Monroe Daughters Receive Father's Military Medals In Special Ceremony

Representatives from Ballad Health and Nuclear Fuel Services, town of Erwin officials, U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger and other members of the public gathered Friday, June 30, for a ceremony to present some U.S. Army medals, including the Silver Star, to the daughters of the late Dr. Harmon L. Monroe.

The Silver Star is the U.S. Armed Forces’ third-highest military decoration for valor in combat.

Rep. Harshbarger was on hand to present the medals earned by Dr. Monroe to his daughters, Carol and Helen.

The medals presented included the Victory Set, World War II Medal Set, American Defense Service Medal Set and, for the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, the Silver Star.

Harshbarger spoke to The Erwin Record about the significance of the ceremony.

“As we celebrate America’s independence, we must not forget the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families, whose heroic and selfless actions have ensured the freedoms we hold so dearly are protected,” the Republican serving Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District said. “East Tennessee is home to hundreds of thousands of veterans, and ensuring they receive the care and respect they deserve has been a top priority of mine as a legislator.”

Harshbarger noted that since taking office, she has supported landmark legislation and worked tirelessly to support veterans. She spotlighted the PACT Act and the Major Richard Star Act, in addition to dedicating one of her office’s caseworkers solely to the needs of veterans.

“Here in the district, it has been my mission to honor the veterans that call East Tennessee home, and I have recognized and pinned 4,824 Vietnam Era veterans through my partnership with the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration,” Harshbarger said.

She added, “This Independence Day marks 247 years since the greatest nation in the history of the world was founded. On this day, let us celebrate our fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and all those who have fought for these principles and ideals throughout our nation’s history.”

During World War II, Dr. Monroe served as an Army captain in North Africa as a battalion surgeon with the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

Both his daughters stated at the Friday ceremony that they had never seen some of the medals until they were presented to them during the ceremony.

In addition to his military service, Dr. Monroe was instrumental in getting the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital established in 1953. He served as the hospital’s first chief of staff. Harmon also became the first plant doctor for Nuclear Fuel Services.

Harshbarger introduced Monroe’s daughter, Carol Tilson, who spoke about her father’s service during World War II, as well as his extensive involvement in community life in Erwin and Unicoi County.

Erwin Mayor Glenn White also spoke during the ceremony, noting that he and his twin sister were delivered by Dr. Monroe.

Today, the Monroe Foundation, established in memory of Harmon and his wife, Mary, remains dedicated to educational, charitable and scientific endeavors to improve medical care in Unicoi County.

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