National Defense Medal

Grace Elliot, recorder of the Halifax Chapter 1321 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) pins the National Defense Medal on Gene Smith. Smith served during the Vietnam Conflict and the Gulf War.

It was a morning of honor as descendants of confederate soldiers and of the known and infamous “Ole Men and Young Boys” who fought to defend the Staunton River Bridge on June 25, 1864 gathered at Staunton River Battlefield State Park Saturday for the battle’s 154th anniversary.

“A lot of times they’re proud enough for serving their country, and they want to know, that we, the citizens appreciate them, and that’s why we do these medals,” said Grace Elliot, recorder of the Halifax Chapter 1321 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) before presenting three Military Service Awards to two descendants of confederate soldiers.

Gene Smith was the recipient of the National Defense Medal, which, according the UDC’s website, is “presented to veterans who are lineal blood descendants of Confederate military personnel and who served a minimum of 90 days in the Korean War or the Vietnam Conflict but not in country/on land/in airspace/in waters contiguous thereto or in the Persian Gulf War.”

He served in the Vietnam Conflict in 1965 and 1966, and served during the Gulf War.

Smith is a descendant of Robert L. Hunter, who served a private in the Company E, 11th Virginia Infantry in the Confederate States of America.

“I’m grateful for these awards today, but it’s more about what my great, grandfather did. Our ancestors did so much for us, and I appreciate what they endured for me, and I’m proud of my confederate ancestors,” said Smith.

He, along with Julian T. Glass, also were recipients of the Cross of Military Service Award.

The Cross of Military Service medal is “an outgrowth of the Southern Cross of Honor,” and is “presented to veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict and the Global War on Terror who are lineal blood descendants of Confederate military personnel.”

Glass enlisted in the military in Sept. 1967 during the Vietnam Conflict.

“It means a lot to me know my ancestors were involved in the Civil War, and I appreciate the time and trouble that these individuals took to research my ancestors,” said Glass.

Glass is the descendant of Robert A. Morris, who served as a private in Captain Wright’s Company of the Virginia Heavy Artillery in the Confederate States of America.

Janet Johnson, trustee of the Historic Staunton River Foundation also presented medals to descendants of John M. Wagstaff and Marshall R. Womack, who served the Battle of Staunton River Bridge as part of the “Ole Men and Young Boys.”

Accepting the Descendant of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge Medal as an ancestor of Wagstaff was Ellen Wagstaff.

Accepting the medal as ancestors of Womack were Suzanne Sasser, Charles Gregory and Marshall Greg Sasser.

Following the presentation of awards and a gun salute by the Charlotte County Grays, the crowd gathered at the Staunton River Bridge for the throwing of a wreath in honor and memory of all the foundation’s volunteers who helped organize the commemoration.

A wreath on behalf of the foundation as well as a wreath from the John M. Jordan Camp 581, Sons of the Confederate Veterans and a wreath by descendants of World of War I and Word War II soldiers also were presented.