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
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 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."
Troy Spencer on right and William Spencer on left ...
in Confederate uniform
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.
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."
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 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.
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.