“ … Be ever mindful that the American flag and the dignity and value of America’s freedoms must never be taken for granted. The blood, sacrifices and lives of countless patriots were an awesome price to pay for the liberties of this land called America.”
— from the legacy of The Honor and Remembrance Medallion
One by one they came forward, and as their records of service were recited, their life stories summarized, medallions hung from red, white and blue ribbons were placed around their necks.
The roll call for the Saturday ceremony at the American Legion Post 196 Hall had originally included seven men from the area, but Raymond McCoy, sitting in the audience wearing a World War II veterans cap, was added to the list of honorees, making an even eight.
In 1993, Congress approved the World War II Veteran Medallion to be presented to all who served in World War II. In November, Henry “Hank” Weiershausen of Early was presented a medallion in a ceremony at his home, and, said Carl Johnson, past commander of the Excalibur Chapter of the Non Commissioned Officers Associa-tion of Abilene, that led other qualified veterans to apply.
“If you gentlemen had not served our country in one of the most trying times of our history,” Johnson said, “we would not be here today knowing the freedoms and privileges we do now enjoy.”
Those receiving the World War II Veteran Medallion on Saturday include:
• Newt Cooper, inducted into the U.S. Navy Oct. 1, 1943, served on the USS South Dakota, the “most decorated battleship in World War II” and was involved in the Battle for Iwo Jima, Philippines and Okinawa. Cooper was honorably discharged April 4, 1946.
• J.B. Ratliff enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on Oct. 1, 1942 and began his combat career May 26, 1944. He flew more than 50 long-range combat missions over the Mediterranean area. Ratliff was honorably discharged Nov. 8, 1945.
• Robert W. Hickey served in the U.S. Army, Co. K, 19th infantry, 24th Division, which was assigned “mopping up operations against Japanese troops.” Hickey was wounded June 12, 1945, and was in the replacement center when the Japanese surrendered.
• Charles E. Love entered the U.S. Army April 18, 1943, and served as a member of the 7th Armored Division, seeing combat in the Battle of the Bulge near Malmady and Stavelot. Love was wounded Dec. 23, 1944, by a German tank at Vielsalm, Belgium, and again four days later when a “buzz bomb” struck the hospital.
• Jerry Drinkard Jr. entered the U.S. Navy in 1944 and served in the South Pacific, seeing duty in the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Drinkard was honorably discharged in 1946.
• Wesley H. Johnson Jr. joined the National Guard while still in high school, and was activated in December, 1940. Johnson served in the U.S., Iceland, England, Normandy, Northern France, Belgium, The Rhineland and Central Europe and was honorably discharged in 1945.
• Robert W. Davenport, trained as a demolition specialist, served with Company B, 46th Engineers in the U.S. Army, assigned in the Pacific. Davenport was on a ship anchored about 200 yards from “port side of ‘Big Mo’, where Gen. Douglas MacArthur signed the Peace Treaty.
“Big Mo was all decked out with hundreds of sailors dressed in ‘Whites’ and a big American flag flying high,” Davenport remembered. “It was a beautiful sight.”
• Raymond McCoy — no service or personal information available at the ceremony.