JEFFERSON-The legacy of one local member of the “Greatest Generation” is currently on display at the Museum of Ashe County History.
A “Tribute to Bill Ballou” will honor the late American hero in the main hall of the museum for the remainder of the year.
Ballou was an honored veteran of WWII and Prisoner of War.
He participated in the Battle of the Bulge and held at Stalag IV-B by the Germans for more than three months, according to a museum press release.
The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Belgium and France on the Western Front. It would be the last major offensive by the Germans before the Third Reich’s surrender the following spring.
Nearly 20,000 Americans were killed during the campaign.
Stalag IV-B was one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in Germany during the war.
At the end of December 1944, approximately 7,500 Americans arrived at the camp from the Battle of the Bulge. At least 3,000 of them were transferred to other camps. On April 23, 1945 the Red Army liberated the camp. Altogether, soldiers from 33 nations passed through the camp at some point in their military careers, according to “Prisoner of War Camp Magazines.”
The museum’s exhibit is not the first token of gratification the county has bestowed on Ballou’s esteemed legacy.
On Sept. 19, 2005, the Ashe County Commissioners honored him for his many contributions with a Proclamation of Appreciation.
“Many people remember his kindness, his smile, his manner of speaking and singing. We are honored to pay tribute to this man who had such an impact on so many people in Ashe County,” read a statement by the museum.
Ballou was born in West Virginia on Jan. 6, 1926 to the late Ward and Bertha Austin Ballou. He served as a minister for over forty years and during that time he served as Director of the Ashe Baptist Association. He held that position for 22 years.
For more information, call the museum at (336) 846-1904.