Holidays in Appalachia

On This Veterans Day

Today’s guest post was written by Bill Burnett.

usa flag hanging in barn

Let us all remember our Veterans every day but especially today. We have two flags on our mantle to remind us daily of the sacrifices of two men who are the reason we are here.

One covered the coffin of Porter Crisp, Bunny’s father who served in Europe during WWII and then was recalled during the Korean War. He was captured at the battle of the Chosin Reservoir and held as a POW for 33 months. He returned home a victim of what is now classified as PTSD and passed at the young age of 38.

The other flag covered the coffin of U Z Burnett, my father who served with the US Army Air Corp in the South Pacific with a Photo Recon Unit which developed the miles of film taken from Gun Cameras which were used in deciding where the B-29’s would drop the bob loads including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He passed at the still young age of 60.

I also had a second Great Uncle who was captured in Europe and died in a POW Camp in occupied France.

Swain County lost eight young men in Vietnam three of which were good friends of mine. Charles George of Cherokee was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for falling on a grenade saving the lives of his comrades, The Charles George VA Medical Center at Oteen is named in his honor.

Let’s remember all veterans every day especially those who gave all when called upon.

—Bill Burnett



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  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 11, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    Yes, Bill, let us remember……. Thanks for your sharing on this Veterans Day!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 11, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    We owe a special debt of gratitude to our veterans who served during the Vietnam War. In previous wars the survivors returned to a hero’s welcome. Vietnam veterans were cursed and spat upon while the draft dodgers and objectors became the heros. These brave men served at the behest their country in a foreign land then had to fight their way back home.
    My brother in law Ulies Jack McGaha served for one day shy of two years mostly in Vietnam where he was exposed to “Agent Orange”. He died in 2000 of lung cancer at the age of 59 probably caused by his exposure to the herbicide. He didn’t die instantly from a bullet or a bomb. His family received no posthumous medals at his funeral. He died a lingering death at the hand of his countrymen. He and men like him who received no recognition for their service are my heros. Unsung heros are they all!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 11, 2019 at 11:26 am

    I’d like to thank Bill Burnett for his roll in telling of his friends who gave their All for our Country. I would like to tell about Andy Nelson, a neighbor who served in The Battle of the Bulge during WW2. He took us Squirrel Hunting, with his son, Jimmy, and just as we crossed the Nantahala, a low-flying Jet came streeking across the sky. Andy immediately fell to the ground, trying to hide his cap-bill in the sand. I ask Jimmy what made him do that, and Jimmy said “daddy was re-living the Battle of the Bulge, he’ll be alright soon.” Andy’s stomach had wire in it, the doctors did what they knew at the time. He drank Milk from a Thermos to ease the pain in his stomach.

    When Andy died, his father-in-law, Dillard Hardin made the statement, “my boy never got to enjoy life like I did.” I will remember Andy as long as I live. …Ken

    • Reply
      November 11, 2019 at 9:24 pm

      A Salute of Gratitude to all who have served, and sincere thanks to all military families. You are not forgotten.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Absolutely, everyday but especially today we as Americans are proud of our past, present and future Veterans.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    November 11, 2019 at 10:39 am

    My father and his brother both served in WW2, one in the marines and one in the army-airforce. They were so young when they served and returned different men after the war. My aunt lost her son in that war. I lost friends in the Viet Nam war, and everywhere I’m reminded of the countless men and women who lost their lives for my freedom. This is a solemn day of gratitude and remembrance.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 11, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Addition to my original post: Our son Donald Guge carried on the tradition of service in the military as he served in Operation Desert Storm as a Combat Engineer. I had planned on making a career in the Air Force since my dad had served in the Army Air Corp prior to the Air Force being separated from the Army and becoming a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947. I had a maternal uncle who served three years in the Navy then joined the Air Force serving as a fighter pilot until he was transferred to the Pentagon as a pilot for then Air Force Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay until he retired. I also have a forth cousin who recently retired as a Four Star General and NATO Commander of Europe, he too was a fighter pilot, for reference his name is Gen. Phillip Mark Breedlove, USAF Ret.
    My plans to make a career of the Air Force was ended because of a broken back while a senior in High School.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2019 at 9:19 am

