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Eugene Odare Summers

Courtesy James Summers

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Eugene Odare Summers
1923-1951

“When we fail to live together in peace, the failure touches not us alone, but the cause of democracy itself in the whole world. That we must never forget.”

Harry S. Truman

U.S. Air Force Corporal Eugene Odare Summers was born December 12, 1923, at Advent, Jackson County, West Virginia, the son of Leftridge Romeo Summers and Ida Virginia Jordan Summers. Leftridge and Ida had nine children: Ruby Myrtle Summers Hayes (1910-1937), Robert William “Bob” Summers (1913-1985), Audrey Summers (1916), Denvil Dale Summers (1917-1944), Faris Ray Summers (1920-2000), Eugene Odare Summers (1923-1951), June Geraldine Summers Torchio-Eliot (1925-2001), Camden Stafford “Staff” Summers (1929-), and Hansford Iven “Hank” Summers (1932-2009). Eugene attended grammar school and one year of high school. He enlisted in the military on March 25, 1943, at Clarksburg, West Virginia, and was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio.

After training Eugene was assigned to Headquarters II Corps, not long after General George Patton took over command. It’s not known when Eugene joined his unit, but according to his last pay voucher, he had served overseas with that unit more than a year.
Insignia of Headquarters II Corps

Insignia of Headquarters II Corp


Pay voucher
Pay voucher

Eugene’s final pay voucher. Courtesy James Summers

Up until the time that General Patton took command, the unit had suffered several losses, but the general turned things around and it became very successful. After the Germans surrendered, II Corps was inactivated in Austria on October 10, 1945, and Eugene was honorably discharged December 6 of that year at Ft. George Meade, Maryland.

Eugene’s unit, II Corps, garnered a distinguished reputation in World War II. In March 1943, after a change of command to General George Patton, II Corps recovered its cohesion and fought well for the rest of the Tunisia Campaign, winning the Battle of El Guettar. The Corps held the southern flank of British 1st Army during the destruction of the remaining Axis forces in North Africa.

In July 1943, II Corps landed in Sicily as part of Operation Husky under command of the U.S. 7th Army. It played a key part in the liberation of the western part of the island. The Corps consisted of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. 9th Infantry Division, and 45th Infantry Division (United States), all under the command of Lieutenant General Omar Nelson Bradley.

II Corps participated in a further amphibious operation at Salerno during the Allied invasion of Italy (Operation Avalanche). This operation included the U.S. 36th Infantry Division and 45th Infantry Division.

During the spring offensive in May 1944, II Corps consisted of the U.S. 85th and 88th Infantry Divisions. For the assault of the German Gothic Line, II Corps consisted of the 34th, 88th, and 91st Infantry Divisions.

After the Anzio landings (Operation Shingle), Major General Geoffrey Keyes was assigned commander of II Corps. The corps fought from Monte Cassino, moved up the western side of Italy, and ended up on the right flank of U.S. Fifth Army in May 1945. The II Corps inactivated in Austria on October 10, 1945, following Germany’s surrender.

Eugene, now a private first class, arrived back in the U.S. on December 1, 1945, and was honorably discharged on December 6, 1945 at Ft. George Meade, Maryland.

Air Force insignia

USAF insignia

Sometime later Eugene enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was serving with the 1100 M & S Group AF. While home on leave from Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., Eugene had an automobile accident at about 6:30 p. m. on May 19, 1951, on a rural road, U.S. Route 21, near Kenna in Jackson County, West Virginia, striking a bridge abutment. He was taken to Staats Hospital in Charleston, Kanawha County, in critical condition along with two passengers, Burl Kearns and George Keiser, who were also seriously injured but listed in satisfactory condition at the hospital. Kearns and Keiser were both from Kentuck, Jackson County, and both were members of the U.S. Navy. The automobile was demolished. Eugene passed away the following day, May 20, 1951, and is buried in the Jordan Cemetery at Advent.
headstone

Headstone of Eugene Odare Summers in Jordan Cemetery


Article and photo contributed by James Summers, nephew of Eugene Odare Summers
February 2016

Honor...

Eugene Odare Summers

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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