Better late than never

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

CONWAY – Honors earned more than 50 years ago were bestowed upon a Conway man here Tuesday night.

Paul T. Pope, who served as a Private First Class in the U.S. Army during World War II, was presented with the Bronze Star Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and six others in a ceremony held during the Conway Town Council meeting.

Susan Umphlett, Pope’s daughter, said the awards were lost shortly after her father returned home from service and had been gone ever since.

A coworker found a way to have the medals reissued by the United States government and Umphlett followed up with a phone call to Northampton County Veteran’s Office Charles Youse.

She filled out the form nearly a year ago and mailed it in, but due to the high volume of requests, just recently received the awards.

Conway Mayor Brian E. Bolton recognized Youse to present the awards.

&uot;It is truly a privilege for me to be here and to have the honor of re-presenting awards earned by one of our county’s World War II veterans,&uot; Youse said. &uot;Seeing the family’s show of support is also heartwarming.&uot;

According to the presentation given by Youse, Private First Class Paul T. Pope was drafted into the United States Army on August 29, 1944. He served until January 24, 1946 when he reenlisted in the Regular Army and served until March 14, 1947.

On May 15, 1947 he enlisted in the Air Force Reserve where he served until May 14, 1950.

Youse said one of the medals won by Pope – the Good Conduct Medal – was an important medal.

&uot;While you don’t hear it called out with the Purple Heart and other medals of that rank, it is an award that is difficult to receive,&uot; Youse said.

The Veteran’s Officer said a Rifleman had to be engaged in combat for 30 days against an enemy of the United States to receive the award.

Youse then called the group to order to issue the one of the awards.

&uot;By direction of the President of the United States, the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to Private First Class Paul T. Pope, who distinguished himself by heroic and meritorious service, while engaging in an action against the forces of Nazi Germany, an enemy of the United States, during the period 29 August 1944 to 24 January 1945,&uot; Youse said. &uot;Private First Class Pope’s actions during this period reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.&uot;

Pope’s wife, Katherine, pinned the Bronze Star Medal on her husband.

Following that presentation, Pope’s Good Conduct Medal was pinned by his son, Paul T. Pope Jr.

Umphlett then handed Pope a Combat Infantry Badge, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with bronze star, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp and the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII.

Mayor Bolton and other members of the Conway Town Council said they were pleased to have been part of what they called a &uot;moving ceremony.&uot;