Local, WWII Veterans to Speak at Ridge Spring Baptist Church in Honor of July 4

Ridge Spring Baptist Church will celebrate the July 4 holiday by welcoming local World War II servicemen as featured speakers during Sunday’s service, June 29, at 11 a.m. Everyone is invited to attend.

From the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy to delivering air strikes in the Pacific-Asian Theatre, some of the country’s finest heroes and formidable ambassadors of the Greatest Generation live and contribute to our own local communities. Three of these local heroes — Billy Coleman of Saluda, S.C., D.S. Cone of Ridge Spring, S.C. and Don Shealy of Johnston, S.C. — will offer an opportunity for church members and guests to hear their experiences in one of the country’s most critical and historical moments.

For these reasons, Sunday’s June 29 service offers a fleeting and enriching chance to revisit the essence of self-sacrifice and reward found in working together to achieve something greater than one’s self.

Here is a brief introduction to each guest speaker and World War II veteran of the July 4 event at Ridge Spring Baptist Church:

Billy Coleman

After completing law school, practicing law briefly and being elected to the South Carolina General Assembly, Billy Coleman resigned and volunteered for military service in World War II. He says, when he enlisted, he answered “no” when asked if he could swim and got assigned to the Navy. He was part of campaigns in Italy and North Africa before his group of 67 landing crafts came ashore on Utah Beach in what is now known as the D-Day invasion. Coleman lives in Saluda.

D.S. Cone

D.S. Cone of Ridge Spring, S.C. served in the U.S. Air Force from 1942 to 1946. He was a fighter pilot who flew 26 missions in the Pacific-Asian Theatre. His longest mission — 7 hours, 20 minutes in flight — required secondary gas tanks, placed under the plane’s wings. Thirty-two planes participated in this mission and Cone’s plane was the only one to return. In 2010, Cone was among a group of South Carolina veterans who flew to Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight to see the World War II and other war memorials.

Don Shealy

Don Shealy had just completed the 9th Grade when he joined the U.S. Navy. Initially, he served as a seaman gunner’s mate in Pearl Harbor but left in April, prior to the Japanese attack later that year in December 1941. Shealy was one of over 300,000 servicemen who received yellow-fever vaccinations, which were unknowingly contaminated by the Hepatitis B virus. Hospitalized for two years before rejoining the Navy in 1944, Shealy spent his second tour of service as a lookout on board an aircraft carrier off the coast of Africa. During this stint, a German U-boat ambushed Shealy’s crew before U.S. airstrikes were called in and took down the submarine. Shealy lives in Johnston.

Ridge Spring Baptist Church is located at 108 Church Circle in Ridge Spring. Church staff can be reached at (803) 685-7484.