On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, along with members of the Brunswick Town Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, paid tribute to Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley, WWI Brunswick County veteran and only known POW.
The flat military style marker which was installed and dedicated was purchased with funds donated by Allen Dunstan, an out of town visitor who was deeply touched by Pvt Stanley’s sacrifice.
Seven of Pvt Stanley’s descendants along with a friend attended the ceremony and received the thanks and recognition for his sacrifice.
The family members, pictured from left to right.
- Vivian Stanley, granddaughter
- Leroy Hill, grandson
- Ellis Stanley, cousin
- Deborah Bolin, granddaughter
- Fred Stanley, grandson
- Anna White, granddaughter
- Joe Stanley, cousin
Norma Eckard read a short biography during the ceremony.
Robert Bollie Stanley was born and raised in Shallotte.
He was called to duty for World War I on March 29, 1918, training in Camp Grant, Illinois. Pvt Stanley served with the 92nd Division, nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers” in honor of African American troops who served in the American West after the Civil War. There were only two divisions in World War I having African American combat units, the 92nd “Buffalo Soldiers” and the 93rd “Blue Hat” Divisions.
Robert Stanley was one of only nine known African American men from Brunswick County who served in a combat position.
During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, on October 29, 1918, Pvt Stanley was captured by the enemy. He was released about a month later, on November 27, 1918. Pvt Stanley returned to America on March 24, 1919, with his right leg amputated at the thigh. He was discharged from the US Army on August 25, 1919, with a 95% disability.
Robert Bollie Stanley married and raised several children. He was laid to rest on September 22, 1961, at age 66.
Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley’s WWI Profile can be read for more details here.
During the dedication ceremony, Joe Stanley unveiled the marker. After the prayer, “Taps” was played.
The script for the ceremony is available here: Robert Bollie Stanley Dedication Ceremony
The family shared a photo of Pvt Stanley in uniform, which stirred emotions as we recalled his sacrifices.
Following the dedication of the marker, the family members were invited to share stories of Pvt Stanley.
Fred “Stan” Stanley, grandson, was adopted by his grandfather and raised like a son. Pvt Stanley raised several young children on his own after the death of his wife at a young age. Stan remembered him being in frequent pain, but rarely complained. Stan and his grandfather were always together.
Stan was 17 years old when his grandfather suffered a stroke. Delaying his entrance into the Navy, he stayed with his grandfather until he “took his last breath” in September.
Both Stan and Joe Stanley, cousin, commented that their grandfather never spoke about WWI.
Deborah Bolin, granddaughter, was wearing a brooch owned by her mother, Pvt Stanley’s daughter. She shared that her mother was very special to her.
Joe Stanley remarked that Pvt Stanley was “a fabulous man.”
Stan shared more information via email after the ceremony, including this comment.
“God has blessed me and allowed me to see and do so much, and even more so, allowed me to witness such an amazing recognition of my grandfather’s sacrifice.” ~Fred “Stan” Stanley
More memories may be added later.