Parade, ceremony herald nation’s ‘protectors
Shade was a cool commodity Monday at high noon as a crowd of more than 200 gathered in bright, hot sunshine in Elizabeth to honor the nation’s protectors at home and abroad, past and present.
A nearly 45-minute parade was filled with the Color Guard, flags, veterans, South Central Junior-Senior High School students, athletes and boosters, a gruesome skeleton along for the ride, firefighters galore and bright red and greenish-yellow trucks and other firefighting equipment, Scouting groups, candidates marching ahead to the fall election, and, last, the sheriff’s horse patrol.
Patriotic music rang loud and clear from the outdoor sound system (much improved over previous years) as folks gathered along the hill overlooking Rose Hill Cemetery to the west.
‘Remember the dead, the living and those in between,’ intoned the emcee, the Rev. Richard Goodwin of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, a veteran, Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. chaplain and member of the Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Dept.
He prayed for the ‘end of all wars’ and for God’s ‘continued presence with our Armed Forces’ serving in distant lands.
Following a rousing rendition of the National Anthem by vocalist Tammy O’Conner and a medley of patriotic tunes by ‘The Volunteers,’ storyteller Lee Cable of Elizabeth told of one veteran, born some 80 years ago in Ohio County, Ky., James Franklin Hulse.
‘ ‘We were poor and hungry,’ said Frank. ‘Then the Depression came.’ ‘
Cable continued: The family moved to Louisville where the jobs were when Frank was 16, and two years later, he was drafted into the U.S. Coast Guard. He ultimately became the helmsman (the man who drove the ship) and after several training stops stateside was soon ordered to Pearl Harbor.
On Feb. 19, 1945, the U.S. invaded Iwo Jima and Frank’s ship delivered troops to the island. The ship would get as close as possible to the beach, and they would use small boats to ferry the soldiers to the beach … After three weeks of fighting, U.S. troops took over the island. Frank and his shipmates were on deck watching as the famous American flag was raised on a small hill.
‘Pictures of that flag-raising have been in almost every history book since,’ Cable said.
He continued: ‘Japanese fighter planes did their best to stop troop deliveries, firing on ships at every opportunity. In one firefight, Frank and the other sailors were firing on fighter planes that were attacking them, when a shell landed on deck near them. Frank was hit in the legs and back by shrapnel, but kept firing at planes. Finally, someone saw that he was injured and stopped him. He was sent to sick bay and then to a hospital ship. When he recovered, he was sent back to his ship.
‘On June 21, Americans had control of Okinawa. Frank’s ship was sent back to Iwo Jima, to take American soldiers who had been held prisoner by the Japanese, out to troop ships.
‘Frank remembers the sad shape the prisoners were in, skin and bones, starved. Some of them were lucky if they weighed 50 pounds.
‘While they were in Iwo Jima, they were anchored offshore one day, when Frank, who happened to be on deck, heard, and then saw, a plane coming toward the ship. He ran down a flight of steps to the tank deck, threw the canvas off of a 20-millimeter gun, swung the gun around toward the plane and started shooting. The plane was flying low and coming directly at the ship. Every sailor knew about the kamikaze pilots. They had taken a lot of lives on American vessels.
‘As Frank opened fire, so did the plane.
‘ ‘I was scared to death,’ Frank said. ‘I was letting him have it, but he was shooting at me too. Bullets were spraying around on the deck.’
‘But Frank kept shooting. Finally, the plane crashed into the ocean, just yards from the ship.
‘ ‘I saw him hit the water,’ said Frank. ‘But I couldn’t tell if I was hitting him or not. I still don’t know for sure. Who knows, he might have just ran out of gas.’ ‘
Chuckles from the attentive crowd.
Frank went on to watch the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima. ‘The sky lit up, like a real bright flash; there was a huge mushroom cloud. You could tell it did a lot of damage. Three days later, the U.S. dropped an even bigger bomb on Nagasaki … and on Sept. 2, Japanese officials surrendered aboard the U.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.’
Frank returned with an assortment of medals and ribbons, including a Purple Heart. He married Nellie Francis Price, and they moved to Harrison County, where they reared a son and a daughter. Nellie Francis died three years ago, after 57 years of marriage to Frank.’
‘To this day, Frank Hulse doesn’t consider himself any kind of hero. But we sure do.’
The hillside audience agreed.
