Local Residents honored as ‘Hometown Heroes’

Published 3:13 pm Friday, January 19, 2018


On Tuesday, Jan. 16, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey and members of the Carter County Commission recognized several individuals as “Hometown Heroes” during a special ceremony at the Carter County Courthouse.

• Darrell & Heather Turbyfill

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In October 2015, a tropical storm hit the east coast of the country leaving 25 individuals dead and billions of dollars of damage in its wake. South Carolina was particularly hit hard, with 19 of the 25 lives lost coming from that state.

With news reports of tremendous devastation in South Carolina coming into our area these hometown heroes felt compelled to respond and do everything possible to help their neighbors that had been displaced from their homes or were without utilities and in serious distress. They immediately decided to personally deliver a pallet of water. They told their pastor and word spread quickly throughout the Community. A good number of Roan Mountain citizens made monetary contributions and donations of other needed items — such as bleach, cleaning supplies and other essentials — began pouring in. Ultimately, they made four trips with the truck and trailer to a church in South Carolina; the designated distribution point. Also, they sent a tractor trailer truck with 34 pallets of water. Afterwards they were told South Carolina did not need any more supplies. Therefore, they directed all other contributions to Angie Odom at The TLC Community Center in Elizabethton. Working with a local bakery each week for approximately a year they delivered bread to TLC and assisted that ministry by helping local citizens that were in need. Their compassion and concern for others yielded countless blessings.

He attended Cloudland High School and she Avery County. They were married in 1994 and opened Highlander BBQ in 2008. The restaurant now serves as a community meeting place. For instance, every Saturday morning the women’s bible club meets there at 7:00 AM. Back Country Horseman meet there once each month. These people are given the keys and allowed to make coffee and soft drinks at absolutely no charge. Regularly they host appreciation dinners for local first responders. When the school kids are at the restaurant and they note that some of the kids aren’t eating because they have no money, these kids are fed at no charge. These folks see no strangers; they always strive to make people feel welcome and at home.

• Wade Rumley

He was born on September 26, 1940, and grew up in the Cripple Creek community.

He entered the United States Army in February of 1959. He took his basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina and more extensive training in Fort Sill Oklahoma. Even though World War II was over the four allied powers (United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union) divided Germany into four occupation zones for administrative purposes, creating what became collectively as Allied-occupied Germany. Immediately upon completion of his training he was shipped to Germany. While there this solider was assigned to a artillery division where he served as Crew Chief for a 155mm Howitzer. In addition to serving in Germany at several points throughout his military career, Rumley also received duty assignments at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Fort Benning, Georgia.

In January 1970, Rumley was deployed to Vietnam. This was truly a harsh and extremely dangerous environment. He recalled once being dropped with six artillery pieces near some rice patties. During the day, the Vietnamese would be working in these patties. At the same time, the Vietnamese soldiers would be submerged under the water and at the feet of the workers breathing through a reed stick. The rice patties would come alive at night constantly raining enemy fire on the American troops.  Another time his unit was using a smaller dozer to clear the way. As the equipment pushed the stumps they found the Vietnamese soldiers dug in under the stumps and ready to engage in combat.

In September of 1970 he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. This Airborne Division and three pieces of artillery were dropped on a hill in Vietnam. The division was surrounded by an infantry unit. The original orders were to be there for only three days. Fourteen days later they were still there. The evening of the Fourteenth Day they were bombarded by mortar rounds. He was hit by one of these rounds and sustained injuries. Nine soldiers were air lifted out that evening. Earlier the next morning they were again subjected to enemy artillery fire which resulted in many causalities. Three days later the unit was finally pulled off the hill.  After recovering from his battle injuries in a hospital in Japan he was sent back to Fort Benning.

On November 30, 1979, he retired after 20 years of honorable and distinguished service to his country. Rumley has been awarded the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Good Conduct Medal on seven different occasions and the Purple Heart.

Delmas “Carter” Isaacs

He was born in Johnson County in 1930, and throughout the years worked as a farmer in Carter and Johnson Counties.

