Local News

World War I veteran's family accepts Purple Heart

Posted November 3, 2010

— A Fayetteville veteran was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart in a ceremony Wednesday more than 90 years after he was injured in World War I.

A member of in Fayetteville's local militia, Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Company, Sgt. Walter G. Jones, 29, was sent in 1918 to serve as a cook with the U.S. Army's 81st Infantry Division in France's gloomy Argonne Forest. In that low-tech era, soldiers like him also ran written orders between commanders.

"He was a man of character. We know this because he was entrusted with these highly sensitive documents of great importance," Fort Bragg commander Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick said.

The Fayetteville native was exposed to poison gas fired by Germans. The gas seared his lungs, and he returned home to Fayetteville a different man, often in dreadful pain.

"He was in and out of hospitals," his grandson, U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, said.

In 1926, at age 37, Sgt. Walter G. Jones died.

He was given what was then the biggest funeral ever seen in Fayetteville and laid to rest in Cross Creek Cemetery.

WWI vet's family accepts Purple Heart WWI vet's family accepts Purple Heart

A few years ago, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-Greenville) read a newspaper article about his grandfather.

"That's what got me working to know more about my grandfather," he said.

His grandfather's valor and pain deserved a medal or plaque, some sort recognition, the congressman said. After reviewing records he presented, the military agreed that Sgt. Walter G. Jones deserved a Purple Heart Medal.

The Purple Heart was established by George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782, during the Revolutionary War. It is reserved for those who were injured in battle.

Ninety-two years after Sgt. Walter G. Jones was gassed in France, his family accepted a Purple Heart on his behalf during a ceremony at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum Fayetteville.

"I think, in the eyes of God, I've done what I can do, and I helped bring this chapter to a close," Walter B. Jones said.

The congressman said he wants his grandfather's story to inspire the nation to take better care of service members who come back wounded and traumatized from battle.

"We should never forget those who go to war. That’s my biggest concern about Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Eduardo1 Nov 4, 2010

    This is just a wonderful story, BUT, back to the present.
    I wrote in an earlier posting, how short the stories have become on our military personnel that are being killed in the Poppy field known as Afghanistan. AND the story about them is taken off the site in a very short time. In much less time than this story. I am ex-military, so I do appreciate this award for the late Sgt Jones BUT is that deserve more time on WRAL? Also, I wrote that we do not seem to show any monthly counts on those killed, or the totals since we have been engaged in this senseless war.

    My best guess, this will be censored by the moderator for not being P.C.

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Nov 4, 2010

    Thank you Sgt. Jones.

  • Realamerican71 Nov 4, 2010

    I do wish that all politicians pressed this hard to look out for all of our veteran's. Sadly, it doesnt happen.

  • Retired07 Nov 4, 2010

    I am sure the man probably deserved the medal. Hate it had to have a political connection to get it done and not on it's own merit in a timely manner. Good job Rep Jones.

  • Jax is proud to be an American Nov 4, 2010

    This is a wonderful tribute to someone who served in our military. Regardless if it was the persons family or a stranger, the man who was given the medal deserves it. He is the one who fought and was injured. Thankfully he has rightfully been honored, even if it was 90 yrs later.

  • ccacrabbitdog Nov 4, 2010

    ok that was family would he put that much effort if it was a stranger???????.......just wondering

  • NC Reader Nov 3, 2010

    Although I have a lot of political differences with Rep. Walter Jones, I admire greatly his continuing concern for the members of our military and their families. I am so glad to hear that he was able to get this posthumous medal for his grandfather.