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Ashe County Involving Books

Read interesting and engaging books with the community that will spark involvement in local, positive, community efforts!

Local Military History

Archived here are stories, video interviews, pictures, and memorabilia of Ashe County veterans collected by community members and Ashe County High School JROTC students.  If you are a veteran ... thank you for your service.  The freedoms that we enjoy everyday are because of sacrifices like yours.  Please join us in sharing your story.  For more information about participating in this project contact Ashe County Public Library at 336.846.3041 ext 101

WWI Collection

WWI Story Map: This story map chronicles the life of a WWI solider from a remote mountain community in Ashe County, North Carolina to battlefields of Europe's Western Front

Tobe Gentry

George Tobe Gentry, known as Tobe, was born on January 6, 1928 in Maben, West Virginia to Floyd and Bertha Gentry.  He enlisted in the Army at age 18 because his father was a World War I Army Veteran, and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor he had a strong desire to serve his country.  Tobe reminisced about Field 1st Sergeant, coincidentally named Sergeant Field, and his time in basic training.  "I was the smallest soldier in the company, weighing 127 lbs.  Each soldier carried a horseshoe blanket roll and backpack with a mess kit, tent post and pegs and various other items inside.  This was a heavy load, but while marching in from the firing range, I felt my load lighten a bit as Sergeant Field came up from behind and lifted up on my pack." 

In 1946, Gentry joined the 25th Medical Battalion Company and was made Private 1st Class Utility Commander.  He was sent to replace Sgt. Russo, a seasoned staff sergeant / combat veteran.  When Russo met Gentry "he cracked up and started laughing." He called in a Japanese American soldier and introduced Gentry as "the new boss,"  then they both started laughing.  Russo said," I must not have been very important to the battalion." Gentry said, "You don't know my qualifications."  Russo replied, "No, but I know your rank!" 

Gentry says lifelong lessons he took from the military taught him discipline, patriotism, and respect for everyone.  One message he'd like to leave for future generations is, "Young people, serve your country."  Letter of Promotion

Gentry served in command positions as a platoon sergeant, first sergeant, and senior drill sergeant.  He recalls at his initial training, "They gave me the biggest, meanest rifle I had ever seen.  When I first fired it was a kick like never before!"  Gentry says he stood 5 feet 4 inches, only two inches taller than his weapon with the bayonet attached.  Honor Guard Takes 2nd Place

Hugh Hamrick

Melinda Hamrick's father, Hugh Hamrick, was drafted into the U.S. Army under Selective Service in May 1941. He was first stationed at Camp Belvoir, VA and in October of 1941 he was shipped overseas. He was in Bataan and was captured by the Japanese on April 9, 1942. He was a Prisoner of War for 42 months.  

Monte Weaver

Monte Weaver at the church of St. Mary in Saffron Walden. He was an air traffic controller during WWII.

Photo of an old photo held in front of the same building current day

First Lt. Monte Weaver was a member of the oldest operational fighter control wing in the European theatre. He controlled P-51 Mustangs in their operations over Continental Europe.

Monte with a baseball glove

Monte Weaver is pictured here at London's Wembley Stadium where his baseball team defeated an all-professional Army team 1-0.

Monte Weaver is credited with his baseball team's excellent record - 28 victories and 1 defeat.

Emma & Samuel Weaver pose with a picture of their great grandfather, Monte Weaver.  This picture is a poster size print of his official baseball card.

Tom Francis

Bob Phipps

Bob was born at Jefferson Hospital on December 18, 1951, and named Robert Dean Phipps, given his middle name, after the doctor who delivered him.  Growing up, his chores including milking Red, the family cow.  He loved to go fishing with his Uncle Jess Pollard and cousin Ray Caldwell. He would go with them out to Watauga Lake in their motorboat and catch fish.  Pictured here at age nine is Bob with a couple of carp and a proud moment.  He went to elementary school at Nathan's Creek and graduated from  Ashe Central High School in 1970.  After high School, Bob worked as a cut-off saw for Thomasville Furniture Company and then joined the United States Marines in 1973.  

