By Bob Weaver 2010

Calhoun solider Charles E. Jarvis, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Jarvis, was a handsome 17-year-old farm boy from Minnora when he joined the army just before the Korean War started in 1950.

Jarvis, at 19, was captured by North Korean communist troops and forced to walk on a 14-day 507-mile death march from Taejon to Seoul.

The Reds had planned to place a ransom for the soldiers return.

17-year-old Calhouner, Charles Jarvis after
completing basic training (left) and a healthier
Jarvis when released from duty in 1953

Jarvis, who walked every foot of the way, said the capture started with 375 Yank prisoners, with only 125 still living when they arrived at Pyongyang.

The remaining soldiers were then placed on a train, most of them to be doomed.

"We were in a boxcar with our knees tucked up to our chins. Eight men died in my car," Jarvis said.

When the train stopped to allow the prisoners to get a drink of water, nineteen-year-old Jarvis and three buddies fled to a hilltop.

"We just kept on going when the train stopped," said Jarvis.

Their fleeing instinct saved their lives.

Jarvis said four hours later he witnessed about 70 of his comrades being ordered to sit in three bunches in an open field, after which the guards opened fire with machine guns.

"The guys never knew what was up. We saw it all happen and there was nothing we could do," he said.

Twenty-one Yanks managed to survive the massacre.

Jarvis and his three friends continued their escape, finding some chickens and roasting them, after living on a handful of rice once a day.

A North Korean farmer gave them some rubber-soled shoes and delivered them to US officials.

News accounts in 1950 described Jarvis as a lucky young GI.

The photo of his starved and emaciated body appeared on the front page of hundreds of US newspapers, having lost 66 pounds. Five machine gun bullets had torn through his left arm and his left leg was riddled with shrapnel.

Gov. Bob Wise and officials present medals
to Jarvis' wife Madelon posthumously

Jarvis returned to the US after the war in 1953, to marry a California girl, Madelon DePaul of Long Beach. They moved to Elkview, West Virginia to continue their life together until Jarvis' death at age 63 in 1995.

"It is hard to imagine what it must have been like for a Calhoun country boy to be thrust into such a situation," said wife Madelon, recalling her husband's military experience.

Since Jarvis' death, he has posthumously received a Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medal, presented to his wife by former Gov. Bob Wise.

The aging photos of Jarvis, from age 17 to age 19, really tell the story of his near-death experience, and his service to this country.


The nine children of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Jarvis
of Meadow Run (1994) Standing (L-R) Frances Saffir,
Dorothy Rice, Arletta Conley, Mary Bittner; Seated (L-R)
Charles, Jack, Danny, Kenneth and James Jarvis

Hur Herald ©from Sunny Cal
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