A photo a day from Oriental, NC, the surrounding Pamlico County area, and nearby rivers, creeks, bays and other waterways of coastal North Carolina.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

12.07- "Old Reliables"

Henry H. Stephens, 47th Inf Regiment, 9th Inf. Division,
the "Raiders" regiment of the "Octofoil" Division

Oriental local Henry H. Stephens was 26 years old when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Today his remains rest at peace in the old town cemetery just outside of Oriental.

I have no information about Stephens' personal service or his death... only the impressive record of his combat unit that marched across Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and the Ardennes.

Stephens was in the U.S. Army's 9th Division, 47th Inf. Regiment.

The 47th was among the first U.S. units to engage in offensive ground combat during the war - on November 8, 1942 it was one of the 9th Div. units that landed at Algiers, Safi and Port Lyautey in French Algeria. The 47th's 3d Battalion took Safi, the first liberation of a city from Axis control in World War II.

In March-May of '43, the unit saw action in Tunisia, where it fought its way north to Bizerte on the Mediterranean.

August of '43 brought the 9th to the invasion of Sicily, with combat at Randazzo and Messina.

The 9th then went to England to prepare for the Allies great invasion... On D-Day+4 (June 10, 1944) the unit landed at Utah Beach in Normandy and fought in the successful liberation of the French port of Cherbourg, whose capture was integral to the supply lines as the Allies began the push-back of German forces on the continent.

9th Div. GIs with some happy locals at Cherbourg
(borrowed from The 9th Div. Society)

The 9th continued with the Allied advance, crossing the Marne river into eastern France on August 28, 1944... by November, when Henry H. Stephens died, the 9th was holding down defensive positions on Germany's western border with Belgium.

Stephens' buddies went on to fight alongside the 101st Airborne against the German counter-offensive on Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge), and burst across the Rhine at Remagen on March 7, securing parts of the Rhineland until V-E Day, May 8, 1945.

The men of the 47th at Ft. Bragg, NC, March 22, 1941
(borrowed from The 9th Div. Society)
(click image above to enlarge)

Henry H. Stephen's forefathers were among Oriental's earliest founders, and he serves as a fitting tribute to all the local boys who served in the U.S. armed forces and merchant marines after the infamous Japanese attack on U.S. soil 68 years ago today.

Remember to thank a WW II vet for all they did for us... before they aren't around to thank anymore.

No doubt many local lads never made it back... and I have met one life-long Oriental resident WW II vet still living here in town... but I did find 42 WW II veterans currently at rest in the cemeteries outside of town, both in the larger historically white cemetery, and in the smaller pre-desegregation black cemetery a few hundred yards away...

Of the 42 WW II vets in the cemetery, most made it back home to live after the war, with only Stephens and Lewis Bracy Midyette (another descendant of town founders) dying during the war:

Here are some of the men of the 9th's 47th Inf. Regiment... Perhaps Henry H. Stephens is among them? If you recognize him (or anyone else), please go to Vincent Whaley's "Tribute to the 47th Infantry Regiment 9th Infantry Division web-site (from whence I borrowed these)... He is trying to ID these brave fellas who fought with his Papaw:

(Photo Copyright © 2007 by Vincent Z. Whaley)
(Photo Copyright © 2007 by Vincent Z. Whaley)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This is Sharon from the Museum. We are currently researching WWII MIA from Oriental. There were actually 9 of them. Henry H. Stephens was called "Hood" and you will also find him on the Memorial at the Pamlico Cty Courthouse. Thanks for the info about his regiment.