Goodwin invited all of the veterans and the homeguard ‘ police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians ‘ to stand and be recognized for their services, and about 50 came forward and remained standing as the haunting sound of ‘Taps’ ended the ceremony.
Corydon service honors fallen veterans
On Saturday before a crowd of 50 to 75 on the First State Capital lawn in Corydon, Cable told the story of Leonard Knear of Elizabeth, a native Harrison Countian who turns 83 this year.
Leonard still lives on the farm where he was reared, about a mile from Greenwood School Number 8, the one-room schoolhouse he attended. He walked to school every day (up hill, both ways), eventually worked in Louisville for a time and married Janet Howlett in 1951. They have seven children.
‘This all sounds ordinary enough, but there’s a period of time, from 1943 to 1945, that Leonard doesn’t talk about very much,’ Cable told a hushed audience before the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand. ‘But when he does, you can tell that he relives it. You can watch his eyes as he talks and see the passion and the pain.’
Leonard was inducted in the Army on Feb. 13, 1943, and after a postponement while his father recovered from a heart attack, Leonard took basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala., for 13 weeks. He shipped out on the USS Lewis McClane on Aug. 22, and after several stops along the way, the 36th Division soldiers relieved the Third Division north of Naples, Italy, on the front lines.
‘They were dug in, two men per foxhole at the foot of what the soldiers called ‘million dollar mountain’ and stayed for several weeks.’
The soldiers drew enemy fire to determine where the Germans were, and then called in ‘artillery fire to knock them out,’ Cable said.
They spent weeks living in foxholes and sleeping in their clothes. Leonard developed trench foot, a condition that is caused by feet being wet and cold for long periods of time, and if not treated, can result in amputation. He was flown to a hospital in North Africa, where he was treated for two months and then rejoined his company near Madalone, Italy.
After a few days rest, the division was sent to Anzio, Italy, and eventually marched at night to the town of Velletri where they cut off the Germans and took prisoners.
‘On Aug. 15, 1944 ‘ Leonard remembers it like it was yesterday ‘ they invaded southern France,’ said Cable.
After fighting their way for a couple of weeks, Leonard’s company was loaded on trucks and sent to set up a roadblock at an intersection. It was a dark night and, on the way, they stopped to let some troops cross the road … Leonard and two other soldiers had taken 10 prisoners, but were cut off by the Germans. They ran the prisoners behind a farmhouse and lined them up against the wall.
‘A German soldier came around the corner of the house, shouted for them to give up, and dropped down on one knee, the German’s firing position, but he didn’t fire.’
Leonard fired twice at the enemy, but apparently missed because a bullet then slammed into Leonard’s shoulder, another hit him in the other shoulder and passed through his lung. ‘The bullets felt red hot,’ Cable said.
‘Leonard remembers saying to himself, ‘Well, it’s over; this is the end.’ And he threw down his rifle. He saw his mother and Jesus standing right in front of him, and he began to fall.’
But as he did, he saw another German coming around the house, and he began firing. Laying on the ground, Leonard saw the little sprays of dirt fly up when the bullets hit the ground, each bullet getting a little closer, a long line of dirt sprays coming right at him. He twisted his body, trying to get out of the path of the slugs, but the last bullet in the German’s clip caught Leonard in the hip and passed through him … The bullet holes burned like a hot pitchfork was sticking in them … ‘
Leonard wound up a prisoner in a German camp where he and two other soldiers who were taken were fed ‘only small amounts of bread. There was no water and no medical attention other than the Germans poured something similar to peroxide on their wounds.’
After the Germans abandoned the camp, French soldiers took the injured Americans to a French hospital, but that hospital had little means to help. The men were fed kale soup with ‘very little kale in it. But as Leonard recalls today, that kale soup was probably all that kept him alive.’
He eventually received some medical attention, recovered, and was loaded onto a French ship and sent to rejoin the war.
Leonard was discharged on Oct. 2, 1945, and caught a Greyhound bus home.
‘The guy that stepped off that bus had with him the Theatre Ribbon with five Bronze Stars, the Good Conduct Ribbon, the Purple Heart, and The Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
‘That’s not an ordinary man,’ Cable said. ‘That’s a hero.’
The names of all soldiers who died in service during World War II, Korea and Vietnam were read by Corydon VFW Post 2950 Commander James Bussey. Crosses were placed bearing the names of each fallen serviceman, said Quartermaster Terry Thomas.
‘The Star Spangled Banner’ was played and ‘Taps’ ended the program.