WWI veterans honored 100 years after war

For the Record
Posted 9/24/21

The Military Order of the Purple Heart wasn’t given to soldiers wounded in World War I because it didn’t officially exist then. But on Saturday — more than 100 years after the …

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WWI veterans honored 100 years after war

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The Military Order of the Purple Heart wasn’t given to soldiers wounded in World War I because it didn’t officially exist then. But on Saturday — more than 100 years after the “war to end all wars” ended — the descendants of WWI soldiers received the honors their forefathers earned.

The Veterans’ Legacy Foundation awarded the honors during a special ceremony at the Harnett County Commons area in the Harnett County Governmental Complex in Lillington at 11 a.m.

“The foundation helps veterans and their families obtain the recognition they deserve so that their military legacy can be passed on to future generations,” said John Elskamp, founder of the Veterans’ Legacy Foundation. “It is a chance to honor these veterans for their accomplishments and to say, ‘Thank you.’”

The following soldiers were recognized at the event:

Private Clarence Tillman Thomas Sr.

Aviation Section Signal Corps, 63rd Spruce Squadron

Pvt. Clarence Thomas was awarded the WWI Victory Medal. He was also awarded the North Carolina WWI Service Medal 102 years after he returned from the northwest. His daughter, Shirley Bain, of Lillington accepted the awards.

 

Private John Franklin Blalock

2nd Infantry Division, 14th Marine Brigade, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment

Pvt. John Blalock was awarded the Purple Heart 103 years after his death in a ceremony where his great-niece, Carol Jones of Raleigh, accepted the award. Blalock also was awarded the Marine Good Conduct Medal; WWI Victory Medal w/the Aisne Battle and the Defensive-sector clasps, Bronze Maltese Cross device; the French Fourragère; and the sharpshooter badge. Blalock is buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France.

 

Corporal Neill Joseph Rosser

1st Infantry Division, 28th Infantry Regiment, Company K

Cpl. Neill Rosser earned the WWI Victory Medal with the Montdidier-Noyon, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne battle clasps as well as the France service clasp. He was also posthumously awarded the North Carolina WWI Service Medal 102 years after he returned from France. His grandson, Jerry Rosser, of Sanford accepted the awards.

 

Mess Sgt. William Henry Twyford

30th Division, Headquarters Troop

Sgt. William Twyford, who founded Twyford Printing in Dunn, earned the Mexican Border Service Medal, as well as the WWI Victory Medal with Somme Offensive, Ypres-Lys Battle clasps. He was also posthumously awarded the North Carolina WWI Service Medal. His grandson, Vann Stephens, of Dunn accepted the awards.

 

Private First Class J. Pearson McLamb 

81st Division, 156th Field Artillery Brigade, 316th Field Artillery, Battery A

For his service, Pfc. J. Pearson McLamb received the WWI Victory Medal with France Service Clasp. He was also awarded the North Carolina WWI Service Medal. His daughter, Arlette McNeill, of Lillington accepted the awards.

 

Corporal Joe Clyde Phillips

30th Division, 60th Brigade, 119th Infantry, Company F

Cpl. Clyde Phillips was awarded the Purple Heart; WWI Victory Medal with with Somme Offensive, Ypres-Lys, France Service clasps; and the North Carolina WWI Service Medal. His grandson, Charles Phillips, of Sanford accepted the awards.

 

Private Ira Lee Marion

Services of Supply, Quartermaster Corps, Supply Company 303

Pvt. Ira Marion earned the WWI Victory Medal with France service clasp. His grandson, Byron Owens, accepted his awards.

 

Private Simon Tennis Owens

42nd Division, 83rd Infantry Brigade, 166th Infantry Regiment, Company K

Pvt. Simon Owens was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart almost 103 years after his wounding. He also earned the WWI Victory Medal with France Service, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne battle clasps.

His grandson, Byron Owens, accepted his awards.

 

Private Arthur Pearce Harvell

33rd Infantry Division, 58th Field Artillery Brigade, Battery E

Pvt. Arthur Harvell was awarded the WWI Victory Medal and the North Carolina WWI Service Medal. His daughter, Ruby Turlington, of Linden accepted the awards.

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