Enoch: WWII, Korea veterans at Reeves Memorial Cemetery
Of the 30 veterans’ graves found so far in Reeves Cemetery, nine served during World War II and two during the Korean War.
Other veterans are buried at Reeves, but because of the condition of the cemetery, their graves have not been located.
The Army was still segregated in World War II and most African-American recruits were assigned to labor or other support battalions. Many of these noncombat units worked near the front lines in Europe and the Pacific and often came under enemy fire.
That was certainly the case for the quartermaster service.
A number of soldiers in George Miller’s unit lost their lives while serving in northern France. Miller made it back home and drove a cab for his brother Thomas’ taxi company.
George, a son of Ovia and Flora Miller, died at the VA Hospital in Louisville.
William Carroll’s quartermaster company reportedly “moved across Europe with General George S. Patton’s Third Army.”
After the war, Carroll moved to Winchester, resided on North Highland and worked as a cook. He died of heart disease and was survived by his wife, Ida Mae, and mother, Alberta Smith.
Arthur Venable Clark’s unit was sent to Okinawa. The invasion of that island, 340 miles from Japan, was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater during the war. It seems likely his company would have seen hostile action during the 82-day battle that claimed more than 14,000 American lives. Clark would survive the war by only four years.
James Hill was assigned to the 369th Infantry, the highly-decorated, all-black combat unit that fought so heroically during World War I.
The 369th — re-established in 1942 as a labor and security regiment — saw action in the Philippines and Dutch New Guinea. Hill managed to earn two Bronze Stars for his service.
Two Winchester men died while serving in stateside units.
Marshall Abraham Logan’s 58th Aviation Squadron was stationed at Williams Field, an Army air base near Chandler, Arizona.
The Army assigned David McKinly Richard to the 406th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
Both units were comprised of expert mechanics and repairmen.
Logan died at Beaumont General Hospital in El Paso, and Richard died at Camp Swift Hospital in Bastrop, Texas. No cause of death was listed for either man. Inexcusably, the monument company in Georgia managed to misspell “David” on Richard’s gravestone.
Charles Burnett Shackelford served with the 336th Air Base Unit stationed at the Sarasota Army Airfield in Florida.
Shackelford married Frankie Bates and worked as a porter for a local drugstore. He died of a “cerebral vascular accident” caused by epilepsy.
The best-known veteran of this group was Samuel Carl Williams, who later became Winchester’s first African-American city commissioner.
Williams, a graduate of Knoxville College, became a teacher and principal at Oliver School. He belonged to the First Baptist Church where he taught and superintended Sunday school for many years.
In 1946, Samuel opened The Digest, a snack bar and teen hangout at the corner of Washington and First Streets.
His wife Marie, who also taught at Oliver, was the last known burial in Reeves Cemetery (1987).
Samuel’s unit information on his gravestone is too sparse to determine where he served; however, his obituary states he was awarded a Bronze Star.
Korea, America’s first undeclared war (1950-1953), is officially classified as a “police action.”
The war began when some 75,000 North Koreans poured across the 38th parallel, and President Truman responded by sending air and sea forces to support South Korea.
Harold Ogden Christian apparently did not get sent overseas. He served with the 5th Quartermaster Battalion of the 5th Armor Division, which was stationed in Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. His fate after the war is uncertain. He died at the VA Hospital in Marion, Indiana, leaving family scattered between Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Winchester.
The U.S. would suffer 33,686 battle deaths in Korea. One of those was John Julius Clemens, a son of John and Lola Clemens.
He enlisted in January 1951 and initially served in the 34th Infantry Regiment, a segregated combat unit. President Truman had desegregated the military by executive order in 1948.
That August, the 34th was training in Japan when they were ordered to Korea and assigned to the 14th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Division. In September and October, the unit saw fierce fighting along the 38th Parallel in an area known as “the Iron Triangle,” a mountainous region nestled between the cities of Kumhwa, Chipo-Ri and Pyongyang. The 14th suffered 44 KIAs. Among them was Clemens, killed by enemy fire on Sept.19. He was 19 years old.
The 14th Infantry’s service in Korea earned the regiment five campaign streamers and a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry.
In December, Clemens’ parents were notified his body was en route to Winchester under an honor military escort. His was among the bodies of 510 American soldiers returned to the U.S. aboard the Loma Victory after the bloody Autumn Campaign.
Clemens’ parents remembered him with an annual memoriam in The Sun. From a 1958 issue: “In memory of our dear son, John J. Clemens, who lost his life in Korea, September 19, 1951. Seven years ago today the Lord saw fit to take you away to a brighter world. God, who gave us you, had a right to claim his own. Sadly missed by Mother, Dad and Brothers.”
Harry Enoch, retired biochemist and history enthusiast, has been writing for the Sun since 2005. He can be reached at email@example.com.