A Bradley County resident, seeking to honor his late father's gravesite and his dad's military service, has stumbled on a little-known fact concerning federal legislation and an obscure World War II …
A Bradley County resident, seeking to honor his late father's gravesite and his dad's military service, has stumbled on a little-known fact concerning federal legislation and an obscure World War II honor and decoration.
Thousands of U.S. Army veterans across the nation, and a couple hundred in the Southeast Tennessee region, are qualified to receive the Bronze Star, although few realize this fact. This authorization is referred to as "The Unknown Badge."
These veterans served through a horrific time in World War II in the European Theater, a period of intense combat before and after the Battle of the Bulge.
On Feb. 3, 1944, Army Gen. George C. Marshall wrote a memorandum to President Roosevelt, saying, "The fact that ground troops, the infantry in particular, lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who are most at risk in personal combat with the enemy, makes the maintenance of their morale of great importance."
It was pointed out the infantry (and medics) made up 22% of the U.S. military at that time, but had suffered 87% of the casualties.
With this in mind, President Roosevelt took steps that those in the military who received the Combat Infantryman Badge, or the Combat Medic Badge, would also qualify for The Bronze Star, an award which signifies "Heroic or Meritorious Achievement" and is just less than The Silver Star.
This award was designated for U.S. Army veterans who served from Dec. 8, 1941, through Sept. 2, 1945.
Dwight Reagan, a maintenance technician for Peyton's Southeastern, discovered this information by chance, and now he wants other family members of area veterans to know about it as well.
They, like Reagan, can apply for this and other much-deserved awards from the U.S. Army.
Reagan has been notified by U.S. Army authorities of confirmation of his father's Bronze Star, and other earned awards. He will be receiving The Bronze Star, a World War II Victory Medal, and Army of Occupation Medal sometime in mid-2020.
He said the Bradley County Veterans Services Office did not realize The Bronze Star was available to these local veterans, when he posed the question.
After follow-up research, the existence of this legislation was confirmed by the Chattanooga office of U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.
State Sen. Mike Bell provided Reagan with authorization to continue his research of local Bronze Star qualifiers for The Bronze Star in the office of Bradley County Register of Deeds Dina Swafford.
Those who are qualified for the honor, or family members, have permission to make a request for the medal, but few have done so. That's why Reagan wishes to get this information to the general public.
Some of the names he compiled are well known in the community, while others lived on the fringe or outside of Bradley County.
One of the names on the list is famed Medal of Honor recipient Paul B. Huff, for whom the roadway from Interstate 75 by Bradley Square Mall is named. Another name is former military author William E. Brewer, and renowned Cleveland businessman M.C. Headrick.
Reagan has contacted seven of the families, but thus far has not found any of the veterans still living. The veterans would be well into their 90s at this time.
The list contains only two who received the Combat Medic's Badge: Arther Peterson, and Arnold N. Vincent.
The remainder received the Combat Infantryman's Badge. They include:
John B. Andies, Gorden L. Ash, John M. Auberry, Robert F. Bacon, William K. Bacon, Cletis A. Bailey, Luther Bain, Alvin A. Barger, Herman Beaty, Columbus Beavers, Jefferson C. Beavers, Jack H. Blackburn, James E. Blankenship, Walter A. Bledsoe, Austin C. Blevins, John W. Bonner, Harvey T. Brancefield, William E. Brewer, George Brooks, William C. Brown, Newton Buckner, Charles Bullington Jr., Charles Burchfield, Edgar T. Burns, Herbert G. Cannon, Charlie J. Campbell, Frank C. Caraigo.
John W. Carson, Thomas Cartwright, Steward E. Casteel, Joe H. Cate, William B. Cate, Raymond C. Cavett, Roy L. Cawood, William Chadwick, Harvey F. Chase, Clifford G. Chastain, William D. Choate, Robert L. Clark, Bernard L. Coleman, Carl S. Cooke, Wilburn Couch, James E. Curtis, D.M. Cross, Fred H. Crumley, Robert E. Crumley, Hambry Dansby, Dillard A. Davis, Roger W. Davis, Charles Defriese, Woodrow S. Denison, Edward F. Denton, B.T. Dixion, Virgil N. Dixion, Luther A. Dowdy, Robert M. Duckett, James E. Durham.
