Saturday, July 28, 2018

Finding Joe Elmore

Mary Bowlin prayed for 68 years that her brother Joe's remains would be found. She was 15 years old when he was officially declared Missing in Action during the Korean War.

Joe Stanton Elmore, the son of Ambrose and Bertha York Elmore, was born in the Neathery/Cave Springs area of Clinton County, Ky on January 27, 1930. There is a group photo of Cave Springs School from 1939 that shows him at age nine standing on the back row. The school was located on Albany Landing Road. Later, his family would move to the Seminary community near there.

He was 20 years old when he decided to join the Army. According to Mary, he said, "I want to serve my God and my country." Before the war in North Korea, Joe had never been out of the state of Kentucky, except for the occasional trip to Byrdstown to see a picture show. He had been assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, where he eventually became Private First Class Joe Elmore.

In late November 1950, Joe and approximately 2,500 other U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers, primarily infantry, artillery and tank units, assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team, which was deployed along the eastern shore of North Korea in the South Hamgyong Province. On the 27th, about 120,000 Chinese troops surprised 30,000 U. S. troops and a few troops representing the United Nations. A brutal 17-day battle in freezing weather soon followed. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, as it came to be called, was fought between Nov. 27th and Dec. 13th. On Dec. 2nd, the 31st Regimental Combat Team, later called Task Force Faith, was destroyed. Pfc. Elmore was declared MIA on Dec. 2, 1950 and was presumed dead on Dec. 31, 1953.

Numerous remains of soldiers who died during the Korean War were eventually sent to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as The Punchbowl, in Honolulu, Hawaii where they were interred only to be exhumed and kept in a forensic lab in the mid to late 1990's, following the creation of the Korean War Missing DNA Project. In 1995, Mary and her sister, Lola Smith, who died in 2012, submitted their DNA to that project. The Army found Elmore’s remains five years ago and informed Mary that they were 99.9% sure the remains were that of her brother.

Finally, on July 5th, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency informed Mary that the DNA she and her sister had provided all those years ago was a 100% match to the remains that the Army had located. They had accounted for the remains of her long lost brother. After 68 years, Mary's prayers had been answered.

Joe Elmore's remains will be flown home on August 15th. On August 17th, he will finally be laid to rest near his family at Story Cemetery, on the same Albany Landing Road, where he had received his schooling as a child.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

"Sustained by God's Gace"

Mary Bowlin's story surrounding the discovery of her brother Joe Elmore's remains is one of faith, hope and courage, and belief in prayer. It is a testament to how God's grace sustains us.

Just like Pauline Conner, who had prayed for twenty-two years that her late husband, 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner, would receive the Medal of Honor seventy-three years after his heroic efforts during WWII, Mary prayed for 68 years that her brothers remains would be found. Both women were warriors far superior to any epic hero.

But, how did Mary and Pauline accomplish what they did? Through God's sustaining grace. "The gift of grace is so powerful. It brings endurance in the midst of the most difficult times. When everything is tearing at the seams and hanging by a thread, God is there, holding it tenderly - keeping our faith intact and offering to us everlasting hope." - Danielle Muñoz.("Understanding the Power of God’s Sustaining Grace")

Sustaining grace is described as grace given at special times of need, especially during adversity or suffering. The dictionary definition for grace is unmerited divine assistance. Isn't it awesome that God desires to do that for us? Grace is clearly expressed in the promises of God revealed in Scripture. (from the article "Grace" at "As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalms 55:16-17, 22. The good news is that God is in the business of giving fresh starts to people. He gives hope to the hopeless. Direction to the directionless. Help to those who need help. God is always good, all the time, and God’s plans will always prevail, even when our plans don’t. (from the article "Grace" at

Evangelist Billy Graham once said, "The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us." Through it all, Mary and Pauline found God's sustaining grace. They prayed unceasingly, always beseeching God’s help and His mercy, and their prayers were answered. Both women are true testaments to what pertinacity, patience and prayer can do for us. Their stories are proof that we should never give up and we should certainly never stop praying. God works all things together for good for those who love Him. He hears our prayers and will provide all our needs in His time and according to His will.

