EDITOR’S NOTE: The following feature series profiles Ellis County veterans killed in the line of service to their country during the 20th century.
The features, researched and written by Perry Giles, are read in first-person voice by area students during the annual Ellis County Veterans Appreciation Day Ceremony as a special way to remember and pay tribute to our friends, classmates and neighbors who gave their lives for our freedom.
“We Were Soldiers Once and Young” will appear every Sunday in the Daily Light through Veterans Day.
We stand on the backs of their sacrifice. Their history is our tradition, as long as there are Americans to remember...
My name is Earl Seay. I was born and raised on the Anderson Ranch, between Forreston and Five Points. I played baseball and football at Waxahachie High School.
After graduation, I attended A&M until leaving school to join the Army. During the 2nd World War, I served with General Patton’s Army in the European theatre.
When Germany surrendered, I wrote home to my folks, “Well, today it is over! At long last, the war has ended. Gosh, but I’m really glad. No more fighting the Germans. I can hardly believe it. It sounds too good to be true! Of course, we don’t know when we will get to come home. It may be a good while yet. I’m hoping it won’t be too long before I can walk in that door at home again. Oh, happy day! The boys are not as happy about it as I expected. They’re just tired and want to come home. Just be patient and maybe I can see you before long … signed, your loving son.”
After my discharge, I went back to school and finished up. Then I moved back to Waxahachie, got married and took a job with the County Extension office.
I had stayed in the reserve during this time, and in 1948, I re-enlisted in the Army.
I was sent to Japan to serve with the occupation Army there. I was a First Lieutenant with the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion with the 1st Cavalry Division. It seemed like this was going to be fairly easy duty. My wife went to Japan with me because we were expecting our first child.
Then in the summer of 1950, the North Koreans invaded the South. Our orders came down and the 1st Cavalry was rushed across the Sea of Japan into action against the communists.
Our job was to try to stop them before they over-ran the whole country. Before all this happened, I had never given much thought to where Korea even was.
Early in July we arrived at Pohang-Dong on South Korea’s east coast. We moved west to Taegu and then up the main Taegu-Taejon highway.
The situation up ahead was reported to us as pretty grim. The Americans up in front of us were almost surrounded by several enemy divisions. The roads were full of civilians, carts and animals in full retreat, running away from the fighting. I remembered scenes like this back in Europe during the war.
We set up defensive positions south of Taejon, South Korea, where I was in command of an artillery piece and crew of men. It became apparent in a hurry that we didn’t have enough men or weapons. Everything we needed was in short supply. We didn’t have time to get really prepared.
The North Koreans came at us from the front with T-34 tanks, but at the same they were surrounding us and cutting us off from any escape route. I began to wonder if I would ever see my family again.
The enemy came at us by the thousands. They were like ants boiling out of a mound. It was hard to contemplate at first, but we were fighting for our very lives.
There were more of them than we could believe, thousands of them. … We didn’t have enough men!
We heard a shell come screaming down. We scrambled to get down. … It landed inside our dugout. There was a brilliant white flash.
In an instant, my entire crew was wiped out.
It was a Monday, July 24, 1950 and I was 28 years old.
I had a 2-month-old son.
Remember us. We were soldiers once, and young.
Perry Giles serves as co-chair of the Ellis County Veterans Appreciation Day Committee. The 2013 countywide tribute to veterans is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Waxahachie Civic Center followed by a wreath presentation at the Ellis County Veterans Memorial located in front of the center.