Bob experienced the "toughest basic training in the world at Paris Island."  Drill instructors were mean and once in their command you belonged to them. At mealtime, you only had  a few minutes to eat once you picked up your tray of food. Then there was extensive physical training that included, running, practicing hand-to-hand combat using pugil sticks, and close combat with fixed bayonets.  In boot camp Bob remembers firing  249 out of  250 with an M14.  He was beat by only one recruit from Kentucky.   He remembers Staff Sergeant Gilbert, from North Wilksboro, who gave him the most encouragement and kept pushing him to be the best.  Hiking 15 miles through swamps with backpacks of 100 lbs. and acquiring blisters on his feet was was the hardest part of training. Being away from home and family was the hardest part of the military life-style, but it was nice to have three regular meals a day.  After formations were over you had the freedom to go out and about to do what you wanted, unless you were in the field.  As a "grunt," an 0311 Marine had to stay in Camp Lejeune for a year and after that you had to do six months at sea.  On the ship Marines took "cruises" to a number of places, patrolling the coastal areas, with liberties to go ashore.  

In 1975 Bob was with Fox Co. 2/8 when he blindly volunteered for the evacuation of Vietnam.  He says he carried a Gideon  Bible for the comfort of knowing God was on his side. He asked if he could put in orders for Hawaii as home base, and after three months of time in Vietnam he was able to go west to Kaneohe Bay.  This was a great place to go snorkeling and fishing.  Bob really liked to snorkel and the waters were so clear you could see all sorts of fish, turtles, everything, in the deep sea. 

Ronald Lee Phipps, Bob's older brother, served in the Navy from 1965-69.  He trained in San Diego as a Navy SEAL and was in Vietnam for 2 1/2 years.  Ronald died at the young age of 53 suffering from the effects of agent orange , used in chemical warfare.  

Bob's father William Robert Phipps served in the Navy as a gunner's mate and during WWII.  Bob says he joined the Marines to follow in the footsteps of his father and brother in service to our country.

 Bob is proud to be a veteran and to help his fellow brothers.  He will do whatever he can to help a brother in need.  After Bob's military service years, he worked for 22 years as a volunteer for the Jefferson Fire Department.

 Over the course of his military career, Bob acquired these service medals: Firewatch, Good Conduct, Vietnam, European African Middle Eastern Campaign, Humanitarian, and Cross Rifle.

Bob was chosen for the Governor's Award for volunteer service to Ashe County in 2017.  Pictured here is commissioner, William Sands with Bob when he was presented this honor.

James W. Bieber

James Bieber was drafted into the Army in June of 1965 and served through 1978.  His basic training took place in Fort Polk, Louisiana, where was trained for infantry and advanced training in artillery (105 Howitzer)

Going from a 105 Howitzer to a HAWK unit was a bit difficult and required on-the-job training.  Later when re-enlisting James signed up for welding school in Aberdeen, MD.   After schooling James traveled to Fort Hood, TX and worked as a welder, taking care, of everything from tanks to BBQ pits.

Bad Hersfield, Germany 1966.  While working here at McPheeters Barracks James celebrated Christmas with his platoon.  The menu was festive and extensive to lift spirits and satisfy appetites.  The soldiers enjoyed, shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges, crackers, roast turkey with giblet gravy, bread or cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, buttered peas, salad bar, tossed salad with choice of dressing, celery strips  and tomato wedges, assorted olives, sweet pickles, hot buttered rolls, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, mincemeat pie, coffee, tea, fresh milk or chocolate milk, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, assorted candy and nuts!

While out in the field the winters were so cold and everything was frozen.  He had to work two 24 hour-shifts and then would have three days off.

Cards were a favorite activity during downtime.  When in Germany, James and his fellow soldiers would rent rooms in town and eat German food: snitzels, brauthurst, and boots of beer. 

Aunt Norine and Uncle Jerry Trncak took care of James since he was five years old.  They were very proud of James and attended his basic training graduation in Fort Polk.  They would make the trip to see him there whenever they had time.

