Womack portrait unveiled in Columbus

Published 8:55 pm Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bryant H. Womack’s sister, Rachel Elliot (center), with her husband, Billy Elliot, and Rich Nelson, unveil Nelson’s portrait of Womack at a ceremony Wednesday, July 4 during the Fabulous Fourth celebration in Columbus. (photo by Ashley Brewington)

Though Bryant H. Womack died in the Korean War 60 years ago, his service to the country resonated strongly in Columbus on Wednesday, July 4.
County officials honored the soldier during the Columbus Fabulous Fourth event by unveiling a commissioned portrait of Womack. The portrait, painted by Rich Nelson of Tryon, will hang in the county building originally named after Womack in 1998. Alongside the portrait will hang the flag that draped over his coffin when he was buried at Lebanon Methodist Church in 1952.
“He was a true example of a hero,” Polk County Commission Chair Ray Gasperson said of Womack.
Womack is the only Polk County resident ever to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration bestowed upon a United States citizen. He is one of only 3,459 people given the honor across the country to date.
A native son, Womack grew up in Sunny View and attended Sunny View School. After graduation, he worked as a farm laborer. In fact, his older sister, Rachel Elliot, who attended the ceremony on July 4, said the day he answered his draft call to the army he had worked until noon plowing fields.
He was drafted as a private first class into the Korean War in 1950.
While in Korea, Womack served as a medic with the 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. His job was to take care of his fellow wounded soldiers and he took that duty to heart, said Elliot.
On March 12, 1952, Womack’s regiment engaged in a firefight near Sokso-ri, Korea. As the unit began taking heavy casualties, Womack exposed himself to enemy fire in efforts to save the wounded. During that time Womack himself was wounded but refused treatment as he continued his duties. He once again was shot as he worked to give medical attention, this time losing his right arm.

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