VFW Post 4641 in Dickson held its fourth annual Dave Day event which honors the life of Vietnam veteran Dave Towne of Charlotte, who passed away on June 16, 2016, at the age of 70.
In an effort to honor Towne’s legacy, his friends Barry Hagewood and Stacey Rogers began a search to find the perfect place to honor the veteran who had a passion for cars, trucks and motorcycles.
“They were looking for a place to help vets out and to carry on his legacy,” Jim O’Neil said. “They wanted to have several events to raise money and help veterans out. They found out that everything we take in here goes into a special fund like what they’re looking to do. The VFW helps vets and widows, even those in nursing homes.”
For Hagewood and Rogers the VFW Post 4641 was the perfect fit for honoring Towne.
“We’re all from military families,” Hagewood said. “We have fathers and brothers and sisters that served. If you didn’t know Dave, you’d think he’s a cranky old guy. But get to know him, he had a huge heart. He was a super nice guy. He wanted to help veterans. When his time came, we tried to figure out what we could do.
“They do really good stuff here, and we came to Mister Jim and asked him about what we had in mind. He gave us his blessing, and we just had our fourth year. Every dime we raised was the least we can do to show we appreciate the sacrifice of veterans who fight so we have these rights to do these things. So, it’s our way of honoring a good friend by trying to do some good, to show appreciation for their sacrifices.”
The first Dave Day took place on Sept. 10, 2016.
“The response and the event gets larger every year,” O’Neil said. “With a check presented for S10,444.73 this year, there’s a lot of people we can help. Money goes to the VA Hospital. We also ship a bunch of stuff oversees where we sponsored a whole unit. Times before we secured phone calling cards for troops to make phone calls to loved ones. For nursing homes, we get throws and house shoes and other things. There’s even a $1,000 scholarship every year for a VFW member’s child to help with schooling.”
Hagewood said that Rogers is tied in with car clubs and car shows to help spread the word.
“Too many vets don’t have anybody, so just a knock at the door with a gift box makes a difference,” Hagewood said.
Rogers reflected on his friendship with Towne, frustrated a bit by the late diagnosis of advanced cancer.
“He died in just a couple of weeks,” Rogers said. “He was a hell of a nice guy to be around. He rode bikes after Vietnam when he lived in California. He’d been stationed in Ft. Campbell and liked it out here. He moved here after he got out of the military. Back then we didn’t know each other that well. Both of us had faced losses, So I called Dave up on a Sunday morning and told him to get up, get your clothes on, we’re gonna go riding.
“We’d go to car shows. I don’t care where we went, somebody knew him. Now the idea is to keep his name alive, to keep it going with family and friends. We got a lot of support out there, and everybody pitches in.”
Rogers said that Towne’s body was cremated.
“The ashes are in vials that we have on keychains that we carry on our bikes,” Rogers said.
At this year’s event they sold T-shirts, had raffle tickets for a guitar that was signed by the Marshall Tucker Band.
“They (Hagewood and Rogers) have a passion that drove me to help,” Apryl Reynolds said. “And I love my veterans. I had an uncle killed in Vietnam when his helicopter was shot down. They just dedicated a bridge to him in Houston County, and my grandfather fought in WWII.”
Hagewood said that Towne had given him his 1951 Packard.
“It runs like a sewing machine,” he said. “He loved that car and him giving it to me, it means I meant a lot to him. He never sugarcoated things. One time he said to me that if you play dumb games, you win dumb prizes.”
Hagewood said that Towne broke his back jumping out of a plane when he was part of the Airborne division at Fort Campbell.
“He was the last one outta the plane and the first to hit the ground because his parachute didn’t open and he had to use his reserve,” Hagewood said.
Both Rogers and Hagewood invited the community to show up at the next Dave Day.
“Show up, eat hamburgers, have some barbecue, have a drink and share a story,” Hagewood said.