They are heroes from America's “Greatest Generation,” although they probably didn't consider themselves heroes during the days of World War II. They were young men, many still teenagers. They were probably anxious to get on with their lives, get married, start families, build careers. Unfortunately, those things had to wait because their country, in fact their world, was under attack by the forces of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
On June 4, citizens in Chase City gathered to honor six of those young men from our area who went off to fight the Germans and Japanese. All of them are now in their 90s, and while you might have to speak to them a little louder, their vision may not be as sharp as it once was and they may not be as nimble as they were 70 odd years ago, they are still the heroes they were in their youth.
Mr. Hamet Lee Piercy served in the Army during the war, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, won a Purple Heart and was a Prisoner of War.
Doctor William A. Shelton also served in the Army, in both the European and Pacific theaters.
Mr. John Wesley Jones, Jr., also in the Army, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and following the war, served as a Prison Guard at the Nuremberg Trials.
Unfortunately, the remaining three veterans, Mr. Everett Daniel Barbour – Army, Purple Heart recipient, European Theater/Italy, Samuel Bugg – U.S. Navy, and Mr. L. Ryland Rash, Jr., —Army, European Theater/Germany, were not able to attend.
Also honored on Tuesday night were several women from the area. Mrs. Jane Paulette Taylor and Mrs. Myrtle Stembridge Cabaniss, were singled out for their contributions during the war years.
Representing the children who lost their fathers during the war was Joanne Wortman Andrews.
There was the welcome and the “walkway of honor” as the veterans entered the room. There was the ceremonial setting of the “missing man” table.
There were speeches and recognitions from visiting officials and dignitaries.
RADM Frank Rennie, IV (Ret. U.S.N) chairman of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation, spoke to the assembled guests, as did Mr. John V. Cogbill, III, second vice-chair of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation and Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Inge, (Ret. U.S.Army) secretary of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation.
Following the speeches, guests had a chance to meet and talk and visit with the veterans, who shared some of their memories of the war era.
Joyce French and Ted Daniel, organizers of the reception, also talked about the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond and the effort to establish a memorial to the memory of those Southside Virginians who served during the war. This will be done with a “Walkway of Honor.” A granite marker will be installed at the entrance of the walkway that identifies the sponsorship of Southside Virginia.
The cost required to secure Southside Virginia's sponsorship for the Walkway of Honor is $100,000. Citizens are invited to request additional information or to make their tax deductible checks payable to The Virginia War Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. Checks may be mailed to Joyce French, 7250 Old Cox Road, Chase City, Va 23924.