ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County’s two living World War II POWs were to receive special recognition at Friday’s Hawkins County American Legion Post 21 POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony, but both were under the weather and unable to attend.
However, that didn’t stop an audience in the packed Rogersville Legion Hall, mostly comprised of family members of other Hawkins County POW/MIAs, from giving a standing ovation to Sgt. John Huff, 95, and and Pvt. Lawrence Shoemaker, 93.
Huff and Shoemaker both served in the Army during WWII, and both were POWs in Germany.
They were among 18 Hawkins County POW/MIAs and families honored during Friday’s event. The other 16 have passed away and were represented by family members.
The names of the POW/MIAs and their families were read aloud by Post 21 Commander Cathy Groff and Vice Commander Dennis Elkins. Medals and plaques were presented to the family members by Rep. Gary Hicks, a representative of Congressman Phil Roe, and former Congressman Bill Jenkins, who knew most of the honorees personally.
In fact, Sgt. Howard B. Flowers, who was part of the infamous Bataan Death March, was the best friend of Jenkins’ father.
Jenkins brought a Christmas card made out of a seashell to show Flowers’ family, who traveled from Florida to attend the ceremony. Sgt. Flowers sent that card to the Jenkins family around 1940.
“We’re overdue in doing this,” Jenkins said of the remembrance. “We never can forget the sacrifices these people made. They endured hardships that are difficult to imagine. Some of them were starved. Some were tortured. Some of them died in places that will never be known to us.”
Ken Collier of Kingsport accepted a plaque in remembrance of his brother Marion Gale Collier, who was in the Army Air Corps and was MIA during WWII in China.
“I remember seeing him one time when I was about 5 years old the last time he was ever home,” Collier said. “We had a picture made, and I can’t find it. It’s put up somewhere. But I thought that khaki uniform was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. He was my hero then, and he’s still my hero.”
There were 200 POW/MIA flags planted in front of the Legion Hall Friday representing the county’s POW/MIAs and their families, as well as the 200 soldiers’ remains recently returned to the U.S. from North Korea. POW/MIA family members were invited to pick one flag after Friday’s ceremony.
The Hawkins County POW/MIAs and families who were honored Friday included:
* Sgt. McCauley Price, Army WWII POW in Germany: Represented by cousin Jean Napier
* Pvt. Kay Price, Army WWII POW in Japan: Represented by cousin Jean Napier
* Pvt. Lee S. Charles, Army WWII POW in Germany: Represented by sons Kenneth and Jerold Charles
* Pvt. Ross H. “Dinky” Mayes, Army WWII POW in Germany: Represented by daughters Brenda Gladson, Joyce Thomas and son Bill Mayes
* Pvt. Jessie M. Carpenter, Army WWII POW in Germany: Represented by brother Gale Carpenter
* PFC Heiskell M. Williams, Army WWII MIA at sea: Represented by brother Don Williams
* PFC Lloyd Delph, Army WWII POW in Germany: Represented by sister Cleo Dean and family
* Cpl. James C. Greer, Army WWII POW in Germany: Represented by daughters Sue Davis, Wilma Bledsoe, Betty Sandage, Sarah Clifton and granddaughter Hannah Speaks
* S/Sgt. Ralph C. Marshall, Army WWII POW in Germany: Represented by daughters Elizabeth Potter and Barbara Gibbons
* Lt. Raymond E. Horne Jr., Army WWII POW in Italy: Represented by sister Dottie Heck, son Steve Horne and other family
* Sgt. Howard B. Flowers, Army WWII POW in Bataan: Represented by family members who traveled from Florida for Friday’s event
* Pvt. Lewis E. Price, Army WWII MIA in Germany: Represented by nephew Gene Price
* S/Sgt. Marion Gale Collier, Army WWII MIA in China: Represented by brother Ken Collier
* Pvt. John Kyle Bentley, Army Korea POW in Chinese North Korea: Represented by daughter Sherrie Davis
* PFC James E. Begley, Army Korea MIA in Korea: Represented by nephew Rick Begley