Category Archives: Honor a Veteran

WWI Snapshot: Wilton Vesper Hughes 1890-1976

Wilton Vesper Hughes was born in Ash, Brunswick County, NC, on January 28, 1890, according to his NC WWI Service Card (below).

This cropped photo is shown in Findagrave, circa 1911. Additional photos (below) are shared in Ancestry, including the wonderful family portrait which was used for the cropped photo. Each family member is labeled. (Click each photo to enlarge.)

NC WWI Service Card

Wilton was ordered to report for duty on July 30, 1918, and sent to Camp Hancock in Georgia. His service card indicates he was assigned to the 63rd Machine Gun Battalion on November 5, 1918. However, that battalion didn’t exist, and is likely meant to be 363rd Machine Gun Battalion. This assumption was made based on a fellow draftee, Newman Goodman Hewett, whose NC WWI Service Card shows he was serving at the Machine Gun Training Center at Camp Hancock, then assigned to the 363rd Machine Gun Battalion. The battalion was planned for the 96th Division. Because of the Armistice, the division was never fully formed.
Source: Historical Branch, War Plans Division (1921), A Brief History of Divisions, U.S. Army, 1917-1918

Besides Pvt Hughes and Pvt Newman Goodman Hewett, Pvt Joseph Sicero Smith, Pvt Walker Otis Smith, and Pvt Anthony Dewitt Stewart also trained at the Machine Gun Training Center at Camp Hancock.

Pvt Hughes was discharged on December 18, 1918.

Wilton Vesper Hughes passed away on January 21, 1976, and was laid to rest in McKeithan Cemetery in Ash. No military honors are shown.


To view this or an earlier profile or snapshot at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

If you would like to help us honor Wilton Vesper Hughes or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement:
Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran:
How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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Great War book donated to local libraries

Local libraries were presented with copies of the book published by Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Two copies of Brunswick County in the Great War: Preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Legacies of the Men and Women Who Served were donated to each of the five library locations in Brunswick County. An additional copy was donated to the Brunswick County Community College.

These donations were made possible thanks to gifts from Gwen Causey, Barbara Griffin, Judith Holden, Kirk James, and Teresa A. McLamb.

You can read about the donations in local newspapers using the following links. They are also listed on the News webpage or using the News tab at the top of this website.
Brunswick Beacon: McLamb donates Great War book to BCC library
State Port Pilot: Friends of Rifle Range gift book

To order your own book, call or contact The Friends now as shown below (click to enlarge), or use the Purchase a Book link.

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WWI Snapshot: Adrian Leroy Willetts 1895-1973

NC WWI Service Card

Adrian Leroy Willetts was born in Winnabow, Brunswick County, NC.

His WWI Draft Registration in 1917 shows he had served in the Coast Guard Cutter Service. His NC WWI Service Card shows his enlistment date as April 29, 1914.

This photo dated 1916 is in Findagrave.

Adrian’s length of service in the Coast Guard is unclear, as well as whether he served in World War II. An article in the News and Observer in 1939 confirms he was in the Coast Guard at that time. He and three other members of the crew were hospitalized with food poisoning.
Sources: News and Observer [Raleigh, NC], 3 Dec. 1939, p. 12; “Poisoned.” State Port Pilot [Southport, NC], 6 Dec. 1939, p. 5.

In 1949, an article in the State Port Pilot mentioned that Adrian had retired from the Coast Guard and had been stationed on Bald Head Island “until a few years ago.”
Source: Keziah, W.B. “Our Rovin’ Reporter.” State Port Pilot [Southport, NC], 22 June 1949, pp. 1-2

Adrian’s brother Harry Lee Willetts also served in WWI. He was ordered to report for duty on August 25, 1918, serving stateside until his discharge on December 30, 1919. He was laid to rest in Willetts Cemetery after his death on February 1, 1970.

Adrian Leroy Willetts passed away on August 25, 1973, at Ocean Trails Rest Home in Southport, NC, at age 77. He was laid to rest in Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery in Winnabow. No military honors are shown.


To view this or an earlier profile or snapshot at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

If you would like to help us honor Adrian Leroy Willetts or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement:
Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran:
How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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Copies of Brunswick County in the Great War are still available for purchase

Note: This is not a fundraiser. The price of the books was chosen to cover the publishing and printing costs.

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WWI Snapshot: Hildur Sorensen 1886-1960

Hildur Sorensen served in World War I and World War II.

NC WWI Service Card

Hildur Sorensen was born in Southport, NC. His parents Oscar and Mary had immigrated separately from Denmark, married, and by 1880 had settled in Southport.

Surfman Sorensen’s NC WWI Service Card shows he joined the Coast Guard in 1916, but a 1905 Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service in Ancestry shows it may have been earlier. Earlier military service is not always included in the WWI Service Cards.

An article published in “Legion Notes” on page 2 of Annapolis Capital on September 17, 1942, lists his length of service in the Coast Guard at that time as 33 years. His obituary, shown below, includes that he served in both WWI and WWII and retired from the Coast Guard.

Hildur eventually moved to Fort Lauderdale, where he died on November 1, 1960.

Source: Fort Lauderdale News, 2 Nov. 1960, p.12
Hildur Sorensen

Services for Hildur Sorensen, 74, of 1405 SW 19th St., who died yesterday at Broward General Hospital, will be held in Baltimore, Md.

Born in Southport, N.C., he came here six years ago from Baltimore. A member of the Southwest Baptist Church, Ft. Lauderdale, F. & A.M. of Beaufort, S.C., he was retired from the Coast Guard and was a veteran of World Wars I and II.

