The Friends of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Brunswick Town Chapter NSDAR picked up where they left off three years ago with the roll call of 718 men and women from Brunswick County who served in the Great War. Due to the pandemic, there were delays in the program, and the recent Veterans Day event had to be moved to Monday, Nov. 14 because of Tropical Storm Nicole.
According to Norma Lee Eckard, president of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range nonprofit, the plan is to continue roll calling the names of the 718 who served in the Great War until all the names are read.
After welcoming the guests, the Invocation was read by Jayne Rankin. The Brunswick Town Chapter of the DAR wreath was presented by Vice Regent Mary Sands. Dale Spencer introduced Caron Myers, who portrayed Navy Nurse Susan Adkins Williams, who was raised in Southport. Caron captured the attention of those attending by delivering her experiences as a nurse in the Great War in a Southern dialect. Later, after her performance, she sang “God Bless America,” words and music written by Irving Berlin during the Great War, but not used until 1938, closer to WW II.
Several roll callers are descendants of the Brunswick County men who served their country, also known as ancestors.
The roll call started with a substitute for David Lewis, descendant and great-grandson of Lt. JG Davis Elton Lewis. His great-grandfather taught himself to read and write in order to obtain his engineering license, allowing him to sail as chief engineer on any size ship. Get the complete story on page 291 in the book, “Brunswick County in the Great War.”
The next ancestor who served in the Great War was Pvt. Robert Bollie Stanley from Shallotte, grandfather of descendant Fred Stanley, also a roll caller. He is our only POW from Brunswick County. He served in the 365th Infantry, 92nd Division. While being captive as a POW, his right leg had to be amputated at the thigh. His disability was 95% when discharged. After the war, he married, lost his wife at a young age and raised several young children. He also adopted his grandson, Fred Stanley. Read about him on page 50 in the Great War book.
Leroy Hill was the grandson of Pvt. James Hill and Pvt. Robert Bollie Stanley. Pvt. James Hill was ordered to report to duty on Aug. 22, 1918. He was sent to Camp Green in Charlotte, NC and began serving in Supply Company of the 810th Pioneer Infantry. After the Armistice, there was no need for overseas work. The 810th was demobilized in December and Pvt. James Hill was honorably discharged Dec. 17, 1918. Please read about this family on Page 50 and 320 in the book, “Brunswick County in the Great War.”
Descendant Dale Spencer was the great-niece of ancestor Pvt. Jackson Berry Potter, a wagoner. Horses and mules were crucial in this time period. Over 8 million horses and mules died in the Great War. Wagoners were some of those responsible for their well-being. Read more about Pvt. Potter on page 142 in the book, “Brunswick County in the Great War.”
Jayne Sprinthall Rankin, descendant, served as a roll caller for Brunswick County men but she also had two grandparents who served. Her ancestor, paternal grandfather Sgt. Archie Sprinthall of Rhode Island, and maternal grandfather, Coxswain Ward W. Weller of Pennsylvania. You can read about these two men on pages 524 and 512 in “Brunswick County in the Great War.”
Descendant Jane Del Rosso-Freach also had two grandfathers as ancestors. Pvt. Handy Minson Bass was Jane’s maternal grandfather and Pvt. Ralph Del Rosso was her paternal grandfather. But Jane also had two great uncles, Pfc Vito Copola of Dunmore, Pa., and Pvt. William Everett Bass of Cooper, NC. Turn to pages 510-511 in the book, “Brunswick County in the Great War,” to read about these men who served.
Finally, roll caller, veteran and Caswell Beach Town Manager Joseph Pierce served as First Lt. and paratrooper in the elite 82nd Airborne Division for 13 years. Joseph welcomed the opportunity to roll call for the two nonprofits whose missions are Patriotism, Historic Preservation and Education.
The Benediction and Taps concluded the ceremony.
(Note: the book, “Brunswick County in the Great War,” has two copies in all five of our public libraries. You may also purchase a copy by calling Norma Eckard at (910) 278-7584.)
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