Kenneth Earl Cunningham
|Kenneth Earl Cunningham was born July 17, 1931, in Hettie, West Virginia, the eldest of thirteen children born to Charles Ercel and Lula Blagg Cunningham.|
|Kenneth went to Greenhill School and attended high school but did not graduate. He worked at a sawmill owned by his uncle, Raymond Blagg, until enlisting in the service on July 17, 1949.|
|Pfc. Kenneth Earl Cunningham served in Korea with the Twenty-third Infantry, 2nd Division, Company C. In the late summer of 1950, United Nations forces were defending a perimeter around Pusan, near the Naktong River. Kenneth was wounded on September 1, 1950, during a battle at the Naktong River but returned to duty the next day. On September 16, 1950, his division broke out of the Pusan Perimeter. The 23rd was badly outnumbered by North Korean forces and Kenneth volunteered to stay behind and hold off the enemy with automatic machine gun fire while the others withdrew. According to Kenneth’s niece, a soldier present at the time told the family that, while at the machine gun, Kenneth was struck and killed by enemy mortar fire.|
The body of Pfc. Kenneth Earl Cunningham was returned to the United States and was buried in the Greenhill Church Cemetery in September of 1951. Three weeks later his parents were presented with the Bronze Star he had been awarded. The ceremony took place over Kenneth’s grave and was witnessed by 500 people, including four brothers and four sisters.
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. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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