Looking Back: ‘Buck’ Jenkins war casualty

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2020

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By Clyde Parker

July 6, 1945

Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Jenkins of Sebrell have been advised by the United States War Department that their son, William J. “Buck” Jenkins, was among the 1,775 American prisoners of war who perished in a Japanese prison ship when it was sunk off the China coast in October of last year. It will be remembered that Buck Jenkins had been a prisoner of the Japanese for many months, perhaps being the first Southampton boy to be taken prisoner by the Japanese. The circumstances as related to Private Jenkins’ parents by the War Department are as follows:

After a long delay, the International Red Cross has secured and transmitted to the American Government an official list of the 1775 prisoners of war lost on 24 Oct. 1944. On that date, the prisoners were being transported northward from the Philippine Islands on a Japanese ship when it was sunk by submarine action in the South China Sea — over 200 miles from the Chinese coast, which was the nearest land. Five of the prisoners escaped in a small boat and reached the Chinese coast. Four other prisoners were picked up by the Japanese. All others aboard were reported as lost.

The War Department says: “Absence of detailed information as to what happened to other individual prisoners, and known circumstances of the incident, lead to a conclusion that all other prisoners listed by the Japanese as aboard the vessel perished.”

“It is with deep regret that I must notify you of this unhappy culmination of the long period of anxiety and suffering you have experienced. You have my heartfelt sympathy.”

Sincerely yours,

J.A. Ulio, Major General,

The Adjutant General of the United States Army.

Earl Worrell awarded

Corporal Earl M. Worrell of the 314th Infantry 79th Division of the U. S. Army, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.Q. Worrell of Newsoms, was recently awarded the “Silver Star” medal for gallantry in action against the enemy in Germany.

On 10 April 1945, as the Company advanced toward well-chosen and firmly dug-in enemy positions, an officer and an enlisted man were wounded by sweeping enemy machine gun fire. As the Company sought cover, Corporal Worrell and two other men went to rescue the two wounded men despite warning as to the great personal danger involved. By a series of advances, the three men reached the area only to find that the officer was killed. Continuing on to the enlisted man, they gave him first aid treatment and painstakingly dragged him to safety.

Earl Worrell’s courage and his loyalty to the welfare of his fellow soldiers reflect highest credit on himself and the Armed Forced of the United States.

July 13, 1945

Robert Edwards awarded

A certificate of merit has been awarded to Technician Fifth Grade Robert T. Edwards, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ryland T. Edwards of the Franklin community, in recognition of conspicuously meritorious and outstanding performance of military duty. It reads: “Technician Fifth Grade Robert T. Edwards, Headquarters Battery of the 753rd Field Artillery Battalion, distinguished himself by meritorious service in Holland and Germany during the period 25 October 1944 to 30 April 1945. Serving as Battery Mail Clerk, Technician Edwards, with great initiative, foresight, and unselfish devotion to duty, discharged his duties in a superior manner, thus contributing largely to the morale of his organization. His actions reflect great credit upon himself and are in the highest traditions of the military service.”

Jack Ray transferred

Major John E. Ray, of Franklin, has been transferred to the U. S. Army Separation Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he will be honorably discharged. Son of Dr. and Mrs. Burton J. Ray, the 26-year-old P-47 pilot entered the service on Dec. 18, 1941, as an aviation cadet and served with the Ninth Air Force in France, Belgium and England. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 15 clusters, and wears four battle stars on his European Theater campaign ribbon. The major completed 98 combat missions, compiling 192 combat flying hours.