For years, the Yadkin County Historical Society has been updating records on Yadkin County military veterans with the goal of listing and recognizing every veteran who served in every war fought on American soil.
The group began compiling the list in 2002, according to Yadkin County Historical Society President Andrew Mackie. The historical society began with the French-Indian war and so far the number of Yadkin County military they have identified has exceeded the thousands.
Mackie said originally the idea came from the late Peggy Stillman Long, who had relatives that fought in World War II. Her idea was to honor all veterans of Yadkin County.
Mackie said groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion have been especially helpful in the project.
Going to gravesites, contacting family members, networking and going through obituaries and newspapers have been some of the main tools in the process.
Mackie said veteran Edward Gregory took a lead role on the project early on and has spent lots of time personally going through microfilm.
A Navy veteran and former air crewman, Gregory said he devotes four to five hours a day to the project. Some discovery is harder to find due to privacy laws, said Gregory.
One of the largest obstacles in uncovering records is because of a fire on July 12, 1973, in St. Louis, Mo., said Gregory. The fire destroyed 16 to 18 million official personnel military files, according to national archives located at http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html.
In addition, books and publications that have false facts also have been problematic, said Gregory.
Gregory defined the mission as a labor of love with the end goal to carry the information to publication and make the information available to everyone.
Meanwhile, Gregory said he also is working on a book about Yadkin County veterans.
His wife, Becky, is a big supporter and help on the project especially by her taking pictures of the names on the markers at graveyards. Gregory said that has been one of the more difficult parts of the job because he is in a wheelchair accident after a motorcycle wreck.
“We are always looking and searching for veterans who are not documented,” Gregory said.
He said anyone may call if they are a veteran or have relatives who were or are currently serving.
“I take what they tell me and use it and list the service and what branch they are in. I just want to make sure that they get recognized,” he said.
Gregory may be reached at 336-463-2113 or at firstname.lastname@example.org with any information.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.