Gen. Via Addresses Large Crowd at Armed Forces Luncheon

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce and Team Redstone hosted the annual Armed Forces Celebration luncheon in the VBC North Hall. It was General Dennis Via's first community-wide address to the Tennessee Valley since assuming the role of Commanding General of the Army Materiel Command.

General Via says he and his wife Linda have lived in numerous communities throughout his 33 years of a wearing the uniform of a United States soldier but there’s “something special here about Huntsville.” The General says, “Just the fact that they're having Armed Forces Celebration Week instead of a day. I don't know of any other place in the nation that does this.”

“That says a lot about the people who call the Tennessee Valley home,” General Via added. “It speaks volumes about the relationship between the business community, the local elected officials and Redstone Arsenal, all the tenant organizations that are there. And you need that I think for the kind of community that we need going forward.”

As for the future of Redstone Arsenal's role in protecting and serving our country, General Via says the diversity of businesses and organizations we have here will help get us through tough times of declining budgets in Washington. “That is a plus. That is a positive. So I think the infrastructure is here and the diversity is here that going forward, I think Huntsville will continue to be a growing community, a very vibrant community and a very important community to the department of defense as well as to our federal agencies here.”

Armed Forces Week activities begin Monday, July 22nd and run through Saturday, July 27th.  One of those in the audience to hear General Via was Tony Victor. Tony served in World War II as a radio operator and gunner for the 833rd bomb squadron. On his 19th mission, the B-17 bomber he was assigned to was shot down by the Germans over Strasburg, Germany and he was taken as a prisoner of war. After the war, he returned home and married.

Tony retired in 1978.  He's now 96 years old. Tony Victor, thank you for your service and sacrifice to our nation.