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New Lucasfilm Movie About Tuskegee Airmen (at Wilcox Theatres) Has Vicksburg Tie

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nd Lieutenant Wellington G. Irving, a native of Belzoni and member of the 301st Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group – the renowned Tuskegee Airmen. I consider myself a student of history.  This is one of those historical facts that I didn’t know.  I decided to do some research and go pay my respects to a man who gave his life for our country. Wellington G. Irving was born on July 29, 1920.  He was born into a pretty horrible existence.  His family lived in Belzoni, Mississippi at that time and worked primarily in agriculture.  Lots of people – black and white – had the same type of job back in 1920.  The Great Depression hit when Irving was nine and his existence only got worse. Irving’s troubles were compounded by the color of his skin.  WWII came and Irving went off to serve his country.  He graduated from flight training on December 5, 1943, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.  He was sent to Italy in February of 1944 to serve in the 301st Fighter Squadron, part of the 332nd Fighter Group. Lt. Irving was a “Red Tail.”  He piloted a P-51 Mustang fighter.  He would never see his family or the shores of the United States again. The following information comes from an article posted on http://www.stltoday.com

On July 18, the 332nd Fighter Group was sent to escort bombers to Memmingen in southern Germany. When the 66 P-51 Mustang pilots arrived at the rendezvous point, the bombers they were to meet weren’t there. The fighter pilots circled the area; when the bombers were spotted, so was a swarm of 30 enemy planes. More than 20 of the P-51 pilots rushed toward the Messerschmitt 109s to break up the attack. The bombers and the rest of the fighters continued toward the target. Near Kempten, Germany, about 25 miles from the target, 30 more enemy planes were spotted. Four of them attacked the bombers, and four P-51 pilots, including Irving, responded. “Approximately half way between the Alps and the target, our lone flight of four dropped back of the bomber formation and enemy aircraft were sighted,” 1st Lt. Joseph P. Gomer wrote in a military report. “Lt. Irving and his wingman, Lt. (Stanley L.) Harris, broke away and Lt. (Gene C.) Browne, my wingman, went into attack an enemy aircraft headed at us.” Irving and Browne were later reported missing. Browne was captured and spent the rest of the war at a prisoner of war camp. Irving was not seen again. “The last time I saw 2nd Lt. Wellington G. Irving was when he was diving on the top of a formation of about 30 FW-190s,” Harris wrote in a military report. “I was on his wing, but in the ensuing mixup I never saw him again.”
I searched for a photo of Lt. Irving, who went missing and is presumed to have been killed just eleven days before his 24th birthday.  My search returned only one result that I can say definitely contains a photo of Lt. Irving. The group photo below is a picture of his graduating class at Tuskegee Army Air Field.  The order of the people in the photo is unknown but it does contain Lt. Irving’s photo.  I am sorry to tell you that I cannot find much more information about this American hero. My friend Gary & I went to the Vicksburg National Cemetery this morning to find Lt. Irving’s marker – his remains were never found – and pay our respects.  We were aided by one of the Park Rangers, who gave us a map of the cemetery and the number of Lt. Irving’s marker. You can find the marker in Section X which is on the N. Washington side of the cemetery right near the caretaker’s residence and just down the hill from the overlook pavilion.  The marker number is 17547. Gary and I spent a few minutes on this damp day with the brisk wind coming in off the river honoring this man we never had the chance to know.  His sacrifice – and the sacrifice of so many others – helped to ensure that we live with the freedoms that we do.  It’s a shame that he died in the service of our country, but there is a small part of me that is thankful that he didn’t have to come back home as an American hero only to have to fight for rights from the country he gave his life to defend. I will be attending a showing of Red Tails this weekend with my wife, Gary and maybe some other friends.  I’ll be sure to let you know what we think about the movie. I hope to hear that you took the chance to see it! I can already tell you what we think about, Lt. Wellington G. Irving and the rest of the Tuskegee Airmen. We are thankful for their service, for their sacrifice and their willingness to stand up for a country that wouldn’t do the same for them.  In my opinion, that really defines what a HERO is all about! ]]]]> ]]>

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Health

MS Health Department emphasizes importance of flu vaccines

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(Photo by by LuAnn Hunt from Pixabay)

Seasonal influenza vaccinations are now available for children and qualifying adults at all Mississippi State Department of Health county health departments. Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older as the best protection against the flu.

“We recommend that all Mississippians get their flu shots every year, but especially this year with COVID-19. We don’t want to risk overwhelming our hospitals,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers in a statement.

Byers said flu season can occur as early as November and as late as March in Mississippi, but usually peaks anywhere from December through February.

Individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH, but the agency monitors flu activity through the ILI System, made up of health care providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database. Providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH lab. State health officials use this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.