    A fitting piece. My dad, my father-in-law, my step-father-in-law, and several other relatives were veterans, not counting friends.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2019 at 9:18 am

    We need to always be thankful to the many young men who served our country. Many returned a lot different than the innocent young men they were when they joined. Dad spoke little of his service in WWll, but I clung to what minimal information he did share through the years. He once said he felt sorry for some of the boys with all the marching and exercise required, because where he grew up with really hard work it was not much challenge for him. Also, he had gotten mighty good with accuracy in handling guns for hunting, so guess farm life prepared one well. He once said he did not think he would ever make it back home. He lost his best friend, and I finally found a family site to post some old treasured pictures of his friend, Edgar Petrey. Edgar died while defending our country, just a simple country boy from Kentucky. Dad and his Mother communicated for a few years. Bless this nation and the men who served whether in battle or stateside.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2019 at 9:11 am

    My young granddaughter was with her mom as she shopped at a store near Ft. Knox a few years ago. She got the attention of several active military men when the National Anthem suddenly began playing on the intercom. She came to a dead stop in the aisle and placed her hand over her heart and bowed her head. Some folks videoed her on their phone while others became emotional. We never understood how she learned to be so patriotic at such a young age, but I’m thankful she did.
    Thank you, Bill, for reminding us who is responsible for our freedom.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 11, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Thanks to all Veterans and those serving now for keeping our country safe .

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 11, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Bill–Thanks for a fine and singularly fitting post. As anyone who has done much historical digging knows, these storied mountains have always met their call to duty, and then some, when the drums of war rolled. There are individual stories of heroism without number and a collective tale of the ultimate in patriotism. I knew some of the basics of the background story of Bunny’s father, but not of his capture and imprisonment in aftermath of the “Frozen” Choisin. Another local whom both of us knew and admired, Frank Young, also saw service in both WWII and the Korean conflict. Yet another tale of heroism focuses on French Crisp, a Swain man who survived, if memory serves me, the Bataan Death March.

    I’m sure almost every reader knows of similar tales of service, dedication, patriotism, and sometimes, the ultimate sacrifice. It behooves us all to honor the memory of these Americans and show enduring gratitude to them. Thanks for this powerful, personalized reminder.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    November 11, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Thank you, Mr. Burnett for sharing with us and thank you to all those veterans who served knowing what the true price of freedom is. My daddy was a drill sergeant in the Army Air Corp and served state-side during the war. He said he signed up over and over to go and was not taken. He begged the commanding officer to send him with his men, but he was not sent. Not being sent overseas made him ashamed. He felt as though he did not serve his country in its time of need. He left this realm in March 2014 at the age of 94. To me, he was a Hero. He raised me with respect for the men and women who serve this country whether stateside or overseas. Today, I honor them, and my dad, Sgt. Wilbur R. Yarbrough for his service to our country.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 11, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Clarifications: Bob Loads should have been Bomb Loads. I didn’t point out that Charles George was a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and performed his heroic act during the Korean Conflict. “No greater love has anyone than he will lay down his life for another.”

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    November 11, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Thanks, Bill, for personalizing this, both for your family and those from our home county. I expect that many of Tipper’s readers will do the same – think of those they’ve known first but also those we never knew but are just as grateful to.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 11, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Jesse Stuart wrote a book titled “The Thread That Runs So True.” In the backstory of families the scarlet thread of patriotism and service runs back to our beginnings. The red stripes in the US flag memorialize the blood shed by patriots.

    On this Veterans Day I remember my Dad saying he spent part of his 19th birthday sitting with his rifle in a rice paddy in China.

  • Reply
    Annette Casada Hensley
    November 11, 2019 at 6:18 am

    Thank you, Bill, for sharing the sacrifices that some of Swain County’s veterans have made in keeping our world safe. I salute and honor all veterans every day of the year. It’s almost unbelievable what they do every day for us. I would also like to thank the families of our veterans. They, too, are making huge sacrifices.

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