While researching for this story, I came across a word that perhaps is not used in most folks' everyday vocabulary. That word is Pertinacity. It describes a quality of sticking with something no matter what. It's called persistent determination. People who have pertinacity won't give up. They stick with things doggedly. Pertinacity is a mix of courage and conviction. It requires a strong will and self-confidence. Pertinacity can also be called perseverance and resolution. It requires forbearance and a willingness to endure emotional pain and suffering. Mary and Pauline were delivered by God's sustaining grace.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

"The Cause For Which We Stand"

I often write stories about the Civil War. I love the history behind it all, especially the local history from Wayne County down to Overton County and all points in between. There is much to be learned about the Civil War here in our own backyards. Like all of you, several of my ancestors fought in the war, and like many, I had family on both sides, and in the weirdest corners, too.

My 3rd great uncle was the notorious guerrilla Tinker Dave Beaty, who fought strongly for the Union cause. My 2nd and 3rd great-grandfathers, George and John Boles, were part of his Independent Scouts. On the other side, My 4th cousin, Fountain Frost, rode with Beaty's arch nemesis, the notorious Confederate guerrilla, Champ Ferguson, who fought just as strongly for states rights and 'the southern way of life.' My dad's side of the family in Overton County was mostly aligned to the Confederacy. My mom's side of the family in Fentress and Wayne counties were mostly aligned with Abe Lincoln, who felt it was his sacred duty as President to preserve the Union at all costs.

Very ironically, George Boles, although not yet officially my 2nd great-grandfather at the time, is believed to have killed Frost in a skirmish near Gilreath's Mill, not too far from Holbert Creek, and halfway between Chanute in Pickett County and Pall Mall in Fentress County, Tennessee.

It was sort of like that in the American Revolution, family on both sides, was the same guy.

We all know the story of Benedict Arnold, the American soldier who switched sides and fought for the British during the Revolutionary War. But, have you met Ed Wade? He was 8th great-grandfather born on my dad's maternal side. To be exact, he was Edward C. Wade, Sr., born in York County, Virginia on April 21, 1727, and whose father, Colonel Robert Wade had fought in the French and Indian War. Yeah, that guy.

Edward was a Captain in the British Army at the beginning of the American Revolution, but in 1777, he and one of his brothers, so the story goes, decided to switch sides and join the Virginia Militia. It was a strong commitment to freedom for the Wade family, because two of Edward's sons, Richard and James, were killed while serving with the 6th Virginia Continental Line in 1776. After the war, Edward migrated to Georgia. He died on Nov. 4, 1790 and is buried at Little Creek Church Cemetery in Greshamville.

Switching sides was perhaps by conviction, perhaps it was because of personal belief, or perhaps it was to align oneself with their friends and families. Perhaps it was about wanting to please God. Each side believed God was on their side, but both prayed to the same God and read from the same Bible. So, whose side was the Lord on? During the Civil War, President Lincoln suggested neither side could claim God’s special favor. “The Almighty has His own purposes,” he said. It wasn't 'whose side is the Lord on,' but rather, 'who is on the Lord's side.'

An interesting side note locally: Edward Wade's second cousin, Richard Wade, left Virginia in 1777, the year Edward's father died, and moved to Boonesboro, Ky to help Daniel Boone defend the frontier. In 1801, he moved his family to a part of Wayne County that later became Clinton County. Richard is buried at Cartwright Cemetery. Also after the war, Edward's first cousin, Elizabeth and her husband, Samuel Denney, migrated to Wayne County and they lived on Beaver Creek.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Hymn: God Leads Us Along

George A. Young was an obscure 19th Century preacher and carpenter who spent a lifetime serving in small rural communities. Often his financial support was small, and it was hard on his family. But through all the ups and downs his faithful wife never wavered in her loyalty to God and to her husband. After a long struggle, the family was able to move into their own small home (which George built himself). But then, on an occasion when George was away preaching, some local thugs—who didn’t like his Gospel preaching—set fire to the house, and it was totally destroyed. It was out of that experience that Young reaffirmed his faith in God by writing God Leads Us Along.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Living In The Land of the Free Because of the Brave

73 years after the fact, one Clinton County, Kentucky soldier receives the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration awarded for gallantry and bravery at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Ten days later, the remains of another Clinton County, Kentucky soldier are identified 68 years after being declared Missing in Action. One soldier was willing to lay down his life for his country, the other one did.