James with his new wife Margaret on their wedding day November 29, 1969.  Three days before the wedding anti-Vietnam demonstrators where causing a stir and the company was on lock-down.  This was in Fort Belvoir, VA.  James met his wife in Fort Hood, when his unit was supporting the mechanized infantry where her brother was stationed.  No honeymoon, but Margaret shined his boots and pressed his uniform the next day so he could go to supply duty.   James said the supply sergeant was his best man and Margaret cooked spaghetti. Everyone loved her cookin'

The United States Army Air Defense Artillery HAWK Missile System combines firepower, accuracy, and mobility.  This type of air defense is described as "killer - - the bullet with a brain."  In the past, high- speed aircraft coming in at tree-top level could take advantage of ground clutter that confuses conventional radars and penetrates a defense.  The HAWK missile was developed to counter this threat and to operate effectively with the field army.  Launching missiles seconds apart, the HAWK's accurate, deadly homing capability provides air defense for the army and for civilian and military complexes.  This missile is rugged, compact, and flexible.  It can move anywhere with its Armor and Infantry combat teammates.

The feathered - variety HAWK has a highly developed, almost microscopic, vision coupled with the fantastic ability to seek out its prey with uncanny instinct.  Once the prey is spotted, it streaks from the sky with unerring accuracy to strike.  The HAWK missile system possesses similar prowess.  Equipment in the HAWK battery for accomplishing this swift, sure missile strike includes a pulse acquisition radar for detection of medium and high altitude aircraft, a continuous wave acquisition radar for detection of low altitude aircraft, a range-only radar that provides additional range information of the target; two continuous wave illuminator radars for tracking the target, six launchers with three missiles each, and the "brains" of the unit, the Battery Control Central.  The HAWK missile is 5.4 meters long, 35 centimeters in diameter, and weighs 590 kilograms.

The HAWK system has demonstrated its accuracy  and reliability by destroying targets at medium and low altitudes.  In 1958, HAWK destroyed drone targets at a range of 8 kilometers and an altitude of 152.43 meters.  In the same year, HAWK again scored a direct hit on a jet drone, traveling at a speed of 2,253.02 kilometers per hour and an altitude of 9.45 kilometers.  In 1960 HAWK's accuracy and lethality was again demonstrated in the attack and destruction of HONEST JOHN rockets.  This was the first time in free world history that a tactical air defense guided missile destroyed a tactical ballistic missile.

Today, HAWK is deployed in Europe as a part of the NATO Forces.  Its mission - to add further strength to the Free World Arsenal in support of the effort to deter aggression.

In 1968, James was sent to Chicago for the Democratic Convention to assist in riot control.  He recalls sleeping in a tent  in the park  for stand-by.  He was packed with weapons but luckily didn't need to use them. Two weeks later James was sent notice to go to Vietnam.  While on a mission to build sleeping camps for the South Vietnamese soldiers his convoy was ambushed and had to call in the 1st Cav to assist. 

James in 2018 holding his service photo. His unit 20th Engineer Battalion (Combat) arrived in Vietnam January 1, 1966 and departed on August 31, 1971.  During his years in service he was awarded a Good Conduct Medal, Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ Device Marksman Gage & Sharp Shooter (rifle)

Dr. Stanley Charles Knapp

Richard Calloway

Richard Calloway was drafted into the Army at the age of 22 in 1969 and served a total of 20 years. While in Vietnam he rose to the rank of Sgt E5 and worked closely with the Green Berets.

He went into Cambodia with the 11th Armored Calvary and 5th Special Forces.  During this conflict he was wounded by a helicopter accident and had to be airlifted out by a medevac chopper.   He had been hit hard in the head by parts of the copter that flew off in a crash landing.  He was very lucky to survive this near fatal injury and received a Purple Heart Medal for this injury.

Richard stayed with the 5th Special Forces Green Berets for nine months.  He will always remember two Green Beret friends who were killed in action at an outpost.  "It was not good," he reflects, you don't know what life brings and it can be taken away in an instant.  People who have never been in war, don't understand war."

The 5th Special Forces is one of the most highly-decorated, active duty United States Special Forces Groups in the U.S. armed forces. They saw extensive action in the Vietnam War.  Richard fought with troops in the 1970 Cambodian Campaign under significant ground attack and received a Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm.  Here he is standing in front of a bunker that was hit by mortar, leaving the sandbag covers scorched and burned off.

