Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Friday, November 3, the City of Hattiesburg’s Veterans Committee and Mayor Toby Barker announced Master Sergeant Rex C. Hasty (U.S. Air Force – Retired) as the 2023 Veteran of the Year.
“Our city has been selecting an outstanding citizen who has served our nation honorably in one of the United States uniformed military branches for the past 29 years,” said Veteran of the Year Committee Chair, Col. Sheila Varnado. “This year in 2023, we are proud to include Master Sergeant Rex C. Hasty into this select group of distinguished veterans.”
As a second-generation military veteran and a typical “Army Brat,” Hasty called many locations home throughout his lifetime. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1979. He served on active duty until July 1987. He then served in the Air Force Reserve from 1988 through 1989. The remainder of his service, from 1989 through 2007, was spent in the Air National Guard.
He was honorably discharged as a Master Sergeant with numerous awards and commendations for his service during his military career. He served most of his 27 and a half years at Air Force Bases in Anchorage, Alaska. After he retired from the Air Force, he worked as the Maintenance Manager in a Gold Mine in Fairbanks, Alaska. He and his wife relocated to Hattiesburg in 2013 from Fairbanks to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. A new city did not stall his desire to serve others.
“I’m honored to have been selected. I spent 27 and a half years in the service and I miss it. But, I learned quickly that there are still plenty of opportunities to continue serving – to take care of each other,” said Hasty. “When we enlist, we take an oath. There’s no expiration date on that. It’s a habit, and taking care of each other is what we do.”
Here, he has thrived in a variety of service capacities including his longstanding service to both the Masons and Shriners. As a legacy, with both his father and grandfather serving, Hasty has dedicated a large part of his life to the mission and service of these organizations. Additionally, he has committed much of his time and resources to a variety of veterans organizations, including the American Legion Post 61, Armed Forces Top Enlisted Association, Hattiesburg DAV Chapter 62 and VFW Post 3036.
Through VFW Post 3036, he serves as the driver for the VA Shuttle Bus program. Weekly, he makes a roundtrip visit from Hattiesburg to the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Medical Center in Jackson to take Hattiesburg veterans to their medical appointments. As the coordinator, he has scheduled this service since 2014 to the present, spending numerous hours a month assuring a timely and safe ride is provided for local veterans who require transportation to medical care. Today, he is for all practical purposes, the primary driver of the VA van, making that weekly trip to ensure our community veterans needs are met.
Varnado added, “I knew we selected the right recipient when I notified him of his award. We were trying to schedule a press conference with the Mayor’s Office, and he quickly shared that he would not be available for a certain date due to his commitment to serving our fellow veterans through this bus program. Someone who puts their service to others above opportunities to serve him or herself is a key characteristic of all who are selected as Veteran of the Year.”
During an open call for nominees, Hasty was nominated by those who know him well and fellow community members. He was then selected by the Hattiesburg Veteran of the Year Selection Committee, which is comprised of all living previous awardees of this distinguished recognition.
Hasty will be introduced and honored during the annual Hattiesburg Veterans Day Program at Veterans Memorial Park on Friday, November 10 at 11 a.m. The ceremony will follow the parade, which will begin at 10 a.m.
“Hattiesburg proudly stands as a military and veterans’ community. We honor those amongst us who have worn the uniform. We remember those who lost their lives in defense of our Republic. We recognize how we individually and collectively have been shaped by those service men and women who came before us,” said Barker. “I know everyone is busy and a work day can be even busier, but I encourage our citizens to come out and support this event. Continuing to share our city’s commitment to our veterans is a vital part of teaching the next generation about what it means to be a citizen.”
A list of all recipients since the program’s establishment in 1994 and the schedule of events for Veterans Day are listed at http://hattiesburgms.com/veteransday.