O’Neal a standing ovation.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, Military and Veterans, News

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  • Patricia Davis

    Mary’s dedication to the community and the veterans is an inspiration to all who work with her. She is tireless in her efforts. Mary also works with the Fisher House in Fayetteville, ensuring they receive paper goods, food stuffs, and books for the children of families that stay there while visiting their loved ones at Womack Hospital. The recognition and praise is well deserved……Congratulations Mary!

  • Jane Moss

    She is an inspiration to us all. Truly an awesome lady.

  • Sylvia Rowland

    I’ve known Mary for many years, she is truly a dedicated lady. Veterans are first with her!

  • C Ann Rozmaryn

    So very happy to see this…… Mary has done so much and she deserves this recognition; so very special this Lady is……So very Proud to be a friend of hers. Congrats and love….

  • Vicky Lee

    I have known Ed and Mary for many years. They have provided SO much support for Fort Bragg’s Soldiers and Families! Mary is just awesome – such a class act! She is very deserving of this recognition.
    Vicky Lee
    DPTMS, Ft. Bragg

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