George Lee Gardner
Gardner was born, July 25, 1925, and was a longtime resident of Avery County. He was a highly-decorated World War II Veteran. Gardner served as a scout in Company G, 119th Infantry of the Army’s 30th Infantry Division, nicknamed “Old Hickory” in honor of former U.S. President Andrew Jackson. Gardner's fighting encompassed five countries; France, Netherlands “Holland”, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. He fought in five major battles, Normandy “D-Day”, Northern France “Saint Lo”, Central Europe Deutschland, Ardennes Mountains “The Battle of The Bulge”, and Rhineland. His primary assignment was to go ahead of his unit, observe the enemy, and then returned to reveal what he had discovered.
Citations Garner earned for meritorious achievement and service in military ground operations are extensive including the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, symbolic of Two Bronze Stars, awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. When awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces. Gardner received his Bronze Stars for bravery; the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, symbolic of Two Purple Hearts, awarded to those wounded or killed in combat; Good Conduct medal, awarded for honorable and faithful service; World War II Victory medal, European, African and Middle Eastern Theatre Campaign medals; Efficiency, Honor and Fidelity medal; Marksmanship medal; Battle of The Bulge Commemorative medal; 50th Anniversary World War II medal, 1995, commemorating the Allies Victory; American Defense Service Commemorative medal, for gallant defense of America; U.S. Military Service Ribbon with five bronze service stars, signifying fighting in five major battles; Combat, Infantry and Rifle Expert medal.
During combat, the 30th Infantry Division was known as the "Workhorse of the Western Front.” It was also referred to as "U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt's SS Troops" by the German High Command. The 30th Infantry Division was selected number one and recommended and received the Presidential Unit Citation.
Gardner later served in the Air Force in Japan, for a year, following the end of World War II.
Gardner is a son of the late Bob Gardner and the late Nettie Hopson Gardner. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Grace Alma Gardner; a son, Jerry Lee Gardner; a granddaughter, Mary Grace Gardner; four brothers; four sisters; a half-brother and a step-brother.
Gardner is survived by three sons, Gary Dean Gardner and wife, Sharon, of Elk Park; Terry Hugh Gardner and wife, Della, of Marion; and Tim Gardner of the home; three grandsons, Greg Gardner, Mark Gardner and Rylan Gardner; six granddaughters, Lisa Dawn Honeycutt, Rebekah Rodriquez, Elizabeth Gardner, Sarah Lee Gardner, Candy Yates, and Shannon Cook; eight great-grandchildren; three step-grandsons; two step-granddaughters; special nephew, R.L. “Gene” Gardner and wife, Betty, of Burnsville; and special friends, Bob and Carlene Black of Rock Hill, S.C.
The Celebration of Life service for Gardner was held on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, at Whites Memorial Baptist Church in Ingalls. The family received friends at the church on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
The service was officiated by the Rev. Eddie Deitz, longtime singer of the Inspirations Quartet of Bryson City, the Rev. Ken Price and the Rev. Dana Williams.
Music was provided by the Inspirations.
Interment followed in the church cemetery.
Yancey Funeral Service of Burnsville was in charge of the arrangements and serving the Gardner Family.
The family wants to thank the staffs of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, the James Quillen Medical Center in Mountain Home, Tenn., and Sloop Memorial Hospital in Linville for their great medical care of Gardner.
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