Veteran’s brother finds long-lost confession of mother’s concern

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 11, 2000

Charles Ferrill may never have known his mother’s anxious thoughts in 1950, when he joined the U.S. Army and left for Korea. For 50 years, a heart-felt confession of her concerns lay with other papers belonging to a friend and confidante in Mobile, Ala.

Now Charles and his mother, Evelyn, are gone; he died in 1991 and she, in 1999.

Earlier this year, however, a three-page letter, yellowing with age, arrived in Jere Ferrill’s mailbox in Natchez.

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&uot;I never knew about it; it was a complete surprise,&uot; Ferrill said, pulling the letter carefully from the envelope along with a photograph of his older brother that had come with the letter.

&uot;Just think about how long this has been sitting there,&uot; he said.

Charles graduated from Natchez High School in 1950, his brother explained.

When North Korea invaded South Korea in late June of that year, the United States prepared to help its allies in the south.

&uot;Charles enlisted, the same as a lot of other Natchez guys his age.&uot;

Jere, 16 at the time, understood little of the serious circumstances of his brother’s enlistment. &uot;I didn’t really know what was going on,&uot; he said. &uot;He was my brother, he was tough.&uot;

Evelyn knew what Charles faced, however. And she opened her heart to friend Willibet Davis on Nov. 15, 1950.

&uot;You can tell my mother feared his being out of her sight,&uot; Jere said.

She wrote, &uot;I am hoping and praying that the Army does not change Charles too much.

&uot;Charles is going on 20 now and so far has been a very good boy.

&uot;I do not mean for that statement to be bragging because that is something I do not do. I think you get what I mean.

&uot;He is out on his own for the first time and I hope he continues being the boy he was before he went in.&uot;

Evelyn expressed her pain but also her faith in prayer.

&uot;Willibet, it sure is hurting me for him to be in the Army and going over seas.

&uot;I know Charles is no better than the thousands of other boys and so I am proud he was willing to go. It just does not seem possible he is nearly grown and in the Army.

&uot;I do believe in prayers because mine have been answered plenty of times.

&uot;So as Charles told me, `Mother, do not worry about me because I intend to take it slow and easy and I’ll be back O.K.’

&uot;I dare not look at it any other way.&uot;

Charles returned from Korea but not before the family experienced the worst of fears – a call from officials to say their loved one was missing in action with his unit.

&uot;Soon after he left, we heard he was missing; but his unit had just gotten behind enemy lines and finally they were able to reconnect with the rest of the troops,&uot; Jere said.

The mother’s letter has brought back many memories, Jere said.

Her correspondence with Willibet included chatty news about the family and fond thoughts of Mobile.

&uot;We had just moved to Natchez in 1949,&uot; Jere said.

Charles volunteered for an extra year in the Army. Afterwards he attended Mississippi College in Clinton and Auburn University.

&uot;He finally settled near Mobile at Chunchula, Alabama,&uot; Jere said of his brother.

&uot;He worked in heavy construction. He married, had two children and stayed there in Chunchula all his life.&uot;