A tribute to one of the thousands who did not return
Veterans Day 2016 will be celebrated on Friday with parades, flags, and programs in honor of men and women who have served their country. Veterans Day is a time to honor veterans and a time to remember the ones who gave their all.
Most veterans do not like to be called heroes. They want to give glory and recognition to their fallen comrades who went to war but did not return.
World War II has been described as one of the deadliest of all military conflicts. Statistics vary, but most have over 300,000 U.S. battle deaths. One statistic listed by states had Arkansas' World War II deaths at 3,814.
Like all of the other wars, World War II was hard on the soldiers who left their homes and hard on the families and friends left behind.
Sgt. Vernon Young was one of those many soldiers who sacrificed their all for their country. The Leachville native is the son of Alfred and Maude Young. He is the Uncle of Edward Young of Leachville.
Among the family's prize possessions are letters written to the family by Sgt. Young; his draft notice; and his flag.
Also, they have copies of the letters from the war department sent to Mrs. Young when he was killed in action. They also have a framed letter from President Harry Truman sending his condolences for the family's loss.
Other keepsake items include the card notifying Vernon to appear for a physical examination in Jonesboro on Sept. 10, 1942.
They also have a letter Sgt. Young wrote to his parents from the Netherlands, East Indies, on Nov. 2, 1944, informing them he was doing okay and talked about the weather.
He wrote, "Mother I am sending $40 home this month. If nothing happens, can send more next month. Don't know exactly how much but I think it will be around $75. That isn't very much but it is that much and every little bit helps out in the long run."
The three page letter is filled with personal notes asking about family members, thanking her for the letter she wrote, closing the letter with "Take all mistakes as love and answer real soon. From your son with lots of love and best of wishes. Good bye and good luck." signed Sgt. Vernon Young.
Family members throughout the country waited on letters from their loved ones so they would know they were okay.
The Young family received the letter all families feared when they have a loved one serving in combat.
The letter from the war department starts out "It is with regret that I am writing to confirm the recent telegram informing you of the death of your son, Sergeant Vernon I. Young, Infantry, who was killed in action on Leyte Island, Philippine Islands on Nov. 22, 1944.
It ended with the message, "I extend to you my deepest sympathy" signed by the Major General, The Adjutant General.
Another letter received was from the Chaplain of the 128th Infantry, expressing his deepest sympathy in the loss of Sgt. Young.
"As his chaplain, I was able to observe his life as a soldier and was always glad to have him attend the services which I conducted. Let me assure you he had a Christian Funeral, and that every thing possible was done to make the place where he was buried attractive."
Several years later Edward's sister Wanda Anderson's husband, John Wayne Anderson, was stationed in the Philippines and she got to visit her Uncle's grave site. The family agreed it was nice to have a family member visit.
Another letter among the Young family keepsakes was written by Sgt. Young's mother. It is a tribute to the type of person she was and the character she possessed. The letter was written Jan. 12, 1945, addressed to Army Services Forces, Office of Dependency Benefits:
I have recently been advised that my son, named above, has been killed in action in Leyte. The date of his death was November 22,1944.
Please discontinue my family allowance.
I have cashed the check received in January, and have spent that money to meet the needs of my household. If I am not entitled to the money, I shall try to manage some way to get enough to repay you. I believe that I am not supposed to get any more checks.
Very truly yours, Maude Young.
Ed was not born until 1945 so his memories of his uncle come from stories he heard from the family.
"Vernon's name would come up in most of our family gatherings," Ed remembers. "It was hard on my grandparents."
He is pleased to have the information shared with him by his cousin. He said several relatives still live in the area including Verna Lou Harrell, Jody Brown and Opal LaFarlette.
There is a monument near the Degaris Apartments in Leachville with the words, The American Legion, Croom-Young Post, No. 205, organized March 6, 1946. It was named for two Leachville men who died in service.
Ed is also an Army veteran. He served from January 1964 to January 1967.
Ed's father passed away when he was 12 years old. His mother died while he was in basic training.
"I enjoyed serving in the military," Ed said. "It was good for me."
He served in Germany and earned the rank of Sergeant in three years.