Monday, September 29, 2014


A List Too Long

It was on a warm Sunday afternoon, some 14 plus years ago, on May 21, 2000  when the members of Laurens Leadership dedicated their project to honor those Laurens County law enforcement and public service officers who gave their lives in the performance of their duty to serve and protect our citizens.  The group raised a generous $50,000.00 in donations.   

The Dublin-Laurens community came together, as it always does, to ensure that no one would ever forget their lives they gave for us.

The memorial, designed by local architect David Woodburn, featured four half pyramid, black marble markers surrounding a star in the middle.    With the recent improvements to the area of the Bicentennial Plaza, the marker was removed with the plans to place it in a more suitable place, complete with a flag pole and appropriate appurtenances. After much study, the decision was made to permanently place the enhanced memorial between the Bicentennial Clock and the Railroad Park.

Now comes the part of this story that no one wants to talk about and that subject is new names.  Thankfully, no one has lost their lives since the first unveiling of the monument.  

Through the efforts of the Laurens County Historical Society, more names can now be honored and added to the list of names of the fallen law enforcement and public safety officers of Laurens County.   

As you may remember, the original marker contained the names of Laurens County Deputy Sheriffs, Kyle Dinkheller, Kip Brown and Wesley Stubbs, the latter of whom was killed in a car crash.  Stubbs, as he left the city limits, surrendered his title as Police Chief of Dublin and by agreement became a Laurens County Deputy Sheriff.    Three city policemen, John J. Webb of Dudley, Joseph E. Fennell and John Faircloth, both of Cadwell,  were all killed in the line of duty.  Danny Badgett, an EMT, lost his life while traveling to the scene of a deadly tornado which struck just across the county line.  Constable W.F. Pierce, at the time, thought to have been the first Laurens County law enforcement officer to have lost his life in the performance of his duty in 1904.  County Policeman W.E. Hathaway was killed in a liquor raid in East Dublin on Christmas Eve, 1919.  State Trooper, John D. Morris, a Dublin native, was killed while traveling to the scene of an accident. County Work Camp Warden John Coleman, who was killed in an accident,  rounded out the original eleven  honorees. 

George Crawford was a law man.  He was a son of a lawman.  His daddy, a county sheriff, was slain while attempting to apprehend a prisoner.  Before this day, May 21, 1921,  was over, George too would take his last breath in the performance of his duty. 

Laurens County's commissioners hired their own policeman to enforce the state law against moonshining.  Sometimes these officers conducted raids in conjunction with state and federal officers.  This time, county policeman George Crawford and his deputy, E.M. Osborn, set off to look for a still, which they believed was operated by one Math Holsey or his daddy, ol' man Green Holsey, way down in the lower extremities of Burch's District. 

Ol' man Holsey burst into the breeze way brandishing a shotgun.  Crawford instinctively wrestled him to the ground and took his gun.  Osborn, out of the corner of his best eye, noticed the senior Holsey reaching behind  a crookedly hung picture frame and pull out an object. At first, he did know exactly what the old man had in his hand.  He was about to found out soon, frighteningly soon.

Crawford and Holsey fiercely fought for control of the weapon.  Deputy Osborn ran around to the other side of the scrum and beckoned to George, "What's he got George?"  Crawford screamed out, "He's got a gun!"

The officers and the occupants of the house continued to struggle.   A shot struck Crawford. "George was still breathing, but he never spoke and he died in two or three minutes," Deputy Osborn recalled.    

Crawford, described as a fearless officer,  had been a Laurens County policeman for two years.   This acclamation was attested to by the fact that during the entire clash with Green Holsey that he did not draw his gun, not once.  When the morticians were preparing his body for the funeral, they found Crawford's leather billy still secured in his pocket.

George Crawford was known to have been a policeman who fervently sought out makers of illegal moonshine.  It cost him his life and the eternal misery of his widow, his eight children and a host of friends.  But, no murder of a law enforcement officer would stop the fight to end crimes, whenever and wherever they occur.  The county commissioners recognized the magnitude of the moonshine problem.  So, they appointed not one, but two,  officers to carry on the battle.  Within two weeks of George Crawford's tragic death in the performance of his duty, Judson L. Jackson and J.K. Rowland stepped in and picked up the torch of justice to carry on the fight the rid the county of the evil demon rum.

The saddest day of the year 1888 came on a Monday, November 5.  On the Sabbath evening the night before, for some unknown reason, W.M. Scarborough, in a stuporous state took offense to his arrest by Dublin Town Marshal N.K. Watson.  As Marshal Watson pronounced that Scarborough was to submit to arrest for being drunk and disorderly, Scarborough plunged a dagger into Watson's neck, severing his jugular vein, spewing blood everywhere.  For five agonizing minutes, the city marshal lay dying.  It was the first time in the recorded history of our county that a public safety officer was killed in the line of duty. Nearly two years later, Scarborough was exonerated by a jury of his peers.

George Martin, a convict guard at the Laurens County Prisoner of Work Farm, died an accidental death while in the performance of his duties on March 14, 1922.  Martin was attempting to clean an old pistol to be used in his duty as a guard.  After attempting several times to make the gun work, Martin handed the bothersome pistol over to Dewey Bedingfield, brother of County Warden, George W. Bedingfield.  Bedingfield, while tinkering with the pistol, accidentally caused the gun to fire.  A sole mortal bullet struck Martin in the abdomen, severely damaging his intestines and his kidney.  Despite all efforts to save the guard, Martin died in a local hospital a few hours later. 

As we re-dedicate the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officers' Memorial at the gateway to downtown Dublin, let us all hope and pray that never again shall any more names shall ever be added to the list, a list too long. 


A Wizard of Words

 The kids of the Dublin High School classes of 1960 and 1961 knew Max Byrd was smart. They all knew that he could write well and speak well.  But somehow they lost touch with their classmate when his father was transferred to a new job.  This is the story of a young man who left Dublin in 1959.  With the lessons he learned in halls of old Dublin High School ingrained in his brain, he graduated from one of the nation's top universities and taught at two more of the country's most well respected institutions of higher learning. Along the way, this affable man has written more than a dozen books on subjects ranging from literature to mysteries to historical novels and many more essays and articles.

     Max Byrd, son of Allan and Rubye Byrd, was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1942.  His father was an accountant for the Veteran's Administration.   The Byrd family transferred to Dublin in 1954 and lived in a home on the hospital grounds.  Max, like most of the kids of his day rode his bicycle to school, a fairly long ride to the old high school on North Calhoun Street.  While Max was in school at Dublin, he was a member of the Latin Club, and in his final year as a junior in Dublin, he represented
the school in the boy's declamation competition. He was a member of the debate team and garnered a medal at the state competition. Nearly fifty years later, he still retains vivid memories of "Board of Education," a large wooden paddle wielded by the very stern principal, D.R. Davis.   Max and most every one of his era remember the iconic, stern, but excellent,  math teacher, Woodrow Rumble.  "The class I remember best from Dublin High was Latin. "The study of Latin set me on the right track for learning to write English," Byrd said.  In his junior year, Max was president of the Latin Club.

