American Legion honors local veteran for 50 years of membership
Special to the Enquirer
A half-century ago, gasoline was 35 cents a gallon, the average cost of a home was $15,000, and Richard Nixon was in the White House.
The year 1971 was also the year one member of Post 52 in Hartselle joined the American Legion.
Local veteran Noel Holmes was recently recognized by the highest levels of the national veteran organization for his half-century service to the Legion. At a regular Post meeting in April, Holmes and family members were on hand to mark the occasion.
In addition to receiving the 50 Years of Continuous Service Award, Holmes was also presented with a Paid Up for Life membership by Post 52 members, an award that ensures Holmes’ status as a Legionnaire for all time.
“It is extremely rare to see anyone dedicate 50 years of their life to any organization, be it employment or civic,” said Michael Ferguson, commander of Post 52. “He understands the impact a Legion post can have in the community, and his level of commitment to volunteerism is an example we should all strive to follow.”
Born Dec. 25, 1924, in Greezy Cove of Morgan County to Omer and Flossy Holmes, he attended Lawrence Cove Elementary School and Eva High School.
In 1944 at the age of 18, Holmes was drafted into the Army, training in several places before being assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 78th Infantry division, in New Jersey. From there he was shipped to England, then to France, and eventually he found himself in Germany.
Called “the greatest American battle of the war” by Winston Churchill, the Battle of the Bulge that began in December 1945 in the Ardennes region of Belgium was Hitler’s last major offensive in World War II. Holmes was there.
In April 1945 he was wounded when, as he describes, “a shell fell and burst in the trees and shrapnel came down. It hit my hand and leg and followed the bone down my leg to my ankle.”
Injured, Holmes was moved to a medical unit in Belgium before being transported to a hospital in Florida.
In addition to being awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries, he later learned he had also been awarded the Bronze Star medal.
He and two other soldiers once cleared 13 German soldiers without firing a shot.
After being discharged in October 1945, Holmes worked as a farmer for 14 years until deciding he needed to earn more money to support his wife and two children. He sought and gained employment on Redstone Arsenal and worked there for 29 years, retiring in 1988.
“Holmes, it is an honor to present this award, and on behalf of Post 52, I’d like to thank you for your service – not only as a 50-year member of the Legion but more importantly for your courage and selflessness in the defense of liberty,” Ferguson said.