“We recommend getting vaccinated now before we reach peak flu activity. Influenza vaccine is especially important for young children, pregnant women, those over 65 and those with underlying health problems,” Byers said. “Flu vaccination is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications such as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”

Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive a flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program is accepted for children’s flu shots. A list of all VFC providers can be found at www.HealthyMS.com/vfc.

Adults who are underinsured or uninsured and who meet certain high-risk criteria qualify for an adult flu vaccination at MSDH county health department clinics. Flu shots for insured adults are now widely available through private physicians, pharmacies and retail centers.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu without complications, but nationwide there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations from flu each year.

While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether individuals are vaccinated or not. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick and washing your hands frequently. Wearing a face covering in public places offers additional protection against the flu.

Please call your local county health department to make an appointment for your vaccination.

For Vicksburg and Warren County residents, the Warren County Health Department is located at 807 Monroe St. in Vicksburg, and it is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 601-636-4356 for more information.

To locate other county health department clinics or for more information on flu, visit the MSDH website.

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Purdue Pharma agrees to plead guilty and pay $8.3 billion regarding OxyContin

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Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, the drug many say began the opioid crisis in the United States, agreed to plead guilty Wednesday to federal criminal charges in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and also agreed to pay $8.3 billion in fines.

The charges against the company stem from its marketing of the highly addictive drug and its role in the nationwide crisis that has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1990. Purdue has agreed to plead guilty a three-count felony information charging it with one count of dual-object conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

“The abuse and diversion of prescription opioids has contributed to a national tragedy of addiction and deaths, in addition to those caused by illicit street opioids,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen in a statement “With criminal guilty pleas, a federal settlement of more than $8 billion, and the dissolution of a company and repurposing its assets entirely for the public’s benefit, the resolution in today’s announcement reaffirms that the Department of Justice will not relent in its multipronged efforts to combat the opioids crisis.”

The criminal resolution includes the largest penalties ever levied against a pharmaceutical manufacturer, including a criminal fine of $3.544 billion and an additional $2 billion in criminal forfeiture. For the $2 billion forfeiture, the company will pay $225 million on the effective date of the bankruptcy, and the department is willing to credit the value conferred by the company to state and local governments under the department’s anti-piling on and coordination policy. Purdue has also agreed to a civil settlement in the amount of $2.8 billion to resolve its civil liability under the False Claims Act.

Separately, the Sackler family has agreed to pay $225 million in damages to resolve its civil False Claims Act liability.

The deal does not release the company or its owners from further criminal charges, and the DOJ investigation continues. It also does not protect the company or its owners from other civil litigation. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Purdue and the Sackler family.

“Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice in the agreed statement of facts,” Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board of directors since 2018, said in a statement.

The timing of the deal suggests that the company wanted to settle under the Trump administration, believing it could get a better deal than with a Biden DOJ. Numerous state attorneys general have raised questions as to how effective the deal is as punishment for the Sackler family. Their $225 million settlement is pocket change for a family whose estimated wealth is at least $13 billion, much of it coming from sales of OxyContin diverted to family-controlled trusts and holding companies even as the company was under investigation.

“Purdue is doing everything they can to get this deal done in this administration,” Joe Rice, a negotiator for local governments that are suing Purdue, told The New York Times. “It’s advantageous to both sides.”

The company filed bankruptcy last year and will likely emerge as a new corporation once the dust settles. In the meantime, it’s unlikely that it will pay the entire amount of the settlement as creditors typically pay pennies on the dollar during bankruptcies. As of now, the DOJ is in line with other creditors.

“DOJ failed,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wrote on Twitter in a response to the news of the settlement. “Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election. I am not done with Purdue and the Sacklers, and I will never sell out the families who have been calling for justice for so long.”

Massachusetts has scheduled depositions next month against some Sackler family members. The family continues to claim it acted “ethically and lawfully” and that “all financial distributions were proper.”

Read about how opioid addiction has affected Vicksburg:
‘It was just kind of normal.’  A Vicksburg family struggles with opioid addiction
“‘This makes me feel better.’ A daughter’s story.”
‘That’s his nature.’ Opioids and violence destroy a military marriage

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Crime

VPD reports auto burglary and car crash

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The Vicksburg Police Department reports the following incidents for Tuesday, Oct. 20, and Wednesday, Oct. 21.

On Tuesday at 12:44 p.m. an auto burglary was reported at the police station. The victim said the theft occurred four days earlier, sometime Friday, Oct. 16, while the vehicle was parked in the 2100 block of Clay Street. A 9 mm Taurus handgun was taken. The vehicle had no signs of forced entry.

In a separate incident, shortly before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, a Vicksburg police officer observed a white Cadillac Escalade traveling at a high rate of speed on North Washington Street. After losing sight of the vehicle, the officer continued traveling in its last known direction until he located it. The Cadillac had crashed near the intersection of North Washington Street and Highway 61 North. The driver was transported to Merit Health River Region for treatment.

If you have any information on either of these incidents, please call the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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