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Asheville VA Medical Center History

Charles George Asheville Veterans Affairs Medical Center

 

House of Representatives Votes to Name Four VA Facilities after Medal of Honor Recipients

 

Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2007) – Today Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, announced that the House approved a package of bills that honors great Americans by naming VA facilities after them. Chairman Filner (D-CA) thanked his colleagues for supporting legislation to honor four great veterans, their families, their communities and all those that have had the privilege to know and work with these heroes.

H.R. 366 – to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the ‘Ernest Childers Department of Veterans Outpatient Clinic.’
H.R. 2546 – to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville, North Carolina, as the ‘Charles George Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.’  
H.R. 2602 – to name the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in Iron Mountain, Michigan, as the ‘Oscar G. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility.’ 
S. 229 – to redesignate a Federal building in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the ‘Raymond G. Murphy Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.’

“Naming VA facilities after veteran heroes is a fitting tribute to preserve the memories of these brave servicemembers,” said Chairman Filner.  “Our grateful nation joins these communities in honoring the memories and saluting the bravery of these Medal of Honor recipients.  This country has a proud legacy of appreciation and commitment to the men and women who have worn the uniform in defense of this country and I thank my colleagues for their support in honoring these heroes.” 
 
The following is information on these Medal of Honor recipients. 
 
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H.R. 366 honors Ernest Childers.  Ernest Childers holds the distinction of being the first Native American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic action in 1943 at the battle of Oliveto, Italy, when he charged German machine gun nests against machine gun fire. Although suffering a broken foot in the assault, Childers ordered covering fire and advanced up a hill, single-handedly killing two snipers, silencing two machine gun nests and capturing an enemy mortar observer. His courageous action helped American troops win the battle and save the lives of American soldiers. Childers was also awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his actions. Until his death on March 17, 2005, Childers was Oklahoma's last Congressional Medal of Honor recipient still living in the State.
 
H.R. 2546 honors Charles George.  Pfc. George, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy on the night of 30 November 1952. He was a member of a raiding party committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain feature, the group was subjected to intense mortar and machine gun fire and suffered several casualties. Throughout the advance, he fought valiantly and, upon reaching the crest of the hill, leaped into the trenches and closed with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. When friendly troops were ordered to move back upon completion of the assignment, he and 2 comrades remained to cover the withdrawal. While in the process of leaving the trenches, a hostile soldier hurled a grenade into their midst.  Pfc. George shouted a warning to one comrade, pushed the other soldier out of danger, and, with full knowledge of the consequences, unhesitatingly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing the full blast of the explosion. Although seriously wounded in this display of valor, he refrained from any outcry which would divulge the position of his companions. The 2 soldiers evacuated him to the forward aid station and shortly thereafter he succumbed to his wound. Pfc. George's indomitable courage, consummate devotion to duty, and willing self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the military service.
 
H.R. 2602 honors Oscar G. Johnson.  He practically single-handed protected the left flank of his company's position in the offensive to break the German's gothic line. Company B was the extreme left assault unit of the corps. The advance was stopped by heavy fire from Monticelli Ridge, and the company took cover behind an embankment. Sgt. Johnson, a mortar gunner, having expended his ammunition, assumed the duties of a rifleman. As leader of a squad of seven men, he was ordered to establish a combat post 50 yards to the left of the company to cover its exposed flank. Repeated enemy counterattacks, supported by artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire from the high ground to his front, had by the afternoon of 16 September killed or wounded all his men. Collecting weapons and ammunition from his fallen comrades, in the face of hostile fire, he held his exposed position and inflicted heavy casualties upon the enemy, who several times came close enough to throw hand grenades. On the night of 16 September, the enemy launched his heaviest attack on Company B, putting his greatest pressure against the lone defender of the left flank. In spite of mortar fire which crashed about him and machinegun bullets which whipped the crest of his shallow trench, Sgt. Johnson stood erect and repulsed the attack with grenades and small arms fire. He remained awake and on the alert throughout the night, frustrating all attempts at infiltration. On 17 September, 25 German soldiers surrendered to him. Two men, sent to reinforce him that afternoon, were caught in a devastating mortar and artillery barrage. With no thought of his own safety, Sgt. Johnson rushed to the shell hole where they lay half buried and seriously wounded, covered their position by his fire, and assisted a Medical Corpsman in rendering aid. That night he secured their removal to the rear and remained on watch until his company was relieved. Five companies of a German paratroop regiment had been repeatedly committed to the attack on Company B without success. Twenty dead Germans were found in front of his position. By his heroic stand and utter disregard for personal safety, Sgt. Johnson was in a large measure responsible for defeating the enemy's attempts to turn the exposed left flank.
 
