Beau Rivage Casino honors WWII heroes

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It’s not every day you get to meet a war hero. Today, more than a hundred people at the Beau Rivage Casino banded together for a special event honoring two World War II survivors and heroes.

Eighty members of the historic Doolittle Raiders took off in a historic flight in April 1942, launching a surprise attack on Tokyo in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Retired Lieutenant Colonial Dick Cole was one of those survivors on that historic air raid. He’s a highly decorated war hero, but still humble when talking about the pivotal missions he and the crew carried out during World War II. “First off, you’re scared all the time and you just get rid of that feeling and think about what’s happening at the moment because that’s when it’s most important.”

At 102-years-old, Cole is the only surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, but his memories from the missions he carried out years ago are crystal clear. “When you know you’re about to run out of gas, you are going to have to jump or accept the alternative. Everybody jumps.”

Retired PFC Bradford Freeman also jumped as a paratrooper with the group known as the Screaming Eagles on D-Day, all chronicled in the HBO hit show ‘Band of Brothers.’ “(But, you’re the real life hero. Those fireworks were real.)  I know they were real. We knew we’re going into France, but we didn’t know our way out so we had to do our due.”

These are stories the two war heroes shared for Monday’s Military Appreciation Day at the Beau Rivage.  On the front lines were Hope Houston and her family. They traveled all the way from Laurel for this special event. “I love history. I’ve been doing all this reading and just getting to meet them is just mind-blowing.”

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!

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