Are you keeping your New Year's resolutions?|
Story Archives: Wheelchair ramp returns freedom for WWII veteran
- 2013 - 320 articles
- 2012 - 1160 articles
- 2011 - 1177 articles
- 2010 - 810 articles
- 2009 - 779 articles
- 2008 - 949 articles
- December 2008 - 88 articles
- November 2008 - 73 articles
- October 2008 - 71 articles
- September 2008 - 91 articles
- August 2008 - 98 articles
- July 2008 - 98 articles
- June 2008 - 60 articles
- May 2008 - 66 articles
- April 2008 - 108 articles
- March 2008 - 70 articles
- March 26th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 1 articles
- March 25th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 18 articles
- March 19th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 1 articles
- March 18th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 16 articles
- March 11th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 19 articles
- March 7th, 2008 (Friday) - 2 articles
- March 6th, 2008 (Thursday) - 1 articles
- March 5th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 3 articles
- March 4th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 8 articles
- March 2nd, 2008 (Sunday) - 1 articles
- February 2008 - 48 articles
- January 2008 - 78 articles
|Wheelchair ramp returns freedom for WWII veteran|
"Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Those words sung by British soldiers in the First World War were repeated and made famous by Gen. Douglas McArthur shortly after he was relieved of duty in the Korean War.
They echo closer to home upon meeting Mr. Henry Eubanks, who lives with his wife, Loyce, out in the Franklin Parish countryside, close to Liddieville.
There's hardly a shadow in the glassy 81-year-old eyes of Eubanks as he recalls days during World War II when he was a young soldier serving as a gunner on a mortar squad in the final years of the war.
"I started out in Luzon, Philippines then to Yokohama and to Tokyo," Eubanks recalls, wearing an LSU t-shirt and sitting in his motorized wheelchair on the front porch of the small, neat mobile home where he and Loyce have lived for 30 years.
Mud is caked and dried on the wheels of the chair and on the bottom of his shoes, tattling that in spite of his limited motion, Eubanks still gets around, whether out to the garden or to his daughter's house across the side yard.
A small group of family and friends are assembled at the Eubanks' on this windy March 1. He can be more mobile now that his son-in-law and grandsons have completed a wooden wheelchair ramp leading from the dusty gravel driveway up to the house.
The ramp zigzags at a slope, with sturdy rails on the sides.
"See those screws down there?" asks his 18-year-old grandson Seth Gilmore, pointing to the metal heads securing the plywood to the planks. "I put every one of them in."
Seth is a senior at Franklin Academy. He is the same age his grandfather was when he served in the 8th Calvary Regiment of the 1st Calvary of the U.S. Army.
This winter Eubanks took a fall when stepping from his house into the backyard. Since then he's been in a wheelchair more than on his feet. It's been difficult for Loyce to maneuver the wheelchair inside the home, with its narrow halls and doorways, and even more difficult for him leave the house.
A few weeks ago, Bill Stroud, vice commander of the VFW Post 3155 in Winnsboro, heard about Eubanks not being able to get around in his own house and decided to get involved.
Stroud contacted Frank Lasch of Azalea Charities, an organization that helps veterans, and got the money to build the ramp and make renovations to Eubanks' home. Stroud worked with Eubanks' son-in-law Gary Gilmore to get an estimate for the work, some $6,000,
"We're just proud we can help out," says Stroud, a bear of a fellow who is also commander of the American Legion Post 174 in Newellton.
"This is an ongoing project," Stroud said. "Now they're going to work on the inside of the house."
Shea Gilmore, 32, lives down the road from his grandparents, and will start working on the inside of the house this week.
"We're going to take out this wall and make this bedroom a handicapped bathroom," Gilmore says, running his fingers along the wall to guide him down the dim, tiny space. "We're going to widen this hallway so he can get the wheelchair down here," he says.
The mud on Eubanks wheelchair is far different from the mud of the Pacific, where 734 of the 1st Calvary were killed in action.
"I slept in muddy foxholes, fighting mosquitoes as big as hummingbirds," Eubanks says, "Really, they were as big as hummingbirds."
For 18 months Eubanks served in the Army, most of those as the 1st Calvary moved across the South Pacific. The division was the first of the U.S. Armed Forces to enter the Jap-anese capital of Tokyo.
Eubanks enlisted at 17, just a month before his 18th birthday; he lied about his age to get in.
"It didn't bother Daddy, but it worried Mama," Eubanks says, retrieving slivers of memories which seem untarnished by the passage of time.
"They thought I did it because I was patriotic, but it was just that I wanted a job," Eubanks says.
Setting up mortar rounds was the job he got in the Army, along with the aspects of war a young man could not know about.
"I'm the one who set the gun up, got it ready to shoot," Eubanks says. "They sent us up there to get them out (Japanese).
"I tell you, it was bad over there," he says, his voice trailing off as his mind saw images he could not, or would not, share.
After the service, Eubanks returned to Franklin Parish, back to his family at Turkey Neck and to Loyce. They married soon after and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on January 7 of this year.
Eubanks worked in farming, bridge building and for many years at Free Flow Fertilizer. He and Loyce had four children, Gail Gilmore, Pam Work and Dariel Eubanks all live on the same street as their parents. One son, Larry, lives in Mobile, Ala.
They have eight grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
Henry Eubanks is one of the greatest generation, more than 1,000 WWII veterans die each day.
He fought for freedom on foreign soil more than half a century ago. It is only fitting that he be given the freedom to get around on American soil, his soil. Even if just to get a little muddy every now and then.