Author Jason Irby and the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee invited the public to celebrate the third anniversary of the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial Plaza on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.
“This year we have the special privilege of recognizing and honoring our native son O.C. Horton, Jr., who served on the USS Arkansas CNG-41 [in 1978]. That is very unique,” Irby said in a news release, adding that Horton grew up at Wabbaseka.
At 10 a.m., the event ended with a flag ceremony by the Little Rock Air Force Base, Dollarway High School ROTC, and Camp J.T./Robinson NOSC Naval color guards.
On October 12, 2013, Irby and the committee revealed the plaza by conducting a showcase and dedication ceremony at the park.
The flag and veterans’ memorial plaza was established to honor the 100th year anniversary of the Arkansas State Flag, Miss Willie K. Hocker, flag designer and Wabbaseka native, and the USS Arkansas Navy battleship.
The ceremony began at Hot Springs, where the flag was first revealed during the 1913 Arkansas State Fair, journeyed to Little Rock where it was welcomed by state fair officials and patrons, and continued to Pine Bluff, the county seat of Jefferson County and former home to Hocker.
The convoy arrived at its destination at Wabbaseka where the inaugural celebration of the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial Plaza was held. At each stop, a flag was given, ranging from the U.S.A. flag to various Arkansas flags representing the transitions throughout the years.
The third anniversary recognized Horton, who graduated from high school in 1970 and attended Arkansas AM&N College (currently the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). On March 11, 1976, he enlisted in the Navy.
“In July 1978, Horton was sent to temporary additional duty (TAD) to USS Arkansas CNG-41 as part of the ready crew at the Newport News Ship Yard in Newport News, Virginia. The USS Arkansas CNG-41 was the fourth and final ship in the Virginia-class cruiser and named after the state of Arkansas,” according to a news release.
Horton retired in April 2006 with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer-4 (CWO-4).
“It is with great honor that the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial Committee recognize and esteem O.C. Horton, Jr. for his distinguished service to the country and unique role in representing the state of Arkansas and Wabbaseka, his home hometown and birthplace of the Arkansas State Flag,” Irby said.
Visit the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial website for more information.