Carrickfergus link to Congressional Gold Medal campaign for war veterans

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been asked to support an American campaign to award the remaining World War II US Army veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st February 2021, 12:31 pm

The council has been approached by the “Descendants of WWII Veterans Inc” asking for endorsement of the campaign.

A report to councillors said: “This request to council is based on Mid and East Antrim’s rich military heritage and its strong and longstanding connections to the US military, in particular, the formation of the WWII US Rangers First Battalion in Carrickfergus in June 1942.

The Congressional Gold Medal is America’s highest civilian medal awarded to individuals or groups, military or civilian that the country wants to recognise for a “significant contribution”.

Andrew Jackson and US Rangers Centre

The first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to General George Washington.

One of the 40 remaining WWII Rangers, Lester Cook, who was in Carrick at the time of the formation of the First Battalion, passed away in August 2020. Click here

The US Rangers’ Museum opened at Boneybefore outside Carrick in 1994 following a 50th anniversary reunion attended by a dozen veterans of the First Battalion. They were known as Darby’s Rangers, named after US Army Captain William Orlando Darby who was chosen as unit Commander.

Darby’s Rangers donated memorabilia on the understanding that the council would care for it and keep the memory of their contribution alive.

A memorial stone was erected at North Road in 1992 to commemorate the presence of the US Rangers during World War II in a camp in an area now known as Sunnylands estate.

The US Rangers Centre was refurbished in 2017 to mark the 75th anniversary of the formation of the unit in Carrick.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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