Quest to uncover Unsung Heroes !
BAYBORO – Kelvin ‘KC’ Credle is relentless is his quest to find, and honor, a diverse group of hard-working folks who he calls the ‘Unsung Heroes’ of our area. Credle’s annual awards celebration and dinner – which is expected to honor 38 people – is set this year for Friday, April 7, at The Flame Banquet & Catering Center in New Bern.
Recently, Credle trekked to nearby Aurora on a quest to personally present the honor to World War II veteran Billy Thompson.
“I am a man on a mission,” chuckled Credle, before walking into Thompson’s well known hardware / farm implements / almost everything store on Hwy. 33 in Aurora. “Mr. Thompson could not attend our banquet in 2015, because he was on a previously planned trip to Kentucky. So, I think it’s about time that I got his plaque to him.”
Thompson, who will soon hit age 91, could not have been more gracious.
“I was lucky,” said Thompson, as he recalled his experiences as an 18-year-old soldier, fighting on the front line during the bitterly cold, bloody Battle of the Bulge. “It’s not how smart you are, or what you actually do, you’ve got to have a little bit of luck to get through that type of thing.”
Credle clearly has obvious admiration for his honorees. Many, like Thompson, have quietly pursued their lives and raised families – but always giving back along the way.
“I thank you for your service to our country,” said Credle, returning a firm handshake from Thompson, who is vibrant and looks years younger than the nine-decade mark.
Thompson, upon his return to post-war America, pursued a college degree “on the G.I. Bill” – a federal initiative in the mid to late 1940s that bestowed returning soldiers with free college tuition. In the early 1970s, he had become the largest potato supplier for Wise Potato Chips in the nation. He also developed a conveyor system for harvesting and transporting potatoes that revolutionized the industry.
Thompson’s store, which has become a permanent fixture in the small community, “got started back in 1963 when I purchased two and a half acres.”
His wife, the former Jacqueline Overton, has been a steadfast supporter along the way – and like her husband, remains in good health.
“I call her Jackie,” smiled Thompson, “and we’ve been married for 66 years.”
Editor’s note: If you know an Unsung Hero who should be recognized, or if you need tickets to the April 7 banquet, please call Kelvin Credle at (252) 571-3028.