Junior Ellsworth Reed
Army Private First Class Junior Ellsworth Reed, a native of Upshur County, West Virginia, was born on March 6, 1931. He resided on a farm near Tenmile with his parents, Henry Ellsworth and Frances Koon Reed. Junior’s father was both a farmer and a coal miner. Pfc. Reed was killed in the Korean Theater of War on August 15, 1950.
Junior’s large family included two other brothers serving in the armed forces at the time of his death—his older brother, Sgt. Harold Reed, in the Air Force and stationed in Germany, and Donald, also in Korea. Frances recalled her sons’ “burning desire” to get into uniform, stating that Harold decided to enlist after a neighbor—Kenneth Phillips—was killed in World War II.
Four more brothers (Bobby Ray, Larry Lee, Jerry Lee, and Charles Edward) and two sisters (Thelma Jean and Mildred Fay) made up the household. (The Reeds had three additional sons after their second son’s death—Carl, Bill, and Tom). Junior Reed received his schooling at Tenmile Elementary School and attended Buckhannon-Upshur High School for a year and a half before he enlisted in the Army.
In Korea, Pfc. Reed was serving as a radio man in Company C of the 5th Cavalry (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division. He was the first soldier from Upshur County to be reported killed in action in Korea. Although he had been in the Army for two years, he had been in combat only a short time, having been deployed to Korea from occupation duty in Japan. Prior to his service there, he had been stationed near Washington, D. C., and spent weekends at home whenever he could get a pass.
Pfc. Reed’s family requested that his body be returned to the states as soon as possible so that a friend of the family, the Rev. Billie Mick, pastor of the Big Bend Methodist Church, could officiate at the funeral. However, it was not until June 1951 that the body was returned aboard the ship Bartlesville Victory, along with 419 others who had lost their lives in Korea. Junior was finally buried on July 1, 1951, at the Big Bend Cemetery.
Interviewed by a Republican-Delta reporter shortly after Junior’s death in 1950, Mrs. Reed talked of his being a regular letter-writer but noted how he had written just one letter after arriving in Korea. According to the newspaper article, “It was written on a sheet of paper which he borowed [sic] from a buddy at the front. There was writing on the reverse side which he told his family to ignore."
“The envelope which contained the letter from Korea also was a sheet of paper borrowed from another soldier and folded to fit.” (The Republican-Delta, Buckhannon, August 31, 1950)
Mrs. Reed recognized the importance of his correspondence and saved Junior’s letters. She was also keeping a scrapbook of pictures for him, when he returned home, along with souvenirs and presents—including a set of silverware from Japan—he had sent her.
Article contributed 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. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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