Surviving is his widow, Olive; two sons, Bryan, Greensboro, N.C., Robert, Newport News, Va.; three daughters, Mrs. Charles Collinson, Ft. Lauderdale, Mrs. Rudy York, Mrs. Leonard Wade, both of Baltimore; one brother and 13 grandchildren.

Friends may call at the Fannin Funeral Home between 3-10 p.m. today.

Hildur Sorensen was laid to rest in Glen Burnie, MD.
Source of photo: Findagrave


To view this or an earlier profile or snapshot at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

If you would like to help us honor Hildur Sorensen or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement:
Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran:
How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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For the Holiday Season: Brunswick County in the Great War

To purchase a copy of the book, please choose one of the three options:

  • Contact Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range at ftcaswellriflerange@gmail.com to arrange a pick-up (no shipping option).
  • Mail a check to:
    Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range
    5 Foxfire Trace
    Caswell Beach, NC 28465
  • Click on Purchase a Book to pay with a credit card.

Please contact the Friends at ftcaswellriflerange@gmail.com if you have any difficulties with these options. We will be happy to assist you.

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In the News – November 18-19, 2020

The book signing and purchase events and Taps Across America were covered in the local newspapers this week, and Norma Eckard presented to Southport Historical Society.

As always a big Thank you! to our valuable local media for continuing to publicize and support our efforts, and to Southport Historical Society for their support!

There are no plans for book signing and purchase events in the near future. As a reminder, click on Purchase a Book to choose a method convenient for you.

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Veterans Day 2020: Taps Across America


Last month, Dick Slease (in photo, on the right), president of Brunswick Bands, Inc., contacted Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range with a request. Dick wanted to organize a Taps Across America tribute at the rifle range on Veterans Day.

This was a continuation of the effort that began in May for Memorial Day. Because the pandemic caused the cancellation of commemorations, musicians were encouraged to play Taps wherever they stood at 3pm on Memorial Day. Across America, tens of thousands of soloists played Taps on porches, parking lots – wherever they were. According to CBS News (story link below), it was one of the largest musical performances of all time.

For Veterans Day, the musicians were urged to choose a World War I memorial. The Fort Caswell Rifle Range was the site chosen by local musician Dick Slease, Ben Edwards, the Director of Music and teacher at South Brunswick Middle School, and Alex Gilland, a student at South Brunswick High School

Before playing Taps, Dick made the following remarks:

Good morning and thank you for coming.

I’m Dick Slease, President of Brunswick Bands Inc., and joining me on this very special day is Ben Edwards, the Director of Music and teacher at South Brunswick Middle School and Alex Gilland who is a student at South Brunswick High School.

We are taking part in a nationwide event to honor those who served in all the armed forces which were necessary to the creation and defense of our country. This event is sponsored by Bugles Across America, an offshoot of Taps Across America, a nationwide conglomeration of brass instrumentalists who play Taps on their front porch at noon on Memorial Day in commemoration of those individuals whose lives were taken in the course of the defense of our country against enemies who only wanted to see our downfall.

Veterans Day, today, is the day that we honor all who served and successfully defended our nation.  The Great War was declared ended when an armistice was signed in Northern France at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That event gave birth to “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of Arlington National Cemetery’s new Memorial Amphitheater in March of 1921.

We are gathered here at the Ft. Caswell Rifle Pit to honor all veterans, but specifically the World War I veterans who served from Brunswick County, North Carolina.

Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand proudly while Taps is sounded.

You can now view the video here:

You can read and hear more about the Memorial Day Taps Across America here. In that story, Jari Villanueva was interviewed about his group, Taps for Veterans, which also sponsored the event. Mr. Villanueva’s website was used as the source for a photo of the trench bugle (pictured here) for our WWI Profile for William Ralph Smith. A donation was made to his website at that time.

At left, Norma Eckard, president of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, lays the wreath at the rifle range. The wreath was made by her friend in West Virginia, Barbara Conway. Thank you, Barbara!

Thank you to Richard Stone for the photo of the musicians.

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Veterans Day 2020

The final Roll Call was planned to be held at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range today, completing two years of reciting the names of the 718 known Brunswick County WWI veterans.

The names of 14 Fort Caswell nurses were to be included.

Like many activities, the Roll Call will have to wait for safer times.

Stay tuned for photos and a touching tribute to veterans planned for today.

Read about previous Veteran Day commemorations:
2018 Veterans Day WWI Centennial Commemoration and Dedication
Veterans Day 2019: Continuing to Honor Those Who Served.

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In the News – November 4-5, 2020

The book signing and purchase events were covered in the local newspapers this week, accompanied by several photos.

The Brunswick Beacon published Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range host book-signing event

Lee Hinnant from the State Port Pilot attended and covered the event in Great War book out; focuses on county

As always a big Thank you! to our valuable local media for continuing to publicize and support our efforts. And another Thank you! to Phyllis Wilson for the photos, most of which were used in the published stories.

A reminder that Brunswick Beacon continues to publish weekly WWI Profiles and Snapshots, an effort of over two years. We thank them for preserving the legacies of our WWI veterans.

These stories and the Brunswick Beacon’s weekly profiles can also be found by selecting the News section at the top of the website.

Newspaper articles courtesy of
The State Port Pilot
Brunswick Beacon

The next book signing and purchase event is scheduled this Saturday (November 7, 2020), noon – 3 pm at the Caswell Beach Town Hall. Read the previous post with details here or select the Events section at the top of the website.

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