MARKING HISTORY: NHHS Medal of Honor Recipients
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There's something remarkable about New Hanover High School.
"New Hanover High School, to our knowledge, is the only American high school with multiple World War II [Congressional] Medal of Honor recipients," says military historian Wilbur Jones.
Those men are Charles Murray, class of 1938, and Billy Halyburton, class of 1943.
Murray risked his life by nearly single-handedly saving his company of men on a reconnaissance mission gone wrong in Alsace, France.
Halyburton gave up his life to save a fallen marine during a battle in Okinawa, Japan.
The two former Wildcats both were awarded the nation's highest military honor; the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"They came up during the depression, it was a whole different time," says Jones. "The recession we've been in lately is nothing like the great depression. They knew hardship. It wasn't a 'me first' generation, it was 'country first.''"
Now, the city where they grew up honors them with a memorial you can see here at New Hanover, with a newly dedicated brick garden surrounding it.
Wilmington is no stranger to World War II history. During the war, the Port City was home to the NC Shipbuilding Company, and the railroad – which were vital to the effort on the homefront. In the years since the war, the history has been preserved.
Now, through hardwork from Wilbur Jones, there's a bill in Congress that woud designate Wilmington as the nation's first "American World War II City."
"This whole region contributed so much to the war effort, it's only fitting that Wilmington, we hope, will be named the first," says Congressman Mike McIntyre, (D) NC 7th District.
H.R. 864 is currently awaiting approval in the US House of Representatives, and if approved would be sent to the Senate. McIntyre hopes that this could be accomplished this year.
"Can you see that on the sign coming into town, and on the letterhead?" asks Jones. "I can."
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