As a member of the National Guard, Richard was ordered into active Federal service in October 1990 - 91 where he served in Saudi Arabia during the Desert Storm Campaign.  He was assigned to the 1450th Transportation Company and drove 5000 gallon tanker trucks to supply fuel for tanks and other combat vehicles.  In recollecting on his military service Richard states, "I would go back today if needed, not because of loving war but, for the love of our country.  Our freedom comes from military protection."

When in Saudi Arabia, camels were a fascination for Richard.  "There were camels everywhere, and they could smell an apple from a mile away!  We had concertina wire on the ground surrounding our camp and the camels would walk right through it. They would come right up to you and try to steal your apples."

Andy O'Sullivan

Andrew "Andy" O'Sullivan recalls that in 1965 the military was building their numbers for the Vietnam Campaign.  He was in his junior year of college and knew that some of his classmates were getting draft notices. He was planning on taking a break from school to make money for finishing his degree, and then chose to sign up with the Marines.   When he was drafted later that year, he did not have to go right away. With his commitment to the Marine Corp he was able to finish college and then attend officer candidate school.  

After graduating on May 31, 1968, Andy's life took the fast track and he was married to the love of his life "Bunny"  Habib, on June 1.  The O'Sullivan wedding was quite an attraction.  There were lots of people there to see the arch of swords ceremony. This ceremony is an old English and American custom, which gives a symbolic pledge of loyalty to the newly married couple from their Marine family, and is authorized for commissioned, warrant, staff noncommissioned officers, and noncommissioned officers only. Only the newly married couple is allowed to pass under the arch.The ushers normally form the sword detail, however other officers, warrant or staff noncommissioned officers may be designated as needed. Customarily, six or eight members take part in the ceremony. The ushers form at the bottom of the chapel steps, in two equal ranks, at normal interval, facing each other, with sufficient room between ranks (3 to 4 paces) for the bride and groom to pass. The senior usher is positioned in the left rank furthest from the chapel exit.

With the command “Officers, Draw Swords,” swords are drawn from their scabbards in one continuous motion, rising gracefully to touch the tip of the opposite sword. Then, at “Invert Swords” there is a quick turning of the wrist so that the cutting edge is up.

The newlyweds honeymooned in Las Vegas, and returned to Oklahoma Fort Sill for artillery training.  Following this Andy was on his way to Vietnam in September of 1968.   

Andy attended Vietnam Infantry School and was trained with MOS-08 artillery. As an infantry officer and artillery officer, Andy was in a leadership position and was sent to the northwestern section of South Vietnam, a mountainous area. You could see the Hồ Chí Minh trail coming down from Laos from this vantage point.

Andy landed by helicopter at LZ Argonne on March 20, 1969 under direct fire.  He acquired a shrapnel injury to the foot, cutting through his boot, but refused medical export to stay with his men.  During the day, helicopters were visible targets, but at night flare ships, "spooky" protected the landing zone by lighting the area.  The next morning, Andy's upper chest received scrap metal from an explosion, when his Lt. Colonel Sergeant was hit by a mortar round.

Pictured here with Andy is David Ovist, his radio operator. They worked together to plan and direct counter mortar fires. On Andy's third day in battle, he crossed paths with David as they ran for cover.  While hunkered down in his hole, Andy was hit with shrapnel in his back.  Sadly, David was mortally wounded.  This could have been Andy if they had each run to the closest hole.  Considering Death is personified as a person, he has no control over who he serves.  War has no optics for fairness, right or wrong. 

As the wounded waited for Medcap evacuation Andy, continued fighting to hold the landing zone.  There is no time to think about anything else.  He was awarded a Silver Star medal for his brave actions, but states "that is what he was supposed to do.  Marines lay down their lives for each other. A silver medal doesn't mean much, considering the loss of his comrades.

Andy was able to take RNR and spend time with Bunny in Hawaii at the end of May 1969.  She was very glad to see him alive and in one piece.  Holding the home front and waiting for news was a stressful time.  Bunny sent cookies and gloves, protection from the cutting edge of elephant grass, to Andy every week. Somehow the packages came through even when he was in the field.  When news media picked up stories about the LZ Argonne operation, Bunny rushed to show her in-laws pictures and video of Andy in Hawaii to prove that he was okay.   Andy's dad noticed that his son had developed a limp, but was relieved knowing the danger he had been in.

