Memorial Day is a day for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. I have been fortunate enough to not have any close family members who died in the service of their country. But as I think about how wartime affected some family members who served and how sad their lives ended, I have come to realize what they sacrificed to serve their country.
On this Memorial Day please don't forget our veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs 2012 Suicide Data Report, the veteran suicide rate averaged 22 per day. Many more come home with significant problems as they try to return to non-military society. As you honor those who died in the service of their country this Memorial Day, please don't forget our veterans and the sacrifices they have made.
One of my ancestors who served his country is my great great great great grandfather, James Vowels.
According to a document that I found, James Vowels was a soldier in the Army of the Revolution. James was born in Virginia in 1738. He enlisted in 1776 under Captain George Slaughter of the 8th Virginia Regiment. He fought in the Battles of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, Germantown on October 4, 1777 and several others. He wintered with his regiment at Valley Forge and served out the time of his enlistment faithfully.
When his enlistment was up, he came home to Virginia and married Anne Fields in April 1781. After the wedding he again joined the Army and was at the siege of Yorktown. After the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19 1781, he returned home to Culpepper County Virginia where he lived until his death on April 17, 1815.
My great great great great grandfather was a part of some of the most important events in American history. He experienced the hardships of Valley Forge. He was part of the Army that forced the English General Cornwallis to surrender and end the war. He helped America gain its independence. He was a true patriot. I’m proud to be a descendant of James Vowels.
Even though James Vowels didn't give his life for his country, he served valiantly and did more than he was asked to do. After the hardships he had gone through, I find it amazing that he left his new bride and re-enlisted in the army. He was a man who definitely believed in what he was fighting for.
A local hero that we remember on Memorial Day is Herbert A. Littleton.
Littleton was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for falling on a grenade during the Korean War.
He was born on July 1, 1930, in Mena, Arkansas. He enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve on July 29, 1948, for a one-year term. After the outbreak of the Korean War, Littleton reenlisted in the Marine Corps. He went to Korea with the 3rd Replacement Draft, fighting in South and Central Korean operations from December 17, 1950 until his death.
Littleton earned the nation's highest award for valor on April 22, 1951, at Chungehon. At the time he was serving as a Radio Operator with the First Marine Division. Littleton was standing watch when a large well-concealed enemy force launched a night attack from nearby positions against his company. PFC Littleton quickly alerted the forward observation team and immediately moved into position to assist in calling down artillery fire on the enemy force. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown into his vantage point shortly after the arrival of the remainder of the team, he threw himself on the grenade, absorbing its full impact with his own body. By his prompt action he saved the other members of his team from serious injury or death and enabled them to repulse the enemy attack. For his valor in the face of certain death Herbert A. Littleton was awarded the Medal of Honor.
At the Polk County Courthouse here in Mena, Arkansas there is a Polk County War Memorial that honors the fallen. The names of the Polk County citizens who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country are engraved on it.
Here are the names as they are engraved on the Memorial.
On this Memorial Day I will remember the men and women, such as Herbert A. Littleton and all the rest of those whose names are engraved on the Polk County War Memorial, who died while serving their country and I will also remember my great great great great grandfather, James Vowels, and the multitude of other men and women who have sacrificed so much serving their county. Thank You to our men and women who served, are serving, and especially those who sacrificed their lives.