Tributes & Comments

TRIBUTES & COMMENTS is an online repository for acknowledgments of North Carolina’s World War II veterans and their accomplishments, statewide or community event bulletins, and other local WWII information and resources.

The Sandling Family

The following was provided by Joseph Sandling, Jr. in tribute to his father and uncles who served in WWII:

The house is still standing across from New Light Baptist Church on New Light Road that C.Z. Sandling built in 1900. He and wife Mezie had 11 children. One died at childbirth, and one died in a car accident. The remaining six brothers and three sisters worked on the farm that they moved to on Carpenter Pond Road near the Durham County/Wake County line in the 1920′s.

Five of the brothers served in World War II and survived. Three were in the Navy, and two were in the Army. Zeb and Gray Sandling remained in the states. Joe, Bodie, and X.B. Sandling saw action in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean theaters. All of the brothers’ ships were either damaged or sunk.

Joseph Sandling

Joe was born on the kitchen table at home on New Light Road, north of Raleigh on August 22, 1910. He joined the Navy in October of 1927, and was promoted through every pay grade and rank from Apprentice Seaman to Lieutenant Commander.

In 1940 as a chief on board the USS Boise, he was his brother X.B.’s division officer. He would not let X.B. go on liberty ashore wearing a tailor-made uniform. Joe went by the book, and after serving on the USS Boise CL-47, he went to recruiting school. While in command of the recruiting substation in Mitchell, S.D., he married Barbara, and they had three children. He got orders to go to Battleship South Dakota in February 1943. USS South Dakota BB-57 was being repaired from damage at Guadalcanal. A twelve-year old, Calvin Graham, who lied about his age to join the Navy, left that ship about the same time as Joe got on it. He heard the kid just left and in a few days the ship headed to the North Atlantic. In August 1943, the South Dakota was in Norfolk, Virginia and soon headed through the canal to the South Pacific.

As the repair officer of the South Dakota, Joe was constantly busy doing just that, because it was a floating city with 2,400 people on board.

Chief Bodie F. Sandling

Bodie was born March 1, 1920. He joined the Navy as a recruit in August 1937. His first ship was the USS Wyoming BB-52. Bodie then transferred to the new USS Enterprise CV-6 in 1938.

His next ship was the USS John Penn APA-23. On August 13, 1942, the John Penn was attacked by Japanese aircraft near Guadalcanal. It was on fire and sinking by dark, and Bodie swam to Guadalcanal – a distance of about three miles. There some Marines saw him and let him stay with them. A few days later he went to the Naval Amphibious Training Base in Coronado, California.

He next went to Saipan where he saw Japanese commit suicide by jumping off cliffs. There he worked with the Naval Supply Depot until he left the Navy in November 1945. Afterwards, he joined the Navy Reserve and served for a total of 20 years. Bodie died in June 2006.

Chief X. B. Sandling

Born January 13, 1922, X.B. Sandling was the last of six brothers born to Mezie and C.Z. Sandling. Grandma joked about X.B. meaning “extra baby.” He joined the Navy in 1940 at the age of 18. He saw action on his first ship, USS Boise CL-47, at Guadalcanal in November of 1942. His older brother, Joe, had just left the Boise for recruiting school. The Boise was damaged at Guadalcanal, and W.B. went to the USS Macomb DD-458. After the Macomb came USS Mosopelea AFT-158. X.B. went to USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42 in the fifties. He maintained diesel generators in Morocco in the late fifties, and his last ship was the USS Sharps AKL-10. He retired after 20 years in the Navy.

SGT. Gray Sandling

Gray was in the Army during World War II. He was a guard for German prisoners in Joplin, Missouri. One of the German prisoners gave him a drawing of the city of Dresden that his son, Gery of Raleigh, N.C., has to this day.

The following tribute and song was written by Harriet Bell Barrett for her brother, Walter Easton Bell, who served in the 5th Armed Division:

My brother Walter was killed on a dangerous volunteer mission 9 days before the European war ended. He was to pick up the bodies of two of the men in his unit located by the banks of the Elbe river in Germany. The Germans had laid a mine, his jeep hit the mine and he was killed instantly on April 16, 1945. He would have been 27 years old on May 19th. He left his wife and two little girls. He is buried in Margraten, the huge American military cemetary in Holland.

