Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Sacrifice and Valor in the service of Liberty

James Roger Tuggle was born on Oct. 9, 1913 in Cumberland County. He attended Clinton County High School and was part of the Class of 1939 at Western Kentucky University, where he was Captain of their ROTC Program. Following college, he joined the service and was sent to Fort Francis E. Warren in Laramie, Wyoming for training.

Captain Tuggle served with the U.S. Army's 101st Philippine Division, 101st Field Artillery Regiment and was a training officer for the Philippine Scouts. On May 7, 1942, following the fall of Bataan, the most intense phase of the Japanese invasion, probably in a skirmish at Mindanao, he was taken as a prisoner of war. The Japanese invasion of the Philippines is often considered the worst military defeat in U.S. history. About 23,000 American military personnel and about 100,000 Filipino soldiers were killed or captured.

Captain Tuggle was first kept in Cabanatuan Prison Camp #1 and then later at Bilibid at Muntinlupa, several miles southeast Manila, until December 1944, when he was transferred to the Oryoku Maru, a Japanese passenger cargo ship that had been commissioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy as a prisoner of war transport ship for transport to Japan. He survived an American aircraft bombing of the ship in December 1944, which killed 200 Allied POWs and was eventually transferred to the Brazil Maru on a voyage from Takao to Moji.

The ship had been hauling livestock and no attempt was made to clean out the manure prior to the boarding of the prisoners. Records indicate that Captain Tuggle died of acute colitis from eating or drinking contaminated food or water while aboard the Brazil Maru. An estimated 500 prisoners would die aboard the Brazil Maru, although sources vary. The ship was sunk by a mine at Kobe on May 12, 1945.

Captain Tuggle was listed as dead at sea on Jan. 11, 1945, at the age of 31. His name is on a monument at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines. It is also on Clinton County's War Veterans Monument. Manila American Cemetery contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of WWII, more than 17,000. Another 36,286 are listed as missing in action. Over 500 Philippine Scouts are buried there according to the American Battle Monuments Commission. The cemetery, and all who are there or mentioned, including Captain James Roger Tuggle, is an epic story of sacrifice and valor in the service of liberty.

Captain Tuggle was the son of William and Bessie Tuggle, who are buried at Highway Cemetery. A plot for Captain Tuggle is also there. Another son, Fred, was an Army Major who served in Korea. He is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville. Sister Reba Barrett is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, where Kentucky Governor and Clinton County native Thomas Bramlette is buried.

Captain Tuggle was awarded a Silver Star.

Thomas Stephens was at Valley Forge

My ancestor, Thomas Stephens, who lived in Fentress County, Tennessee, was a Corporal in the Virginia Continental Line during the American Revolution. He served at Valley Forge and is noted on their muster roll.

Valley Forge was the location of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. The British were occupying Philadelphia and Valley Forge was only a day’s march away and it was where the Army could train and recoup from the year’s battles and keep an eye on the British and prevent them from foraging in the countryside for the food they needed. On the down side, while the winter weather stopped the fighting, it proved to be a great trial for the 11,000 American soldiers stationed there.

As Washington's men camped in crude log cabins and endured the cold conditions, the Redcoats warmed themselves in colonial homes. There were shortages of everything from food to clothing to medicine. Hundreds died from scurvy, smallpox and dysentery.

It was written that one out of every six soldiers that marched into Valley Forge in December did not march back out in June, but the suffering troops that remained were held together by loyalty to the Patriot cause and to General Washington, who refused to leave his men.

That winter camp provided the foundation for what would later become the modern United States Army. While no battle was fought there, it was considered the turning point of the Revolutionary War. By June of 1778, the weary troops emerged with a rejuvenated spirit and confidence as a well-trained fighting force.

Thomas Stephens was my 5th great-grandfather through his daughter, Jennetta, wife of Jesse Cobb. Then through his grandson, David Smith, his daughter, Deborah, wife of George Boles, then Hige and on down to me. Thomas was born between 1745 and 1750, possibly in Richmond County, VA. By 1833, he was living in Fentress County, where he died in 1850, He and his wife, Sarah, are buried at Albertson Cemetery near where Glenoby Road and Livingston Highway meet in Fentress County, Tennessee. Note the Revolutionary War medallion on his grave marker.

Bro. Isaac Hucaby

It has been said that Isaac Hucaby inspired thousands with both his sermons and his Christian life. When he died at age 78, he was one of the area's great Baptist preachers. During his ministry, Bro. Hucaby preached over 1,300 funerals, performed over 500 baptisms and over 300 marriages. He not only performed weddings in churches, but also under sycamore trees and along a dark roadway with only a cars headlights. About the large number of funerals he conducted, someone once told him, “It sounds like the dead people like to hear you, the same as the living.

Bro. Huckaby once said he had performed baptisms from the Cumberland River to farm ponds. He preferred performing baptisms in creeks because he said the service seemed more meaningful. Once he was baptizing 24 people in a rather shallow creek. The last man weighed 220
pounds and instead of the usual procedure where the minister lifts the individual out of the water, Brother Hucaby's foot slipped and he went under the water, instead. The man he was baptizing reached down and picked the soaked preacher out of the water.

Bro. Hucaby was born on July 1, 1909 into a family which had four separate sets of twins, he and his twin sister were the two youngest of thirteen children. All of the twins were sets of a boy and a girl, except one set of boys who died in infancy. The family had a large two-story house located on a 220 acre farm in the Burfield community near Barrier in Wayne County, Kentucky.

He was ordained in 1930. There was a time when he was pastor at five Churches. They were quarter-time churches, which meant once a month preaching. He would do the preaching on Satur­day afternoon and then Sunday afternoon. During his first years as a minister, Hucaby walked 15 miles to church. He later rode a horse and in 1934 purchased an automobile to travel to the country churches.

Hucaby entered the ministry at age 18 after being converted when he was 10-years-old. He began his preaching career at the Old Beaver Creek Church, now l75 feet under water at Wolf Creek Dam. His second pastorate was at Gap Creek Baptist Church, originally called Otter Creek Church. He was pastor at the Gap Creek Church for 12 years in succession, away two years and then back two years. He laid the foundation for a full-time church with preaching every Sunday. During his years at Gap Creek Church he also preached at Bethel Church in Parmleysville, Big Springs Church, New Hope Church on Beaver Creek near Cooper, Sandusky’s Chapel Baptist Church, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church and various other churches across the county.

It is safe to say that Isaac Hucaby probably preached at least once in every Baptist church in the region, serving as pastor of a variety of churches in Clinton, Cumberland, Pulaski and Wayne counties, including a brief pastorate at my church, Clear Fork, in 1933. He retired from the active pastorate in 1971 and then dedicat­ed himself to supply work and evangelistic work.

Bro. Hucaby married Lena Campbell in 1933, and lived with her until her death in 1970. After 27 months, he married Eula Bartleson, the widow of James Bartleson. He last married Dona Bertram, the widow of Arnold Bertram of the Windy community. He died on Dec. 14, 1987 at the age of 78. He and Lena are buried at Elk Spring Cemetery in Monticello, Kentucky. He truly was one of all-time great Baptist preachers from our area. (Information for this article was obtained from a Dec. 17, 1987 article by Linda Jones/Wayne County Outlook).

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

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