North Carolina Military Hall of Firsts Induction Ceremony

North Carolina Military Hall of Firsts Induction Ceremony


Honor our state’s rich military history and our brave veterans by attending the induction ceremony of the 2023 class of the North Carolina Military Hall of Firsts (NCMHOF). As part of the event, one inductee will also receive the Congressional Gold Medal. This special event is presented by the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in partnership with the North Carolina Museum of History.

Each year, the NCMHOF acknowledges remarkable individuals, who, by the excellence of their military career or in connection to their civic service, have brought substantial honor, recognition, and esteem to themselves, their families, and to the great state of North Carolina. 

The 2023 inductees include eight men and women whose valiant military careers span more than a century of service:

  • Charles George was the first member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • William McBryar was a US Army veteran of three conflicts: the Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, and Philippine-American War. He is the second African American soldier from North Carolina to receive the Medal of Honor.
  • William C. Lee is considered the “Father of the Airborne” for his role in the US Army’s adoption of airborne forces.
  • Mary Bayard Wootten was the first woman in the North Carolina National Guard, one of the first aerial photographers, and designer of the original Pepsi-Cola logo.
  • Frederick C. Branch became the first African American commissioned officer in the Marine Corps Reserve.
  • Robert Thomas is one of the first African American soldiers to serve in the US Marine Corps as part of the Montford Point Marines.
  • John D. Lewis became the state’s first African-American radio announcer and later host of a popular television show. As part of the ceremony, Lewis will also receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
  • Francis M. Hooper Jr. trained at the segregated Montford Point Camp and maintained a working relationship with Japanese police interpreters during the Korean War, learning how to write and speak fluently in Japanese.

In addition to the medal ceremony, the program will feature the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Honor Guard, performances by the Second Division Marine Aircraft Wing Band, and a keynote address by Command Sergeant Major JoAnn Naumann, the senior enlisted leader of US Army Special Operations Command. Following the ceremony, join the honorees and dignitaries for a viewing of the Hall of Firsts exhibit. 

Seating for the ceremony is available on a first-come, first-served basis.