Late local war hero honored

Published 3:26 am Thursday, July 8, 2010

Staff Writer

A late local war hero, Ernest Hertford “E.H.” Bishop, Jr., was recognized by the General Assembly when a bill was passed in his honor last month.
Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, said he wanted to put the bill into action, as Bishop deserved notoriety for his efforts and sacrifices in World War II.
However, Williams said it was Jack and Ruth Mitchell of Washington who were the advocates that really pushed forward to get Bishop honored by the General Assembly.
“I got to know E.H. in 1967 when I first moved to Washington,” Mitchell said. “No one ever knew about his war record, and he never talked about it.
“He was a very quiet man, a farmer and a good all-around human being.”
Williams said the General Assembly passed a joint resolution honoring the life and memory of Bishop last month. The Secretary of State transmitted a certified copy of the resolution to Bishops’ family. It was effective upon ratification.
Sponsoring the bill were Rep. Williams and Rep. Hughes.
In addition, the House of Representatives expressed its appreciation for his service to the country.
“I believe he was one of the highest, if not the highest, decorated soldiers in North Carolina history,” Mitchell said. “He was even given a military funeral, even though he did not make a career out of the Army.”
Mitchell said he and his wife thought Bishop needed some recognition because of what he did.
“He lived a good life and fought for his country, proudly,” he said. “And he needed some honor.”
Bishop was a local farm boy from Pantego that lived a full life. He was born on Jan. 22, 1920 to Ernest H. Bishop Sr., and Betty Elizabeth Judkins Bishop. He graduated from Pantego High School in 1939, playing fullback for the varsity football team and guard for the varsity basketball team.
Bishop was a farmer whose life was interrupted, like so many others around the world, when war broke out. Bishop served in the Army during World War II in Company B, 313th Infantry, 79th Division, where he served as a staff sergeant. He participated in campaigns in Normandy, northern France and central Europe.
He was wounded in action on July 5, 1944 and was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. In fact, Maj. Gen. Wyche, commanding general of the 79th Division, awarded Bishop the Silver Star for gallantry in action against the enemy in France.
Wyche was reported as saying, “When volunteers were requested to reduce enemy pill boxes which were halting an advance, Bishop responded. Crawling across the most difficult terrain, laced with barbed wire, mines, anti-tank defenses and under constant fire from enemy machine guns and small arms, he worked his way to within hand grenade range of an enemy position and neutralized it with the result that the crew of an adjacent position surrendered. Due to Bishop’s actions, the advance continued, accounting for 59 prisoners and a vast amount of materials.”
Though Bishop was scheduled to return home, he stayed in the fight and was wounded in action again just a few months later on Dec. 11, 1944. He received Oak Leaf Clusters for his Silver Star, Bronze Star and his Purple Heart.
Upon being honorably discharged with the rank of technical sergeant, Bishop returned to Pantego, where he became active in his community. He served as a member of New Hope Church of Christ, was a charter member of the Pantego Ruritan Club, and was a former Boy Scout master, a member of the Beaufort County Board of Education and a member of the Green Sea Hunting Club.
Bishop was married to the late Cora Frances Canady for more than 61 years. He passed away on May 19, 2009 at the age of 89.
The Secretary of State transmitted a certified copy of the resolution to Bishops family. It was effective upon ratification.
Sponsoring the bill were Rep. Williams and Rep. Hughes.