S. 229 honors Raymond G. Murphy for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a platoon commander of Company A.  Although painfully wounded while leading his evacuation platoon in support of assault units attacking a hostile force occupying commanding ground, 2d Lt. Murphy steadfastly refused medical aid and continued to lead his men up a hill through a withering barrage of hostile mortar and small-arms fire.  Undeterred by the increasing intense enemy fire, he immediately located casualties as they fell and made several trips up and down the fire-swept hill to direct evacuation teams to the wounded, personally carrying many of the stricken marines to safety. When reinforcements were needed by the assaulting elements, 2d Lt. Murphy employed part of his unit as support and, during the ensuing battle, personally killed two of the enemy with his pistol. With all the wounded evacuated and the assaulting units beginning to disengage, he remained behind with a carbine to cover the movement of friendly forces off the hill and, though suffering intense pain from his previous wounds, seized an automatic rifle to provide more firepower when the enemy reappeared in the trenches. After reaching the base of the hill, he organized a search party and again ascended the slope for a final check on missing marines, locating and carrying the bodies of a machine gun crew back down the hill. Wounded a second time while conducting the entire force to the line of departure through a continuing barrage of enemy small-arms, artillery, and mortar fire, he again refused medical assistance until assured that every one of his men, including all casualties, had preceded him to the main lines. His resolute and inspiring leadership, exceptional fortitude, and great personal valor reflect the highest credit upon 2d Lt. Murphy and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Source: House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Recommended Reading: The Cherokee Nation: A History. Description: Conley's book, "The Cherokee Nation: A History" is an eminently readable, concise but thoughtful account of the Cherokee people from prehistoric times to the present day. The book is formatted in such a way as to make it an ideal text for high school and college classes. At the end of each chapter is a source list and suggestions for further reading. Also at the end of each chapter is an unusual but helpful feature- a glossary of key terms. The book contains interesting maps, photographs and drawings, along with a list of chiefs for the various factions of the Cherokee tribe and nation. Continued below...

In addition to being easily understood, a principal strength of the book is that the author questions some traditional beliefs and sources about the Cherokee past without appearing to be a revisionist or an individual with an agenda in his writing. One such example is when Conley tells the story of Alexander Cuming, an Englishman who took seven Cherokee men with him to England in 1730. One of the Cherokee, Oukanekah, is recorded as having said to the King of England: "We look upon the Great King George as the Sun, and as our Father, and upon ourselves as his children. For though we are red, and you are white our hands and hearts are joined together..." Conley wonders if Oukanekah actually said those words and points out that the only version we have of this story is the English version. There is nothing to indicate if Oukanekah spoke in English or Cherokee, or if his words were recorded at the time they were spoken or were written down later. Conley also points out that in Cherokee culture, the Sun was considered female, so it is curious that King George would be looked upon as the Sun. The "redness" of Native American skin was a European perception. The Cherokee would have described themselves as brown. But Conley does not overly dwell on these things. He continues to tell the story using the sources available. The skill of Conley in communicating his ideas never diminishes. This book is highly recommended as a good place to start the study of Cherokee history. It serves as excellent reference material and belongs in the library of anyone serious about the study of Native Americans.

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Recommended Reading: Claim Denied!: How to Appeal a VA Denial of Benefits. Description: The VA is not your loving Uncle Sam who opens his wallet and says, here you are, nephew, a $1,000 check per month for the rest of your life. That should take the pain out of your service injuries, writes John D. Roche. Far from it, he reveals. Though the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000 requires Veterans Affairs to assist veterans in developing the foundation to support their claims, in reality if you rely on the VA to find and develop the evidence necessary to grant benefits then your claim is likely to be denied. Continued below...
Claim Denied! will help those veterans whose benefits have been denied correct the mistakes they made when they submitted their original claims. Appealing a VA decision is not an impossible feat, Roche says, but a veteran's story must be presented in a well-organized and logical format, so any reviewing authority is able to understand the issues as they relate to the laws. This book explains in detail how to develop and present a successful appeal.
 
Recommended Viewing: Indian Warriors - The Untold Story of the Civil War (History Channel) (2007). Description: Though largely forgotten, 20 to 30 thousand Native Americans fought in the Civil War. Ely Parker was a Seneca leader who found himself in the thick of battle under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant. Stand Waite--a Confederate general and a Cherokee--was known for his brilliant guerrilla tactics. Continued below...
Also highlighted is Henry Berry Lowery, an Eastern North Carolina Indian, who became known as the Robin Hood of North Carolina. Respected Civil War authors, Thom Hatch and Lawrence Hauptman, help reconstruct these most captivating stories, along with descendants like Cherokee Nation member Jay Hanna, whose great-grandfathers fought for both the Union and the Confederacy. Together, they reveal a new, fresh perspective and the very personal reasons that drew these Native Americans into the fray.

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