Is it ironic or by grand design that the events involving 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner and PFC Joe Stanton Elmore happened around the 4th of July celebration? Either way, one thing is true, we are a blessed people who have a lot to be thankful for. Has it ever been more apparent than now?

Former CCHS Football Coach George Hatcher used to say, "It's a great day to be a Bulldog." Today, it is a great day to be a Clinton Countian. One drive through town and you see those beautiful patriotic banners hanging atop the light poles. Many more banners will eventually take their place. There are a lot of veterans in our county and each one deserves our respect and gratitude. God bless all of them!

Lt. Conner, PFC Elmore and all of our other great veterans were willing to lay down their lives, to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that we might enjoy freedom in America. Now, perhaps more than ever, we realize that we really are living in the land of the free because of the brave.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

PFC Joe Elmore Is No Longer Missing in Action

PFC Joe Stanton Elmore of Albany was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was listed as Missing in Action during the Korean War, while fighting the enemy during a battle on December 2, 1950 along the Chosin Reservoir on the Eastern Shore of North Korea. His remains were never recovered and he was officially presumed dead on December 31, 1953.

Joe was born in the Neathery community of Clinton County on Jan. 27, 1930, the son of Ambrose and Bertha Lee York Elmore and brother of Edgar, Lester, and David Elmore, Mary Bowlin and Lola Mae Smith. The family later moved to the Seminary community. All of his siblings are deceased, except for Mary, who is now 83. She was 15 when Joe went missing.

In the 1990's, Mary and Lola participated in the Korean War Missing DNA Project. Lola passed away in 2012. Mary went to a meeting in Louisville in May of this year and out of 200 families she was the only one that they talked to. They had 99.9% confirmation that day.

"100% confirmation was made at 4:30 Thursday afternoon, July 5th," said Mary's daughter, Debbie Jo Bowlin of Bowling Green, who was named after her late uncle. She said she got a call to come to her mothers home as soon as possible after work. "I have good news, they found Joe," she said. It turns out that Joe's unknown remains have presumably been held somewhere in Kentucky since 2013, maybe at Ft Knox. More information will be released at a briefing to be held soon.

Debbie Jo and the entire family are praising the confirmation of her uncle's remains. "Our entire family is shocked and surprised by this. My mother finally has closure," she said. According to her, a full military funeral is expected to be held soon. A memorial marker has been in place at Story Cemetery since the 1980's. Now, after all these years, the remains of Joe Stanton Elmore can finally rest in peace there, with his parents and siblings.

More than 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Around 200 are from Kentucky. The Korean War Project first appeared online in 1995. It boasts the most comprehensive public database of war casualties available to the public. Hopefully, because of supposedly improved relations on North Korea's part with the United States, many of the MIA's now resting in North Korea and the DMZ are expected to be repatriated to the United States. It is with great hope that many of these remains may be identified in the future through DNA analysis.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

"God bless America, long may our land be bright with Freedom's holy light!

Happy 4th of July from The Notorious Meddler!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Where is the King of America?

"Where, say some, is the king of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above!"

In January of 1776, author Thomas Paine wrote those words in a booklet entitled, “Common Sense,” which publicly advocated that America should seek to be an independent nation, free from tyranny.

"The Word of God is the Divine Law," he wrote, adding that, in America, the Law should be King rather than the King being the Law.

In a day when the population in the 13 colonies was under 3 million, the pamphlet sold 1.5 million copies. His were just the right words to stroke the common man´s heart and inflame his nobler passions to believe in and fight for one thing: Independence.


Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...