DALTON, GA (WRCB) -- Recognition for service and sacrifice. Representative Tom Graves (R-GA 9th) posthumously awarded medals to men whose heroic acts and deeds, in wars spanning nearly the last hundred years, had gone overlooked. They were accepted by proud families.

Barnie Pierce was in the US Army in World War I. "He was my hero, I loved him," said Granddaughter Barbara Bagwell. She was only 12-years old when he passed away, but admires him so much, she keeps his portrait above her bed.

Bagwell's husband Gerald, rounding up medals and decorations to display with a burial flag, noticed on discharge papers that Pierce had been wounded by shrapnel. "But in WWI, there was no purple heart," he explained. "It wasn't created until 1932 and it was retroed back to 1918."

So, Bagwell started the search, and the paperwork and, with help from the congressman's office, found Pierce was due the Purple Heart and three other decorations. "It's a very humbling experience to be able to do that," Rep. Graves said, "A great reminder of the service and the sacrifice that has gone into our nation and the families that still stand by them and are very proud of their sacrifice."

"We want to thank the ones that worked so hard to get them," Said Estelle Gilbert. Her husband Norman served in the Air Force in Korea and Vietnam. "He was a very proud soldier and I was proud of him."

Five medals were awarded to the family of this patriotic man whom they say would stand to attention in his living room when the national anthem was played before a ball game. A moving, but long overdue tribute to Norman Gilbert. "I just feel like that he's looking down and seeing us receive them and how proud he is of them," his widow beamed. "And I'm so proud to get them, about 50 years later.

And, from the "Greatest Generation," William Presley was honored. He was a marine who served in the pacific in World War II. Susan Laney, his daughter, accepted four decorations for his service. "It's just almost like having a little piece of Daddy back, having the medals," she said, "and it means a lot to me."

"He married Mom after he got out," Laney continued, "and I never got to know that soldier side of him. But, to know that he was over there and the battles he was in, you know, what he saw and everything; he talked to my husband, the marine, a lot more than he did me about those things. And I know that he suffered a lot and sacrificed a lot for our country and for our freedoms. And so it meant a lot to me. I'm very proud that my father was a Marine."

Rep. Graves gave credit to Crystal, Tracy and Stephanie, members of his staff who performed the leg work and filled out the paperwork to make the day possible. "I think today is just a great example and a reminder of the many years of service that so many men and women have given to our nation," the congressman said.


Norman Allen Gilbert served in the US Air Force during the Korean War.

Mr. Gilbert was posthumously awarded:

Air Force Good Conduct Medal

Air Force Longevity Award Ribbon

National Defense Service Medal

Korean Service Medal

United Nations Service Award.

Mr. Gilbert's widow, Estelle Gilbert, along with her adult children, accepted the medals on Mr. Gilbert's behalf.


William M. Presley served in the US Marine Corps during World War II. He served on the SS Lurline in the Southwest Pacific War Zone.

Mr. Presley was posthumously awarded:

Combat Action Ribbon

American Campaign Medal

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze campaign star

WWII Victory Medal.

His daughter, Melinda Laney, and her nephew accepted the medals for Mr. Presley.


Barnie Pierce served in the US Army during World War I.

Mr. Pierce was posthumously awarded:

Purple Heart

WWI Victory Medal with France Service Clasp

Meuse-Argonne Battle Clasps

WWI Victory Medal (silver).

His granddaughter, Barbara Bagwell, and her husband Gerald accepted the medals on behalf of Mr. Pierce.