Veterans stories shared at Stanly County Historical Society event

Published 10:05 am Monday, November 7, 2022

With Veterans Day coming up Friday, the Stanly County Historical Society celebrated Stanly veterans at a program Sunday afternoon titled “Stories of Our Veterans.”

Stanly County historian Lewis Bramlett gave a presentation at the fellowship hall of Central United Methodist Church, telling the stories of noteworthy Stanly natives and residents and how they served their country.

James Horton and Ellison McDow from Boy Scout Troop 191 presented the colors at the event as attendees sang the Star Spangled Banner. Horton and McDow then led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Bramlett shared some of the personal histories and experiences Stanly veterans had in both World Wars, along with campaigns in Korea and Vietnam.

Dr. J.C. Boone, who passed away Saturday, was honored before Bramlett’s presentation for his contributions to preserving Stanly’s history. Boone was part of the Stanly County Historic Preservation Commission in 1978 and was on the board which helped preserve the Freeman-Marks House, the oldest house in Stanly.

Boone also was a veteran and served from 1958 to 1960 in Germany. He was the author of the book, “Hitler at the Obersalzburg,” and interviewed Hilter’s sister, Hilda, and others for research for the book.

Other soldiers’ stories included Edward Everett Talbert, the first Stanly soldier to be killed in WWII while stationed at Pearl Harbor. Talbert was honored in March with a memorial service at Prospect Baptist Church.

Warren Coble was a member of the 393rd Bomb Squadron and was a radio operator. He served on the “Necessary Evil” B-29 bomber, which took part in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. He also was on the famous “Enola Gay” bomber when the  “Bockscar” bomber dropped the second A-bomb on Nagasaki.

Veterans mentioned included longtime Morrow Mountain State Park superintendent Cedric Squires, Walter B. Hill, for whom Stanly American Legion Post 76 is named, and Bill Calloway, whose likeness was used as a model for the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Other veterans mentioned included Robert Griffin, who spent four years in the Air Force and was later an aide for former President Richard Nixon.

Capt. Craven Almond was a pilot who flew jets for the Air Force in the Korean War and was, at one point, considered one of the top 10 pilots in the country.

Don Montgomery, for whom a park and baseball field are named in Albemarle, was killed in Vietnam in the Phuoc Loc province, and earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest honor a person may receive.

Hallie Almond served with the 38th EVAC Unit Hospital in England and was pictured in Life magazine in the Feb. 21, 1944 issue. Bramlett also shared a picture of Almond with Gen. H.H. “Hap” Arnold and Gen. Mark Clark.

Alexander People graduated from West Badin school and later receive a Silver Star posthumously for his actions in Vietnam; he was killed in action Dec. 8, 1969.

Also honored was Palmerville resident Jesse Johnson, who serviced with the 371st Infantry Regiment and was attached to the French military. He fought in the Battle of Chateau Thierry and was awarded the highest French honor given to a foreign citizen, the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War).

Veterans in attendance were later honored by having their branch’s official songs played on the piano by Charlotte Maness.

One army veteran in attendance, Dr. Eric Johnsen, complimented Bramlett for being well prepared for the presentation.

“He keeps it flowing. He keeps it interesting. He throws little bits of humor now and again. It was a great presentation. There are so many of us veterans in the county and he really hit the highlights.”

Johnsen said events like this one are important because “the only reason we have a free country is because of our military people. Unfortunately, I lost a good friends fighting for this country.”

Kent Harkey, president of the Historical Society’s Board of Directors, said the presentation “was a good reminder of the dedication Stanly County produced in all of our war efforts.”

He said events like Sunday were important “because we are here to tell their story…our mission is to tell the story of those who were here before.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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