Float in Fourth of July Parades in Boone and Blowing Rock Honor Local Veterans of World War II

Published Wednesday, July 5, 2017 at 5:26 pm

To honor veterans, Veronica Johnson organized this float for the Fourth of July parade in Boone. It features three local World War II veterans Stacy Eggers Jr. (front and left); HC Moretz (front, right) and David Watson (right, back). Photo by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

A float in the Fourth of July parades through downtown Boone and Blowing Rock honored local veterans of World War II. Local veterans featured in the float were H.C. Moretz, Stacy Eggers Jr. and David Watson.

Veronica Johnson, daughter of H.C. Moretz, organized this particular float. She said that local World War II veterans rode in the parade a few years ago and she felt like the time was right to do it again.

While there are a few other local World War II veterans still living aside from Moretz, Eggers and Watson, not all of them could not make it due to living in nursing homes, illnesses and so forth. Moretz, Eggers and Watson are all more than 90 years old.

“There aren’t many World War II veterans left and my dad is one of them,” Johnson said. “These were the three that agreed to do it. We wanted to do something special for them and honor them and pay respect for what they’ve done for us.”

World War II veterans, including Stacy Eggers Jr. (front and right); HC Moretz (front, left) and David Watson (right, back), are honored during the Blowing Rock parade.

Stacy Eggers Jr. served nearly three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He first shipped out to North Africa and travelled across the world fighting during the war, according to a July 2009 story in High Country Magazine.

David Watson, who happens to be the older brother of the late legendary musician, Doc Watson, spent World War II on the Landing Craft Support vessel, which was “armed to the teeth and in the thick of the battle” at Okinawa, according to this article.

As for H.C. Moretz, he was 19 years old when he entered the service in July of 1944. He was raised on a farm in Watauga County and said that by working on the farm, his drafting into the military was delayed a couple years longer than his two older brothers.

“I went in at that time and thought I was going to be in the Navy. I reported for duty, but they didn’t need sailors. They needed marines, paratroopers and infantry,” Moretz said. “So I wound up in infantry.”

He spent 16 weeks in infantry replacement training on a base in Alabama and in December of 1944, he joined the 78 Lightning Division and shipped out. Moretz landed in Liverpool, England and rode a train to Southhampton before crossing the channel to France. He arrived at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. He discharged in May of 1946, remaining in Germany a year after the war ended.

Moretz noted the sacrifice of U.S. soldiers in the war and said that back then – unlike today – everybody, “even the federal government,” was unified for the cause. “The outcome was amazing, miraculous,” Moretz said.

As for the parade on Tuesday in Boone and the one in Blowing Rock on Saturday, Moretz said:

“It makes you feel good. It was encouraging. Not with respect to us as individuals but the cause and all World War II service men. That was an important war to keep freedom in the world. [It also] made us feel good to see people as we went through, how many people actually stood up and clapped. It makes you appreciate that reception.”

To honor veterans, Veronica Johnson organized this float for the Fourth of July parade in Boone. It features three local World War II veterans Stacy Eggers Jr. (front and left); HC Moretz (front, right) and David Watson (right, back). Photo by Ken Ketchie

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