   Just before the beginning of his senior year, Max and his family moved to Arlington, Virginia.  A scholarship from Harvard University was all Max needed to embark on an outstanding career in education and journalism.  Excelling in his studies at Harvard, Max was awarded a fellowship to continue his studies  at Cambridge University, Kings College in England.  Max returned to Harvard, where he obtained his Ph.D. in English.

     While he was at Harvard, Max developed a life long friendship with classmate and fellow writer, Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, among many other best selling novels.  Byrd owes a lot to Crichton, whom he considers as a writer "who arranges facts into fiction better than just anybody else."  Chrichton, who began writing his novels at Harvard, encouraged Max to write.  He admired his friend's dedication, energy and willingness to take risks.    Gore Vidal
influenced Byrd in his historic fiction novels.  Max owes a personal debt to Oakley Hall, the founder of the Squaw Valley Writers Conference, an organization now headed by Max.  "I wish I could say that I was influenced by John Updike," Byrd said, "but he is so wonderful a writer of English prose that I can only look up and marvel."

     Dr. Byrd crossed the long-standing crevice between Harvard and the nation's third oldest university, Yale University, where he was offered a position as Associate Professor.  Max was awarded the Younger Humanist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities  and an award from the A. Whitney Griswold Fund for the academic year 1974-75.  His first book, Visits to Bedlam: Madness and Literature in the Eighteenth Century, won him many accolades.  In 1976, Byrd edited and published Daniel DeFoe, A Collection of Critical Essays.

     In 1976, after six years as an associate professor  at Yale, Max made the life altering decision to leave the hallowed halls of the Ivy League and seek his life's goals out west in California, the native home of his wife.  While serving as an associate professor at the University of California at Davis, Max began publishing books on English literature.   His second work, London Transformed: Images of the City in the Eighteenth Century,  a study of English writers he dedicated to Walter Jackson Bate, who inspired him as a beginning writer.  From 1977 to 1988, he served as editor of Eighteenth Century Studies.  In 1985, Dr. Byrd wrote and compiled Tristram Shandy, a scholarly analysis of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.

     In 1981, Max Byrd was promoted to a full professorship at UC Davis.  He taught 18th-century British literature and occasionally freshman English.    Byrd struggled with the concept of teaching college students to write fiction.  He sees the greatest obstacle to teaching writing is that so many students don't read anything.  It was in that same year when Max began to publish a divergent genre of books than his usual scholarly, literary writings.   He began writing detective novels back at Yale in 1973.  His first published novel, California Thriller, was the first in a series of Mike Haller mysteries.  The Private Eye Writers of America awarded him their first ever Shamus award for the Best Paperback Original Novel.

     The success of his first novel led to the follow up Haller mystery Fly Away Jill in the fall of 1981.  A third novel, Finder Weepers debuted on book stands in 1983.  Target of Opportunity, a suspenseful novel set in World War II, was a "Book of the Month" selection in 1988.   His final mystery novel, Fuse Time, was published in 1991 and deals with a terrorist bomber in Los Angeles.

      At the suggestion of his publisher, Bantam Books, Max began to write historical novels.  His first novel dealt with Thomas Jefferson and the years he spent in France, years which changed Jefferson and the United States as well.  Max felt at ease writing about Jefferson and his second subject Andrew Jackson because of his undergraduate studies at Harvard in American History and Literature.  Byrd grew to admire Jackson, whom he sees as "routinely underestimated and misunderstood by historians."  His third historical work novelizes the life of Ulysses S. Grant, who Byrd believes to have been "a remarkable man, remarkably rich and a man who lived a dramatic life." His latest book, Shooting the Sun, (2004) traces the life of the eccentric 19th-century English genius Charles Babbage and the Santa Fe Trail.

     During his years of active writing, Max spent five or six mornings and evenings writing seeking to write a minimum of three to five pages.   Byrd sees writing as a lonely business and one which you have to be obsessed to succeed.

     In 2004, Max Byrd quit teaching. He told an interviewer with the Sacramento Bee that "retired" seemed so old and that he planned to keep on writing.  Max is a frequent reviewer of history books for the New York Times.  He also writes for American Heritage magazine and the Woodrow Wilson Quarterly.   He plans to be the Carnochan Lecturer in Humanities at Stanford University next spring.

     Max and his wife Brookes live in California. They have two children, Kate and  David.  His most vivid recollection of Dublin is the Carnegie library (Dublin-Laurens Museum), the Martin Theater and the beginning of Bellevue Avenue.  He enjoyed the football games on Friday nights as well. Max Byrd hasn't been back to Dublin since he left more than forty-seven years ago.

P.S. Max, if you read this, you are always welcome to come back.  The library and the theater are still there.  And yes, the football games are still as exciting as they were when you left.   I hope you gave me a good grade on this article.


A Citizen Wherever He Served

From time to time, exceptional people pass through our midst.  Some are only here for a short time, while others are here for all of our lives.  This is the story of a gridiron star of the Roaring Twenties, who climbed his way from the locker room of a powerful college football team to the board room of one of Georgia's largest corporations.  During his celebrated lifetime, this young man sojourned in Dublin for a brief while on the first rung of the ladder to the board chairmanship of Georgia Power Corporation.

John Joseph McDonough was born in Savannah, Georgia on January 26, 1901.  John, or "Jack" as his friends called him, entered the Georgia Institute of Technology after his graduation from high school in Savannah.  While pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Jack became the quarterback of the football team at Georgia Tech under Coach William Alexander.  One Atlanta sportswriter commented that he had the complexion of an Indian, albeit that his tan came from the sunshine of his native home.  His greatest season was his last season when he helped the Tech team to garner the co-championship of the Southern Conference in 1922.

Jack, known as "Gooch" to his teammates,  was compared to Brer Rabbit.  In the 1921 season, he led the Yellow Jackets to a defeat of a great Rutgers team.  "He always ran the right thing at the right time and helped to put drive into every play.  He was always there when we needed a yard or two for a first down.  That's the best thing about Jack, he can always slip through a hole for the necessary gain when it is needed," commented Tech end John Staton.   In one of his greatest games, his Yellow Jackets smashed the Crimson Tide of Alabama by the score of 33-7.  Forty decades later, McDonough was elected to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.  Because of his prowess on the football field, he was offered a position as football coach and mathematics teacher at Savannah High School.  After four years in his hometown, McDonough was approached by Georgia Southern Power Corporation for a position with the company.

In a 1925 referendum, the voters of Dublin overwhelmingly voted in favor of selling the municipal power plant to Georgia Southern Power primarily in reliance upon the company's promise to make Dublin a distribution point for Middle Georgia.  Company officials sent McDonough to Dublin as an assistant manager in the Dublin office in his first regular assignment.  Then, after only thirteen months, Jack McDonough was promoted again, this time as district manager in Athens, home of his intra-state collegiate rivals.  After only four months in Athens, he was again transferred, this time to Brunswick where he served the remainder of 1928.  Jack McDonough returned to Dublin in January of 1929 where, as district manager, he supervised the Dublin, McRae and Vidalia districts.  McDonough continued his nomadic career by returning to Brunswick after only five months in Dublin.

