When Uncle Sam came calling, family answered every time
Posted: Monday, May 30, 2011 10:56 pm
By: Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
Fred and Eunice Adkins, who moved from Lake County to the District No. 7 community while their household was growing, welcomed eight sons into their family.
The first left them mourning his memory when he was 4; the other seven grew up to share an amazing bond that augmented their blood brotherhood — each of the Adkins boys served his country in the U.S. Army.
• The late Leonard Adkins was an ambulance driver for Uncle Sam in Germany from 1941-45
• The late Forrest Adkins was a medic in the Pacific during those same years
• Odie Adkins, 91, of Memphis also served in the Pacific in division headquarters of the military police for that four-year span of war
• The late Clayton Adkins was stationed in Korea and worked in supply from 1950-53
• The late Wayne Adkins spent his time — 1954-56 — in the signal corps in Germany
• Carl Adkins of Murfreesboro was attached to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., and worked for the Army in communications from 1955-57
• LD Adkins of Union City was with the “Big Red One” — the First Infantry Division — in the fifth field artillery at Fort Riley, Kan., during that same period
All were drafted and all were honorably discharged, coming home without injury, to share their military experience.
LD Adkins was not even old enough to go to school — just 4 years old — when his three oldest brothers left for wartime service. He says his parents had moved from Lake County to Obion County in 1937, before he was born. The two oldest boys went to school at the former Tiptonville High School, where Forrest was a star football player. The other five brothers were students at the former Rives High School and all played basketball there under the late George Blakemore, with Wayne once setting a school scoring record of 42 points in a game.
When their country entered the war that would come to be known as a “World” event, Leonard, Forrest (who was married by that time) and Odie promptly received orders — one after the other — out of Memphis, where all three were living at the time, to present themselves for service. They never ran into each other during their overseas war years, but they all went back to Memphis after they were discharged.
Back home in Obion County, their mother proudly displayed three gold star flags in the front window. Odie Adkins says he’s not sure his parents had a lot of time to devote to worrying about their trio of boys across the ocean when the four still at home needed their attention so badly. But it’s hard to imagine a day going by without a mother’s prayers winging heavenward for her sons so far away.
When the Adkins men returned safely at war’s end, the family’s commitment to Uncle Sam was still “open” however; and when war broke out in Korea, Clayton answered the call that came from Obion County this time.
The three younger sons all served, too, in their own time — thankfully in peace time.
A little over a year ago and before his death, Wayne Adkins began putting together a printed tribute to the family’s military commitment. A photo of each brother in uniform frames these written words: “Three gold star flags proudly displayed in the window, each flag represents a son. Four long years of war. Would they come home safely? Many did not. Then another son in Korea. Later three more sons in peacetime. Thankfully, they all returned safely.”
LD says he remembers the letters that arrived from his World War II vet brothers during that troubled time. The letters, which were heavily censored, were the only real link the little boy had to three older siblings whom he could barely remember. But they remembered him. The letters revealed the soldiers had their younger brothers and home on their minds. And when they were all back on U.S. soil and were together again, they had stories to tell — stories that took on new import as the brothers left behind, one by one, donned the uniform and soldiered on for their nation.
The number seven has special significance attached to it. In secular terms, it means good luck; in sacred thought it stands for perfection.
When the Adkins family is remembered, it will represent uncommon patriotism.
Published in The Messenger 5.30.11