PFC Joe K. Elkins
Company C, 25th Arm. Engineer Battalion APO 256, 6th Armored Division, Combat Command "B"
KIA 13 April, 1945 at Zeitz, Germany
Originally buried in US Military Cemetery in Eisenach, Germany, moved to Margraten, Holland
Brought home to Magnolia, Kentucky in 1949
The Father of Jorene Elkins Garrison and Robert Jones Elkins
-- Jorene Elkins Garrison --
My dad, Joe K. Elkins was born on May 22, 1917, in the Mt. Sherman community near Magnolia, Kentucky, to Rosa Wathan Elkins and Joe Robert Elkins.
He was the youngest child. He had three brothers, Albert, Oscar, and Lee, and one sister, Lorena. He went to school at Elkins Schoolhouse. This was
a one-room schoolhouse. It was named for my dad's family who lived close by down the country road. My dad only received an eighth grade education,
but he could make anything with his hands. He once built a house trailer which we lived in until he was drafted into the army. He was a member of
the Magnolia Baptist Church and was baptized sometime in the late 1930s.
Mom has told us that she was standing in front of the Bank of Magnolia one day and daddy "stopped to tie his shoe." He asked her for a date for that
night. They dated for about five years. He would walk from Magnolia out to the farm where mom lived (about two miles) to court her. On January 7,
1940, my mother, Opal Lorene Jones, married my dad. My brother, Robert Jones Elkins, was born on April 12, 1941, and I was born on May 22, 1943, my
dad's birthday. Mama and daddy had no idea how quickly their life together would end. It was over in five years. My mother never remarried. She
said that she had found the one that she wanted and she didn't want anyone else.
My dad was drafted in March, 1944. He left for Camp Fannin, Texas, on March 8th. I have a letter that he wrote to his sister from Camp Fannin.
He was coming in on furlough and hoping to see her. He came home on July 22nd for ten days and left in August for Ft. Meade, Maryland.
Mom tells how she, Bobby and I took him to the train depot at Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Bobby was three years old and I was fifteen months old.
She could see him waving as the train pulled out of the station. That was the last time she ever saw him. He wrote that he had waved, didn't know
if she had seen him or not.
Daddy was a carpenter. When he got to Ft. Meade, he wrote home that he was making boxes. He said that he might be "making one for himself." On
September 6, 1944, he sailed for France as a Demolition Specialist in the 6th Armored Division, "The Super 6th."
Mom said that he wrote to her everyday with few exceptions. She hadn't heard for days in April, 1945. His last letter, written on April 6th came
after she had learned of his death. She said she couldn't read it, so she had my grandfather read it. In it he spoke of my brother's birthday coming
up on April 12th, and how he would love to be there. He said that he would be thinking of us. I have a picture of Bobby's fourth birthday party out in
Grandma Jones' yard. Daddy died the next day.
My dad received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. The Citation for the Silver Star states: "On one occasion near Zeitz, Germany he removed
demolitions from one side of a bridge and while going to the other side, the bridge was blown up by the enemy, killing him." He died on Friday, April
13, 1945, only two days before the end of the fight for most of the men in the 6th Armored Division (April 15, 1945) and only weeks before the war
ended in Europe (May 8, 1945). He was only twenty seven years old and my mother was only twenty five. Daddy was buried in US Military Cemetery
Eisenach, Germany and later moved to Margraten, Holland. In January, 1949, his body was brought home to Kentucky. His funeral was held on January 22,
1949, with Military Rites given at the cemetery. He was finally home at last.
My mother was left with two small children to raise. She provided us with a loving and secure home. She had the help of a large extended family,
friends and the support of a loving small town. Our lives have always been very secure and happy, except daddy wasn't there - He died in the war.
Mom has never spoken anything negative about daddy to us; therefore, he is our hero. Most everything that my brother and I know about him has been
given to us by her. Neither of us have any first hand memories of him at all. All we have are "borrowed memories," and we thank God for those. She
taught us that he was a humble and compassionate man (Bobby is just like him). She said that he never acted like he knew it all and would help
anyone in need. My brother and I have missed out on knowing a great man. In fact, the older I get, the more I miss him.
At the time of this writing, April, 2008, it has been sixty-three years since daddy left us. We know he did not want to go, but he did what he felt
he must do. Yes, we have done well in this life, I suppose, but how we wish we could have lived these years with him. We wish he could have been here
and walked through his life with mom, growing old with her. We wish he could have been here to have seen Bobby and I grow up. We wish he could have
known his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and his great, great granddaughter. We wish he could have enjoyed "living" in the freedom that
he "died" for. Yes, we wish . . .!! We have missed him terribly. We will see him again.