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Gainesville host of World War II reunions dies

POSTED: July 14, 2014 1:13 a.m.

Asa Autry’s military devotion extended way beyond his service in World War II.

The Gainesville man, who was 95 when he died Saturday at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, was part of the U.S. Army’s 214th Coast Artillery anti-aircraft forces during the war in the Aleutian Islands.

He later would go on to serve, along with his wife, Grace, as host of 214th regimental reunions for 27 years, with veterans from all over the country attending.

The 214th comprised 12 National Guard companies from Georgia that were called to duty during the war.

The tradition ended about 2004 as many of the aging veterans were in failing health or had died.

Autry’s funeral service is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church, 751 Green St., Gainesville.

He spent early schooling years in Watkinsville, Gainesville and Monroe, enlisting in the Georgia National Guard in 1938. He was discharged as sergeant in October 1945.

Autry’s wife of 62 years said Sunday it was important to hold those reunions every year just “to get those guys together.”

“They enjoyed it so much,” Grace said. “(The reunions brought) so much happiness.”

She said she used to joke to her husband that “those old Army stories keep growing every year.”

It was “a sad day” when they held the last reunion.

“A lot of the (veterans) couldn’t travel anymore, so we had to stop — we had no choice,” Grace said.

Asa Autry also had a busy church life, including serving as a deacon at First Baptist.

And he and Grace enjoyed Southern Gospel music, with Asa recording many singing conventions and sharing them with others, according to his obituary.

“We had a great life,” Grace said. “We enjoyed each other.”

Asa “was kind and generous, very giving and loving,” she said.

He also served for years as a U.S. Department of Agriculture poultry inspector, working in plants in Gainesville, Ellijay, Cornelia, Toccoa and Athens.

In March 2009, the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2252, honored him for 46 years of involvement with the union.



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