18/365 – Honoring the Hedrick Family – Four Generations of Service
Celebrating my family’s service to the U.S. Army. A century of active and in-active federal government service.
“Always remember those who protect and preserve our independence”
“I can’t help but get choked up every time I think about my family.”
Serving in: World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War and in the countries Germany, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Afghanistan and others.
By: Janet (Hedrick) Stewart
As a young teenager I wrote an article appearing in the Morristown Gazette-Mail reporting the military career of my brothers and how proud I was of their service and commitment, with another article in The Rogersville Review in 2009 honoring their continued service that included two nephews. After seeing the article request for honoring our veterans 365 days a year, I had to tell their story again.
My father Pryor Hedrick was born in Grainger County on February 14, 1897. He married Bertha Noe, in 1916. Noe was the daughter of William Arthur Noe and Minnie Bell Phillips. They had three children Kenneth Hedrick, Velma Grace Hedrick and Francis Hedrick. Parents and children are all deceased.
In 1938, Pryor Hedrick married my mother, Betty Shockley. She was the daughter of George and Lillie Shockley. They had five children, Shirley Hedrick (Johnson), Donald Hadrick, Judy Hedrick (Drinnon), Darrell Hedrick and Janet Hedrick (Stewart).
My oldest brother Kenneth Hedrick enlisted in the Army in 1937 and retired in 1965 with 28 years’ of service. He served with the 18th Combat Team 32nd Field Artillery Battalion, 1st Infantry Division in North Africa and Europe. At the beginning of World War II he was stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He was selected to become part of the American Expeditionary Force, commanded by General George Patton.
Kenneth was part of the invasion of France on D-Day June 6, 1944. He earned a Bronze Star on D-Day while landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Kenneth also served in Korea during the Korean War. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Army of Occupation Medal with German Clasp; the Victory Medal; the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with seven battle stars for Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, North France, Rhineland, Arden-Alsace and Central Europe. Kenneth also received the National Defense Service Award; the Distinguished Unit Emblem, the French Fourragere; the Belgium Fourragere; the Army Commendation Medal, and the Korean Service Medal and the Korean Campaign Medal.
Kenneth died on December 26, 1972 in Johnson City, Tennessee. He is buried at Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City.
My brother Donald Hadrick (different spelling because it was misspelled in military documents) joined the Army in 1958. He retired in 1994, with 20 years active duty and 16 years inactive service working for the Department of the Army, a combined 36 years service.
Don served two combat tours in Vietnam. His first tour was with the 1st Infantry Division, the same division, my brother Kenneth served with twenty-three years earlier. Don’s first tour was December 1965 until December 1966. He was wounded in action on Easter Sunday 1966 and again on Thanksgiving Day November 24, 1966. My sister walked for miles to my parent’s home to inform us of my brother’s injuries. If you’ve had this happen in your family, you know this is something you will never forget. I can still remember standing in the house screaming and crying. Still to this day, it is a horrible feeling just to imagine what a veteran feels. Military families will never forget being notified but their wounds go much deeper than just the obvious injuries, feelings they carry for the rest of their life, physically, but more so mentally, some much worse than others.
Don was evacuated to the U.S. Army Hospital in Fort Ord, California where he stayed until released.
In July 1969 he received orders to return to Vietnam and joined the 4th Infantry Division. He was wounded by shrapnel from a hand grenade in January 1970. He returned home in August 1970.
Don’s awards include; two Bronze Star Medals for Valor and two Bronze Star Medals for service; the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, three Army Accommodations Medals; the National Defense Service Medal; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; seven awards of the Good Conduct Medal, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal with six battle stars, the Vietnamese Service Medal, the Vietnamese Civic Actions Medal; The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry; and the Vietnam Wound Medal.
Don lives on Daniel Island, in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife Bobbie and is enjoying his retirement.
My nephew, Dennis Franklin Hadrick, son of Donald Hadrick served in the US Army from 1981 until 1994. He rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class in the Gulf War. He served as forward observer for the Artillery in the Third Armored Division. His military awards include the Bronze Star for Service; the Meritorious Service Medal; three awards of the Army Accommodations Medal; four awards of the Army Achievement Medal; the Good Conduct Medal. The National Defense Service Medal, the Southeast Asia Service Medal with three bronze service stars; the Professional Development Medal with #3, the Oversea Service Medal for service in Korea and Germany, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Army Service Medal.
Dennis is currently employed by the Department of State in Washington, D.C; as Program Manager in the Bureau of Political and Military Affairs. He is the Department of State’s representative for the de-mining program. Dennis won Officer of the Year Award for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the U.S. Department of State. Dennis was selected because of his consistent humanitarian mine action and important contributions in promoting efforts around the world, particularly in countries just emerging from conflict, such as; Georgia and Iraq. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered remarks and presented the award to Dennis in October 2009. Dennis has 13 years active service. Seventeen 17 years inactive service with the federal government creating and managing conventional weapons destruction programs around the world, including Iraq, Jordan, Afghanistan and other countries in that section of the world. He has visited over 125 countries in his travels.
Dennis lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with his wife Susan.
My nephew, Kenneth Brian Hadrick, son of Donald Hadrick served with the US Army for 6 years from 1983 to 1989. Ken graduated early from Sacramento
California High School. He served in Europe and with the 101st Airmobile Division at Fort Campbell Kentucky. After leaving the military, he returned to Sacramento to begin working in the cable construction business. His occupation has taken him to Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah and to Denver, Colorado where he now works for Tetra Tech. He continues his service to Veterans as the Commander of an American Legion in Thornton, Colorado and performs military burial rites for deceased Veterans.
Ken resides in Thornton, Colorado with his wife JeNet.
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