Womack Clinic Renamed for World War II Silver Star Recipient

Womack Army Medical Center

In the weeks and months before Tuesday's ceremony to rename the Troop and Family Medical Clinic on Fort Bragg, officials with Womack Army Medical Center searched for the family of Pvt. Kelly W. Byars.

Byars is a Salisbury native who served with the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II.

He earned a Silver Star for his heroism during Operation Market Garden. He died in Florida in 1979.

"It was hard to find much beyond the (Silver Star) citation," said Col. Lance C. Raney, the commander of Womack.

The hospital was unable to find any of Byars' family. So, Raney said, they would add him to one.

"Today, we're welcoming Pvt. Byars back to our family," Raney said, standing before the newly dubbed Pvt. Kelly W. Byars Health Clinic.

The 51,000-square-foot building serves more than 16,000 soldiers, airmen, retirees and family members, officials said.

The Woodruff Street clinic is a perfect microcosm of Fort Bragg, which features a mix of service members from all branches, said Air Force Col. Alesia C. Carrizales, commander of the 43rd Medical Squadron.

"We have civilians, airmen and soldiers working side by side," Carrizales said.

They train together, celebrate together and all are "dedicated to the highest quality medical care," she said.

During an attack in Holland in 1944, Byars' platoon came under withering fire from machine guns and rifles. As the unit's medic, he rushed to his fellow soldiers as they fell, running across open ground.

One of the most severely wounded was lifted onto Byars' back, and he carried the soldier roughly 65 yards to safety.

"He knew that he was a target of aimed fire yet showed extraordinary bravery and exposed himself to the fire to save the life of a wounded man," a citation for Byars' Silver Star states.

According to hospital officials, Byars was chosen to be honored due to his wartime heroism and his connections to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Army medicine.

"He inspires us," Raney said. "He inspires this team and everyone who walks through this door every day."

The ceremony celebrating Byars coincided with the 82nd Airborne Division's annual All American Week, which honors past and present paratroopers.

Several division leaders, including the commanding general, Maj. Gen. Richard D. Clarke, participated in the ceremony.

Byars now joins others honored by the hospital, including the medical center's namesake, Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Bryant Womack, a Mill Spring native who earned the nation's highest medal for valor during the Korean War.

Other clinics are named for Spc. 5 Lawrence Joel, a Winston-Salem soldier who earned the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; Gen. Roscoe Robinson Jr., a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and first African American to reach the rank of four-star general; and Col. Mildred Clark, an Elkton native educated in Lumberton who survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor and then lived in the base hospital for three weeks treating the wounded and who later became chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

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