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Harold Clyde Elyard
1913-1941

"Pearl Harbor caused our Nation to wholeheartedly commit to winning World War II, changing the course of our National history and the world’s future."

Joe Baca

Harold Clyde “Buck” Elyard was born on June 11, 1913, at Job, Randolph County, West Virginia. He was the third of nine sons born to James “John” William Elyard and Lona Etta Hartman Elyard.

Harold’s enlistment in the Army Air Corps in World War II simply carried on a military tradition begun nearly a century earlier. His paternal grandfather, Josiah Elyard, was a private in the Pendleton Rifles, Company E of the 25th Virginia Infantry (Heck’s Regiment) during the Civil War. Among the battles in which the 25th participated were the Battle of Rich Mountain, the Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Virginia Valley campaigns under Stonewall Jackson, and Appomattox. Josiah was wounded at Antietam. Josiah and his future brother-in-law, Ami Eye, were taken prisoner by Union forces on May 27, 1864, at Spotsylvania Court House and were transported to a federal prison in Elmira, New York.

Almost 25 percent of the 12,000 Confederate soldiers who were imprisoned at Elmira died from malnutrition, exposure to extreme winter weather, disease from poor sanitary conditions, or lack of medical care. The prison closed on July 11, 1865. The dead were buried in Woodland Cemetery in Elmira, declared in 1877 to be a national cemetery. In 1907 all the wooden grave markers were replaced with marble headstones. Fortunately, Josiah Elyard and Ami Eye were among those who survived and returned to their families in West Virginia.

Harold’s father, James “John” William Elyard, was a son of Josiah Elyard and Hannah Etta Eye. He and Lona Etta Hartman were married on October 14, 1908, in Pendleton County. Lona was a daughter of John Ashby Hartman and Josephine “Josie” Lambert Hartman. The Elyard children were William Paul, Kermit Guy, Harold Clyde, James Mayo, Curtis Hartman, Joe J., Mary Josephine (Mrs. Thomas James Hodson), Thomas Warren, Robert Clyde, Donald Keith, and Betty Louise.

During World War I, men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to register for the draft, the first of which was held on June 5, 1917, as a result of the Selective Service Act, which had been quickly enacted. James William Elyard, who was by that time 38 years of age, registered at Elkins, West Virginia. He and Lona were already the parents of five sons, and he gave his occupation as “working on a concrete bridge.”

On April 27, 1942, at the age of 62 Harold’s father again registered for military service in the so-called “Old Man’s Draft” for World War II. He and his family were then living at Coketon in Tucker County, and he was employed as a coal miner for the Davis Coal and Coke Company. Six of his sons, Harold, Curtis, Joe, Kermit, Thomas and Donald, served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II.

Coketon is a small unincorporated town just south of Thomas. In 1889, the Davis Coal and Coke Company was the principal employer in Tucker County with capital stock worth sixteen thousand dollars. The company acquired the mineral rights to approximately 2,400 acres of coal lands, and by 1893 the capital stock had grown to approximately three million dollars. The towns of Thomas and Coketon were producing 5,000 tons of coal per day. By 1910 the company owned nine producing coal mines and employed about 1,600 workers with a monthly payroll of one hundred thousand dollars.

James Elyard died from a coronary occlusion on December 6, 1957, in the Thomas County Hospital at Parsons, West Virginia. He was laid to rest in the Cedar Hill Cemetery at Franklin in Pendleton County. His beloved wife, Lona, died in 1971 and was also buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Harold C. Elyard and Thelma Pase, daughter of Keith Orris Pase and Ada Hope Perkins Pase, were married at Parsons, West Virginia, on December 3, 1935. A son, Karl Keith Elyard, was born to that union. As of this writing, it is unclear whether the marriage ended with Harold’s death or whether there was a divorce, for in the 1940 census, Harold C. Elyard is enumerated at Hickam Field and listed as single. What is known is that Thelma was remarried to Lawrence C. Fries of Winchester, Virginia. However, she died a tragic death also in a 1950 car accident in Indiana.

When the Sixteenth Census of the United States was conducted in 1940, Corporal Harold C. Elyard was listed with other soldiers of the 18th Squadron, 17th Air Base Group, U.S. Army Air Corps, at Hickam Field on Oahu. In 1940, his brother, Pvt. Curtis H. Elyard, a member of the 11th Field Artillery, U.S. Army, was also stationed in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.

Hickam was the principal army airfield in Hawaii during World War II and was the only base large enough to accommodate the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. It became a major center for training pilots and assembling aircraft.

During the raid on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces, Staff Sergeant Harold C. Elyard was killed at Hickam Field. He was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery, Schofield Barracks. On February 3, 1949, his body was moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, Plot B, Row O, Grave 13.
grave marker

Headstone for S/Sgt. Harold C. Elyard at the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu. Courtesy Jeff Hall

Honolulu Memorial

Honolulu Memorial and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Courtesy American Battle Monuments Commission

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was commissioned by Congress in 1948 as a permanent resting place for the thousands of U.S. servicemen who perished during the battles of Guam and Wake Island, Japanese POW camps, and other locations within the Pacific Theater. The cemetery occupies an extinct volcanic crater referred to as the “Punchbowl.” The first interment in the cemetery occurred on January 4, 1949, and the cemetery was officially dedicated on September 2, 1949, four years after the conclusion of the war. There are more than 44,000 honored dead buried in this cemetery, including World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle and Medal of Honor Recipient Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

At a ceremony in July 1943 at Davis, Tucker County, West Virginia, a posthumous award of the Purple Heart medal was presented to Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Elyard, the parents of Staff Sergeant Harold C. Elyard.
Purple Heart

The Purple Heart

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
2017

Honor...

Harold Clyde Elyard

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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