He was the only son and I am the only daughter of our parents. Our mother died when I was 13 and I was 19 when Walter was killed. This was hard for all of us to bear.

Walter was a great musician and a great golfer, fun-loving and sensitive to people’s needs. He cared very much about the values in life and tried to live by them. He was very protective of his little sister, very loving.

I wrote “Heart Songs” to celebrate his life and to give comfort to all families with servicemen and women who gave and are giving their lives to protect our country and its freedoms. Poetry is music in words and my son will be putting these lyrics to a song he will orchestrate with singing for me.

Heart Songs

I can still remember
My brother’s deep emotion
That evening in September
With words so softly spoken
“Only God will bring me back.”
His glance of tender eyes
Tears filling up my heart
Pushing off good-byes
Not knowing where to start.

May Heaven’s light be near
Bless our hearts with cheer

In memories so dear
I’ll pause, reliving days
The notes will seem so clear
When he slowly plays
The haunting “Clair de Lune”
In grand piano waves.
This mystic, muted tune
Releasing melodies…
To me his touch a soul song
With heart held harmonies.

Lord, I’ll pray I’ll see
Faith’s sparkling fountainhead
Flowing home to me
Guarding troops sent far away
That sail the lonely sea
To bravely keep us free
In a war that shouldn’t be.

Heart songs of yesteryear
Our comfort for each year.

Tribute to Ralph & Joan Earnhardt from their daughter, Erna Earnhardt Brown

“My Mama (and Daddy) Wore Combat Boots!”

Growing up in the 1960′s it never occurred to me how special my parents were…but do ANY children appreciate their parents when they are growing up?) Mine were special not just because they WERE my parents, but because of their service to our country during World War II. They came from opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon line and ended up in war-torn France. A romance which was not supposed to happen did…thankfully for my sister, brother, and me!

Ralph Earnhardt was born on January 20, 1921 and grew up in the farm country of the North Carolina Piedmont. Joan Livingston was born on March 16, 1922 and spent her childhood in the coal mining hills of central Pennsylvania, graduating from high school in 1939. These two young Americans headed into the 1940′s with the knowledge that they were needed by their country. Ralph entered the U.S. Army in 1943 and trained to become a medic in the field hospitals. After graduating from nurses’ training Joan signed up with the U.S. Army Nurse’s Corps in 1944.
Their paths intersected in France at the 227th General Army Hospital. Certainly not the most romantic of settings, but Cupid had his way. In spite of Joan outranking Ralph…she being a first lieutenant and he a tech sergeant…they dated and found themselves in love AND in the Army!
When my siblings and I heard “war stories” the stories usually had my parents in the lead roles! From listening to them we learned how important service to others is and why our country was worth defending in the 1940′s. My parents had great pride in being able to say that they had taken their place with the others of their generation to fight the war that everyone thought would be the last.

One of my favorite stories of the “French Connection” had to do with my parents sneaking into the French Opera. It is still unclear to me how they both managed to get away at the same time and ended up at the opera! While putting together a scrapbook of their Army memories I found the program from the opera. Of course, everything was in French and I doubt that Ralph’s high school French and Joan’s Latin were much help in translating. But they both agreed that the opera offered a secluded spot away from the war not to mention some much sought after privacy!
Whenever a program relating to World War II would be on television my father would watch it and then tell us “how it really was.” He had not been in combat but he and my mother had seen first hand the horrors of war. For the most part my mother did not share a lot of stories from the hospital, probably because she had served on the colostomy ward. I know that her experience as an Army nurse gave her extraordinary inner strength which would help her to personally face thirteen major surgeries in her life.

When the war ended in Europe, my father decided he had done enough for Uncle Sam. My mother, however, stayed in the Army until 1948. Their post-war years found them getting married on March 8, 1947. Because of being injured while on duty my mother spent many months at Walter Reed Hospital before and after they were married. Ralph and Joan Earnhardt were married fifty-four years before my mother’s death on August 15, 2001. My father lived for only two more years and he died on November 13, 2003. They were part of something greater than themselves and I am proud that BOTH my parents were veterans. Even more I am proud that I can share their memories with others.

