Posthumous awards given to Texas WWII veteran's family
April 3, 2012
GATESVILLE, Texas (April 3, 2012) -- Almost seven decades after his honorable discharge from the United States Army, the late Pfc. James Rhoads has been recognized for his bravery and valor for service to his country in World War II.
U.S. Congressman John Carter, 31st Congressional District in the House of Representatives, and Maj. Gen Perry Wiggins, First Army Division West commanding general, presented Rhoads' daughters, Patsy Hollingsworth and Roxie Greenway, with their father's Bronze Star and Purple Heart Medals at the Peacock Ranch in Gatesville, April 2.
Nearly two years ago, Rhoads' grandson, Mike Hollingsworth, found an old document referencing his grandfather being injured in combat. He asked his mother why Rhoads did not have the award.
"When she stated that she hadn't seen an actual award, I wanted my grandfather recognized for his efforts," Mike Hollingsworth said.
Thanks to Mike's dedication over the past two years, his granddad was honored in today's ceremony, said Patsy Hollingsworth, Mike's mother. "Through his dedication, hard work and research, he made this come about."
Many members of Rhoads' family attended the ceremony, including his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"For the little ones, it's a piece of history," Greenway said, "and for the grandkids, it's just a very special honor for granddaddy."
Rhoads was born Dec. 24, 1919, in Athens, Texas, to George C. and Ada Williams Rhoads. He attended school in Ogelsby and McGregor, Texas, and was inducted into the Army April 15, 1942, in McGregor. He married the late Cora Faye Bell of Moody, Texas, Nov. 9, 1942.
He was wounded Nov. 15, 1944, near Metz, France, while serving as an automatic rifleman with Company C, 1st Battalion, 379th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division.
In addition to the Bronze Star and Purple Heart Medals, Rhoads was also entitled to the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Marksman's Badge with Rifle Bar and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.
Many Division West Soldiers attended the award presentation ceremony, and the unit also provided a color guard, ushers and attendants.
"The reason it's important for uniformed Soldiers to recognize Pfc. Rhoads is because he is our legacy," Wiggins said. "He is what makes our institution a great institution, and we can be really respected in uniform because of his acts."
Rhoads was described as a quiet man who never boasted or bragged about his accomplishments.
"As soon as he was able to get out of the Army and head back to Texas, he grabbed his duffle and moved out," Carter said. "He didn't wait around to get any medals. He had to get back to his family, and that is the American warrior, being about the folks back home."
The award presentation was a long time coming, Patsy Hollingsworth said.
"This day meant a high honor for him," Hollingsworth said. "I promise he stopped his domino game to watch all this."