Salute a Veteran

Contribute a personal essay to honor a veteran in this reader story collection.


In conjunction with our special veterans issue of Our State magazine, we are collecting personal essays honoring those who have served our country. Would you like to honor a veteran by sharing his or her story, thank a veteran for his or her service, or share your own military memories? Simply add your comments in the section below. Scroll down to read messages submitted by others and to share your own. All comments are moderated in accordance with our Online Community policy.

We look forward to hosting your stories on this page.

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10 Responses to Salute a Veteran

  1. Nancy Higgins-Lindsey says:

    My father John Webb Higgins served in WWII in the Army Air Corps. He was a navigator in a B24 Liberator, flying lead position in their missions. He fought in the Western Theater and was a part of D-Day/Normandy, Ardennes and many other battles. He was a man of faith, character and great strength. He loved to discuss “war stories” with my uncle who is also a WWII veteran but other than him he never discussed his military service. In the final stage of his life I sat with him and asked questions in relation to his service. He reluctantly but willingly told me a few harrowing stories such as his best friend’s plane flying next to him was shot down and the time he thought his plane was doomed but ended up arriving safely back to base. After he died at the age of 78 from melanoma cancer I learned everything I could about WWII and my dad’s role. My dad was my very best friend and I am so proud of him and all he did to keep our country independent, free and democratic. May he ALWAYS be remembered, a true great man, JOHN WEBB HIGGINS!

  2. Both of our Dads; Russell Martin and Vick Adams Sr. served in WWII. My Dad (Russell Martin) served under Patton and Vick Adams Sr. served under Bradley in WWII. One was a Forward Observer (Adams) and one (Martin) was attached to the Fuel Supply Division and also cooked. Both of our dads saw and lived so many horror stories as they moved through Europe. Both came in on the beaches at Normandy and one served in the Northern European Theatre and the other in the Southern European Theatre. My dad wrote letters to my mom and talked about the constant “thunder” and storms. My mom had three brothers in WWII, and my dad had three brothers in WWII. My brother and husband served in Vietnam and my son served in Desert Storm. The WWII veterans and Desert Storm veterans got an entirely different homecoming that the Vietnam veterans received. The Vietnam Veterans are still not receiving benefits, recognition and honors as they should. When you are spit on and called “baby killers” when returning from a deployment are un-imaginable. The Vietnam Veterans were called to serve their country just as other veterans; and they followed orders and provided security to a broken country.
    I want to thank all Veterans for their service and thank God that all my relatives returned home to their families. Some with inward scars that will never heal; and some with memories that they will never forget. Pray for our military and our veterans that God will give them a “hedge of protection” while serving; and for those that have served “that peace that passeth all understanding.” God Bless the USA and it’s military.

  3. Shannon Tillman says:

    My dad never talked much about his service in Vietnam. True heroes don’t have to brag about the things they did during war; they just do the right thing. True heroes lead even when no one’s looking, even when they’re scared or injured. My dad died much too young for me, just a year ago at the age of 64. It was just in the past couple of years that he talked with me some about his service from 1967-1969. Originally from Person County, North Carolina, he was living with his parents on the farm, when small farming was still alive. He signed up to join the army and married my mom so the two of them moved around some after basic training before he was deployed. When his “hitch” was over, he returned from Vietnam a sergeant in the The Big Red One. Dad started his career as an auto mechanic and later became active in church, but Vietnam was always lurking.

    A year or two before he died, we talked one day about his arrival back in the States from his tour. His plane landed in San Francisco and people spit on them and yelled derisive taunts and slogans in the airport. I think that broke his heart. I knew he had been shot in Vietnam, but until that day when we talked, I didn’t know he had been nominated for a silver star. After his death, I read an after action report he had tucked away thanking him for his service and describing his heroism. His squad was crossing a rice paddy and became pinned down by heavy fire. Several men in his squad were injured and my dad returned numerous times to carry injured individuals to safety, leaving himself open to heavy fire. This is when he was shot in the back.

    I never heard him tell that story to anyone and he never showed anyone that after action report, no even my mom. I admire him so much. I only hope that I could show that level of courage in the same circumstances. He continued to live a life of service. My dad helped anyone who asked him and was always the first person to volunteer to assist with matters of community, church or family. He is greatly missed. My father was my true hero.

  4. Nancy Faber says:

    During WWII, my father, J.E. Rogerson, served with the Fighting 69th Infantry division. Although he seldom talked about his war experience until the year before his death, we did learn that he was with the American troops that met the Russian troops at the Elba River. After his return from WWII, he put his guns away. He helped to establish the American Legion in Kenly and was a loyal member for the rest of his life.

  5. Candice says:

    My husband, Josh, is still serving and was awarded the purple heart. I am thankful for his 10 year service and for all who serve past and present.

