• A Conversation with Heroes


    The Medal of Honor Project and the University of Tennessee’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media are proud to host a Town Hall Forum as part of the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention. Three Medal of Honor recipients will engage in a conversation moderated by University of Tennessee journalism students.

    The event will be held in Cox Auditorium at Alumni Memorial Building on UT’s campus Friday, September 12, 2014. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m., and the event will begin promptly at 10 a.m. The town hall is free and open to the public with first come, first serve seating.

    Three Medal of Honor recipients from the War in Afghanistan, including Col. Donald “Doc” Ballard and Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, will field questions from both the moderators and the public. The name of the third panelist will be released at a later date. The discussion will be moderated by University of Tennessee students and recent graduates Taylor Hathron, Paxton Elrod, and Hayley Brundige.

    Parking for the event will be available at the Volunteer Hall Parking Garge on White Avenue for $1 per half-hour. For more information on the event contact Nick Geidner, 330-402-4920, ngeidner@utk.edu or Casey Black, 901-335-0466, cblack13@vols.utk.edu.

    The Panelists

    130211-A-NZ457-369Medal of Honor Recipient Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha is originally from Lake City, Calif. where he met his wife with whom he has three children. Romesha enlisted in the U.S. Army Sept. 1999. He received the Medal of Honor for combat on Oct. 3, 2009 at Outpost Keating, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. When he and his comrades were awakened by an enemy attack, Romesha moved while unprotected to seek reinforcements and disable enemy weapons. Despite being injured, Romesha bravely risked his life in the daylong battle to rescue injured comrades and defeat enemy forces.

    Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Donald “Doc” Ballard 
    was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He enlisted in the Navy and served as a hospital corpsmen in Vietnam. On May 16, 1968, after treating two Marines for heat exhaustion, his company was ambushed by the North Vietnamese. While under fire, Col. Ballard rendered aid to injured soldiers and directed the evacuation of other soldiers. When a grenade landed near his company, he unflinchingly dove on it. After the grenade failed to detonate, Col. Ballard calmly arose and continued treating the injured. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by Richard Nixon on May 14, 1970.

    The Moderators

    Taylor Hathorn is a May 2014 graduate of the University of Tennessee. She received a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in journalism. After graduating, Taylor was named manager of outreach and logistics for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. Taylor has interviewed numerous Medal of Honor recipients, with her favorite interview being one she did with Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta at the 2013 convention in Gettysburg.

    Paxton Elrod was born and raised in Mount Juliet, TN and is currently a junior at the University of Tennessee, studying broadcast journalism. She aspires to be an entertainment reporter after she graduates. Paxton interviewed Vietnam-era Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis as part of a multimedia piece recently published at the Medal of Honor Project.

    Hayley Brundige is the news editor for the Daily Beacon, the University of Tennessee’s editorially independent student newspaper.

    The Location


    The 900-seat Cox Auditorium is located in the Alumni Memorial Building (1408 Middle Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee) on the campus of the University of Tennessee. From the Volunteer Hall parking garage, Alumni Memorial is two blocks south on James Agee Street (which turns in to Phillip Fulmer Way at Cumberland).

    Watch last year’s town hall forum:

    Last year, our students, including this year’s moderator Taylor Hathorn, went to Gettysburg to cover the 2013 Medal of Honor Convention. We were lucky enough to cover the amazing town hall forum, which was held at Gettysburg College. Video by Kyle Knell, with help by Jake Thompson.