Army Private Parker Meikle was a member of the U.S. Army for less than two years, yet his bravery and courage in battle are remembered to this day. “Army Private Parker Meikle Memorial Road” was dedicated to the soldier August 10, 2013, in Alum Creek, West Virginia, the location of his birth and childhood.
Private Meikle was born November 5, 1919,* in Alum Creek, a town in Lincoln County. Born to Archibald (Archie) Thomas Meikle and his wife, Chalcie Lottie Turley Meikle, Parker joined his half-brothers Reber, Wilmer, Carl, and Elvie, and half-sisters Evie, Hazel, and Gracie. Parker’s half-siblings came from his father’s first marriage to Gertrude (Gertie) Meikle, who died in childbirth in 1914. Parker then acted the part of older brother to his younger siblings, Lucy Marie (born 1920), Orlan J. (born 1922), Opal (born 1924), America (born 1927), and Robert (birth date unknown). (Source: Tom Pauley, “Archibald T. ‘Arch’ Meikle,” Find A Grave, accessed April 21, 2014, http://www.findagrave.com). The 1910 Federal Census recorded that, at the time, Archie, Gertie, and their seven children lived in the house. The 1920 Census indicates that Archie and his wife Chalcie lived with Eva, Wilmer, Elvie, Gracie, and their son Parker. Together, the children attended elementary school, then called grammar school, to receive a preliminary education in their hometown of Alum Creek.
Parker Meikle became Private Parker Meikle January 26, 1942, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Thomas in Newport, Kentucky. He joined his comrades-in-arms in the Battle of the Bulge, starting December 16, 1944. There, Parker served as a combat engineer with Company B, 158th Engineer Battalion.
Hitler had launched a fierce offensive aimed at stopping the momentum the Allies had gained since the D-Day landing. This surprise attack was a last-ditch effort to overcome the Allies and their forces. The German troops struck at the Ardennes Forest, where four American divisions were stationed to gather strength for the next stage of their campaign. German tactics during this operation were particularly vicious, and the Americans had not only battle conditions to contend with but harsh winter weather as well. In the long run, according to an account from the United States Army Center of Military History, it was the tenacity of the American soldier that prevailed: “But the story of the Battle of the Bulge is above all the story of American soldiers. Often isolated and unaware of the overall picture, they did their part to slow the Nazi advance.” British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill regarded the Battle of the Bulge as the greatest American victory of the war. (Source: “The Battle of the Bulge: Overview of the Battle,” accessed April 20, 2014, http://www.army.mil/botb. For a comprehensive online account of this military campaign, see Hugh M. Cole’s 2007 work The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_cont.htm.)
|This surprise attack cost Private Meikle his life, but at the same time, it exhibited his true bravery. In the face of unknown dangers, he had protected his country and its allies on foreign turf. Parker was killed in battle December 20, 1944, in Belgium, five months before the fighting ended and the Allies finally suppressed Hitler and his forces. He was laid to his final rest April 6, 1949, at the Forks of Coal Cemetery in Lincoln County with full military rites.|
It was 64 years later (2013) when the West Virginia Division of Highways named the section of State Route 214 at Childress Road, from mile marker 8.92 to mile marker 9.92, the “Army Private Parker Meikle Memorial Road.” This honor resulted from a combination of efforts made by West Virginia state senators Stollings, Kirkendoll, and Unger, who requested that the section of road be dedicated to the courageous veteran. Once approved by the Division of Highways, a ceremony was held, and the mile-long section of road was dedicated to the valiant solider who gave up his life protecting his homeland.
*His actual birth year is debatable. The Kanawha County Register of Deaths lists 1915, and this agrees with postings on Find A Grave. However, his Delayed Certificate of Birth, issued by the West Virginia State Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, lists 1919, and this is consistent with his age as indicated in 1920 and 1930 Federal Census data.
Family information provided by Lucy Meikle. Article prepared by Constance Gerstle.
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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