When Andy's Vietnam commitment was over  he had a plane ticket to fly straight home, but he was selected, with others to take a group of Marines home by ship. This delayed his expected arrival by another month.  At that time there was no debriefing between Vietnam and home base, so the delay turned out to be for the good.  This gave Andy a chance to feel more at ease when he saw his family.  During this time, PTSD was stigmatized and thought of as a weakness in mental health.   There were inspections called "junk on a bunk," where Marines had to dump out their bags.  War contraband, such as weapons, grenades, etc. had to be thrown overboard.  The ship bringing the Marines home was an old rusty WWII Landing Ship Dock.  It had to be painted before going ashore ... to look spiffy and reflect the proud military standards of United States Navy.  After departure the ship was decommissioned.

From San Diego, Andy changed into his travel uniform and took a flight to New Jersey.  On way to the boarding gate, a girl with an anti-war attitude spit on him. Upon boarding the flight the stewardess put Andy and his other Marine partners in first-class.  Arriving in New Jersey late that evening was a blessing, since the airport was not so crowded and there were no anti-war demonstrations going on.  Bunny met Andy at the airport and they couldn't find the hotel she had booked, so they drove back to Brooklyn.   A welcome home celebration was planned with a banner stretched across the street, from brownstone to brownstone.  The family had to fight to keep the banner up, since initially they were told it couldn't be hung without a permit.  Andy's dad and father-in-law refused to take down the banner and with permission from "friends in high places,"  the banner was allowed to stay.  

Andy decided not to re-up and taught school in Quantico until January, 1971.  Soon the O'Sullivans were blessed with their first child, Denise.  Bunny worked as an accountant, while Andy stayed home to care for the baby.  Those days he also did the laundry and had coffee with neighborhood housewives while they all waited for their spouses to come home from work. It was hard at first to find employment as a veteran, but Andy was finally hired as a warehouse manger for Coty Cosmetic and Perfume, a division of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. The Manhattan manufacturing company was operating in an inefficient facility, so it was moved to Sanford, NC.  This is where Andy stayed employed for the next 30 years.   Andy and Bunny became residents of Ashe County in 2003.

Attending military reunions was difficult in the early years.  It was emotional to watch war movies.  Andy used to suppress his PTSD, but today talking is easier.  Andy leaves a message for future generations, "Study history, or you are doomed."   As a Marine and veteran, Andy reflects that his military experiences gave him structure and organizational skills to improve his life.

"One of the most important things we can all do for veterans is to honor the service of those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty."- Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta  

Andy's medals include a Silver Star, two  Purple Hearts, the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with "palm", and the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with 4 devices.

Sophie O'Sullivan Letter about her grandfather Andy O'Sullivan

Ken Jones

John Gentry

John Dallas Gentry was born on March 2, 1932.  He was drafted for the Korean War in November 1952 with about seventeen others from Ashe County, NC.  The group went to Fort Jackson, SC for basic training, and then off to war.

While in Korea, John posed with his brother Tobe at the borderline of North and South Korea.  He was hit by shrapnel in his right leg when fighting on Heartbreak Ridge.  "We did no more than anyone else - we did our job and tried to keep our nose clean."

When John and Tobe had free time on the weekends they liked to go hunting.  In post war, they spent a year hunting together in the Korean DMZ.  John served in Korea through 1954 and became a member of the Korean Military Advisory Group.

John volunteered to go to Germany in late 1954 -55, and then served with the 179th  Infantry Regiment  for the next  two years in the 45th Division of Korea.  After the Korean War, John went into combat engineering. He was nominated by a battalion photographer when West Point sent out a request for recommendations to choose Department of Defense Engineer Instructors.

John (back row, left) was part of the 2nd Army Marksmanship Team and traveled to different Army posts for rifle matches.  They competed in all over ...  Quantico, Albany NY, and Ft Bening GA

John is pictured here (standing on far left), holding beer stein trophies with his rifle team in Germany.

In Camp Perry, Ohio, John competed nationally and lacked 2 pts from being a distinguished marksman.

