CHARLOTTE — They left home and went overseas to fight for freedom. The men who served in the Second World War leave behind an immense legacy.
On Wednesday, 12 men from the Carolinas joined names like Eisenhower and MacArthur on an exclusive list.
“I believe there was about seven or eight hundred in my outfit, and I think I’m the only one that’s alive, and I’m 92 years old,” said James R. “Rudolph” Inman, a Bladen County resident.
Private First Class Inman is part of “the greatest generation.”
“Their hearts were into it, which I don’t see as much into it these days,” says his son Wayne Inman. “But they did it for a purpose, and there was a purpose.”
The North Carolina native, with family in Charlotte, served his country during World War II, manning an anti-aircraft gun on the European front, during one of the coldest winters on record.
“I had on everything that the Americans issued me including a rain coat, overcoat; and captured a bunch of German supplies,” Inman recalls. “I had on some of their underwear. I had so many clothes on that I couldn’t get in my turret hardly. I had to take my overcoat off to get in the turret.”
Inman is one of 12 decorated North Carolina veterans of World War II inducted into the French Order of the Legion of Honor during a ceremony hosted by the French Consulate on Wednesday.
“Viva Le France,” says Inman. “Lord have mercy, they were good people. They were worth fighting for. I never met a Frenchmen I didn’t like.”
It’s an honor given by the President of France, and created by Napoleon. A well deserved recognition for these true heroes, many of whom came home to little fanfare when their war was over.
“When he came back from World War II, he took a train to Fayetteville, and he called his parents neighbors and said ‘tell momma and daddy I’m home, I’m at the train station. Come get me’,” says Inman’s daughter Hellen Kaleel. “He was there right by himself. Nobody was there to greet him, and he didn’t expect it.”
The 12 men honored were: Maj. Richard P. Woodson/Raleigh, Staff Sgt. Lewis E. Herron/Asheville, Staff Sgt. John W. Newman/Mooresville, Staff Sgt. Jerome M. Schwartz/Charlotte, Sgt. James M. Bond/Edenton, Sgt. Vincent Corsini/Burlington, Sgt. Mervin E. Hogg/Wilmongton, WT 2nd Class Anthony J. Buccieri/Apex, Technician 5th Grade Murray Lorber/Raleigh, James R. Inman/PFC Elizabethtown, PFC Charles J. Jones/Jamestown and PFC Julius N. Watlington/Yanceyville.