03/14/04 — Medal of Honor winners sign books

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Medal of Honor winners sign books

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 14, 2004 2:08 AM

The four living Medal of Honor recipients from North Carolina visited the Wayne County Museum on Saturday to talk with residents, have their pictures taken and sign copies of a book commemorating others like them.

Retired Col. Joe Marm, 62, is a Fremont resident and received the Medal of Honor for his acts during the Vietnam War in 1965. Retired Cpl. Rodolfo "Rudy" Hernandez lives in Fayetteville, served in the Korean War and received his medal in 1951.

Sgt. Major Robert Patterson served in the U.S. Army and received his award for serving in Vietnam in 1968. Lt. Col Gordon Roberts was honored in 1969, having served in the Vietnam War, and is currently stationed at Fort Bragg, where he is a battalion commander with the 82nd Airborne.

Dick Kehoe, president of the Medal of Honor Foundation, said there are only 132 recipients of the award still living. The book "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty" by Peter Collier includes stories about 116 of them. It was published in November and has been on the New York Times bestseller list, with more than 100,000 copies sold. The book features biographies of each recipient as well as their experiences and pictorials.

President George Bush wrote the forward, and there are also essays by Sen. John McCain and newscaster Tom Brokaw.

Kehoe recognized the four honorees and said the book perpetuates the legacy they stood for.

"They have a legacy that we want to pass on," he said.

Prior to the book signing and a reception, several presentations were made. Michael Spriggs and Matt Spriggs of the Rosewood High School Junior ROTC presented the colors, and a proclamation from the county commissioners was made.

James Ballance, a friend and neighbor of Marm's, read the proclamation that made March 13 "Military Hero Day" in Wayne County. He said the medalists deserved to be recognized for their heroic past so that others may know of their sacrifice for America's freedom.

The Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition donated a piece of the Pentagon building to the museum. The coalition received the building piece, which came from the wreckage from the Sept. 11 attack.

Mike Burris, president of the coalition, said the piece will be displayed in a case at the museum and also used for veterans events.

Nancy DeLisle, president of the Wayne County Historical Association, said the gift, in honor of those who lost their lives that day, will be featured in the Wall of Fame room at the museum.