Engineer Companies Help Defend Pleiku

John served as 1st Sgt. of a combat engineer company during the 1969 Tet Pleiku Offensive in Vietnam. 

John earned recognition in service with a number of medals, but this medal: the Combat Infantryman Badge is his most prized.  Soldiers must meet three qualifications to be a recipient of this prestigious honor.

  1. Be an infantryman satisfactorily performing infantry duties.
  2. Be assigned to an infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat.
  3. Actively engage the enemy in ground combat.

Tom Northrop

Tom and his brother Clarence

 

Tom Northrop's Vietnam Experiences

Wayne Nance

Wayne was awarded a National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Aircraft Crewmans Wings

Mary Jones

 

Mary (McHugh) Jones born in Yonkers, NY in 1951, and enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 25.  Her father was a Navy Corpsman, attached to the Marines and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Mary also had a brother who served in the Navy and another brother who was Captain in the National Guard.  

Mary rose to the rank of Master Sergeant E7, working with Air Space Control at Norad Cheyenne Mountain while on active duty (1976-85).  Her reserve command post was at Keesler Air Force Base where she worked as a Tech School Instructor.   She was involved with hurricane and national disaster relief, flying a C130 Hercules .   Mary received Air Force Commendation Medals and an Oak Leaf Cluster. 

When stationed in Iceland, she experienced very high winds and had to hold on to ropes to go from the dorms to base.   While in basic training, she was recognized as an 'expert' shoe-polisher and was asked to show everyone how to shine their shoes properly.  Only 10% of those in her career field where female and Mary says, "I learned to be independent ... disciplined ... to deal with being the only female in my crew."

Maureen Dintino

                                                                                        Maureen Dintino served in the Army from July 1984-87.  Her father told her she was either going to choose "college or the military."  She wanted to get away from home and was sick of school, so she enlisted.  Her unit was 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Platoon ... and named by her as the "Tarheels."  During her service time, she was stationed at Fort Dix, NJ, Fort Monmouth, NJ, and Fort Jackson, SC.  She qualified in training to drive one-ton vehicles (had to sit on telephone books to see out), and to use an M-16 Sharp Shooter (receiving a Sharpshooter Award and Service Ribbon). 

Maureen worked as a Chaplin's Assistant, with duties that included setting up speaker events for officers and enlisted men, getting the baptismal pool ready, and taking Jewish soldiers to synagogue.  Sometimes she assisted with pre-counciling soldiers who were scheduled to see the Chaplain ... most cases had to do with homesickness.

Although Maureen didn't see combat , she did suffer from service-related injuries. Heavy lifting of chairs and equipment for events, left her with lower back and right hip/leg trouble.  She also experienced PTSD as a suicide survivor, after one of her comrades died.  Maureen says, she wished more people knew that a veteran is anyone who served in the military, not just those who were deployed in wartime. 

"On looking back, the thing most engrained in me during my years in service was the structure and uniformity.  You had to use a chain of command no matter what the job." 

 

Carol Pollock

Bernie Lee

Bernie and his older sister Dorothy ... older by almost a year ... a.k.a The Campbell Soup Kids.  

 Bernie and Dorothy grew up in Connecticut and loved to ice skate.  On recalling an early skating adventure Bernie learned that figure skating isn't as easy as it looks.  After a fall and broken nose, Bernie was ready to quit but Dorothy wanted to stay and skate the day away!

Bernie's 5th grade picture taken at St. James Catholic School in Danielson, Connecticut.  Dress code required a tie everyday and girls had to wear dresses below the knee.

Bernie in 1966 with his parachute rigger class graduation, in Lakehurst, New Jersey.  He remembers standing guard duty in the hanger where the Hindenberg crashed.  There were some spooky sounds coming out of that hanger at night.

Pictured here in Quang-Tri, Vietnam, digging a hole to jump in during artillery and rocket attacks.  There weren't any bunkers there at that time. Bernie's helicopter unit was one of the first to arrive, prior to the Tet Offensive of 1968.  

Standing in front of his living quarters at Quang-Tri, Bernie wearing his flight suit is getting ready to launch various combat missions. He flew a total of 381 missions while overseas.

