On July 27, the CPL J. Ralph Holder bridge dedication was finally completed. CPL Holder was Moore County’s first soldier killed in action (KIA) in the Korean War. He died on July 27, 1950, during the prelude to the Battle of Pusan Perimeter. He was 20 years old.
The strive to honor Corporal Holder dates back to 2019, when NC Sen. Tom McInnis was instrumental in securing the naming of the bridge over Deep River in Holder’s honor. But the originally scheduled dedication ceremony, set for April 2, 2020, was canceled due to COVID.
Recognizing the importance of our many Moore County veterans, American Legion Post 12 Commander Phil Vandercook, the Holder family, and NC Sen. Tom McInnis came together to make sure Corporal Holder’s ceremony would indeed be shared with the public, culminating in Wednesday’s event at the bridge on South Carbonton Road.
Speakers included NC Sen. Tom McInnis and several Holder family members. Former Navy Lieutenant Commander Jesse Holder flew in from Arizona to attend the wreath laying and speak at the ceremony. American Legion Post 12 Commander Vandercook emceed, along with hosting a lunch at the legion hall in Carthage.
Guests included Moore County Commissioners Frank Quis and Catherine Graham, Carthage Town Mayor Jimmy Chalflinch, American Legion District 16 Commander Clifton Bell, and Captain Brock Holder (Moore County Sheriff’s Department), American Legion Post 73 (Ellerbe), Marine Corps League (Fayetteville and Sanford), American Legion Post 350 (Pinehurst), and Holder family members. Several of the Holder family members in attendance are themselves veterans, testifying to the Holder family’s continued service.
American Legion Post 12 (Carthage) has 177 members, whereof 18 are Korean War era veterans. Among those attending today were Elton Turner (87) and Billy Graham (92). During the lunch following the ceremony, attendees remarked on the value of having an active legion post, the need to be able to continue to share experiences, and for our community to keep our veterans engaged.
In 2021, approximately 500,000 Korean War Veterans still remained in the US, but an estimated 600 are lost each day.
~Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel contributor Linda Vandercook.