Wednesday, September 18, 2013 1:00 AM
Sixty-nine years ago, Private Kermit Martin Winstead, 361st Regimental Combat Team of the 91st "Fir Tree" Division, fell in battle in the Northern Apennines, Italy, during the fall of 1944. In January 1945, his parents, Matthew Martin and Lora J. Winstead of Neshoba County wrote an elegy for their son. The Neshoba Democrat published the tribute, entitled "To the Memory of Kermit Winstead, who lost his life in Italy, Sept. 17, 1944." The sad verse read: "Just one year ago you left home, Just one year ago you went away, To fight for home and country, And return some sweet day. Just four months ago, You closed your mild blue eyes, And went to live with Jesus, In that land beyond the skies. There's an old home that's silent, Where our darling used to stay, And the music of your voice, Is missing there today! Your letters are lying on the table, Your picture is hanging on the wall, Your workbook lies unfinished, Nevermore we hear your foot fall. A light will always shine in the window, Loving hearts will always yearn, For the boy that proudly marched away, To nevermore return. But we know that you are waiting in Heaven, And that you are looking down from above, As we are thinking of you each day, With that everlasting love. We know that you are waiting for us, In that land beyond the blue, Waiting for that dear mother, And Daddy and brother too. There's a bright light burning in Heaven tonight, For us you are shining it there, And some glad day we'll meet you, In that happy land so fair. Yes, Kermit, we are coming, To be with you that glad day, And up there in sweet Heaven, From us you will never go away." Many, many years later, the Winsteads joined their son Kermit, in their sweet heaven - Matthew Martin Winstead in June 1986 and Lora J Winstead in September 1995 and lie together in the Pine Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in the House Community.
Just three months after Private Kermit Winstead perished in battle during the late 1944 campaign in the Northern Apennines, Neshoba County's Representative William Arthur Winstead, Sr. visited troops from his Fourth Congressional District of Mississippi stationed in Italy. Like any good politician, Congressman Winstead had to advise the family of the visit and relate some favorable news to anxious parents. On January 8, 1945, Arthur Winstead wrote to a local Philadelphia businessman Norman Aaron Johnson, Sr., and his wife, Bobbie Jasper Johnson, about his visit which began in December 1944. Winstead wrote: "It was a real pleasure to see Norman [Jr.] in Naples. He came to my hotel for a while and I drove him back for a visit in his quarters. I can tell you that he is in excellent health and looking very well indeed. It is my honest opinion that he is in no danger at his present station. Norman was in good spirits and anxious that the "homefolks" be told by someone, other than himself, that he was all right. That was the attitude I observed in talking to all the boys from home that I was able to see. My one regret about the trip is that I was unable to see more of them than I did. However, due to the nature of the trip, I was able to see those boys who knew I was coming and looked me up. You would be proud of the wonderful attitude with which your boy goes about the job of helping get this war over. I can assure you that I was proud of him." In a concluding paragraph, Winstead added, "I am convinced that the War Department took us in and gave us the 'works.' I had thought it was only a rumor that we would actually go to the fronts, but we covered the fronts thoroughly and I am confident there is much hard fighting ahead."
Note: The executive desk, leather desk chair, varnished gavel, carved wooden nameplate and framed photographs of Congressman Arthur Winstead and friends along with a framed seal of the State of Mississippi accumulated during his twenty-two years of service in office from 1943 to 1965 in Washington, D.C., are on exhibit in the Annex Building of the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Museum.
Civil War Veterans
Franklin, Quintus Lucius Cincinnatus - First Lieutenant; mustered April 13, 1861, at Neshoba Springs, Mississippi, in the Neshoba Rifles, commanded by his brother, Captain Alexander Hamilton Franklin, later Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age thirty-two; sheriff; served as first lieutenant with the Neshoba Rifles; elected first lieutenant of Company D at organization, April 24, 1861; Muster Roll, November-December 1861: "Sick in Warrenton Hospital;" received $90.00 for one month's pay, January 1, 1862; resigned his commission at re-organization, April 21, 1862; returned to a position with the Neshoba County Sheriff's Department; later enlisted as first sergeant with Company G of the 6th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry at DeKalb, Mississippi, November 28 1863; served with that command until the close of the war.
World War II Veterans
Winstead, Elmo Murray - Private to Staff Sergeant; enlisted on January 7, 1942 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age twenty; portrait photographer; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at a gunnery school at Tyndall Field, Florida, and at the 3704th Base Unit with the Army Air Corps; served also in the European Theatre of Operations as an aerial engineer gunner with the 322nd Bombardment Squadron of the Ninth (Nye's Annihilators) Army Air Force, November 1942 to May 1944; participated in Air Offensive Europe (flying 49 missions in Martin B-26 "Flying Coffins" bombers); served again in the American Theatre at the Don Cesar Hospital at St. Petersburg, Florida, Miami, Florida, Wichita Falls, Texas, Buckingham Field, Fort Myers, Florida, and Keesler Field, Mississippi; awarded the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Air Medal (with one silver oak leaf cluster and two bronze oak leaf clusters)and the Distinguished Flying Cross; discharged at Camp Shelby, September 5, 1945, demobilization; described as five feet eight and one-half inches tall, weighing 131 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Monday thru Friday