“ … 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
Thirteen veterans of World War II were honored for their service Sunday with presentations of the World War II Patriotic Medallion of Honor and Respect.
Officials from the Excalibur Chapter of the Non-Commissioned Officers Association at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene made the presentations, the fifth time they have held a ceremony in Brownwood in the last year and a half. To date, including those who received medallions on Sunday, 51 veterans have been honored with a “belated token of appreciation from a grateful nation.”
Anyone who served with the Allied Forces in World War II is eligible to receive the service medallion. A 1993 act of congress provides that every World War II veteran is deserving and entitled to the medallion.
“Each one is very deserving indeed,” association Chairman Vicky Hensley said. “It’s such a pleasure to meet these individuals… We’ve been presenting these awards for five years, and just as soon as we think we have an area saturated, we hear of several veterans we have missed.”
In the ceremony Sunday, medallions — each hanging from a red, white and blue ribbon — were presented to BJ Fowler, Hilton Painter, Charles Kizer, David L. “Mack” McDonald, Loyd Dale Stringer, Carmen Wyatt and Calvin M. Fielder, all of Brownwood; Fred Reasoner of Bangs; and Wiley Rogers and James Gilley, both of Early. NCOA members had presented former Marine L.L. White a medallion at his home in Early, earlier in the day. F.D. “Red” Williams, formerly of Grosvenor, had been on the roll call to receive a medallion, but died on April 18. Williams’ daughter, Dianna Boren, accepted the medallion for her father. And, former Brownwood Police Chief Vic Fowler, who was also scheduled to receive a medallion on Sunday was too ill to attend, and Fowler’s children, John Fowler of Round Rock and Trish Nunn of Grand Prairie accepted the medallion on their father’s behalf.
The honored veterans sat stoically while their achievements were read. A few had tears leak down their cheeks in the memories of a war they fought more than 60 years ago. A few had to be helped to the front to receive their reward. A few had anecdotes worked into their stories.
According to James Gilley’s biographical sketch, on Dec. 14, 1944, Gilley enlisted and was sent to Fort Sill, Okla., for basic training. “His unit had 282 pack mules — and James. His dad said the Army sure knew where to put James.”
When placing the medallion around the neck of Pearl Harbor survivor Wiley Rogers, Excalibur member Troy Hensley said, “That very few minutes of reading takes you back a long way, doesn’t it?”
“Lots of bumpy road,” Rogers replied.