WWII veteran awarded Bronze Star

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, March 28, 2012


EMPORIA—Sixty-seven years after fighting in World War II, Southampton County native Mat Franklin Spence was awarded the Bronze Star.

Given to the 90-year-old Greensville County man for bravery, the medal is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. armed forces.

In making the recent presentation in Emporia before Spence’s family and friends, Virginia Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Green noted the award was given for Spence’s efforts as a private with the 12th Infantry. He served from 1943 to 1945.

According to family members, Spence didn’t talk a lot about his time in service. All they know is that he served in Normandy, England, France and Belgium.

His military service during the war came to an end when he was found unconscious in a foxhole after a battle.

The 12th Infantry was part of the 4th Infantry Division that spearheaded the assault landing on Utah Beach. The regiment fought in five European campaigns through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

Spence’s actions “reflect credit upon himself, the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense,” Green said.

Spence also received the World War II Victory Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and American Campaign Medal.

Born in Boykins in 1922, Spence became a father to four, grandfather to 12 and great-grandfather to 12. He farmed and worked at Southampton Correctional prison, where he retired.