News: World War II medals presented to Tennessee Soldier after 71-year delay
Story by Niki Gentry
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Pfc. Henry R. Shaw enlisted in the United States Army at Camp Forest near Tullahoma, Tenn., more than 71 years ago this month. His wartime duty took him across the Atlantic Ocean to the embattled fields of Europe during World War II. On Feb. 11, 2014, he was recognized by Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, the Adjutant General of Tennessee, with two military awards earned during his service that had never been formally presented. The event was conducted in conjunction with the Tennessee National Guard’s African American History Month Observance commemorated annually on Army posts and Air bases across the state.
The ceremony for Shaw was conducted at the Tennessee National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, in Nashville, where the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Service Stars and the World War II Victory Medal were pinned proudly upon the spirited veteran. Shaw served in support of Allied Forces during the D-Day invasion of France and operations surrounding Bastogne, Belgium, with the U.S. Army’s 4056th Quartermaster Service Company.
Maj. Gen. Haston stated, “we saw this opportunity and we saw a wrong that was done by not presenting these awards many years ago,” concerning the lengthy oversight. “I’m glad today we can make it right.”
“It has taken me 70 years to accomplish what I have today…I could talk about my life through next week,” said an emotional Shaw during remarks made to the large crowd of local dignitaries, military members and citizens in the audience. He reminded the attendees of his faith in ultimately obtaining the awards and proudly stated, “I’ve been a dreamer all my life.”
According to Lori Ogden, the Director of Development for Operation Stand Down Nashville, an organization that assists veterans and their families with various needs in the community, Pfc. Shaw notified her agency of the oversight. Operation Stand Down along with other volunteers assisted in obtaining information for Shaw, which ultimately produced the documents needed to award the medals from the Department of Defense.
Shaw was born in Nashville and was married to the late Jessie B. Shaw. Together they had nine children and, according to the honoree, have over 50 grandchildren and several great grandchildren. Many of his family and friends stood beside him as he accepted the honor he earned many decades ago.