Every generation has their “Heroes.” While driving through Portland it fills us with such patriotic pride as we pass the intersection of Highways 52 and 109 and see all the American flags atop the white crosses.
“In Honor of All Who Gave, In Memory of Those Who Gave All” the banner reads. Each cross bears the name of a local person who gave their life in service to our country.
I recently came across an old newspaper article from 1945 concerning one of those young men. On the front page of the June 15, 1945 Upper Sumner Press it was reported “Caudill Missing In Okinawa Action.” The article continued to tell Pfc. Paul Patton (Pat) Caudill had entered service in the Infantry last September and as of May 14 he had been missing in action in Okinawa.
His father, Mr. W. H. Caudill, of Route 1, a rural mail carrier, received the terrifying news in a telegram from the war department. The telegram gave no details but said to expect a letter to follow. The family had received their last letter from Pat on May 6.
Pat Caudill was a popular young man in Portland. He graduated from Sumner County High School in 1944 where he was vice-president of his class, played football and was active in many other activities. Pat wanted to do his patriotic duty so by the fall of the year he left for training at Camp Blanding, Fla. and later at Fort Ord, Calif., before transferring overseas. He had only been in Okinawa since February. The family later received the heart-breaking news he had been killed in action.
Each of those white crosses has a story to tell. We are thankful for the sacrifice of each one and should always seek to honor our heroes who have and those who continue to serve.
The following is an article written by my Dad, Thomas Woodrow Denton, a veteran of WWII, on May 27, 1996 concerning Memorial Day:
Few people know what this day is about. I had a first cousin, Clyde Turner, killed in World War I and left in France. His clothing and personal things were sent to our house when his family, in their grief, refused them. As a young child, I was fascinated with his Army clothes most especially his wrap around legging which substituted for boots.
WWI started in Serbia and now 80 years later we are still there. After this War the United States and England got together with France and Belgium to honor all soldiers whose bodies could not be identified.
The unknown soldier of America was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 1921; the British unknown was buried at the Westminster Abbey; the French soldier was buried in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe; and the Italian unknown soldier was interred in Rome near the Monument of Victor Emmanuel.
These monuments were inscribed: “Here rests in honored glory our soldier known but to God.”
Johnnie Freedle is a member of the Highland Rim Historical Society.