Jack McDonough was working as the district manager of the Douglas office when the company became the Georgia Power Company in 1930.    He worked as division commercial and sales manager in Augusta in 1937, when he moved to Atlanta.  After another short stint, McDonough moved to Rome, Georgia, where finally he began a thirteen-year stable period of employment, first as division manager and then as division manager and vice-president of the company.

His superiors in the company felt that Jack's rightful place was in the main office in Atlanta.  For a half year, McDonough  served as the district manager of the Atlanta office.  In May 1951, the board of directors elected McDonough as executive vice president of Georgia Power, the number two position in the company.  For six years, McDonough served under President Harlee Branch, Jr.  providing invaluable services wherever the need arose.  In January 1957, McDonough became the sixth president of Georgia Power Company.  After another six years of outstanding service to the company, the stockholders and directors of the company elevated Jack McDonough to position of chairman of the board.

During his administration, McDonough oversaw tremendous growth in the company's service to the rapidly expanding post war city scapes and country sides of Georgia.  Through his efforts and thousands of outstanding employees, Georgia Power Company became the nation's tenth largest publicly owned utility company.   McDonough served until his retirement in 1966, when he took a seat as a director on Georgia Power's parent company, the Southern Company.

During his forty years at Georgia Power Company, Jack McDonough accumulated a remarkable array of accolades and honors.   He was the first native Georgian ever to be nominated as "Engineer of the Year."  A general plant on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta was named his honor.  As a business man, John J. McDonough was much in demand as a corporate director.  He served on the boards of the Central of Georgia Railway, Pepperill Manufacturing Company, Mead Corporation, Edison Electric Institute, Southern Research Institute, Georgia Future Homemakers of America, Georgia Future Farmers of America, and Georgia International Life Insurance Company.

In summing up his philosophies of business and life, McDonough was said to have firmly believed that the company should get things done, serving as a citizen of the state whenever and wherever necessary, never in fear of the future nor scorning the past.  He encouraged his employees to take a look at everything and never making anything permanent, except progress.

Jack McDonough incorporated his business philosophy as a citizen servant into his personal civic and philanthropic service to the state.  He was vice chairman of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia from 1947 to 1957.  A supporter of the arts, McDonough served on boards which included the Atlanta Music Festival, Atlanta Arts Alliance and Atlanta Symphony Guild.  Children, youth and the unfortunate were of paramount importance to Jack.  He served on the Georgia Tech Foundation, the YMCA, Metropolitan Atlanta Community Services, the Georgia Society for Crippled Children and Adults, the Red Cross and Easter Seals, serving as state chairman of the latter from 1955 to 1957.   He served on countless boards and committees on Chamber of Commerce boards, the Atlanta Athletic Club, the Commerce Club, the Piedmont Driving Club, and the Peachtree Golf Club and numerous other organizations.

John J. McDonough was recognized as one of the most influential figures in the industrial and commercial life of Georgia.  He died on April 1, 1983 in Atlanta after a lengthy illness.  


A Beacon of Agriculture and Education

No other resident of a county surrounding Laurens County has had more of a lasting impact on the history of Laurens County than Congressman Dudley Mays Hughes of Danville, Twiggs County, Georgia.  Though his grandfather was a resident of Laurens, Dudley Hughes lived most of his life on his plantation in Danville, Georgia.  As a railroad baron, agriculturalist and congressman, Hughes led the citizens between Dublin and Macon out of the abyss of Reconstruction through the zenith of the cotton boom, which prematurely ended with the coming of the boll weevil and the resulting bank failures and worker migration to the North.

Dudley Mays Hughes was born on October 10, 1848 in Jeffersonville, Georgia.  His parents, Daniel G. Hughes and Mary Moore Hughes, were prominent residents of the county. His father  represented Twiggs County in the Georgia legislature.  His grandfather Hayden Hughes, of Laurens County,  was one of Central Georgia’s largest slave owners.  Hughes received most of his primary education at private schools, primarily at Oakland Academy.  Though he never formally completed his studies at the University of Georgia, Dudley was made an honorary graduate.  While in college, Dudley developed life time friendships with many of Georgia’s future leaders, including Henry W. Grady, Governor Nat Harris and University of Georgia Chancellor Walter B. Hill.

Dudley Hughes’ station in life was set in 1870 when he left college in the middle of his senior year to try his hand at agriculture.  Though very adept in his academic faculties, Dudley was also masterful the modern methods of agricultural principles.  After a trial run on his grandfather’s farm in Laurens County,  Hayden Hughes rewarded the young man with a bounty of a thousand dollars for his excellent work.  Hughes used his grant to purchase and establish his Danville farm into one of the section’s most profitable operations.

Hughes realized that in order for agricultural operations to prosper, that railroads were an absolute necessity.  The closest railroad to his home was the Central of Georgia Railroad in Wilkinson County.   Hughes  represented Twiggs County in the Georgia Senate from 1882-1883.  With his enhanced political power and support,  Hughes consulted with his father and his  contemporaries John M. Stubbs of Dublin, Ashley Vickers of Montrose  and Joshua Walker of Laurens Hill in the creation of a railroad from Macon to Savannah through Dublin temporarily  under the name of the Macon and Dublin Railroad then officially as  the Savannah, Dublin and Western Shortline Railroad, which eventually became the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad.  In July 1891 near the end of his six-year term as the railroad’s first president, Hughes and a host of dignitaries rode the inaugural train from Macon to Dublin.  Hughes remained active in the railroad’s operation as its vice-president for several more years until northern investors took over its management from its local progenitors.

After subordinating his railroad interests to his passion for farming, Hughes concentrated on the development of his plantation and the promotion of agriculture and horticultural interests across the state.  Along with his close friend John M. Stubbs, Hughes was active in the establishment of orchards around Montrose and Dublin.  He served for four years as president of the Georgia State Agricultural Society and ten years  as a founding member and first president of the Georgia Fruit Grower’s Association.  As president of the Agricultural Society, Hughes pledged to do all in his power to work for the society as a beacon light for the farmers to look to for guidance and encouragement.  In 1977, Dudley Hughes was named to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame along with Eli Whitney as the sixth and seventh members of the most honored agriculturalists in American history, joining George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington Carver,  Cyrus McCormick and Justin Morrill.  Hughes maintained a large naval stores operation and a 90,000 tree orchard in Laurens County.  Hughes was one of the first farmers to use telephones to coordinate his diverse farming operations at various locations in Twiggs and Laurens County.   He took a personal and active interest in farming, riding a thoroughbred horse from farm to farm to make sure everything was going smoothly.

