Vietnam vet receives medals 50 years after service
By RACHEL ROBLES | The Mountaineer (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 24, 2017
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows was in Waynesville on Wednesday to give a Canton couple recognition for service to the country and to give thanks on behalf of a grateful nation.
Carroll and Barbara Stockton, residents of Henson Cove, N.C. were presented with medals and awards of military service — Carroll, from his service during Vietnam; and Barbara, on behalf of her father who served in WWII.
“Any time we can recognize a veteran, it’s a special day,” said Meadows. “It’s with great pleasure that I get to award Carroll Stockton with some long-overdue medals.”
Carroll was presented with the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Vietnam).
Carroll thanked Meadows, along with Debbie Caldwell and Stephen Allred in the Haywood County Veterans Office, and joked that, like those in attendance, this was the first time he’d seen these awards.
Carroll served two tours during Vietnam, totaling three years and seven months out of his four years of active duty. He was a member of the Amphibious Sea and Rescue aboard the USS Coral Sea flight ship.
He was scheduled to go home in January, and while at a naval air station in December, was approached by the captain.
“He said, ‘You haven’t been home in three Christmases, and Christmas is coming up, and I’m sure that your mother would like to have you home for Christmas,’” said Carroll, recalling his response: “Boy, you’re sure right.”
Much to his family’s surprise, Carroll made it home for the holidays that year. His medals and awards, that he was supposed to receive a few days after he was sent home, never arrived.
“By the time they came to give them, I was already gone,” he said. “And that was the last I’d heard of it.”
Carroll contacted Caldwell, a veterans service officer for Haywood County, earlier this year when he realized his medals weren’t listed on his military discharge paperwork. She sent in the forms to update his discharge and put the medals on there.
“So then the Navy got wind of that and they sent the medals to Carroll,” said Caldwell.
Caldwell contacted Beverly Elliott, Meadows’ representative in Haywood County, who arranged for the Congressman to be there for the presentation.
Allred, director of Haywood Veterans Affairs, made the framed display case for the medals, and also included Carroll’s uniform patch, a replica of his dogtags, and a boatswain whistle.
Carroll’s wife, Barbara, then received several awards on behalf of her father, Pfc. Hubert Howard, who landed on the beaches of Normandy.
She contacted the veterans affairs office because she was unable to find her father’s awards, and wanted to have something to pass down to her grandchildren.
“One of the great things about military men and women who served — and in this case, it’s the Greatest Generation, it’s that World War II — is that the emphasis was on God and country over self, and we would be well served to continue to pass that on,” said Meadows.
Barbara accepted the Bronze Star Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Bronze Star Attachment, the World War II Victory Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge First Award, the Honorable Service Label Button for WWII, and the Marksman Badge and Rifle Bar.
When asked if she wanted to say a few words, Barbara became emotional.
“I appreciate it,” she said.
“I’d just like to say that her dad was a super nice guy,” Carroll added.
“For the Army,” someone piped up from the audience, which resulted in laughter.
Later, Barbara held onto the framed display, also made by Allred. In addition to the medals, the display included replicas of her father's military patches.
“It [means a lot],” she said. “It’s a treasure.”
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