UDC honors veterans with confederate ancestors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Special to the News-Herald

July 20 was a hot Sunday afternoon at Cypress Chapel Christian Church. The men stood outside by their cars smoking and talking while the women were inside preparing for the big event.

The members of Suffolk Chapter 173 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy were inside, setting out refreshments and making sure that everything else was ready for 3 p.m.


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That was when Suffolk UDC President Joan Johnson would be awarding her organization’s Military Cross in honor of two veterans of the wars of the 20th century and the veterans’ Confederate ancestors.

Kenneth Austin Sr. was there to receive the World War I Military Cross for Junie Austin, a veteran of World War I in Virginia’s 30th Division, Battery E of the 113th Field Artillery, U.S. Army. The Austin men were descended from Confederate soldier William &uot;Billy&uot; D. Austin, of the 22nd North Carolina, Company F.

&uot;We have traced down 37 ancestors and relatives that were connected with the Confederacy,&uot; said Kenneth Austin, 78, a Chesapeake resident. &uot;I have just finished reading a book ‘Covered with Glory,’ written by a distant relative on the 26th North Carolina at the Battle of Gettysburg.&uot;

The other honoree, Thad Williams of Suffolk, received the World War II Military Cross as a veteran of World War II serving in the 78th Division Infantry and as the descendant of Confederate Captain Thaddeus Williams of Company E, 6th Virginia Infantry.

Speaking of his ancestor, Williams, who will turn 80 in November, said, &uot;He joined at a recruiting station set up at Bethlehem Christian Church and served until he was killed on June 22, 1864.&uot;

The Military Cross is considered the highest honor that a UDC chapter can bestow.