Local News

August 30, 2013

Sister finds late brother was highly decorated GI

Dorothy Owensby was just trying to get a photograph of her brother.

She ended up with much more.

Sgt. Robert Schofield had enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War, but he was killed in action by a land mine on Aug. 16, 1970.

“I kept all the original letters (from when he was killed),” Owensby said. “I wanted to do something special in a photo album. I wanted a picture of him in uniform in the service.”

When she contacted U.S. Rep. Tom Graves’ office about helping her retrieve a photo, she found out he had earned several medals: the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal with two bronze service stars, a conduct medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars, Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon and a sharpshooter badge.

“I had no idea,” said Owensby. “It’s so special. We had a special bond.”

Graves, R-Ranger, presented her with the medals Thursday at his Dalton office and told her he was honored. His office staff had also been able to get a photo of Schofield in uniform, though it was smaller than Owensby had hoped for.

“As a member of Congress, I experience a lot of different things,” Graves said. “Nothing is more special than to present awards and ribbons. It’s a reminder to me of the sacrifice.”

Owensby has a special wall in her home filled with mementos and photos, which includes a photo of the Statue of Liberty.

“I have the Statue of Liberty photo which stands for freedom,” she said. “It stands for what my brother was fighting for.”

Her brother’s photo album and medals will be stored on a piece of furniture along the wall, which makes it even more special to her.

Owensby, who grew up mostly in Florida, moved to Dalton in 1968. Schofield often made s trips to see her.

“He loved to go surfing,” she said. “That was one of his favorite things.”

He was the manager of a fast food restaurant and drove a black Ford T-Bird. Owensby believes her brother signed up for the Army out of fear he would be drafted anyway.

“Anything he did, he really tried to do it,” she said.

When Schofield died, Owensby was asked to pray at his funeral.

“I asked God to help me through it,” she said. “People said my prayer meant more to them than anything else said.”

Owensby was with Schofield when he became a Christian.

“I had that assurance,” she said. “I know what happened.”

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