Sarah Evans received her late husband’s medals Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony held at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center. U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey was on hand to present Sarah Evans with her husband’s replacement medals. Gingrey’s Bartow County District Director Janet Byington took the lead in getting the replacement medals, said Harvey Evans, Sarah’s son, who works as facilities director for Bartow County.
“I’m just really glad to get them back,” he said. “And me and Janet [Byington] had a lot to do with it. We were just talking one day when we were at the courthouse, and she was talking about [how] her dad was in World War II and I was telling her about [how] my dad was, and that’s really how it all got started. She put in a lot of the research to get that done, and then we didn’t have any idea that [dad] actually had the medals he had.
“He never talked about it. We didn’t really know a whole lot about it. I’m just really excited. It’s fantastic. I’m surprised and glad for her. I’m glad she got it.”
Evans passed away October 2001, and his medals were lost at some point.
“Well, it feels great,” said Sarah Evans, who was married to Ivan for a little more than 50 years. “We wasn’t married when he was in the service, and so his mother had part of them. We don’t really know what happened to all of them, if he had them.”
Ivan Evans was inducted into the Army November 1944, when he was 19 years old and served in the 98th Infantry Division, Battery A, of the 367th Field Artillery Battalion. He trained for the invasion of Japan, but after the country surrendered he served in the occupation force.
Sarah Evans was presented with her husband’s Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp, the Honorable Service Lapel Button and the Marksman Badge and Rifle Bar. In addition to the medals, Gingrey and his staff presented her with sand from Omaha beach and a copy of remarks Gingrey made on the U.S. House floor honoring Ivan Evans. The remarks were entered into the Congressional record.
Sarah Evans said her husband rarely talked about his service, though he did mention he went fishing while he was in Japan. She met Ivan Evans at a softball game in Kingston after he left the Army.
“Well, he untied the ribbons on my sleeves, and I thought, ‘What’s he doing?’ And so a friend of mine introduced us then, and so that just started it from there,” she said.
After the war, Ivan Evans worked in the construction of Allatoona Dam and then on his father’s farm before becoming a farmer himself in the Taylorsville area.
For Harvey Evans, the research into his father’s service record was just as valuable as the medals themselves.
“We didn’t know he was part of the invasion force — that he was supposed to go into Japan. We didn’t know any of that stuff until we started checking on it, research. ... He told us about the fishing story and told several such stories,” he said. “How he went out there and got in trouble for going fishing with some of the locals. ... You know, he was from Bartow County, I mean, he was used to fishing all the time. He’d seen some Japanese locals coming in with a bunch of fish, so he decided he was going to ask them to go fishing. So on his day off he went fishing with them, so actually when he come back he got in trouble.”
Byington said one of her office’s responsibilities in working for a U.S. representative was to assist veterans and their families in getting copies of lost medals. Starting with such basic information such as a name, birthdate and Social Security number, she said it was possible to research a veteran’s service records and find any medals. Those interested in regaining a family member’s medals can contact Byington at 678-721-2509.
“This is just one of the favorite things that we get to do in the Congressional office. It is just an honor and a privilege for us to be able to recognize these heroes,” she said.