Memorial Day brings emotional memories of my two brothers who served in Korea.
Sgt. Lemane Murphy fought with an engineering corps that also rebuilt blown-up bridges. After the war he returned to the U.S.A., married, and fathered five children while living a normal life.
Cpl. Marion Murphy Jr. served as a truck driver and machine gunner with the famous 25th Army Wolfhound division. He saw bitter hand-to-hand combat, including the death of his commanding officer. Shortly after the war ended, he returned to the U.S. with severe PTSD.
He never married. From time to time he moved from place to place and worked construction jobs; he just could never settle down, and died at 70.
A lasting memory of him in Korea was his request that my wife and I mail him a dress and cosmetics for a young lady and condensed milk and other food for needy children.
Service to his nation
One of the people I think about on Memorial Day is my brother James Sikes (Jim). He didn't die in a war, but I think of him for his service to our country.
You see, my brother didn't have to serve in the military because he was born with one kidney not attached. He could have claimed a deferment, but no, my brother grew up loving this country and the freedoms we cherish. As a child, Jim loved playing Army, as a lot of kids did. When Jim graduated from North Little Rock High School, he kept this love of the military by being in the ROTC program at Arkansas Tech for three years, and then eventually graduating from the University of Arkansas. This was at the height of the Vietnam War when many people refused to serve by leaving the country, teaching school, or being a pacifist, which was their freedom to choose in this great country.
Jim did not go to Vietnam, but he served in the Army, achieving the rank of major, and was posted at the National Security Agency outside of Washington, D.C.
Jim's one good kidney worked for 70 years, but his last six years were on dialysis. My brother died last year, but his service to his country and love for America can never be forgotten!
As I always do on Memorial Day, I am thinking of Mr. Claude Melton, our earthly grandfather, our adopted grandfather. We did not know much about Claude's background except that he was from Tennessee, where his family treated him horribly. He served his country in World War I.
He became a boarder in our grandmother's boarding house in the mid-1920s. He became a family friend, had no family, so he adopted us. We did not know our natural grandfathers who had died, so we adopted him.
Oh, the many Traveler baseball games he took me to! My sister Patty was the apple of his eye, and she
loved him so. Family, family holiday celebrations. He was killed when a car hit him in December 1966. Claude, you are always with us.
Still fighting battles
I've read in the paper about writing regarding the brave of our country. I tried to ignore it, and that caused pain. So I will attempt to write about the young kid, age 10, who saw a brother go off to war. The sadness and being so scared. The parents who could not put into words their concern. Then came the notice that my brother was wounded on the battlefield. The brother who was such a thorn in the side of a younger sibling. The brother who would sneak smokes and do all sorts of things country boys do. Corn-cob fights and talking you into eating a green persimmon and knowing you never ever would trust someone who said it's not bad. Maybe that was the point. The brother who you knew loved you to bits and felt he was doing his duty. Proud to do his duty. The brother who was willing to die because it was asked of him. That's a brother to respect and love.
Brave? No, he would not say he was brave. He would say he did what he thought was right to honor his country. That same brother did come home. He came home to a country that did not respect him. He came home a broken boy. One whose back was infected with acne from bathing in a buffalo hole, if even that was available, for 365 days. A brother who was flawed and haunted with the images seen as a mere boy of 19 in a war. Images he tried to erase with drugs and alcohol when, in the end, that didn't erase them but just made them a bit more tolerable.
Now he is what some might call an old man. I just see my brother. A good man. A man that my folks, now passed away, were so proud of. That same man fights another battle. A fight for his life again. His kidneys have turned on him and will not work. On dialysis three times a week with numerous issues from that. Did Agent Orange play a part in his kidney issue and the neuropathy in his feet?
He is my brother and I love him. He is still a pain in my side. He is still furiously independent. And yes, my brother is so very brave ... every day.
Seymour Terry and I were not related, but he was the great-uncle my children never had a chance to know.
According to family lore, Seymour was a kind, charming, smart, and courageous young man whose life nearly bookended the two World Wars. He was born exactly one month after the armistice which ended World War I, and he died on Okinawa five days after V-E Day ended World War II in Europe.
In June 1942 Seymour joined the Army, where he served as an infantry platoon leader, munitions officer, intelligence staff officer, and won promotion to first lieutenant a year later. He earned a Bronze Star during the invasion of Leyte and was executive officer of his company when his unit invaded Okinawa in April 1945. Seymour was determined to keep his troops safe and repeatedly braved a hail of bullets from five enemy pillboxes in a one-man assault which sealed four of the sites and destroyed three machine guns. His two platoons were later held down on a nearby ridge where Seymour once again attacked the defenders alone with his grenades, driving them away and inspiring his men to take "Zebra Hill."
This Little Rock hero was fatally wounded by Japanese mortars, and the reason I know these details is the account of his Medal of Honor citation. His is one of the plaques on the state Capitol grounds honoring those Arkansans who have received this extraordinary achievement, and his medal is displayed at the MacArthur Museum of Military History.
The number of those who knew and loved Seymour Terry has been greatly diminished by time, but I think he deserves to be remembered by those of us who know his remarkable tale of bravery.
MARY DEE TAYLOR
Lost on way to Saigon
I give thanks to the 107 souls lost on Flying Tiger Flight 739, March 16, 1962; 93 Army Rangers (my father was one of them) en route to Saigon, Vietnam. The plane disappeared, with no answers for families as to what happened.
Fifty-nine years later, still no answer nor recognition, except for the fine folks at "Wreaths Across America," who created a monument to honor these heroes who gave their lives for our freedoms.