Local officials celebrate armed forces on Gene Vance Jr. Day

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The annual tribute of a Morgantown hero is on schedule for Armed Forces Week.

Gene Vance Jr. Day, will once again be celebrated in West Virginia as local bands as well as state officials will be a part of a virtual celebration which will pay tribute to not only an American and West Virginia hero, but miltary personel as well with the ceremony taking place on United States Armed Forces Day. The virtual ceremony, will also commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the official declaration of Gene Vance Jr. Day as part of Military Appreciation Week.

“Essentially to honor and pay tribute to all of our American soldiers and their allies presently serving, veterans who have fallen and those severely wounded, having sacrifice much protecting American values and our way of life,” explained Gene Vance Jr. Foundation Chairman Michael Minc, who started the tradition ten years ago in honor of his late brother-in-law.

Gene Arden Vance Jr. was a Morgantown, West Virginia resident who graduated from WVU about a year before serving in the War in Afghanistan as a members of the West Virginia National Guard. On May 18, 2002, not long after being deployed, he was shot and killed while trying to save fellow servicemen who were on the frontlines. Vance’s memory and courage, is commemorated through the annual event that started as subtle tribute to a Morgantown native into something much more.

“We’re very honored to have leaders from military bases that carry the Vance Day Memorials across the country,” said Minc describing how far away Vance’s memory is recognized. “States like Californinia, Texas and from Afghanistan, that’s essentially how this day has evolved,” he said.

The celebration of Gene Vance Jr. Day, has grown since it’s inception ten years ago. What originally started as a small ceremony that would include a few words of Minc, Morgantown officials, and other members of the military, is now turning into a full day event with local live music and several other tributes to miltary and first responders. This Saturday, there will be several live local musical acts who will participate in the livestream such as the Davisson Brothers Band, Ona and Cody Clayton Eagle as well as prominent West Virginia political figures.

“Senator Manchin, Senator Capito, Governor Justice, General Austin Scott Miller, who is the Commander of the United States Army and NATO Forces in Afghanistan, Major General James A. Hoyer, who is the director of the COVID-19 Joint-Interagency Taskforce,” said Minc listing off who’s expected to speak.

The virtual celebration of Gene Vance Jr. Day, will be held throughout Saturday May 15, and will start sometime in the early afternoon. From there, viewers from around the world will pay tribute not only to Vance and other members of the United States Armed Forces with the help of members of the Mountaineer family near and far.

“It’s going to be just a phenomenal event and we ask everybody to please go to our YouTube channel, Gene Vance Jr. channel, or our website genevancejr.org,” said Minc.