Kenneth Shadrick was born August 4, 1931, in Harlan County, Kentucky, the third of 10 children born to Theodore, a miner, and Lucille Shadrick. When mining fell off during the Depression the Shadrick family moved to Sabine in Wyoming County, West Virginia, and later to Skin Fork 20 miles distant.
As a youth, Kenny was an avid reader who enjoyed western novels and a magazine entitled Fantastic Novels although “he read everything in sight,” according to his father. Kenny entered Pineville High School in 1947 and was an “A” Student. During his second year of high school, he discovered a liking for football. Small for his age, Kenny fought hard to win a place on the team. His father donated five dollars toward a uniform, but the uniform was stolen from his locker at Pineville High School in October 1948.
In November he and a friend announced they were going to join the army, and Kenny, then 17, persuaded his mother to sign papers giving permission. On November 10, Kenny left for Fort Knox, Kentucky. In February 1949, he sailed for Japan to serve with the occupation forces. He went to Kyushu, Japan, and then to Korea.
In Korea, Kenny served as a member of the 24th Division Bazooka Team. The squad was assigned to stop the advance of Soviet tanks in the area of Sojong, South Korea. On July 5, 1950, Kenny’s squad , which had taken a position in the front lines and were facing the Korean Red Army, was in a graveyard near Sojong. An army photographer asked Kenny to time a bazooka shot so the flash could be captured in the photograph. Kenny did so, and after the count of three hurried out of the gun pit to see where the shell had landed. As he reached the top he was hit with machine gun fire from a Russian made tank and was killed.
The body of Pvt. Kenneth R. Shadrick was returned to the United States, and on June 17, 1951, an impressive funeral was held in Beckley that was attended by several hundred Beckley residents. Internment was in the American Legion Cemetery.
Information provided by the Register-Herald.
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