Tribute to Ed Broadhurst, of Smithfield, NC, from Marvin E Taylor Jr., of Raleigh, NC

On graduation from West Point in 1937, Ed Broadhurst, a native of Smithfield, NC, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Turning his attention to flying, he gained entry to flight school and received his wings in January, 1939, just days after the unexpected death of his father. Broadhurst was assigned to the 19th Bomb Group (three squadrons of B-17 Flying Fortresses) as the Group moved to March Field near Los Angeles and Hollywood, California. Just the ticket for a young bachelor fly boy. In letters beginning in late October, 1941, Captain Broadhurst described an island-hopping flight of B-17s crossing the Pacific to the Philippines. The 19th found itself at Clark and Del Monte Fields on December 8, 1941 (December 7th in Hawaii), when the Japanese launched a delayed attack on the Philippines. In an interview in 1945, then 29-year old Colonel Broadhurst described his experiences on America’s first day at war. It began with plans for a photo recon mission over Formosa (Taiwan) by three B-17s to be led by Broadhurst. “At the end of the day”, Broadhurst had barely escaped injury in the first wave of Japanese air attacks and was handed the keys to his B-17 by the crew chief as he informed the young pilot that the keys were all that was left. He did learn that his crew, one of whom fired at the attacking aircraft from the bomber’s turret gun until the last moment, had survived. The 19th moved quickly to Del Monte Field in the southern Philippines. The first aircraft on which Broadhurst was offered a ride to Del Monte was delayed, so he caught a ride on a second aircraft. The first plane, which left without Broadhurst, was never seen again. The 19th left Del Monte and moved to Darwin, Australia and then to Java. In early March, 1942, the Japanese landed on Java, forcing the 19th to flee the island. Broadhurst and eight other flyers flew out of Java on what newspaper accounts described as the “last plane to leave Java”. Broadhurst flew twenty combat missions and was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal and Purple Heart. In September, 1942, Major Broadhurst returned to the United States. He found time to court and marry Viola Seubert of Cottonwood, Idaho. They raised three children–Ed, Mary Ann and Barbara. Broadhurst remained in the military after the war. At the time of his death, on April 4, 1965, he had attained the rank of Lieutenant General. He is buried in Smithfield’s Riverside Cemetery. An excerpt from General Hamilton Howze’s eulogy reflects both Broadhurst’s character and style of leadership:

“It is hard to say goodbye to a man whose every action is guided by the profoundest sense of honor and duty, who sought only the wisest and strongest and yet somehow the most considerate and gentlest solution in every problem that confronted him.”

Tribute to Thomas Eugene Picklesimer from Gwen P. Davis, Raleigh, NC

Thomas Eugene Picklesimer, my “Uncle Tom,” was born on June 10, 1907, and died in July 2007, a few weeks after his 100th birthday. About 80 of those years Uncle Tom lived in Whiteside Cove, near Cashiers and Highlands in Western North Carolina. He enjoyed telling stories about two periods in his life: the years before World War II when he raised sheep on a homestead in Wyoming and the period from early 1942 through 1944 when he served in the U.S. Army. On November 11, 2006, he was honored by the VFW as the oldest living World War II veteran in Jackson County. He began basic training in Galveston, Texas, in March 1942 and then joined the Anti-aircraft Battalion on Padre Island. In his memoirs, My Life and Times, he describes his war years as follows:

“We spent the month of October at Fort Hamilton, on the Hudson River in New York, loading our equipment on ships for the invasion of North Africa. On sailing into the Port of Casa Blanca, on the coast of Morocco, North Africa, where most of the ships were being sunk by the French under Hitler, we were told where we had landed. This battle lasted three days. It was raining when we went ashore and never did stop but for ten minutes at a time until April of 1943. It was impossible to move a truck or gun as the mud was so deep. The field battles started in March and ended in May. All trucks that could be spared were put to hauling prisoners to the prisons of barbed wire. I hauled prisoners until the invasion of Sicily. I was on a ship going to Sicily, and the enemy was sinking ships so fast we never got out of port. Three times we tried to get on ships for Italy, and the third time I was wounded. That ended the war for me. I was in a cast for three months, and then worked in a hospital Post Office until August of 1944. I was sent back home and discharged in December, 1944. The days and nights a man lives through in a war will be remembered all his life.”