Hughes was a fervent conservationist, historian and Christian.  He was a Mason, Elk and member of the Georgia Historical Society.  Hughes was a leader in experimentation of agricultural theories and promoted the establishment of three hundred experiment stations around the state.  Despite his iconic stature, Hughes remained loyal to his local church, serving as a deacon and Sunday school superintendent.  His expertise and leadership were always in demand.  Gov. Joseph Terrell appointed Hughes as Commissioner General of Georgia for the St.  Louis World’s Fair.

Though he disdained politics in his early life, he answered the call of his colleagues for political office on a higher scale.  After an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1906, Hughes was elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District of Georgia in 1908.  He served two terms before transferring to the 12th Congressional District in 1912, easily winning reelection for two more terms.  He won coveted seats on the House Military, Agriculture and Education committees.  Always a  zealot of education, Hughes served as a trustee of the University of Georgia, the University of Georgia School of Agriculture, South Georgia Normal School and Georgia Normal and Industrial College, now Georgia College an State University.

One of Congressman Hughes’ most lasting contributions on a national basis came  in1914, when Democratic president Woodrow Wilson appointed him to a presidential commission to explore the viability of federal funding of vocational and agricultural education in public schools.  As the Democratic Chairman of the House Committee on Education, Hughes worked with fellow Georgian, Senator Hoke Smith, in developing a bill, which became known as the Smith-Hughes Act.  Adopted by Congress in 1917, the Smith-Hughes Act provided matching federal funding for vocational education.

Dudley Hughes married Mary Frances Dennard in 1873.  Their children were Hugh Lawson Dennard Hughes, Henrietta Louise Hughes and Daniel Greenwood Hughes. Dan G. Hughes followed in his father’s footsteps by serving as Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture.   Hugh, a successful Twiggs County businessman, served as a Trustee of the University of Georgia and Middle Georgia College.  Henrietta Louise, known affectionately as “Miss Hennilu” outlived her brothers and lived in her father’s Magnolia Plantation until her death  at the age of 102.  Magnolia Plantation was restored about two decades ago and stands a monument to the Hughes’ legacy of his contributions to the agricultural and education progress of Georgia.  Dudley Hughes died on January 20, 1927 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Perry.

Dudley Hughes was considered a man of high integrity, always sympathetic and interested in those with whom he conversed.  He was always erect in his in his carriage and looked everyone straight in the eye.  He was known to have loved children and animals, always grateful for their presence in the midst of his hurried world.   Though some people may disagree, the founders of the Town of Dudley named their town in his honor.  Many also think that Montrose was his middle name and therefore he was the name sake of that town as well.  “Colonel Hughes,” as he was known to most of his friends, was honored when the citizens of Montrose, Allentown and Danville attempted to form their own county named in his honor.  The city of Macon did name a vocational school for him and his hometown of Danville was named for his father, Daniel G. Hughes


A Distinguished Innovator

William B. Rice was arguably the most important farmer, naval stores operator, businessman and financier that Laurens County has ever known.  Known simply as "Captain Rice," he was one of the most respected men of his day.  Never one to seek political office, he served his community by pursuing his business interests.  In  building his own substantial fortune  in the process, Rice pumped the economic engine which catapulted Dublin and Laurens County to become one of the most preeminent economic markets in Georgia in the first two decades of the 20th Century.

William Brooks Rice, son of Benjamin F. Rice,  was born on Edisto Island, South Carolina on October 2, 1856, one hundred and fifty years ago yesterday.  His mother, Rebecca Sauls Rice,  died when he was  only two years old. The young William was sent to live with his aunt.  His early years were spent in the maelstrom of South Carolina's secession from the Union and the resulting turbulence of the Civil War which nearly consumed Charleston.

Toward the end of the 19th Century, William and his brothers Dan G. Rice and Samuel Percy Rice, migrated from Florida to the western end of Emanuel County, Georgia.  The Rice brothers established a highly successful naval stores operation near Rixville, located  at the far limits of the county below Adrian.  Pine trees in the area were highly suitable for the production of gum turpentine, especially in the forests  between Adrian, Rockledge and Soperton.    It was during this time when William Rice earned the title of "Captain Rice."  Turpentining was a labor intensive operation requiring the employment of many men, usually black men, who worked for humble wages just to survive.   The title of captain was usually bestowed as an honorary title to a man who was the boss of a group of laborers.

Captain Rice began to diversify his interests by engaging in farming.  In 1901, he made the headlines in the Atlanta Constitution by earning nearly two thousand dollars on a 40-acre hay field.  By 1902, as Captain Rice's fortunes began to mount, it became apparent that he needed to move to Dublin to keep up with his station in life.   Though he was no longer a resident of Adrian, Captain Rice offered his services to the movement to establish the new county of James surrounding the town of Adrian.  Rice served as vice president of the organization along with Captain T.J. James, Adrian's most influential and powerful businessman.

Captain Rice and his family moved to Dublin in the summer of 1904.  He moved to a fine home which he called "Brookwood" on the western outskirts of Dublin along the Macon Road.  His  home was located on the site of the Carl Vinson V.A. Medical Center.  Following the resignation of J.E. "Banjo" Smith as vice president of the First National Bank of Dublin, Captain Rice and his business partner, William S. Phillips, were appointed as co-vice presidents of the bank.  The First National was Dublin's largest and most prosperous bank and was known as the largest country bank in Georgia.

One of Captain Rice's greatest contributions to Dublin and Laurens County was his leadership in the establishment of the Twelfth Congressional District Fair in 1911.  Rice chairmaned the 1913 event.  Perhaps the greatest in the fair's brief history, the exposition recorded twelve thousand admissions in a single day.  

Always a strong spiritual and monetary supporter of business interests in Dublin and Laurens County, Captain Rice joined his colleagues J.M. Finn, R.M. Arnau, R.F. Deese, Izzie Bashinski and D.S. Brandon in incorporating the Dublin Chamber of Commerce in 1914.  Rice was involved in other business ventures as a director of the Dublin Buggy Company, the Chamber of Commerce Warehouse Company, the Citizen Loan and Guaranty Company (the region's largest insurance company,) and the Thompson Horse and Mule Powder Company.  Rice partnered with W.S. Phillips and W.T. Phelps in a stable business on the north side of the courthouse square in the first decade of the 20th Century.  Known as a man with great foresight, Rice purchased one of the first automobiles in Dublin, a thirty horsepower Cadillac from the Miller Brothers in 1907.

But without any doubt, W.B. Rice's greatest contribution to Laurens County came in the field of agriculture.  He sought out and studied new methods of farming to improve crop production and profits.    Within five years of cotton farming in the county, Rice boasted that he could harvest 800 bales of cotton on an 800-acre farm.  In 1913, he studied the use of new irrigation techniques.  Rice believed that a network of terra cotta pipes delivering water evenly throughout his fields would greatly increase profits.  During World War I, Captain Rice urged his fellow farmers to plan a more diversified array of foodstuffs to support the war effort.   On his Brookwood plantation, he maintained one of this section's finest herd of cattle, many of them registered Herefords.  He annually maintained a passel of hogs weighing more than fifty thousand pounds.    A kine of a hundred dairy cattle grazed on his farm supplying his dairy, bringing him an annual profit of more than twelve thousand dollars.