He entered military service on March 6, 1951 by enlisting in the United States Air Force. Basic training took place at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Texas. He then completed Basic Air Frame Training in Glendale, California; ranking in the top 10 percent of the class.  He also, completed engine school in Champagne, Illinois. This training was focused on the R-4360 radial engine built by Pratt & Whitney and installed in the B50 Bombers. Ultimately stationed at Castle Air Force Base in California. He was a member of the 328th Bomber Squadron 93rd Bomber Group. He served as Maintenance Crew Chief on a B50. The Boeing B-50 Superfortress was an American strategic bomber. It was fitted with the most powerful engine available, equipped with a stronger structure and a taller tail fin.  He was discharged on October 26, 1953. Afterwards, he served seven years in active reserves.

He initially lived in Elk Mills after returning home from military service and then later moved back to Johnson County. Through the years he worked as a carpenter and farmer. He was active in the baseball leagues. He attempted to retire in 2006 but still works as a farmer.

This hero has one son who is a professor of agriculture at the University of Kentucky and a daughter that resides in Mountain City. In 1984, he lost his first wife in an automobile accident. Seven years ago, he remarried and moved to Elizabethton.

Charles VonCannon

He lived with his grandmother in the Elk Mills community and she helped him study by the light of a kerosene lamp. He attended schools in Elk Mills, Central, and Happy Valley.

Immediately after high school he joined the United State Navy. In February of 1954 he boarded a train in Johnson City and went directly to Boot Camp in Bainbridge, Maryland. He served in duty stations all around the world. He was a Navy Instructor in the field of communications. In February 1962, after having completed eight years of dedicated service to his country he retired from the Navy.

Upon returning home he went to work for North American Rayon Corporation where he worked in the Physical Testing Laboratory at night while attending East Tennessee State College during the day. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with minors in Education and History. He later obtained his M.A. from ETSU in Educational Administration. Through the years he has completed hundreds of continuing education hours in Industrial Engineering, as well as, other disciplines.

VonCannon worked in the world of industry for many years in a variety of roles for a number of companies. He also worked in education as a teacher at Boones Creek, the evening school director of the Tri-Cities Vocational School, and the Dean of Continuing Education at a community college in South Carolina.

During his career he was hired as the Assistant Director of Industrial Training for the entire state of Georgia and later joined the Tennessee Department of Economic Development as the Director of Industrial Training for the state of Tennessee. He also served as the Carter County Economic Development Director for three years. He is currently the President/Owner of Bemberg Industrial Center and represents the citizens of the 3rd legislative district as their county commissioner.

From a community service stand point he is extremely active and serves on the Boards for a number of nonprofit organizations as well has a long-time volunteer with Holston Habitat for Humanity.

Harry Stout

He was born in September 1927 and lived in the Turkey Town community with his family.

After high school, he found employment with North American Rayon. He was drafted in September of 1944. He completed his basic training at Camp Kilmore, New Jersey and was deployed immediately thereafter to France. He was assigned to the first armored division and then sent to Kassel, Germany.  Upon arrival, his division discovered that Kassel was approximately 80 percent destroyed. It was understandable in that the manufacturing operations for the Tiger Tanks and Mann Engines were located there. Shortly after the war ended his division took on the job of zone police to maintain order. The infantry was constantly marching as foot guard for the tank units. While there he experienced extreme weather conditions that ranged from the hottest to coldest temperatures imaginable. He did not sustain any injuries in combat however he was expose to poisonous mustard gas during his tour. As a result, he spent approximately a month in the hospital. He was discharged in 1947.

Back home in Carter County he and several others put together the First Army Reserve Unit in the State of Tennessee after World War II.  Among these were J. I. Cornett-Company Commander, Blaine Hartley and Tony Emeren. With the onset of the Korean War there was a lack of manpower. Being in the reserves he was sent to Fort Brag and then onto the Korea. He remained on active duty until being discharged in 1954. This home town hero was awarded several service medals. Among these were: World War II, Efficiency, Honor and Fidelity, National Defense, Army of Occupation, Rifle, Honorable Military Service, Korea Defense Service and Cold War-Promoting Peace and Stability. Back in Carter County after the war he went again to work with North American Rayon. He worked in the trucking division of the shipping department and remained there until the 1970’s when the plants eliminated that division. He then went to work with Smith transfer until he retired in 1981. At that time, he went to work on a full-time basis for himself as a lock smith. He had been working as a lock smith on a part time basis since 1966.

On July 25, 2017, he was honored by the congregation of Fairview Baptist Church for 75 years of Faithful Church Membership.