Ferrell's Creek Veterans Memorial
Belcher, Pike County, Kentucky
This stop was absolutely unexpected. I'm whizzing along US-460, heading for Grundy, Virginia, at the end of a long day. I'm enjoying the motorcycle side of the project, concentrating totally on the next curve in the road - in other words, I'm completely happy. Suddenly a granite marker and red, white, and blue bunting catches my eye and the shift into memorial mode is immediately. I let off the trottle, put on the brakes, and wave to the car behind me that he should ignore the idiot on the motorcycle and pass around. A quick u-turn and I'm into the small parking area.
This section of US-460 is like most mountain areas in this part of the Appalachians. It follows a small river as it winds through the valleys and hollows of the countryside. Usually that means there is a limited opportunity for both the road and a hamlet of any size to co-exist. Tiny little Belcher is lucky enough that space for this memorial area could be carved out.
I could find eight of the nine men listed on the honor roll. Only 30 months separates the time from the first death, Lonnie Owens (1/1943) to the last, Bart Ratliff (6/1945). For the families of Ferrell's Creek, the hardest year of the war was 1944. Five of their young men were taken. The dreaded telegrams from the War Department were arriving in 60 day intervals - a death for each season, in a year that there was no happy springtime for the mothers of Ferrell's Creek.
The first to be killed was Dewey Lester, on February 12th. His body was repatriated after the war and buried in the Belcher Cemetery.
The body of Clyde Clevinger was not brought home. He was killed in Tunisia on April 10th of that horrible year.
The summer heat had just arrived in the hollow when news came about Lonza Ratliff. He was with the 358th Infantry as part of Operation Overlord at Normandy and was killed on June 11th.
Two months later, on August 11th, Curtis Hobbs was killed somewhere near Normandy. He had volunteered while still a teenager in 1942. He was 90 days short of his 22nd birthday.
For the brothers and sisters, the parents, and the lonely wives of Ferrell's Creek, 1944 ended the day after Christmas, December 26th. Ernest Mullins was with the 317th Infantry as the 80th Division took part in the "Battle of The Woods." The Division had spent Christmas Day in the area around Boursheid, Belgium, and things were not going well. The news of Ernest's death probably didn't reach Ferrell's Creek until after the calendar turned to 1945. But from then on there wasn't a Christmas Day celebration that went by without the sadness of 1944 being remembered.
Don't think the losses of World War II destroyed the spirit of this little community. On the contrary, they continue to support and serve the nation with pride. The subscription stones gathered around the monument reveal a small group of Ferrell's Creek family names serving in Korea, VietNam, and today. This is the spirit of the Appalachian's - walk on, regardless of the measure of sacrifice - walk on.