The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 26th

Locals Honor WWII Servicemen

About 30 veterans and residents gathered at the Chapel Hill Historical Society on Sunday evening to recognize local servicemen who gave their lives during World War II.

At the event, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars 9100 and American Legion Post 6 celebrated the reinstallation of a memorial plaque dedicated to 29 servicemen from Chapel Hill who died while serving in the war.

The plaque, which was originally on display at the old Chapel Hill High School building, had been missing for more than 30 years, after the school was demolished and then relocated. Veteran Roland Giduz said he discovered the plaque in 1997 at the new Chapel Hill High School, where he found the plaque had fallen into disrepair.

The VFW Post 9100 paid for the refurbishing of the memorial, and the American Legion Post 6 undertook responsibility for mounting it at the Historical Society in the Chapel Hill History Museum, located at 523 E. Franklin St.

"We thought it was the best place for a permanent home (for the plaque)," veteran Robert Patton said. "To us it means those people who paid the supreme price with their lives for their country can now have the recognition they deserve."

Keynote speaker Tom Camden, the former director of the George C. Marshall Museum and Research Library in Lexington, Va., spoke to the crowd about the history of Veteran's Day.

"I can't forget all the veterans I've met all over the country," Camden said.

Camden also told a story about a speech he gave recently a group of veterans, who survived the Bataan death march in the Philippines.

"I wanted to call them heroes, but they insisted they were simply doing their duty and should be referred to only as survivors," he said.

The five veterans in attendance said they had seen action all over the world. Charles Hamm, 78, was in Okinawa behind enemy lines doing reconnaissance work that would lay the foundation for an American invasion. "We worked at night and laid low during the day in a cave," Hamm said. "There were a lot of caves, so it wasn't that hard to find cover."

Hamm said he would radio the location of enemy emplacements to a command ship offshore, and that ship would then fire artillery rounds at the enemy positions.

Robert Patton, 79, said he served in Europe during the war with Gen. George Patton's Third Army in France, Germany and Austria. Robert

Patton, no relation to the famously bullheaded general, said his division, the 65th infantry, spearheaded the campaign through Germany. "We traveled the farthest, the fastest of any division in the war," Robert Patton said.

Patton said he thought it was important to honor the accomplishments and the efforts of the 29 veterans by having the plaque on display in a place of honor.

"There are names of people up there who made significant contributions to this community and who people would still recognize."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.


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