Sitting on a mountain of sandbags ... One of Bernie's subordinates stole a fan from the officer's mess and got caught.  Together they were assigned the consequence of filling 1500 sandbags to be used for building bunkers.  This took at least a week or more of off-time to complete. On returning 'back to the world' Bernie did not care to go near a beach for several years.

Bernie and friend Ray both joined the military at the same time (1966).  Pictured here on leave Ray, a Navy Sailor and Bernie in Marine Khakis on their way out for a night on the town.   Ray spent 24 years in the Navy and Merchant Marines before retiring.   

This is the last photo  ever taken of Bernie and his whole family in 1970, while he was home on leave.  Picture L to R: sister Dorothy, mother Muriel, father Raymond, Bernie, and brother David. 

A Letter to Mom 1968

Proud father with his son.

Bernie's dad Raymond and his identical twin brother, Paul.  Both were Navy veterans of WWII. Bernie's dad sustained injury on D-day at Normandy Beach.

Bernie went to school annually while working at Harley Davidson Dealerships in Wilksboro, North Carolina. Pictured here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1998) at the Harley Davidson Factory for technical training.

William and Troy Spencer

Troy Spencer on right and William Spencer on left ...

in Confederate uniform                             

Clarence Kenneth Smith

 

Jane Smith Glass, resident of Ashe County,  reminisces about her father ...  The "family folklore" was our father was selected for his desk job in the Navy because he had some business college experience and had become proficient at typing. Following the  Navy, he returned to Lenoir, NC and married.  A friend got him a job with NC Department of Transportation where he worked until his retirement from this position of resident engineer in N Wilksboro, NC.        

Clarence Smith served during the years 1944-46 and was stationed in Hawaii and Camp Parks California.                                                                                                                                      

Curtis Gentry

Joseph Curtis Gentry Jr. comes from a long line of military servicemen.  In fact when asked about adapting to military life-style, Curtis says he was ready for it!  His father and uncles had him well-prepared about what to expect and he was proud to carry on a family tradition.  Curtis entered the Army National Guard, at the age of 23 and served from 1979 - 1982 as part of the 1450th Transportation Co.  While in the service, Curtis took advance course training as a wheeled vehicle mechanic.  

Army Wheeled Vehicle Mechanics are responsible, as the title suggests, for handling maintenance and repair of all tactical and some armored vehicles, both heavy and light. 

If the Army's trucks and other vehicles aren't working properly, at best it means lost time, at worst, it could mean soldiers are in jeopardy.  So while it's definitely a grease monkey job, the wheeled vehicle mechanic is just as important to Army operations as any other soldier.

Curtis reflects on his time in service, saying that his military experiences made him a better person and he hopes everyone remembers that "you have to fight for our county's freedom."

 

Mark Gentry

 

Denzil Mark Gentry served in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm 2.  His grandfather, father, uncles, and cousin were all Army men, while Mark took a different career path enlisting in the United States Air Force.  During part of his service time, he was stationed overseas in Japan, training in ground defense.  He also trained in law enforcement and graduated from NCO Leadership School. Mark served from 1983 - 1992, earning a National Defense Service Medal, along with other awards and ribbons for good conduct and outstanding service.

Floyd Gentry

 

Floyd Gentry joined the Army at the age of 23, and served  (1917 - 18) during WWI.  He started a tradition in his family, inspiring his three sons and their boys into military service too. His occupation as an enlisted man was running the School for Bakers and Cooks in Camp Jackson, SC

The bakery at Camp Jackson produced 7,200 loaves a bread each day. The building, which was located at the south end of the cantonment, was divided into three rooms.  The first room was for the storage of flour.  The second room, called the dough room, contained large iron troughs for mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough.  The third room contained four large ovens, each of which could bake three hundred loaves of bread at a time.

 

Floyd Gentry - Honorable Discharge 

Joe Gentry

Joe Gentry first joined the Army on December 2nd 1955 where he achieved the rank of PFC (E-3). He was with Battery B, 78th MSL Battalion for 2 years as a GM Crewman - Radio Repair. He was released on November 29th, 1957.

