American Legion Post 235 officially renamed itself as the Hooks-Orr American Legion Post 235, Matthews, NC in honor of two of it’s local heroes who were both killed in action during World War I in France in 1918. Private Grady Bost Hooks and Private Joseph Lee Orr were sons from prominent local families living in Matthews.
The two young men died just five months apart in extremely difficult and harrowing battlefield environments.
Private Grady Bost Hooks, U.S. Army fought and was killed in the massive battle of Meuse-Argonne, in the final offensive encounter of the war. It was the largest engagement in American military history, over 1/2 million soldiers were involved in the battle.
Hooks served with the 81st Infantry Division know as the “Wildcat Division” organized at Camp Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina. On November 11, 1918 in the muddy trenches Private Hooks was prepared to go over the top and attack the enemy. He bravely moved out of the trenches into the open barren space into hell, known as no man’s land, to charge into the German machine guns.
For the next 3.5 hours, Private Hooks and his comrades fought for their nation and their lives. Unfortunately, just a half an hour before the guns would fall silent ending the great war, our brave local hero would meet his fate and was killed in action.
Private Joseph Lee Orr, USMC was mortally wounded and passed away in June 1918 at the then famous Battle of Belleau Wood, just 50 miles from Paris, France in a heavily wooded forest area.
This battle became the Marines battle cry, an image, perception and reputation earned as they attacked the Germans multiple times while sustaining heavy losses. A total of 222 men were killed and 850 wounded in the battle. This is the day the USMC became known as the “Devil Dogs” an elite military combat unit. The German soldiers and officers who fought against them referred to these brave Americans as Teufelshunde, “Devil Dogs.”
Unfortunately, Private Joseph Lee Orr was killed in action, and his family was informed on June 22, 1918 in Matthews, North Carolina.
The American Legion Post 235 on March 16th in a honorable ceremony celebrated the lives of these two young heroes with about 50 legionnaires, guests and dignitaries from the town who attended the early evening event.
Gina Hoover a family member of Private Joseph Lee Orr was in attendance. Orr was her great-great uncle, having a living family member to celebrate the occasion at the event was also an honor for the Post.
The Legion Post will hold a special service at the grave sites of these two local heroes over the Memorial Day Weekend in honor of their service and sacrifice.