During a Memorial Day event held on Monday at the Harlan/Bell County line near Molus, a portion of U.S. 119 in Harlan County was renamed in honor of the late 1st Lt. Carl Henry Dodd, a U.S. Army soldier who was the recipient of the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War.
Dodd was awarded the medal for conspicuous leadership during the taking of a strongly defended hill as part of Operation Thunderbolt.
Emceeing the event attended by a large crowd of veterans, community leaders and residents was Ret. Vietnam veteran John Dodd, of Benham.
Opening the ceremony with prayer was Ret. Vietnam veteran Rev. David Gross, of Wallins. He said this designation was “long overdue.”
Ret. Vietnam veteran Clarence “Buddy” Dodd spoke. State Rep. Rick Nelson, who was instrumental in helping obtain the designation, was recognized for his efforts.
Carl Dodd Jr., 59 of Keavy, said he was “proud and honored” that the people of Harlan County would want to remember his father and other heroes who have lived in the area.
“My dad was a quiet and humble man and if he were still alive he would never have wanted this to happen,” said Dodd. “But, I feel real good about this and think it’s an honorable thing to do for my dad.”
Ret. Lt. Col. John Luttrell, Iraq War veteran, of Harlan, read the official Medal of Honor citation after the crowd was called “to attention with orders.”
Luttrell said he was honored to have been asked to participate in this prestigious event.
“Carl H. Dodd was a fantastic man and a true American hero,” said Luttrell. “These are the people we need to name roads and bridges after.”
The Harlan Honor Guard held a flag folding ceremony and played “Taps.” Commander Fred Hall presented the flag to Dodd’s son, Carl Jr.
Dodd was born to Edward and Ruby Eagle Dodd in 1925, in the community of Cotes near Evarts. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943. Dodd married Libbie Rose and they had three children, sons Carl Jr. and David and daughter Lorana.
Upon the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Dodd was sent to Korea with Company E of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.
According to Dodd’s military history, during the Battle of Masan on Aug. 7, 1950, Dodd, then a master sergeant, earned the U.S. military’s third-highest decoration, the Silver Star. When his platoon was overrun near Chindong-ni, he took over for the missing platoon leader and led the 12 remaining soldiers in reestablishing their position. A North Korean attack from all sides followed, and Dodd provided covering fire while the rest of the platoon pulled back, then returned to rescue two men who had been unable to withdraw due to heavy fire.
He was awarded the Silver Star on Nov. 13, 1950, for this action. He later received a battlefield commission and assumed the rank of second lieutenant.
Beginning on Jan. 30, 1951, Dodd led his platoon against Hill 256, a strongly defended position near Subuk, Korea, as part of Operation Thunderbolt. Leading from the front despite intense hostile fire, he single-handily destroyed a machine gun nest and a mortar position while organizing and encouraging his men. The next morning he and his platoon continued their advance and captured the hill. Dodd was subsequently promoted to first lieutenant and, on June 4, 1951, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the fight for Hill 256.
Dodd retired from the Army in 1965 as a major, ending a 21-year career of military service. He died at age 71 in 1996. He was buried at Cumberland Memorial Gardens in Laurel County, just outside of Corbin, where he was residing at the time of his death.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-909-4147 or on Twitter @Nola_hde