Tribute to Carl Samuel Woodlief and William (“Billy”) Blane Woodlief, Hillsborough, NC

“Billy” Woodlief was so emotionally charged by World War II that he joined the Army at the tender age of sixteen, falsely claiming to be eighteen. Billy was the youngest Woodlief child and the only son. Billy’s mother Hazel was frantic and begged her husband, Carl to “go find Billy.” Carl Woodlief joined the Merchant Marines and what followed was a miracle. Father and son met in streets of Belgium were they reunited briefly! A single photo memorializes that miraculous reunion. Of course, Billy Woodlief remained and went on to fight in France. Many years later while looking through a family album, Billy’s daughter, Tanya Burch, discovered this photo and wanted to know the story behind it. Unfortunately, by that time both Billy and Carl had died in an automobile accident. in the years to come, Hazel Woodlief would relay their amazing war story through her tears to Billy’s daughter, Tanya.

Tribute to The Lucas Family, Seagrove, NC

The wartime sacrifice is epitomized in the Lucas Family. The Lucas family of Seagrove, NC, was Raymond Lucas (far left)made up of 13 siblings. Four of the brothers (Raymond, David, Joe, and Jim) and one sister (Laura) were of the age to serve during World War II. They all served in the theaters of the conflict. Three brothers and one sister served in the US Army, and one brother in the Navy. All were serving in the war zones at the same time. All came home physically unhurt. Raymond died in 1999, Laura died in 2000, and Jim died in 2002. David and Joe are still living. One North Carolina family sent all eligible members (five) into the conflict and they were all part of the greatest generation!

Tribute to Milton Hare of Kenly, NC, from daughter, Janice Lucas, Falcon, NC

My father, Milton Hare of Kenly, deceased, was drafted to WWII. He was near the top age limit and was not a farmer. He left a wife and 3 children behind. He served two and one half years until it was over. He was a truck driver in the army and served in Germany. He drove close to the front lines taking supplies, but he was safe. Two of my special memories were the day the war was over, I remember church bells ringing, we were all excited, and the day he came home.

Comment from Lillian Harden, Windsor, NC

My name is Lillian Harden and I am a library assistant for Lawrence Memorial Library here in Windsor, NC. Our library has a World War II scrapbook of Bertie County men and women who served during World War II. The book was put together by Amelia Perry of Colerain, NC, from 1941-1945. Mrs. Perry saved most of the newspaper clippings of the service men and women from the Bertie County newspapers at the time and put them in a scrapbook. The scrapbook was donated to the library by her family upon Mrs. Perry\’s death. That scrapbook has been put on our library\’s website. It can be found at under Lawrence Memorial Library. Also, in September 2005, I started interviewing Bertie County WWII veterans and have written their stories. I have 73 interviews to date, some with photographs and pictures. I know several of these men and women would be great for you to interview. I have since put the newspaper clippings from Mrs. Perry\’s scrapbook an! d the photo and pictures that I have collected into an archival safe scrapbook. If you are interested in interviewing any of these veterans, feel free to contact me here at the library at 252-794-2244 and I will get the information to them. You can also contact me through my e-mail address at: Most of the veterans do not have e-mail or not computer knowledgable and so they would not know how to contact you.

Tribute to John W. Chandler, Jr. from daughter, D. Ann Chandler of Wadesboro, NC

I am writing this for my dad (John W. Chandler, Jr.) who is now 85 years old. He was in the U.S. Army during WWII. He served his tour of duty in Europe for three long years. During this time he was in 5 major battles. He often tells stories about the war. As he has aged he often has tears in his eyes when he tells war stories. He is so proud to have served this wonderful country. Our family is so proud of him for being so brave, and fighting for this great country. My dad fought for our freedom. I hope that he can be honored for serving our country. God bless him always.

Comment from Margaret McMann, Roxboro, NC

I sent an e-mail regarding a special project the Rotary Club of Roxboro is doing for WWII Veterans – RIDE OF HONOR. We are organizing a day trip for all the WWII Veterans in Person County to go see the WWII MEMORIAL in Washington DC. So far we have 6 motorcoaches going and I was wondering if anyone from the WWII program segment wanted to go along as our guest for information/photo footage etc. We have men and women veterans going; and their stories are most interesting; one gentlemen was the driver for Eleanor Roosevelt; one was the diplomatic mail carrier for General Eisenhower; several landed on Iwa Jima; many purple heart recipients. Just thought it might be a story you would want to follow. Our trip is Wednesday, May 9th. Thank you,Margaret McMann, President Roxboro Rotary Club