In the disastrous years following World War I, Georgia's agricultural economy began to collapse.   The near annihilation of the cotton crop and the beginning of a vast migration of Negro farm workers to the North forced farmers to diversify their crops and livestock operations by banding together to take advantage of farm cooperatives.  One of the first national organizations to form in Georgia after the war was the American Association of Farm Bureaus.    The Farm Bureau was formed to provide opportunities for information on production, conservation, distribution and better living conditions  for farmers.  Captain Rice was selected as the initial 12th Congressional District member of the Georgia Farm Bureau Advisory Board in 1920.

Captain Rice was a fervent leader of the Baptist church.   He moved his membership from the Adrian Baptist Church to the First Baptist Church of Dublin in 1905.   A century ago, Rice was one of the leading contributors to the erection of the present church in Dublin.

Captain William Brooks Rice died on the morning of December 9, 1929.  He was buried with his family in a vault in the Mausoleum in Northview Cemetery in a funeral attended by hundreds of friends, family and admirers.   He was described by a biographer as one of those people you like the first time you meet them.  He always spoke what was on his mind, without shuffling or evasion.  Able to converse with any person on his level, Rice was a bright blue-eyed man, frequently humorous and habitually smiling, except when being photographed.   Perhaps these words in his obituary aptly symbolized his character:  superb strength of character, most generous helpfulness of hand and great kindness of heart.


SARAH FROST: A Tale of an Unlikely Veteran

Sarah Frost, Teacher of Geometry
and Life, Dublin High School, 1974


Sarah was an average girl, one who grew up in the Great Depression and one who knew the value of hard work and a good education. Like many young women of her generation who were lucky enough to obtain a post secondary education, Sarah decided she wanted to teach. One of her first assignments found her in Pine Hall, North Carolina, a small community, not large enough to be called a town, and situated a good half hour or so north of Winston - Salem in those days of slower cars and dirt highways.

Returning from a trip back home to Monroe, Sarah was standing in the bus station on a Sunday afternoon in Winston-Salem. School was about to be out for Christmas holidays. A nervous voice came out of the loud speaker. The passengers paused. "All service personnel report to their bases immediately! The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor," the announcer quivered. Sarah and other stunned civilians were diverted to other buses while the soldiers and sailors boarded the first available buses back to their posts.

Following the dramatic attack on the United States, men across the country began signing up for volunteer service or selective service through the draft. The officials of the Stokes County draft board figured that teachers were good at taking names and putting them on lists, so Sarah and the other teachers were assigned to register the men of the county for the draft.

The young teacher had heard that a new organization was being formed to aid the war effort. The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established in February 1943. These women were given hundreds of tasks to perform, serving as radio operators, cooks, truck drivers, map makers and hundreds more. By D-day, five of six enlisted personnel serving in the Marine Corps Headquarters were women. Two of three Marines manning major posts in the United States and Hawaii were female in the last years of the war.

It was time to serve her country Sarah decided. She traveled down the road to Camp Lejeune, a bustling military installation, which two years earlier had been nothing but a sandy forest of natural pines along the Atlantic Seaboard Railroad. The First Marine Division had come there two years prior to train for the eminent war.

The camp would be Sarah's home for six weeks. Though it looked like a college campus with beautiful buildings, the Marine post was specifically designed to train men and women to go to war, which meant that some would kill and some would be killed. Her fellow Marine reservists were an assortment of women from all walks of life. Sarah and the other women were subjected to a battery of tests. When they weren't testing and being taught in some facet of military science, they marched.

They marched to eat. They marched to classes. They even practiced marching just to learn how to march with no destination. They stopped marching when the drill instructor was too tired to watch the women march any more. Sarah was taught how to walk, talk, run, eat, sleep, drink, dress and think like a Marine. After boot camp, Sarah wanted an assignment somewhere at an air base. To get there, she first had to go to Cherry Point, just across the river. Much to Sarah's astonishment when she arrived at Cherry Point, she was assigned duty in the kitchen. Turkeys for Thanksgiving, turkeys for Christmas, and leftover turkeys for New Year's Day are still ingrained in Sarah's memory of her first real days in the Marine Corps. She did get New Year's Eve off to celebrate the coming of the year 1944, a year in which the war, both in Europe and Pacific, would soon turn in favor of the Allies.

Just a few days later, Sarah rode a troop train to Oxford, Ohio, where she began taking courses in the operation of radios, learning how to type and send messages in Morse code. Sarah trained alongside her counterparts, the WAVES of the United States Navy. She had hoped that her marching days were behind her, but on nearly every Saturday the Marine women joined the WAVES and practically every sailor and marine on an old athletic field for a weekly parade. The marching subsided after that, although Sarah does remember a blistering hot day when she marched in her wool uniform, a disastrous result because the military too frequently goes by the calendar and not the thermometer when assigning uniforms for the day.

On May 27, 1944, Sarah was promoted to corporal and assigned to the Radio Material School in Omaha, Nebraska. She learned how to put radios together, take them apart and fix them when they were broken. Sarah delighted in the fact that she had two friends who accompanied her through both Camp Lejeune and Oxford. One was an English teacher. Sarah taught math before she enlisted.

In October 1944, Sarah traveled across the country to report for duty in Santa Barbara, California. During her 14-month stay in the Golden State, Sarah earned a third stripe on her sleeves. She continued to repair radios at naval and coast guard stations, enjoying the latter the best because of the great food they served. Southern California is, and was then, a great place to visit. Sarah and her friends often hitch hiked, with absolutely no fear of harm, to Los Angeles and San Francisco for a weekend of entertainment.

Just a dozen days before Christmas, with their discharges in their hands, Sarah, her friends Avis and Ann, Avis' nephew and his dog piled into a '39 Plymouth set out for their homes along the route. They drove through glamorous Los Angeles, the frozen deserts of Arizona and the snowy plains of Nebraska. They slept in their cars and $3 a night dingy cabins, though they did spend one warm night at Ann's house in Nebraska.

As Avis and Sarah got closer to North Carolina, they began to notice snow on the ground. But Sarah couldn't make herself believe there was any chance of a snowball at her home in Monroe. There was snow in Asheville. Sarah's hopes of a white Christmas swelled. As Sarah and Ann pulled into the Austin home in Monroe, it was snowing. It snowed so much that Ann had to spend a couple of days with the Austins, a delay she minded very little with all of the southern holiday hospitality which was heaped upon her. Sarah said goodbye to the last of her trio as she began the last leg of her cross country trip back home to Boston. The girls were home. The war was over. All was good in Nebraska, Boston and especially in Monroe, North Carolina where this young school teacher turned Marine was home for Christmas.

