MOUNT VERNON — The memories that fill the pages of scrapbooks in Wilson Warner’s Mount Vernon home can be as brittle as the yellowed newspaper they’re printed on. When good friends arrive, however, those memories are as fresh as cut grass on a lazy summer Saturday afternoon. When three of Warner’s old Army friends came to Mount Vernon, it was the first time that all four of them had been together in four decades.
Warner, who served as a police officer in Danville and Mount Vernon for many years, played host to Cal Bender of Chicago and Greg Brown of Silver Spring, Maryland, both of whom arrived Friday. Neil Skiver arrived on the back of a motorcycle from Greenville, Ohio, shortly before noon Saturday. All four men served in the U.S. Army 139th military police company in the late 1960s and into the 1970s and were guards at the stockade at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Many of the stories and good-natured ribbings that poured forth were like a fine wine. Other memories were bittersweet. All four ex-soldiers, now in their late 60s, were on duty when the Fort Benning stockade riot broke out Sept. 24, 1970. The riot, which lasted four days, was the culmination of building racial tensions within the prison, and came at a time of cataclysmic social and political upheaval in American society.