23rd Infantry Regiment
2nd Infantry Division
Killed in Action
On October 25, 1927, Ernest Edge was born to Ernest and Georgia Edge of Fordsville, Kentucky—the second of twelve children. Like his older brother, he too would be drafted and sent off to war: like his older brother, he too would be killed in action.
His brother, George William Edge, was killed on November 26, 1944 as the 319th Infantry Regiment was moving across France. George’s final resting place is in the Lorraine Cemetery in St. Avold, France.
Ernest received his draft notice in August 1950 and in October he reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky. From there he was sent to Fort Eustis, Virginia for his basic training.
Below are excerpts of some of the letters he wrote home:
October 4, 1950
...I probably won’t get to stay here. I will know what I am doing in the next few days, and I will let you know. For it is to many here. It is supposed to be 800 here and it is 10,000, so I’ll be lucky to stay...
He wrote a letter dated December 12, 1950, from Fort Eustis. This was the camp he transferred to from the overcrowded Fort Knox. Then on February 5, 1951, he wrote his first letter home from Fort Lawton, Washington.
Feb. 19, ‘51
Ft. Lawton, Wash.
Dear Mom and All,
...Mom do you all know were Delb is? I would like to hear from him. You all get his address and send it to me.
Well Emogene I am sending you some pictures as I promised them to you...You see if you can sell them for a couple thousand dollars a piece, and I will have them made...
[Delb was what he called his cousin, Delbert Rice, who was also drafted in August 1950.]
Feb. 23, 1951
Ft. Lawton, Wash.
…I saw Aunt Varnie the day I left and she said she got a letter from Delb that morning. And he didn’t know where he was going. But, he was leaving from the way he talked. I thought maybe that he was coming out here...
Well Mom you probably won’t hear from me for a good many days as I am shipping out in the next few days...
Bird Hunter Edge
March 16, ‘51
I’ll let you know how I am getting along. I am setting on my bunk now, we are fixing to have another clothes inspection in a few minutes...
Well mom we just got here this morning. We was on the water from the 27th of February until the 16th of March. It was lots of boys that got seasick. But, I made it just fine...
We ran into about 2 storms. The water was pretty rough. More so than Rough Creek...
We are not going to stay here but 2 or 4 days and then we will ship somewhere else. I don’t know just where, but from the way they talk I don’t think I will like it....
March 21, ‘51
...Well mom my visit in Japan wasn’t very long for I am on a ship headed for Korea. But, I don’t know just what part. But, when you all get this letter I will be in Korea...
April 30, ‘51
...I wished I was there. But, from the way things looks I don’t guess I will be back for a long time. The Chinese pushed us back about 10 or 15 miles in the last few days. I guess you will hear about it, that’s one time old Edge got on the run...Just at times it’s pretty rough. The other morning I was in 15 feet of them Chinese and I am still here. You probably wouldn’t believe that I was that close. Boy my blood pressure came up to about a 110...
May 1, ‘51
...I never see anybody but soldiers and hills.
Well I guess you all know that the Chinese are making a big push. Boy I can tell you one thing, they made us high tail it. Well Pop how are you getting along farming? It will soon be time to set tobacco and plant corn.
...I got a letter today from Aunt Varnie saying that Delb was in the 1st Cavalry. Send me his address so I can write to him. It could be that I will see him sometime for I see some of the 1st Cal once and awhile. I saw a boy from back at Ft. Knox in the 1st Cal the other day...
May 4, ‘51
...Well you all was saying something about my buddy. Well he is from Missouri he looks something like me. His name is Keene. Most of the boys call me Keene, and him Edge.
Well Pop it’s a little early for bird hunting. But, if this rotation keeps I should get home around Xmas for a few days. So, keep in touch with the birds this summer...
Well James...better watch when it gets dry you will sit the roads on fire. It’s pretty easy any how on that kind of gas you use.
Well Emogene you want a picture in my combat uniform. Well I am afraid you won’t get it for awhile...we are out in the old fields...
Hello Den, how are you making it old timer. I guess you have got you some false teeth by now...Irvin is it warm enough for you to go barefooted....Homer you and Jack are probably going fishing by now. So watch those whales down there in the creek, don’t let one pull you in...Mary I’ll write you a letter some of these days when I get time.
Well it’s getting kindly dark now. I have got a candle lit to see by, and it’s raining. I am wet...
May 11, ‘51
...Mom you all said something about me getting out of here in 6 or 8 months. Well I just don’t know. I think it depends now on how the war is by that time. For some boys have been here 10 months and they haven’t got out yet. So, don’t plan on me being home in 6 or 7 months...It’s really hot over here now. It’s hotter in South Korea than it is in North Korea. We was in North Korea for awhile until they decided they didn’t want us up there. This war is just like tug-of-war. We crawl up and run back, so you can see how the war is going. The last time I was on the line it was about 500 of us out in front on a hill. We had about 20,000 enemy, so you can see why we have to run...Well mom I can’t think of much to write. I got to answer your alls letter, Aunt Ruth’s, Aunt Varnie’s, Robert’s, and Virgil’s...
This would be the last letter Ernest wrote home: he was killed in action on May 18, 1951—at Chaun-ni, South Korea.
Newton Duke of Pinston, Alabama was one of the men with Ernest on the day he was killed. He described the following details of that day.
They were in the vicinity of Hangye-ni and the ROK troops to their right had left without telling anyone. Now with their right flank exposed, they were in the fight of their lives. It was pure chaos. They had been completely surrounded by the Chinese, and the fighting to their rear was worse than to their front.
Ernest and four or five other guys had run out of ammunition and were backed up against a large rock. The rest of the squad, with what little ammo they had left, where behind them trying to keep the Chinese off them.
The Chinese were throwing their potato masher grenades at them. As the grenades sailed over Edge’s head, he was reaching up catching them and throwing them back. He was one good soldier and he wasn’t afraid of anything. By now Duke and the other squad members were out of ammo. The Chinese began throwing their grenades a little faster and Ernest was unable to catch them. He finally succumbed to one of their grenades.1
* * * * * *
Denzil, one of Ernest’s younger brothers, remembers the day the family was informed about Ernest’s death. Their Uncle Everett and Aunt Ruth Hughes, along with their son Tommy, were visiting and everyone was sitting outside. Suddenly their mother noticed a car coming down the gravel lane, and she dropped to her knees. Having lost her oldest son in Europe, she knew who it was and what they were delivering.2
Ernest’s sister, Mary Smith, said she remembers attending the burial service at the Zachary Taylor Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. She was twelve years old and attended the services with her father, Ernest Lee, and her older sister Imogene. They were driven to Louisville by the daughter of Dr. Denton—a local doctor from Fordsville. Their mother didn’t attend, because she was sick. However, it could have been her nerves, for Ernest was the second son she had lost in time of war.