Sarah taught school in Winston-Salem for 17 years. She married Bill and moved to Dublin. I was lucky enough to have been her student for two of the twenty-one years she taught math in Dublin. Sarah had a passion for geometry and geometric shapes. At Dublin High she was legendary for her assignments of geometric art. While we struggled to construct our 3-D stellated polyhedron stars, we would have sworn such an arduous task would only have come from a demanding Marine Corps sergeant. Little did we know that our teacher was actually a Marine sergeant in World War II three decades before.

Like most members of "the greatest generation" whose greatest feats came after they left the service, Sarah's greatest contribution to our country came not in radio repair rooms, but in the classrooms of Dublin High School, where this meek, gentle, kind and caring teacher shaped our young minds and taught us the theorems of life. So on this Veteran's Day, please join me in saluting Mrs. Sarah Austin Frost, the most unlikely Marine sergeant I ever knew. And for the rest of you men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces, I thank you on behalf of a grateful nation for a job well done.

(Compiled from an interview of Sarah Frost by Mac Fowler for the Laurens County Historical Society)


"Letters from 'Nam"

The last time Mark Cooper saw his brother James, he was walking down a long tunnel at the Atlanta Airport.  After a short reunion in Atlanta with friends and family, Mark waived goodbye as  James boarded a jet plane eventually bound for the Far East and Vietnam.

James Ennis Cooper was a member of the Classes of the 1960s.  During the history of our country, generations of young men have drawn the short straws to fight the wars which older men started.  James Cooper was one of those young men - a man, yet still a boy. Born on February 10, 1944 to contractor Theodore E. Cooper and his seamstress wife, Loudelle Morris Cooper, James Ennis Cooper would become one of fifty-eight thousand plus names on the Vietnam Veterans Wall.

"James was a tough kid, who would certainly accept a challenge," said former neighbor Ben Tarpley.  On the other hand Tarpley added, "He would still take the time to give all of us younger kids a ride on his Cushman motor scooter."

James Ennis Cooper graduated from East Laurens High School in the spring of 1964.  His senior annual proclaimed his ambition was "To live and let live."  His motto was "Some that smile have in their hearts, I fear, millions of mischief."

James married Dianne Martha Pope on April 22, 1966.  Some sixteen months later, James was on his way to duty in the jungles of Vietnam as a member of the 1st Division, forever known as the "Big Red One."

Cooper's tour of duty began on August 10, 1967.  The Door's Light My Fire was Number 1 on the Hot 100 charts.  Bonnie & Clyde and In the Heat of the Night were the new movies coming to theaters around the country.   Back in Atlanta,  Pat Jarvis and Mack Jones led the Atlanta Braves to a 10-2 whalloping of the Houston Astros.

After going through the usual indoctrination procedures of a new man in the unit, James set down and began to write letters to his wife, his family and friends.  At least three of those letters to his younger brother Mark, a  successful Dublin pharmacist, still survive.

It was the 1st day of September, 1967.

Hi Mark:

Well, I thought I would write you while I had time.  I received your letter today.  This is the second day I received mail since I've been here, yesterday was the first day.  I got five letters, one from mother, one from Florrie and three from Dianne.  It sure does help your morale when you get mail from home.  It took a while, 2 weeks, for me to get my first mail because I was new in the company, but I got a little, from you and Dianne today and it only took four days to get here.

So it only takes about four days to get a letter from you.  Well, I only stayed in San Francisco a day and a half and it took me about 20 hours to fly over here.  We stopped three times to refuel, they were in Honolulu, Hawaii, Wake Island and Guam.

Well there isn't much to tell about this place except it is hot, nasty and the people live like animals.  The people all have dark skin from the sun and you can't trust any of them.  They have a few places over here that are pretty well up to date, like Saigon.  Some of the women over here look ok, but not as good as our American women.

Well I'm about eighteen miles above Saigon, a place called Dian, the D is pronounced like a "Z," like in zero.

Well, I haven't been to the field, where the action is.  We still are in base camp. We don't know how long we will be here, maybe a couple of weeks.  But we did go outside the perimeter sometimes and set up camp.  I'm in the weapons platoon, that is a little better than the linemen. We support with our mortar guns.  We are living in tents right now, but it is not too bad.

Well, guess I'd better go, I got some work to do.

        James Ennis

In just two weeks of being in Vietnam, James begins to show his frustration of being in the middle of the hellish fighting and his desire to protect his younger brother from the horrors of war.   Although James repeatedly complained of muddy conditions all around him, his letters to Mark, a pharmacy student in Atlanta,  are neatly written on spotless white paper, free of a speck red clay.

Monday. 18 September, 1967

Hello Mark:

How is everything around Atlanta, Ga?  Well everything around here is pretty muddy.  I'm at Quanloia now.  It is about 50 or 60 miles above Saigon. We are guarding an airbase here right now.  We are living in two man tents up here and the place isn't anything but red clay.  I walk around with mud caked on my boots all the time because it is usually raining every day and everything stays muddy.  My tent is about 75 yards from the runway.  There are a lot of airplanes and helicopters that land here everyday.  They have of lot of rubber trees, coconut trees and banana trees around here.

Well the monsoon season has been here for several months now and we have about another month or so left before it will cease.

I can buy beer & soda for 10 cents and 15 cents a can, but I've cut down on my beer drinking right now because it is not agreeing with me too well.

Well right now we are getting hot meals but we eat c-rations part of the time.  In fact, I'm getting ready to open up a can in a few minutes.  The c-rations are better than the food they cook sometimes.

We'll if I were you, I would try my best to get out of the d-----  service. I know you wouldn't like it, I can tell you from experience.  Stay out a long as you can. But if they get to messing with you, join the reserves.

Don't let them get you, try to out smart them. The best way is to fail your physical examination any way you can.

Take some of your pills that will make you have high blood pressure or something that will show up as an ulcer in your stomach or anything you can think of.

______ sent me some food to eat the other day, I will probably get it in a few days. I will be glad when it gets here.

Well I guess I will close for now and eat some of those rations.

        James  Ennis

Specialist Four Cooper was assigned to Company D of the 18th Regiment of the 1st Army Division.  The 1st Division, which held a long and distinguished heritage,  had been one of the first two divisions sent into Vietnam in 1965.

On January 30, 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive across nearly all of South Vietnam.  The Big Red One was sent in to bring a halt to the deadly operation.  On April 8, 1968, the U.S. Army responded by initiating Operation Toan Thang I or "Complete Victory."  While America was in turmoil following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., four days earlier, the men of the 18th were out to put a stop to the random, deadly, surprise attacks, which were ravaging South Vietnam.

In the days leading up to the Battle of Coral-Balmoral with American forces in support of Australian forces, James, whose desire to keep Mark out of the war in Vietnam was stronger than ever, took a few moments to sit down and write a letter to Mark.  It would be his last letter.

Sun., 5 May, 1968

Hello Mark:

Well got your letter this morning, along with one from mother, (?) and Dianne.  They seem to always wait and bundle them together.  Well I'm up near the Cambodian border.  We are up on a big operation up here.  We've killed over 800 VC since we got here over a week ago. Artillery got the biggest part of them.  But, the first day we got here, we got into a big artillery fight.  

