Colorful way to recognize vets in Talladega County

By Dixon Hayes
SYLACAUGA, AL (WBRC) - A Sylacauga woman is tying hundreds of yellow ribbons to a tree as her way of honoring military veterans.
Ginger Benefield says her youngest son came up with the idea after another son, Donald, joined the Army.  Donald Benefield is in Iraq as part of the legendary "Big Red One" headquartered at Fort Riley, Kansas.
She calls the tree "The HOSS Tree."
"Hoss was his nickname," says Benefield.  "And it stands for 'Honoring our Soldiers' Services.' It's for anybody who's ever served in any branch of the military, past, present or even delayed entry."
Benefield takes the name of any person who's ever signed up to serve in the armed forces, whether they saw battle or not, and writes each name on a yellow ribbon.  She ties the ribbon to a pecan tree.  If the person was killed in the line of duty or was a prisoner of war, his or her name is written in red, and the ribbon will include the words "Some Gave All."

On the day FOX6 dropped by, Benefield was writing the name Capt. Kyle Comfort in red ink.  Comfort, an Army Ranger and Jacksonville native, was killed in Afganistan earlier this year.

"All you would've had to have done is join the military at any point," Benefield tells us.  "I especially like to get Vietnam vets on the tree because they had such a bad deal when they came home."

About 700 names are now on the tree, ranging from people currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, to veterans of the War of 1812, to even famous names like Senator John McCain (who got a red POW ribbon) and Elvis Presley.

She takes suggestions by email and her Facebook site among other places.

"The tree doesn't cost anything, it's just my way of dealing with him being gone," she says.

"I want to have this whole tree covered in ribbons before he comes home in December for R & R.  And I plan on keeping them on the tree until everybody's babies are home, not just mine."

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