This article on the 1965 reunion in Knoxville, TN was written by Bob Cunningham and appeared in a local newspaper. [Bracketed] information was not in the original article. Thanks to Curtis and Juanita Crook for providing me with a copy of the article.

u_1965-1Thanks to Buddy, Hero Gets His Star After 18 Years

Two World War II buddies, Velbert A. (Cotton) Ashworth [B Company] and Curtis A. Crook [Hdq Company] , met by chance as both were en route to Little Rock, Ark., in the summer of 1963. It was a meeting that proved fateful to Mr. Ashworth.

Both veterans are attending the eighth annual reunion of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion now in session at the Andrew Johnson Hotel.

On their trip to Little Rock two years ago, the two vets fell to talking about this, that and the other.

"Hey, Cotton, have you still got your Bronze Star?" Curtis asked Cotton. "Whaddaya mean Bronze Star! I never won a Bronze Star in that man's war."

"You sure did," corrected Curtis. "I saw the order-it authorized the Bronze Star for both of us."

Reported Killed

When he got back home, Curtis Crook looked up his copy of the Division General Order No. 80, dated April 12, 1945. Sure enough, there was the citation awarding the Bronze Star to his buddy, Velbert Ashworth.

The division headquarters had been notified that Velbert A. Ashworth had been killed in action, and that is the reason no arrangements were made for presenting the medal to him. The order simply lay all through the years in the division's files.

Mr. Ashworth sent the citation, lent him by his friend Curtis, to Arkansas Rep. J. W. Trimble and asked him to make a check. "Cotton" is a building contractor in Russellville, Ark.

A few days later, Mr. Ashworth received his Bronze Star in the mail 18 years after it was awarded to him.

Awarded by JFK

President John F. Kennedy was to visit Greer's Dam in Arkansas, and Rep. Trimble arranged for him to pin the medal on Mr. Ashworth's breast. This was done Oct. 4, 1963. A few weeks later President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Tex.

Questioned about the event at the reunion here, Mr. Ashworth said: "The President told me he hoped the Government wouldn't be as slow about everything as it was about giving me the medal. He told me it was a great honor for him to pin the medal on me and I thanked him."

Mr. Ashworth was awarded the medal for voluntary participation in the successful rescue of three infantrymen who had accidentally detonated a mine in a German minefield at the risk of his own life. The citation was "For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against an armed enemy near-Germany, on March 17,1945."


60 at Reunion

u_1965-2The 818th Battalion reunion has brought about 60 members of the unit together here fromseveral states. Fowler Wright [A Company-deceased 1987] of Cookeville,[TN] was a lieutenant in the unit. James E. Meredith [C Company-deceased 1999] is the outgoing president.

The 818th was part of Gen. George Patton's army that swept across France, [took part in the Battle of the Bulge, and then into Germany] and Czechoslovakia.

818th Reunion Set at Valley Forge

To Valley Forge, Pa., shrine of American patroitism, where Washington's Revolutionary Army spent a winter on near-starvation, the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion of World War II will go for its 1966 reunion.

This was decided in the business meeting of the battalion's eighth reunion yesterday afternoon at the Andrew Johnson Hotel.

James Dalton Jr. [deceased-1998], of Co. C of the battalion in World War II, and a resident of Valley Forge, was elected president, succeeding James E. Meredith of Powell.

A banquet last night ended the reunion, though most members stayed overnight to attend church today.

The battalion member who traveled the farthest to reach the 1965 reunion was Vayne C. [Cameron Vayne-Hdq Company] Ayres, of San Antonio, Texas


We have many more Reunion photos.

(Click here to view the photos)