On the second night they tried to overrun our base, but we kicked their a--.  The s--- was really flying. We went out the next morning and there were dead VC all over the place.  We picked up all of their weapons and brought their bodies into headquarters.

They had a burial detail to go out and bury all of the dead VC. But this place is beginning to stink from the bodies of the VC all over the place.

We've only lost one man since we've been here.

Sure will be glad to get out of this place.

Don't get much sleep at night, too busy watching for the VC.  I think we wiped out most of them in this area.  I hope so.

Boy you better try to keep your a-- out of the service because they haven't got a d----d thing to offer you.  I'm sure if I had it to go over with again, I wouldn't  be in here now, but I would join the guards or the reserves before I would let them get me.  Better to your d------dest to stay out.

Well, what's the news around Atlanta?  Elonie (sic) says they are moving back to Dublin.  Will guess I'll close for now and try to get a little rest.

        James Ennis

James Ennis Cooper was killed in action on May 8, 1968 in the Binh Duong Province in the southern part of South Vietnam and north of Saigon.   Official reports state that his death came from multiple fragmentation wounds.  Ironically on a day when 87 men, mostly Marines and Airborne Rangers, James was the only member of the 1st Division killed during  that horrible day in May.

Back home in Dublin, the friends and family of James' mother Loudelle, had just finished celebrating her birthday on May 7, the day before.  

"Mom's birthdays were just never the same after that," recalled Mark.

You can find the name of SP4 James Ennis Cooper  on Line 37 on Panel 56E of the Vietnam Wall.  You can find his grave in Northview Cemetery on Section 4, Row 20 in the far southeastern part of the cemetery.

Rest in peace, James Ennis Cooper.



Wise men have frequently said that “time heals all wounds.  It could be that none of those wise men ever lost a husband when they were twenty four years old and with a four year old child at home.  It has been nearly four dozen years since the life of Sgt. James E. Cook was instantly snuffed out in a Vietnamese jungle.  For his widow, Pam Clay Cook, the void is still there.

James Edward Cook was born on September 4. 1936 in the low country  hamlet of Hardeville, South Carolina.  His parents, Horace and Jeanelle, divorced before the beginning of World War II.

The life of Private James Cook began to change in the summer of 1955 in a way that he could never imagine.   Far away from his duty station, two teenage girls were spending the summer together as they had done for years.

“She was going to write her cousin a letter and she encouraged me to write him letter.  I didn’t think he was going to answer me because he was five years older than me. With me being a teenager and he thought he was grown, I thought he would not write back.” Pam recalled.

Pam Clay got out her pen and a piece of paper and wrote a letter to Pvt. James Cook.  That one message changed her life forever.  Cook responded to the letter of the 9th grade girl.

Letters were exchanged from time to time.  Eventually the letters were exchanged more frequently.

It was a cold, cold February day in Germany in 1959 when James Cook became embroiled in hot political controversy of the Cold War.  Cook and a squad of men had been assigned to a transport convoy through the Russian Sector of East Berlin.  Stopped and detained for several hours , Cook and his fellow men unwittingly became somewhat of a international incident.

The confrontation was chronicled in a television movie, Thunder Over Berlin.  The movie starred CBS News correspondent Douglas Edwards, comedian Jerry Stiller, and actor John Karlan, who portrayed Private James Cook.  You may not know the name of John Karlan, but if you watched television in the late afternoons from 1967 to 1968, you would know his character, the insane Willie Loomis, the henchman of the vampire Barnabus Collins in the soap opera, Dark Shadows.

James Cook does bear a strong resemblance to another actor, Frank Sutton, who portrayed Sgt. Vince Carter in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C..   “I tell my son Jimmy, that if he wants to know what his father looked and sounded like, that was him,” Pam chuckled.

“We corresponded for about four years until I met him on September 10, 1960 and we married on September 22. my 19th birthday.” Mrs.  Cook fondly remembered.  At the end of his 30-day leave from Germany, Cook was off to the army again, this time landing at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, some two hours from his birthplace.

The Cooks lived at Fort Jackson, where James served in the Military Police until July 1962, when once again he was shipped off to an infantry unit in Korea for a long thirteen months.  For the first time, James, Pam and little Jimmy were separated.  Pam was all alone with a 2-month old baby.

“I wanted to come home with my baby, so I did. I put Jimmy on a pillow on the front seat of our ’62 Ford Fairlane.  It didn’t have seat belts and there was no such thing as a baby carrier,” Pam recalled.

“I put my single silver dime in my purse and got in the car and I drove us back home to Laurens County,” Mrs. Cook chuckled.

“When I pulled into my parents’s driveway, Mama and Daddy had a fit.  Here I drove all the way from Fort Jackson to Laurens County with a sleeping baby on a pillow on the front seat, a dime in my purse and no driver’s license,” Pam said as she laughed.

Then came another tour of infantry duty for James at Fort Carson, Colorado.

James Cook came to one of those proverbial “forks in the road” when his commanding officers offered him the choice of going to Officer Candidate School or going to Jump School at Fort Benning, back in Georgia on Thanksgiving Day, 1964.

“I love working with the troops,” Pam said her husband told his captain.  So it was off to Benning, where Cook would become a member of the famed 82nd Airborne Division, where he trained from April 1965 to until Christmas 1965.

During a short leave, James, Pam and three-year-old Jimmy moved to Dublin where they celebrated what would become their last Christmas together.

On New Year’s Day, Sgt. James Cook, then a member of the 101st Airborne Division, shipped off to Oakland, California and then across the Pacific Ocean to Vietnam.

On April 23, 1966, the 101st dropped into a landing zone near Tuy Hoa, Vietnam.  

“They were there to overtake the town, but when they dropped in, they were overrun by the Viet Cong,” the Army told Mrs. Cook.  In his position as a platoon sergeant, Cook ordered his men to take cover.  When he saw that his men were covered, he turned to take cover.

“That’s when he turned and a soldier hit him in his back and blew him away, he never knew what hit him,” Pam recalled.

“Don Attaway and another fellow came over to the house to tell me about Jimmy being killed.  My daddy told them to come back because I was working. Two other men came back Sunday morning about 7:00 o’clock.  I knew why they were there when I saw them,” Cook looked back.

James’ body was brought home and buried with military honors in his hometown in Hardeeville.  Pam and her family placed a cenotaph marker in the Brewton Cemetery to honor his service, a meritorious one which resulted in the awarding of many medals including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

“We didn’t have the support like the families have today, when soldiers die or are even wounded, we had to rely on our intimate friends and your family,” Cook said of the days after she received the news.

As the 48th anniversary of James death in Vietnam approaches, Pam sees the void of not having him has filled some, but not completely.

“They say time heals all wounds.  But, I still wonder what would have happened had he not been killed and he returned home to be an attorney, which he always wanted to be once he got out of the service after a 20-year hitch,” Pam pondered.