On October 11th, 1975, Joe joined the 1453rd Transportation Company (Later becoming the 1450th Transportation Company) in Jefferson, N.C. where he reached the rank of SGT (E-5). In 1990 Uncle Sam called and sent Joe to Saudi Arabia on October 11th, 1990 for Operation Desert Storm where he hauled fuel for in-country operations. His unit hauled over 8 million gallons working 24/7 for months. Joe retired on May 23rd, 1994 with over 20 years of service. Over his time in the military he received many awards. Some of which are Army Service Ribbon, National Defense Ribbon, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation among many others. 

Joe is pictured here on far left, posing with his sling-shot.  He had excellent aim and one should never discount the power of slingshots in conflict (remember David and Goliath?) – they can be excellent survival weapons against both aggressive animals and humans.

 

One day, Terry Pruitt, stationed with Joe in Saudi Arabia saw him out target shooting at cans with his slingshot.  Terry joked that he couldn't hit something like that and he ought to get some bigger targets.  Joe challenged him to throw his hat up and he'd take aim at that ... and then directing from a side-arm angle Joe shot the bill to Terry's hat completely off.  Terry replied "Dang it Joe ... that's the only hat I've got!"

 

Darryl Vaughn

Darryl Vaughn with fellow soldiers

(left to right, back row) David Lewis, Cecil Walters, Walter Pennington, Glen Howell, Roy Billings, Johnny Brooks, Jeff Scott, Tommy Campbell, Randy Lewis, Jeff Dillard, James Long, Jeff Watson, Mark Senter; (left to right, front row) Marvin Taylor, Tommy Rhyne, Benny Colvard, Rob Taylor, Keith Dillard, Rick Weaver, Bart Winebarger, Michael Patrick, Eric Medley, Darryl Vaughn

Darryl recalls that when meeting these Saudi Arabian children, he gave them some MRE rations (meals ready to eat).  The young boy to the right ran right over and took the food from the girls.  Darryl took it back and gave it to the girls and this happened again.  On the third attempt to give the girls food, Darryl had to open the package so they could start eating before the boy swiped it from them.  Arabian custom, unlike American, is that oldest males always eat first. 

When traveling down miles of pushed out roads on the way to Bosra, this convenience center showed heavy damage by helicopter or tank fire to run insurgents out of the area.  

Darryl showing a lizard that was dug out of a hole in the ground inside their tent.  This was a "catch and release" lizard, since reptiles weren't welcome in sleeping quarters.

This goat walked into a fuel stop area for a visit one day and was very friendly.  The men fed it and it hung out for awhile to be petted before heading on its way.  Even though there were miles and miles of desert, there was the occasional green pasture where herds of goats would wander to graze.

Desert Storm Christmas 1990 - Pictured here are representatives from Jefferson's 2nd platoon.  A Frasier Fir along with gifts from loved ones was shipped all the way from Ashe County to bring holiday spirit and love from home to the remote desert.

Kyle Ray Harris

Kyle Ray Harris served in WWII as a Staff Sargent.  According to daughters Joyce Harris and Margaret Farmer, he was interviewed by the Jefferson Post, but he didn't tell much. He thought he'd go to hell for killing people. He didn't like to talk about it … he didn't like to remember it. He got saved after the war, and testified that one day when he was in the woods he got down on his knees to ask for forgiveness.

One night he recalled sitting in a town, and someone started shooting. The next morning when finding out it was German women, he was very upset. Their commander said that Hitler came through town one day without his shirt, flexing muscles.  While he was stationed in Germany, Hitler was captured. Kyle visited the concentration camps after the Germans were captured and recalled how horrible they were.  “In one town, folks went and dug up their Bibles after they were liberated.”


Kyle was in the service for 3 years and came out in 1945. While in the service he earned a purple heart, bronze star, and all the metals you could get.  He met and married Dorothy Clyde after the war. They had four children, two boys (Dickie and Buzz) and two girls (Joyce and Margaret). He worked as a carpenter after the army.
He was a strict father, and a good honest man. He enjoyed sitting on the front porch on Sundays, reading his Bible and playing his guitar or banjo. He also enjoyed working in his shop. He regularly played music at Ashe Council on Aging before he passed away in 2002.