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Elmer Adkins (of Wayne)

"A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle."

George William Curtis

Army Private First Class Elmer Adkins was born in Stiltner, Wayne County, West Virginia, on February 29, 1920, the son of Parker and Cloey Clark Adkins. The 1930 United States Federal Census lists the following children for Parker and Cloey Adkins: Marutta [Mary?] (19), Golden (17), Cora (15), Dorothy (14), Noah (13), Elmer (11), Parker (9), Martha (4), Izella [Zela?] (2), and Ruth (1). A death notice for Elmer in the Wayne County News (March 23, 1945) indicates his brother Parker Jr. was also serving in the Army overseas. Brother Golden was living in Wayne, while apparently Noah and Ira B. (not in the 1930 Census) were at home. Sister Mary had married a Napier and was living in Mingo County, while Dorothy had married a Spence and remained in Stiltner, as did Charity (not in 1930 Census), who had married a Fry. Martha had married a Day and apparently remained in Wayne County, while Zela was still living in her parents’ home. Cora is not listed in the death notice, indicating she might not have survived into the 1940s.

Little is known of the early life, schooling, and employment history of Pfc. Elmer Adkins, but at the time of his Army enlistment at Huntington, West Virginia (August 7, 1943), he stated that he had obtained a grammar school education and had worked in the occupational category of “semiskilled chauffeurs and drivers, bus, taxi, truck, and tractor,” according to U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. He indicated too that he was single, but with dependents. Because of the size of his family and the fact that he had several younger siblings, it is easy to infer that he might have listed younger brothers and sisters as dependents.

Pfc. Elmer Adkins was assigned to the 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. The history of the 35th is chronicled on its website (25th Infantry Division, 35th Infantry Regiment [the Cacti]), providing a detailed description of the liberation of the island of Luzon. General Douglas McArthur chose to strike first at the northwest coast. While the Sixth Army pursued a strategy that would ultimately lead to Manila, the 35th was held as the Sixth Army’s reserve, joining the campaign as it pushed toward the town of Umingan. The 27th attacked from the north on February 1, while the 35th approached from the south on the following day. The enemy held out for a week and it was not until February 8 that the Cacti liberated the town. (Source:, accessed January 17, 2013.) It was during this assault that Pfc. Adkins lost his life.

Elmer died of wounds received in battle on Luzon in the Philippines on February 6, 1945; as a result, he was awarded the Purple Heart. He is buried in the Manila American Cemetery, Plot F, Row 7, Grave 64.
Manila American Cemetery
Manila American Cemetery.
Courtesy American Battle Monuments Commission

Article prepared by Patricia Richards McClure.


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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