Wallace H. Easterly, Earl H. Elliott, Grady F. Enriques , Jack L. Epperson, Seaborn M. Epperson, James R. Erwin, Emery E. Evans, Melvin E. Evans, J.L. Farmer, Horace E. Finnell, Floyd J. Flannagan, C.J. Flowers, Horace L. Fox, Owen Galiman, Marshell L. Gallman, Lawrence L. Gaskill, Darrell Gates, Kenneth Gates, Henery E. Gatlin, Lloyd T. George, Grover Geren Jr., Raymond D. Giles, James W. Gladson, Lewis G. Goines, Haden Goins, Walter L. Graham, John T. Green, Lonnie Green, James I. Hybarger, Robert A. Hannah, Bill Harmon, Harle T. Harmon, Calvin H. Harvey, Sherrill W. Hayes, M.C. Headrick.
Ralph K. Henderson, Rosceo B. Hensley, Hershel Hicks, Charles O. Hill, Willard A. Hill, Raymond L. Hobbs, William Holder, Charles H. Howell, Grandville L. Howard, Warren G. Howard, Paul B. Huff, James T. Humbard, Winstin H. Humberd, Billy B. Hutson, Glen S. Ingle, Glenn Ingle, Arlie F. Jackson, Charles E. Jackson, James E. Jackson, Horace P. Jarkes, Charles E. Johnson, Earl F. Johnson, H. L. Johnson, Joseph F. Johnson, Claude S. Jones, Earnest F. Jones, Floyd H. Jones, Thomas R. Jones, James F. Kazy, Carl M. Kerr, Clyde G. Kersey, Lester A. Kile, Jesse M. Lane, Herbert L.D. Lawson.
Phillip Lawson, Cooper Ledbetter, George Lee, Elvin K. Lemons, Robert H. Logan, William C. Long, Howard D. Lovingood, Jack Manis, Joseph D. Martin, Deuard B. Mason, Charles E. McAmis, Clyde J. McAmis, Johnnie W. McBryant, Daniel A. McCoy, William N. McCuiston, Ralph S. McElroy, Acie D. Milner, James J. Moore, Lawrence E. Moorehead, James L. Mull, James W. Mullinax, Elmer G. Murry, David G. Nichols, James G. Noae, Gale H. Ogle, William H. Ogle, Leroy R. Osborne, Ralph A. Owenbey, Jasper O. Painter, Oliver Painter, J.W. Parham, Louis R. Park, William E. Parker, Marvin R. Pell.
James H. Philpot, Claude C. Phillips, Bud E. Pierce, Jack W. Pierce, James J. Poe, Thomas J. Prater, Chester L. Pritchett, Raymond M. Pruitt, Robert W. Rainey, Earl S. Randolph, Thomas L. Rapier, Cecil D. Ratcliff, James W. Ratcliff, James R. Rasmey, Blane B. Reagan, Lawrence A. Renslow, R.L.G. Ruions, Burch E. Rymer, Raymond W. Sanders, James C. Samples, James L. Sampson, Willie R. Saratin, Raymond L. Scoggins, William Scott, Boyd Shannon, Sed Shannon, Harold L. Shell, Charles Shelton, James Sherrill, Doyle B. Siger, Winford C. Sipe, Charles E. Sliger, James K. Smith, John H. Standridge.
Howard E. Stafford, William C. Stephson, Owen Swafford, William S. Swafford, Bethel R. Sullivan, John L. Sullivan, Terry J. Sullivan, Hugh H. Talley, William C. Taylor, Mack M. Thomas, David H. Thompson, James J. Thurman, David H. Tinsley, Hoyt J. Tinsley, Thomas E. Traylor, J.M. Towers, Edwin Y. Vassey, Joseph C. Vassey, James I. Wade, Winfred W. Walker, Roy B. Watson, Ora E. Whaley, Clarence T. Wolgamott, Melvin L. Wolgamott, J.B. Womack, Andrew Wooden, Joe O. Williams, C.L. Willis, and Amos E. Young.
Reagan's father, Blane, came to Bradley County from Sevier County with his family as a child. He was drafted as a teenager, and eventually assigned to the famous 10th Infantry in Europe.
After his discharge, he spent time in a hospital in Atlanta for battle fatigue. He then returned to farming in Bradley County, but later enlisted in the Air Force for a few years, serving in Illinois, Texas and Alaska. He received training as a machinist, then returned to Southeast Tennessee where he applied his newfound skills, and farmed.
He and his wife, Mary Francis, had six children and were members of Cohutta Baptist Church. He passed away in 1965, his wife a few years later.
Reagan's son, Dwight, and his wife, Lisa, have five children, although one son is deceased. He attended Bradley Central High School, and graduated from Meigs County High School. He has been with Peyton's 37 years.
Reagan emphasized that if anyone needs additional information about The Bronze Star qualifications, they can call him at 423-310-2319.
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