Jackson County Veterans’ organizations are inviting citizens, churches, organizations, businesses, youth groups and the public to participate in the upcoming 16th Annual Jackson County Veterans Day Program to honor Jackson County’s veterans past and present. The event will be held on Friday, November 11, 2016, at 11:00 a.m., in downtown Moss Point at the Moss Point Veterans Memorial Monument.
The Veterans Committee, planning the event, is encouraging residents of Jackson County to attend the program, bring their American flags to wave and show their support for the veterans of all wars and the active duty personnel serving along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This year’s Keynote Speaker is Captain James M. (Jim) Hightower, Chaplain Corps, US Navy (Retired).
Captain James M. (Jim) Hightower, Chaplain Corps, US Navy (Retired), graduated from Pascagoula High School in 1969, and completed religious studies in Lakeland, FL and Anderson, SC. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southeastern University in 1973, Masters of Divinity degrees from Erskine Theological Seminary in 1978, and Masters of Theology in 1988, from Princeton Theological Seminary.
He was ordained by the General Council Assemblies of God in 1975, and served as associate pastor and pastor in Columbus, MS and Clinton, MS. He received a commission in the US Navy Chaplain Corps in 1980. Following entry level training at the Naval Education & Training Center in Newport, RI, Chaplain Hightower was assigned to sea duty and completed extended deployments to the Mediterranean Sea & North Atlantic Ocean onboard combatant ships of the US Atlantic Fleet home ported in Charleston, SC, and Norfolk, VA. Follow-on tours included serving with the US Marines at Parris Island, SC, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, VA, First Marine Air Wing, Okinawa, Japan, two Fleet Marine Force units based at Camp Lejeune, NC, and with Navy Seabees in Gulfport, MS.
He was the last chaplain to serve at Naval Station, Philadelphia, prior to base closure in 1995. Following promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and Commander, Chaplain Hightower served in numerous forward deployed operational assignments including deployments to combat operations with the Marines in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. Following promotion to Captain he served in Washington, DC, and held strategic level assignments as Director of Religious Ministries Plans, Policies & Operations and Deputy Chaplain of the Marine Corps.
Captain Hightower is the 2005 recipient of the John H. Craven Servant Leadership Award, a peer nominated award recognizing supervisory leadership excellence and empowering service in others. His personal awards include Legion of Merit (4 awards), Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Commendation, the Iraq Campaign Medal and various other personal and unit awards. Chaplain Hightower states that the highlight of his final tour on active duty was returning home to the Gulf Coast to deliver the ceremony prayers at the commissioning of the USS Mississippi in 2012. He and his wife Libby currently live on a 130 acre farm in Lyons, Georgia, and travel extensively in support of veterans and their families. They have three children and five grandchildren.
For more information about how to participate in the Jackson County Veterans Program, call the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 228-762-3391 or email JohnsonL@jcchamber.com.