As her voice crackled just a bit, Pam concluded. “I still miss him.”

@ Gil Gillis, 2014   Cook's family at Moving Wall Ceremony - Far Left Pam Cook, Center, Jimmy Cook



Byron Lindsey was always the kind of a guy who will  be in the hearts of those who knew and loved him -always kind and gentle, a buddy to many and basketball hero to many more. Byron was the kind of a young man who touched the hearts of many during his all too short stay on this Earth.

Edward Byron Lindsey was born on March 8. 1945  just near the end of World War II.   His parents, Edward  S. Lindsey, a long time employee of Dublin Tire and his wife, Mary Roach Lindsey, lived on Smith Street in Dublin.

"Byron was one of the best basketball players, I ever saw," said Scott Beasley, the current owner of Duncan Tire Company.  Leahman Davidson echoed, "Byron , who played for the Dexter Hornets, had a deadly accurate jump shot in basketball. He proved that on many Sunday afternoons in the old Rentz gym when we chose sides and played basketball for hours."  One fellow basketball player, Johnny Payne, himself a combat fighter in the jungles of Vietnam, praised Lindsey's athletic abilities as well as his genuineness as a human being.

"He was a very courageous young man," remembered Randall Barron.

After graduation from Dexter High School in 1963,   Byron took up advanced studies of radio in Americus, Georgia before taking a job with Southern Bell in Milledgeville.  Drafted and shipped off to Vietnam at the age of only twenty-two, Byron began his tour of duty in Vietnam three days before Christmas 1967 with the 9th Division, Co. A. 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment.

Before the end of January, during the climactic year of 1968, when more people (16,899) were killed in Vietnam than any other year,  North Vietnamese forces launched the Tet Offensive, a random, yet concentrated, series of attacks across the entire span of South Vietnam.

Just after New Year's Day in 1968, Judy Watson, Tren Watson's little sister, decided to start writing to Byron over in Vietnam.

"I  started  writing to Byron over in Vietnam so he could hear from friends back home," Judy recalled.

In his first letter back to Judy, he wrote that he was he was anxious to hear from Tren since he had joined the Army.

"I am stationed at Rach Kien.  It is just a base camp built up on a big rice paddy.  It is almost 100 degrees and it isn't even summer yet.  Every place you go, you see coconuts, sugar cane, grapefruits and bananas. When we go out we walk in mud and water up to our waist and sometimes we have to cross a stream by using a rope.  I can't stand it over here, but I guess I will just have to put up with it," Byron wrote.

A few weeks later, Lindsey reported that all was about the same, but it was becoming cold at night.  He rejoiced that he had finally heard from Tren.

On St. Patrick's Day 1968, Byron, in his fourth month of his tour, regretted that he was sorry that he had missed the snow back home.   He hoped that Tren would never have to come to Vietnam.  Byron and Judy continued to write letters back and forth with the usual comments, salutations and wishes. Byron usually closed most of his letters with "Always, Byron."

On April 28, 1968, Lindsey wrote that he was stationed some four miles from Saigon, but that his unit was constantly being moved around as the monsoon season was in full force.

As their letters crossed the Pacific by airmail, Byron and Judy became closer friends.  Byron sat down on June 25, 1968 and wrote yet another letter back home to Judy.  They both had expressed concerns about their brothers and their safety if they were ever in combat.

Byron concluded his letter, "I am doing ok, I guess.  I have made it for six months and five days now. Only about five more months and 25 days left. You take care of yourself. Write when you can.  Tell your mother hello for me.  Always Byron."

   That same Saturday back home in the States, Elvis Presley was rehearsing for the filming of his 1968 Comeback Special.  Byron, William Kitchin and  Kinny S. Leon-Guerrer of Hayward, CA were a trio of close friends and members of the same squad.  SP4 Kitchin decided not to go into the field near Go Cong  that day.  Byron and Kinny did go.  They never made it back alive.  William, devastated at the loss of his two best buddies, castigated himself constantly that if he had gone, he too would have been killed.

The letter was airmailed from the Army Post Office on June 29, 1968.  Byron's last letter arrived in the mailbox at Judy's Hudson Street home the following Thursday.  Judy had already gotten the bad news.

In a letter to the Lindseys, Kitchin wrote, "I just wanted to let you know how badly I felt about your son's death.  Byron was my best friend over here, and in fact, considering everything we have gone through together, I would say the best friend I had in the world.  We went on R&R together and had planned to get together when we got home.

"We both realized that one of us might not make it home and Byron told me many times he didn't worry about it because he knew how much it would hurt his family and he knew, and I know that he would want you all to accept this in the best way you can," Kitchin continued.

Kitchin continued to console Mr. and Mrs. Lindsey by telling them what a Christian boy their son was.  Although of little consolation to his grieving parents, Kitchen wrote, "Maybe this is the Lord's way of getting him out of the h l, we have been going through here."  Acknowledging his helplessness to comfort Byron's parents, Kitchin kept repeating that Byron did not want his parents to grieve, but to accept his death as a part of life.

Tren Watson, who was sent to Vietnam a few months after  Byron,  expressed concern about, asked for and was granted permission to escort his friend's body back home.  Judy shares that on every July 4th,  she recalls that she and her mother went to Warner Robins Air Force Base to pick her brother up on his arrival after the long and painful journey home to Dublin.

"Byron was one of the nicest young men you could ever meet.  Always kind and respectful to everyone," Tren recalled.  In their teenage years, they  became good friends, doubled dated some and did those kind of things young boys do that they didn't tell their parents about," Watson added.

Byron had a red 1964 Chevy II Super Sport car which  his dad bought him.  The last time Tren talked with Mr. Lindsey, he still had that car parked in his garage.

"His parents requested I escort his remains home for the funeral, which  I was honored to do so.  One of the hardest things in my life was to go back to Vietnam after one of my best friends was just buried.  Just like the song says, "the good die young, " Tren concluded.

After a military funeral at Saxon Street Baptist Church,  SP4 Byron Lindsey was laid to rest in Dublin Memorial Gardens. For his actions during the war, Byron received a Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Government of South Vietnam Service Medal.

Judy Watson, now Warren, was deeply saddened by the loss of Byron.  Forty-six years later she  continues to keep flowers on his grave and keeps his memory alive. "I have told my children that once I am gone to continue to put flowers for me." Judy said.

To help her cope with the loss which she and Tren experienced as a result of the war, Judy started a memory album at the time of Byron's death.

"It never crossed my mind that by keeping these letters as I have, it gives "a voice" to Byron's own words from that time.  I'm thankful the Lord led me to do that," Judy remarked.

She keeps all of these letters, journals, clippings, photos and newspaper articles  to remember her special friend Byron.  She frequently relives and cherishes her own memories to remind her of a time, long, long  ago  when there was Mama and Daddy, and Tren.  And, when she really needed a true friend to write to -  to lift up and to lean on - there was always, Byron.

       Remembrances - Moving Vietnam Wall, Dublin, Georgia, August 15, 2014 - E. Byron Lindsey