Our veterans who served our country: Andrew “Jack” Stone

Published 11:39 pm Thursday, April 9, 2015

By Robin A. Edgar

Some of our local veterans had never travelled more than a few miles away from home before they served in the military. Itching to see the world and perhaps get to fly an airplane, some enlisted before they even finished high school.

Andrew “Jack” Stone, born and raised on a farm in Inman, S.C. in 1926, walked a mile to the Inman Elementary School through ninth grade. In the tenth grade, he and his two sisters, Rachel and Peggy, transferred to Gramling High School, about four miles away. Jack decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps before he graduated in 1944.

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COLUMNPersonalLegacies4.10 Andrew _Jack_ Stone-1

“I wanted to fly and, at age 17, the only way I could enlist the Army Air Corps was to sign papers with Mom and Daddy and go to Atlanta, Ga. to get sworn in. After I took tests to graduate early from high school, I was called to Fort Bragg, N.C. and did cadet basic training in Wichita Falls, Texas.

“Six months later, they took us out of cadet training and discharged us on one day and then reenlisted us the next day to go to communications school to learn teletype, radio, and Morse code at Fort Dix, N.J. In early 1945, we went to New York City and loaded onto a transport ship to go to England by way of Nova Scotia. When pulled into the channel to refuel, they were pulling nets to keep the U Boats out.

“After going through the English Channel, we docked in Le Havre, France. When daylight came, we had to work our way through the harbor among sunken ships that had been hit by torpedoes. We were transported by truck to an airfield. When the war in Germany ended in May 1945, we were transferred to Nuremburg and from there to a little town called Erlangen in Germany, where I worked in the communications department in a huge building until November 1945 before I was transferred back home in December 1945.

“There was no parade for our return, but people waved to us from their windows as our train went through New York City to Fort Dix to be reprocessed and sent home. It just so happened that I visited my sister in Landrum about four days later and went to the Mutual Bank where I had my military paychecks sent while I was overseas. John G. Landrum, the Mutual Bank president, talked to me and told me he was interested in me working for him. Since I had nothing to lose, I accepted the position and trained at UNC Chapel Hill on the GI Bill in banking school. I came back to work at the bank and started as a file clerk.

“In 1950, I was called back to the Air Force for the Korea War and was sent for processing to Mississippi and then to Sumter, S.C., where I was in charge of communication. In 1951, I transferred to Portland International Airport in Oregon and then, in the latter part of 1952, I went to Valeo, Calif. to go overseas, but, since I did not have enough remaining service time to go, I was shipped back to Portland and discharged.”

Jack met Mary Jo Littlefield over some Cokes at a drug store on a blind date after he returned from Germany. They married in June 1946 and had one son, David. He worked for Mutual Bank for 41 years, working his way up to vice president before he retired.

Jack also served as chairman of the Spartanburg County School Board, of which he was a member for 20 years. He helped found and has been a charter member of the Landrum Lion’s Club since 1959 and served for 14 years as treasurer of First Baptist Church in Landrum, where he has been a member since 1947. Jack also served as the Master of Landrum Masonic Lodge, where he has been a lifetime member for 61 years, and as a member of the Hejaz Shrine, which supports Shriner’s Hospital.

He says, “I think every man should serve in the military for at least two years because, when he leaves, he won’t be a kid and can take on responsibility.”

If you are a veteran and would you like to share about your experience in the US military please contact Robin Edgar at 2robinedgar@gmail.com or call The Tryon Daily Bulletin at 828-859-9151.