11/12/06 — Taking time to remember: Local veterans share their stories

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Taking time to remember: Local veterans share their stories

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 12, 2006 2:01 AM

The Veterans Day parades are done, the grills are cooling off from a weekend of hot dogs and hamburgers, and U.S. flags have been folded tightly to wait for next year's celebrations.

But many who have served in America's armed forces want to remind Wayne County residents that soldiers and veterans don't work just one day of the year. Their struggle means much more to the country and its citizens.

"As a veteran, it means that a sense of pride, duty and obligation are forward in my mind for all of those that have served with dignity, honor and respect in the nation's armed forces. It means for all of the men and women serving that tradition today are very deserving of our respect and unified support to keep our nation free from aggressing forces," retired U.S. Navy E5 2nd Class Bill Graham said. "It means love and honor for all of America's patriots -- not just on this holiday, but every day of the year."

Graham was designated as a combat warfare specialist in Landmine Warfare and Demolitions with Fleet Marine Force Combat Operations during his service in Vietnam. During his time in the Navy from 1968 to 1974, he served as a Seabee, a construction battalion that built bridges, schools, highways and landing strips in Vietnam, Graham said.

Before Graham went to serve his country, he said he was a regular high school student. He and his best friend, Dan Jenkins, planned to go into service together but Jenkins was a year older and enlisted in the Marines while Graham was still in school.

By January 1969, Jenkins was killed in combat, but that didn't stop Graham from serving his country.

"I think it gave me a strong drive to get over there and pick up where he left off," Graham said.

That same drive continued long after Graham left the Navy. He is now an officer with Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion and a member of the Navy Seabee Veterans of America.

"I'm proud to be an American, and I'm proud to be a veteran," Graham said. "We have a country that's been fought so hard for."

Retired Marine 1st Lt. Bill Carr knows how hard men and women have fought for this country, because he served alongside many of them during his 21 years as a Marine.

Carr remembers people like one of his closest friends, Capt. Al Linton. Linton was an OSS officer, which is the equivalent of a CIA officer, during World War II. Linton was also one of the most decorated soldiers of the entire war, Carr said.

Other soldiers, such as Sgt. Maj. Howard Winger, should be remembered for the service they gave their country, Carr said. Winger received two Silver Stars in six months during the Vietnam War.

In 1966, Carr almost lost his life while serving. While on combat patrol in a place called Rock Hill, which was located in the demilitarized zone, Carr said he was "hit pretty bad" during a firefight. The blood Carr lost that day on the other side of the world earned him the Purple Heart.

But when he attends events, Carr doesn't wear his medal. Instead, he wears the Purple Heart his uncle earned in World War II.

"Veterans' Day is a time to remember our fallen Americans," Carr said. "It's a time of remembrance."

Carr now serves on the Military Affairs Committee, Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion. He also serves as a chaplain for the Veterans Coalition Committee and the North Carolina Military Order of the Purple Heart. His duty to his country has also earned him the title of commander of the Eastern North Carolina Military Order of the Purple Heart.

His duties keep him busy, but that continued service reinforces his love for his country.

"It's a pleasure to do all of this for my country. I think I'm more of a Marine now than when I went in," Carr said.

George Carberry knows what that means.

He has served in two branches of the service -- the Army and the Air Force.

Senior Master Sgt. Carberry served six years in the Army as a field artillery specialist before spending another 19 years in the Air Force dealing with supplies and deployment.

Not a day goes by that Carberry doesn't think of those who gave their lives in service to their country, but he said this is the time of year Americans should remember all of the country's veterans -- from World War I to those serving today.

"They deserve a day and they deserve the respect and Veterans' Day is a good day for it. They put everything they had into what they did, and they deserve our respect," Carberry said.

Retired Coast Guard E3 Jimmy Hales said he only gave four years of service to his country. There are many more who gave more time and even their lives, but Americans seem to forget about that sacrifice, he said.

"To me, people who weren't in the military don't care as much as those who were," Hales said. "I see people who could care less."

But Americans should take the time to do something each Veterans' Day. Whether it is raising the American flag or taking a few minutes out of the day to remember the veterans, Hales said any recognition is appreciated.

"We should give our respect. Just think back and remember what they've done for us," he said.