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Hero returns home

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Wilmore to marshal Christmas parade

From Post staff reports

Mt. Juliet hero, Astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore, is scheduled to return to his high school alma mater Friday where he will greet the student body of some 1,900 or so, and on Saturday he will serve as Grand Marshal of his hometown Christmas parade.

Just back from an 11-day round trip mission to the International Space Station on Shuttle Atlantis, the Navy captain and seasoned pilot, will spend much of the weekend in Mt. Juliet, the community he credits with making it possible for him to achieve his story of success.

In an interview provided by NASA, Wilmore identifies a handful of coaches and early mentors from Mt. Juliet who helped him establish certain values that he believes were important in moving him forward on his career track.

When asked about sports heroes and their influence on him, Wilmore responded to the interviewer from NASA that he had not necessarily considered sports heroes in his youth but added that he believed some of his coaches to be heroes.

“There was Ed Rice who was one of my early baseball coaches that I looked up to. He rode me hard but looking back now, I mean, that’s a good thing,” Wilmore said in the interview. He added that Rice, who is best known for his Rice Country Ham Store in Mt. Juliet, “pulled the best out of me.”

Others he cited in the article were his junior high football coaches Mike Gwaltney, Tommy Martin, John Simms, Jerry Kirby and Terry Hemontoler.

Wilmore, who later became a high school football standout and attended Tennessee Tech on a football scholarship, invited the coaches and Rice to attend the shuttle’s launch on Nov. 16. All attended except Martin who was unable to because of an accident in which he suffered a broken foot.

This weekend Wilmore will have an opportunity to spend some time with these mentors and others including friends and family in Mt. Juliet as the favorite son is welcomed home.

The Mt. Juliet Christmas parade will begin at 11 a.m.  (To read more about the parade click here)

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