  6. Nancy Cornelius says:

    Finding John
    by Nancy B. Cornelius
    It all began in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. As the pictures of American soldiers came across our television screen, I wondered if John might be in one of them. John was the only son of my maternal grandparents, John Raymond McCrary and Mary Tatum McCrary of Lexington, NC. John was killed in January of 1945 in the Battle of the Bulge when his platoon was overrun by German tanks. His body was not brought back to the US for burial, and I did not know the location of his grave, as there are several military cemeteries in Europe.
    During the spring of 1995, I decided to clear some things out of the attic, one of them being an old suitcase filled with letters that my mother had kept concerning John’s death. Some were from the army, and others were condolences from buddies who served with him. There was also a post card from John saying, “All is well.” Amongst the letters were newspaper articles and obituaries that gave me more information about his death and the location of his grave in Luxembourg. He had been in the army for two years before being sent to the front. He was with Company E, 346th Infantry, 87th Division, and had attained the rank of Technical Sergeant.
    The summer before he left for Europe, I was visiting my grandparents in Lexington. John and his wife Mary Lib were both there. He looked vey handsome in his uniform, and he took me to get some ice cream. That was the last time my grandparents and I saw him. I was only eight years old then and had had little contact with my uncle other than holidays, as he lived and worked in Winston-Salem after his graduation from Duke University. Reading these letters and articles, I felt our family’s terrible loss and was sad that no one had visited John’s grave. My grandfather was in his seventies when John died, and he had a memorial marker placed in the family plot in the Lexington cemetery.
    Coincidentally, we had planned a trip to France in the fall of 1995, which included the city of Strasbourg. I told Bill, our travelling companion, about John. Bill, who was in the infantry during the war, said that we must find John’s grave as it would be a short drive from Strasbourg to the cemetery located near Luxembourg City. It was a beautiful day when we set out on our mission, but once we got to the city, we became terribly lost and pulled onto a side road to look at a map. Two taxis were there in the middle of nowhere, and the drivers were standing and chatting. We asked them the location of the American military cemetery, and one of them said he would lead us there.
    The cemetery was truly beautiful, its walkways divided by medians planted with red roses. General Patton is buried there. In the visitors’ center, the custodian provided us with the exact location (a small town, Tillet, near Bastogne) where John and his entire platoon were killed. He led us to the white marble cross with John’s name on it and provided us with wet sand from the beaches of Normandy to rub into the engraving so it could be photographed. We departed feeling very humbled by all the lives lost on our behalf, and as we left, I thought to myself, “John, rest in peace. Someone knows where you are.”
    Following are the closing lines of an article about the 87th Infantry Division from The BulgeBugle, written in August of 1998 by Mitchell Kaidy:
    “Libramont, St. Hubert, Moircy, Prionpre, Tillet… Overcoming inexperience and meager initial patrolling, as well as the foundering of a coordinating unit, those were victories that broke the back of the huge Nazi surprise offensive and liberated Bastogne; and they were critical contributions by the 87th (Golden Acorn) Division toward winning the Battle of the Bulge, America’s largest and bloodiest battle in history.
    Remember those battles well. Now and forever.”

  7. Tina Hobbs says:

    My brother-in-law, Michael Wolcott, retired from the US Navy at the rank of Senior Chief a few years ago, after serving for nearly 3 decades. He, my sister, and my nephew sacrificed so much! Mike missed most of the first 7 years of my nephew’s life, being out on multiple 6 to 10 month deployments in the Persian Gulf. He was working on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln the day President George W. Bush landed and just prior to his retirement he spent several months in Kirkuk on a joint Army-Navy mission. He still serves his country today in a civilian position at Ft. Bragg. He is truly a hero in every sense of the word, and I am very proud and honored to call him “brother”!

  8. Bob L Holt says:

    Col. Hugh Durwood Maxwell, Jr. USAF (ret.)
    Col. Maxwell graduated from B. F. Grady High School in 1932. He received his BS in Journalism from UNC Chapel Hill in 1936.
    He enlisted as a Flying Cadet on 30 Dec 1940 and graduated as a 2nd Lt. Pilot Aug 1941. He flew antisubmarine missions on B-25s off the East Coast and from North Africa on B-24s. Afterwards he was an instructor on B-29s in Kansas and Puerto Rico until the end of WWII.
    Summoned to the Pentagon Jan 1946, he became an Intelligence Officer serving (3) four year terms there, St. John’s Newfoundland, Japan, and ACIC in St. Louis, MO.
    While in the service he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and an Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Legion of Merit with an Oak Leaf Cluster among others.
    During his career his military education included; the Flying Cadet Program in 1941, Army Command and General Staff School in Fort Leavenworth Kansas in 1945, Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk VA in 1952, the Air War College in Montgomery AL in 1957, Washington University Business Management in St. Louis MO in 1965.
    He retired to Altamonte Springs (Orlando) FL on 31 July 1969 spending his last 16 years as a full Colonel. At 97 years young, he is still full of life.
    He was awarded the following medals: Purple Heart, The Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Force Commendation Medal, Legion of Merit with an oak cluster, Distinguished Unit Citation, and Air Medal with 5 oak clusters
    Chronicles of his life may be viewed at: http://www.boblholt.com/LifeandtimeColMaxwell1.html

  9. Barbara Gross Worley says:

    My uncle, George Gross(Willie) served in the Korean conflict. Unfortuntatly he lost his life there. He was my Dad’s youngest brother. We are proud of Him

  10. Barbara Gross Worley says:

    my Dad, Loyd Gross, was drafted after Pearl Harbor was bombed. After basic training at Fort Bragg, this country boy who had never been out of North Carolina, was stationed in Hawaii. He sent 3 years there, and had really good memories of his time in the Army. If he had been sent to the front he would have gave his all, he just got lucky enough to go to Hawaii. He served in the fire department as chief and achieved the rank of Sgt. He had many friends who do to into battle in Germany, He was proud of each and everyone of them and with those he served with. I miss him and I salute HIM

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