By Old Uncle Gib
The Korean War has been called the “Forgotten War.” Morris Helm, now deceased, who served Pacific Island hopping in WWII, in Korea, and in Vietnam, was asked if he ever felt his life was over. His face went expressionless and he replied, “Once in Korea. We had training ammo that would not shoot far enough to reach the enemy. We were overrun and engaged in hand to hand combat. Few of us survived.”
The first Cumberland County casualty in Korea was Homer Proffitt, killed in action July 19, 1950, 23 days after U.S. troops were committed to Korea, and seven days after his 21st birthday.
Homer was a Private First Class in the 19th Infantry, 24th Infantry Division, and died in the Battle of Taejon, July 14-21, 1950. The 24th Division was overrun by North Korean troops and tanks as they tried to hold the perimeter of the city. They were hampered by lack of communication, equipment and shortage of heavy weapons to match the North Korean firepower. Outnumbered, ill-equipped and with little combat training, they defended the position as long as possible before the survivors moved south to Pusan. They suffered 3,602 dead and wounded and 2,962 captured. The week they held the enemy back prevented another American rout at the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter.
Homer Proffitt's remains arrived in Crossville June 28, 1951. His funeral and burial were held at the Oak Hill Baptist Church July 12, 1951, almost a year after he was killed. At the time of his death, he was survived by parents Porter and Ottie M. Proffitt; brothers, Royal, Douglas, Charles (J.V.) and Windell; and sisters, Coreane and Geraldine; and his maternal grandfather, John Carey. Many of his family members are current residents of Cumberland County.
The official records report Sergeant First Class Carson L. Parsons Jr. was killed in action on Jan. 3, 1951. On Jan. 25, 1951, the front page of the Chronicle reported Mr. and Mrs. Carson L. Parsons received word that their son was missing in action in Korea. The last letter the family received from him was dated Dec. 30, 1950, and the last time he had been home was in September 1948, five months after he enlisted in the Army. Besides his parents, he has three sisters.
Nov. 8, 1951, Chronicle reports that through Headquarters Third Army, Sgt. 1/C Carson L. Parsons Jr., Light Weapon Infantry Leader, Company G, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, has been awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in Korea from July 2, 1950 to Jan. 3, 1951.
“He performed his duties as an assistant squad leader in an exemplary manner throughout all phases of operations. Although coming under heavy enemy fire frequently and fighting in adverse field and weather conditions, he, nevertheless, carried out his assigned mission efficiently and capably.” He was still listed as MIA at this time, and his father accepted the medal. Carson L. Parsons Jr. is buried in the Crossville City Cemetery. Watch for more on the Korean War in November.
If anyone has a photo of Bobby G. Anderson, Lincoln Elmore, Joe Lee Ford or Winfred D. Morgan, the remaining Cumberland County casualties of the Korean War, please bring them to the Chronicle to be scanned for use in the upcoming November and December articles of Uncle Gib. Photos in uniform are preferred but not required. Thanks for any help.
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Old Uncle Gib is a weekly historical feature published each Friday. Old Uncle Gib is a pseudonym that was used by S.C. Bishop, who founded the Chronicle in 1886. Bishop actively published the Chronicle until 1948.