NGTC Cross Country Trail Dedicated

NGTC Cross Country Trail Dedicated

N. Ga Tech dedicates new XC trail to former POW Veteran

The Colonel Benjamin H. Purcell Trail Dedication

Long-time Habersham resident, decorated veteran, and faithful friend of North Georgia Technical College, Col. Ben Purcell was honored at a special ceremony dedicating the opening of the new walking and running trail on the campus.

“We are humbled by Col. Purcell’s strength and endurance,” said NGTC President Steve Dougherty during the dedication ceremony. “We are deeply blessed to use his shining example of dedication for our college, our community, and our student athletes.”
In 1968, Purcell was serving as Deputy Commander, DaNang Sub Area Command, and Executive Officer, 80th General Support Group, in Vietnam when the helicopter on which he was a passenger was shot down. He spent more than five years as a prisoner of war, 58 months of that time in solitary confinement. He escaped from his prison cell on two different occasions only to be recaptured each time, somehow escaping execution. Longer in solitary than any other American POW, Colonel Purcell was the highest ranking Army office returnee from the Vietnam Conflict. He was released on March 27, 1973.
Col. Purcell has served his community in a variety of roles including Deacon at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Clarkesville, State Representative of District #9 in the Georgia General Assembly from 1993 to 1997, and local affiliate for the Habitat for Humanity. Purcell has also been a long time associate and supporter of the college. As an alumnus of several of the programs at the college, he is truly an example for the pursuit of life-long learning. He has also served as past president of the NGTC Alumni Association.

“It is truly an honor for us to have such a distinguished veteran as a friend to the college,” said Dougherty to a large crowd of supporters from the community including the Habersham Chamber of Commerce, Lowes, radio stations WCON and WCHM, high school runners, as well as NGTC faculty, staff, and students.

The decision for the college to begin a competitive intercollegiate athletic team will benefit the community in many ways. The winding trail that flows over rolling meadows and winds through the woods around a peaceful pond is a versatile loop that accommodates 3K, 5K, and 8K distances. The 10-foot wide track provides an easy walking surface with enough inclines to add variety to a walking workout. The all natural terrain consists of neither roads nor parking lots as part of the course and is ideal for college, high school, and middle school cross country teams to use for both practice and competition during the season.

College races and high school meets are scheduled for the Fall 2011 season. The first college race is schedule for Friday, September 2, in the evening.