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    100th Missile Defense Brigade Soldier and family honor late grandmother

    100th Missile Defense Brigade Soldier and family honor late grandmother

    Courtesy Photo | From left, retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Emily Powell, U.S. Army Master...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Zach Sheely 

    100th Missile Defense Brigade (GMD)

    Indian River County is situated along roughly 20 miles of Florida’s Treasure Coast, celebrated for its tranquil beaches and rich history. Stretching inland roughly 40 miles to Yeehaw Junction, Fellsmere, Sebastian, and Vero Beach are the county’s top destinations, drawing tourists year round.

    Nearby Gifford sits just north of Vero Beach along the Indian River – a tiny enclave of 9,000 where the median income is well below that of the surrounding county, one of Florida’s most affluent. Gifford is a predominantly black community, off the beaten path and mostly unacknowledged, according to Gifford native U.S. Army Master Sgt. Cicely Powell-Porcher.

    “We like it that way,” said Powell-Porcher. “In Gifford, everyone knows everyone. Some people say we’re rural, but we’re about 7-8 miles from a Wal-Mart so that’s what makes it official for me. But it’s a real small place.

    “You go to the corner store and it’s, ‘Hey, Aunt Joanie!’ You know everybody. And if you don’t know somebody, you say ‘What’s your Grandma’s name?’ Then you know them too.”

    Powell-Porcher serves as a quartermaster for the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense), a Colorado Army National Guard unit headquartered in Colorado Springs. Her and her two siblings have combined to serve nearly 70 years in the military. Her brother, Senior Chief Petty Officer Lloyd “Tray” Powell currently serves as a logistician in the U.S. Navy. Her sister, Emily, recently retired from the Navy as a senior chief petty officer who worked in the intelligence field.

    On February 22, they, along with a legion of family and friends from around the country, gathered back home in Gifford to pay tribute to their late grandmother, Annie Powell. “Ms. Annie Laura,” as she was affectionately known, passed away February 12, just before her 84th birthday.

    To Powell-Porcher’s recollection, it was the first time that she, Lloyd and Emily wore their respective uniforms while together.

    “My grandmother loved the uniform and loved to see us in our uniforms,” said Powell-Porcher. “So we wore them to her memorial service to honor her. She was so extremely proud of what we’ve done.”

    Powell-Porcher said that her grandmother was a guiding influence of her and her siblings, often looking after them while their mom worked and pursued higher education.

    “She took care of us,” said Powell-Porcher. “She was all of the grandkid’s biggest cheerleader. She pushed us. She and my grandfather taught us to give it your all in any pursuit in life. Don’t do it halfway.”

    Family members packed St. Peter's Missionary Baptist Church in Gifford to mourn the loss of the woman known for her kind soul and spirit. Powell-Porcher said her brother didn’t want the three uniformed siblings standing together because it would draw attention to them, and away from their grandmother and other family members.

    “He’s not really a people person,” said Powell-Porcher. “We kind of follow my brother’s lead because he joined the military first. He’s at the top of the pecking order, so to speak. He said we can come into the memorial together to take a couple of pictures and then split up. You know how many pictures we took once people saw us? It was insane.”

    “Mr. George asked for a picture and he’s 94 years old,” she said. “How can you tell him no?”

    Powell-Porcher’s mother, Jeanette Richards, said it was heartwarming to see her three children in uniform together.

    “I can’t even explain it,” said Richards. “It made me extra proud. I have never before had all three of them in uniform at one time. I was a beautiful thing. To my knowledge, I am the only mom in Gifford that had three kids in the military at one time.”

    Richards said that while she is proud of her three children, it wasn’t always easy being a mom to three service members.

    “It’s had its ups and downs,” said Richards. “There were scary times and good times. The most difficult time was when all my children and my son-in-law were deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, but through God, I made it.”

    Within her community and family, Annie will be remembered for her love and selfless dedication. She and her mother opened Powell's Nursery and Day Care in Gifford to care for children in Indian River County. She served her church as a nursery attendant and Sunday school advocate.

    She also worked closely with local schools to ensure that African American students were recognized for accomplishments which may not otherwise have been noted.

    Powell-Porcher said she hopes to follow her grandma’s legacy of selfless service when her military career comes to an end.

    “I want to be a social worker, she said. “I want to work with kids and help kids.”



    Date Taken: 02.29.2020
    Date Posted: 02.29.2020 10:42
    Story ID: 364215
    Hometown: GIFFORD, FL, US
    Hometown: VERO BEACH, FL, US

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