Marilyn Childress was a US Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class and earned the National Defense Medal, She also received Special Orders for Representing the Navy at the 1975 United States Volleyball Tournament. She was an Operating Room Technician Vietnam Era Veteran serving from 1972 -1975. Side Note: She was the only female Hospital Corpsman at NAS Glynco, GA for 10 months. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees. She went to college for two years, joined the Navy, and came back using the GI Bill to complete her studies.
Marilyn is one of the founding members of Veterans Heritage Site Foundation and their first President. VHSF was organized in 2016 as a nonprofit organization. It is one of the few veteran organizations that do not require their members to be veterans. Their mission statement is to preserve and maintain veteran heritage sites to properly honor our veterans and pass the legacy on to future generations. Heritage Sites include military and veteran cemeteries, marked and unmarked burial sites, monuments, veteran parks, and honoring veterans.
Marilyn is also the Vice President of the Veterans Council of East Tennessee and a board member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1078 (VVA). She is also a member of Team RWB and the Irrelevant Warriors. She volunteers with many of their activities in Knoxville. She developed a relationship with the Board of Directors of Ramsey House so VHSF can hold events at their location. VHSF now honors the veterans that are buried at the Lebanon at the Forks cemetery, the oldest cemetery with a named marker in Knox County, where 12 veterans are buried and Ramsey House maintains. She is also Treasurer of the Friends of Cavett Station whose mission is to maintain and improve the graves at Mars Hill Cemetery.
Marilyn is the spokesperson for VHSF and speaks at various organizations about VHSF projects. VHSF was selected by East TN PBS and Home Federal Bank to be the Non Profit of the Month Nov 2021 and spoke on VHSF behalf. She is available to be a speaker at organizations to bring the story of VHSF and our projects to their members.
Marilyn approached Joe Emert, a board member of the National Park System, and asked about veterans buried in the Great Smoky Mountain Park. After his research, he found that there was not a list. VHSF now have over 230 veterans identified and being honored by VHSF has now started reaching outside the Park to recognize and honor Revolutionary War Veterans and surrounding cemeteries where veterans are buried who lived in the Park before it become the Great Smoky Mountain Park. Marilyn was awarded a Preservation Award in 2022 for her work on the work in the GSMHP for preserving our veterans information who are buried in the Smokies. VHSF also planned the maintenance program to ensure the veterans headstone or footstone continues to be readable for future generations. We will also place flags during the Memorial Day Holiday.
She earned a Lady Vol Letter for her volleyball playing days at the University of Tennessee. Marilyn was heavily involved in women sports for over 25 years as a player and an administrator. She has received many awards including being inducted into the Georgia Soccer Hall of Fame. She is recognized for being the driving force for having women’s soccer added to the 1996 Olympics. In September 2022, Marilyn was inducted into the United States Adult Soccer Association’s Hall of Fame.
Some of Marilyn’s recent awards include the following: U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett selected Marilyn to be the 2nd District Veteran of the Month for February 2020; Next Level Brewery selected Marilyn for the Veteran for the Quarter Fall 2021; South High School Class of 1970 awarded Marilyn a Special Recognition Award at their 50th Reunion for her service to veterans; Most Recently Marilyn was awarded the Tennessee DAR Veteran Volunteer of the Year where she was also was named the Veteran Volunteer for the National Society DAR Southeast Region. Just this past weekend at the National DAR Convention 2022, the Department of Defense Committee for the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration awarded Marilyn the DAR Outstanding Member of Tennessee.