The ninth of ten children in his family, Sergeant First Class Carson Gentry grew up
in the Shelton Laurel Community in Madison County, NC. At 17, he enlisted in the Army
as a Field Artilleryman and (after initial training at Fort Jackson, SC) was stationed
with the 7th Infantry Division in Seoul, South Korea.
In 1950, just two weeks before he was scheduled to return home, North Korea invaded
South Korea, and Sergeant Gentry’s stay was extended. His unit fought in the battle
of the Chosin Reservoir, called by some historians “the most savage battle of modern
warfare.” During that battle, Sergeant Gentry was wounded multiple times by gunfire
as well as shrapnel from a mortar round. Captured by the Chinese Red Army before he
could be evacuated, he spent three years as a Prisoner of War before his release and
return to the United States.
After the Korean War ended, Sergeant Gentry spent several more years with the Army,
serving in Iceland, Panama, Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Gordon, Ga., before eventually
retiring as a Sergeant First Class. After a tour as a Drill Sergeant, his last assignment
brought him to East Tennessee State University, where he served as an ROTC instructor
for two years.
Following military retirement, he was an ETSU employee for 25 years, managing equipment
inventory and carrying out a number of other duties. Today, he remains extremely active
in the Johnson City community, supporting the local American Legion and Veterans of
Foreign Wars (VFW) Posts; working with the East Tennessee Chapter of the ex-Prisoners
of War, which he founded; and maintaining close ties with ETSU’s ROTC Department.
More than 60 years after he entered the Army he remains a shining example of the values,
commitment, courage, and dedication that make our Non-Commissioned Officer Corps,
and our Army, so exceptional.