There is a very real need that we all seem to have in this country; it is the need to believe that the conclusion of a war means that finally something has been accomplished, finally peace and freedom have prevailed, that there will be no more need for war or the horrors of war. I think this was especially true with the conclusion of World War II, the Big One, as my family used to say, making it a proper noun.
That war was so big, and it affected so many until it was just inconceivable that there would ever again be a need for another American soldier to pick up his gun. Then…almost on the heels of victory…came Korea, the Korean Conflict….we couldn’t even SAY the word war, remember?
The forgotten war many have called it. And yet to so many like Missy Jones, the Korean War was a fact of life, one that she has never forgotten nor will she ever forget.
Missy’s late husband, Darrell Ross Jones, was inducted into the U.S. Army on January 15, 1951, doing his boot camp duty at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas.
Darrell remained at Camp Chaffee until April 21, when he completed his basic training, coming home to tell of going to church and how nice the people in Arkasas had been to all of those who were serving.
Darrell’s sister, Betty Jones Conway, drove him to Abilene where he boarded a train for San Francisco.
“I think it was the Sunset Limited,” Missy commented.
Whatever the name of the train, this had to have been quite a trip for a country boy from Comanche, Texas. From California, Darrell boarded a ship bound for Japan and then Korea.
“The next thing I received was a photograph of the ship on which he sailed, the USS General Nelson M. Walker,” Missy recalled.
On the back of the photo was a handwritten message that can still bring tears to my eyes, a message from what had to have been such a scared young man on his way to war.
“Both of us were trying to spare the other. I didn’t tell him that I was scared to death that he would be wounded or killed, and he never told me about the bad things he was going through.
“I usually heard from Darrell about once a week, sometimes twice. Then, there were those times when it was two or three weeks between letters. I watched all the news and read the newspapers to try to get a location on his outfit, 7th Regiment, Third Division, U.S. Army.”
Missy also told me of a rather strange event that happened while Darrell was fighting. It seems that she received a letter from a soldier she did not know. It was a letter stating that the soldier had found one of her letters (with her name and address on it) to Darrell in a foxhole, and he wanted her to write to him.
The whole thing scared her badly, and she did not even mention it to Darrell until after he had returned home. As it turned out, Darrell remembered exactly when he had left the letter behind. His unit’s position was overrun, and the men had to abandon their foxholes, leaving their possessions behind. Those soldiers escaped with just their lives that time!
Missy’s fears for Darrell’s safety were realized twice during his tour of duty. The couple was not married at the time, which meant that his parents were listed as the next of kin and it was his mother who received both telegrams. Darrell’s brother, Dale, is the one who actually told me the story. It seems that on two separate occasions he returned home only to find his mother sitting in a chair and crying, an unopened telegram in her hands.
Dale was the one who actually opened the messages stating that Darrell had been wounded but that he was very much alive.
“I also have a photo of the ship that brought Darrell home. It was the USS Marine Phoenix, a troopship that also returned brother Dale to the states after his stint in Korea was finished,” Missy told me.
“In later years, Darrell and I were fortunate to be able to visit the Korean Monument in Washington D.C. I still think it is the most meaningful of all the monuments. It portrays a group of soldiers crossing rice paddies. It is obviously, very cold and all are wearing heavy winter coats with a wind-blown pancho. (Darrell talked a lot about the horrible Korean winters.)
“As the men move out, they scatter so that in case of mines or an attack, they will not be killed. To the right front of the men, one man has his left hand out and down to indicate that the men behind him need to slow down and be careful.
“I pay tribute to Darrell and all of the men and women who gave so much to the Forgotten War.”
And here at Texansunited.com we salute these brave men and women as well. May God Bless America.