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Charlie Daniels remembered in Panama City Beach

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 6:12 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - Charlie Daniels’ music was larger than life, and his impact on the Panhandle isn’t too small either.

Daniels participated in the first Gulf Coast Jam, but that wasn’t the end of his work here. His advocacy for the armed forces was well established, even founding his own foundation called the Journey Home Project. His passion for the troops put him in touch with a number of veterans here in Bay County.

“I was introduced to Charlie Daniels through Lift for the 22, a veteran’s foundation I was working closely with, said Denise Carter, a navy veteran and special events coordinator. ”We got his veteran’s foundation, the Journey Home Project involved and we became friends through that and we started helping each other’s organizations and it led to lots of events and raising lots of money down the road.”

One of those events occurred in 2017, when Daniels performed in the dining room of the Firefly restaurant in Panama City Beach to raise money for the Danny Dietz Foundation.

“Having him here was an honor,” said Dave Trepanier, owner of Firefly. “How often do you get to have a living legend play in your dining room at a fine dining restaurant? That doesn’t happen often and I’ll never forget that. That was great.”

His work wasn’t confined to the States, as he also traveled abroad on more than one occasion to perform for the troops. One of those visits was to Balad, Iraq, where he met Stacey VanDyke.

“I actually spent the whole day with Charlie Daniels while we were in Balad,” VanDyke said. “They had planned to play the arena, which was outdoors but a huge sandstorm came. We were scrambling to try and find a place to move all the equipment, so we took the hospital van and moved all the equipment to the indoor theatre and we had a huge blowout for all of the troops there.”

Both Carter and VanDyke have signed golden fiddles from Daniels, a symbol of his most famous song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Charlie Daniels was best known for his music, but his passion for the soldiers of this country will live on forever as well. He was 83.

In lieu of flowers, his family has asked anyone who wishes to donate to the Journey Home Project.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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