In July 5 issue, Russell County NewsBy Derek AaronRussell County News Editor
Jamestown’s Ed McFall was one of eight siblings and has lived through the Great Depression and served his country overseas during World War II, making him our Independence Day edition’s “Russell County Hero.”
He was born April 8, 1916 in Wayne County’s Cabell community off of Otter Creek, a 12-mile walk from Jamestown.
Cabell had small post office and store, and that was about it.
“I remember going to the store very well,” he said. “We crossed creeks and went up an old haul road just to get to it and I remember I was barefoot and it was very sandy.”
He and his brother, Leonard, even walked the dozen mile trip from Cabell to Jamestown many times.
McFall, now 92, first joined the Civil Conservation Corps, a work relief program for young men that was established by President Franklin Roosevelt as part of his New Deal legislation to combat unemployment during the depression, during his late teenage years.
“I weighed 119 pounds when they weighed me in at Stearns, Kentucky, where I registered,” he said.
He went from there to Cascade, Idaho on a train with a large group of men.
“From there, went went 53 miles out into the mountains to what they called Reed’s Ranch and before winter came we moved to Riggins, Idaho to what they called the “Banana Belt then onto a town in Oregon,” he said.
“I was small and it was very cold out there in Idaho and I wanted to get in where it was warm and I just went back to the kitchen and started to cook under two old World War I cooks,” McFall said. He cooked anything and everything under the veteran cooks and learned the trade to a tee.
“From there I went to Cook and Bakery School through the three C’s,” he said. “That was just a snap, shucks, there wasn’t nothing to it and I made good grades in that,” he said with a smile.
McFall said he gained around 30 pounds in the three C’s and got up to 150 pounds.
“I ate good while I was there and that helped me,” he said. He stayed 13 months in the three C’s and sent $25 a month back home for his father to keep.
“When I got home I had $325 and I went and bought me a pair of mules for $300,” he said. After not using the mules for anything, he jockeyed them to Jamestown one day and sold them for $400, making a $100 profit off of it.
He joined the army in February 17, 1941 when he was in his mid-20s. After first being denied acceptance into the army for not having a high school diploma (his brother, Leonard, was accepted into the Air Force while Ed went to school through the 7th grade before he began working) he went to look for work in Dayton, Ohio.
After that, too, was unsuccessful McFall stopped off in Louisville where the army accepted him.
McFall served four years, five months and 19 days in the United States Army without ever firing a gun because he had another trait that was much needed at the time—he could cook and he proved it.
“That’s something that a lot of people can’t understand.”
He stayed with his original company his entire time in the armed services, never transferring to another.
During his time in the service, after departing Fort Knox, McFall became mess sergeant and fed his entire company as they traveled overseas to places like Ireland, Scotland, England, Italy and northern Africa during the World War II years. Many times he cooked with gas stoves out of the back of army vehicles.
McFall said his time as a cook helped him to stay out of combat and the harsh conditions that came with it. He was still involved and witness to many wartime events where gunfire and casualties were common. Still, he persevered through.
“It was just a good job for me,” he said.
After coming home from the army, McFall worked on the construction of Wolf Creek Dam for a while before finally buying a farm. He has been a farmer in Jamestown ever since. At first he raised hogs and had cattle and maintained several crops, many times often having more than 1,000 head of each livestock.
McFall has never smoked, therefore he said he didn’t feel it was right for him to grow tobacco for others to smoke. This was an issue that was resolved many years ago after he prayed about it for some time.
His wife, Evelyn, and he married around a year after he went to the services and to this day McFall still carries an old photo of Evelyn in his wallet.
“I’ve carried this picture all over the world,” he said. He said he first met Evelyn while the two were young as he noticed her on his way to town and back.
“You always notice a pretty girl,” he said. McFall said it was difficult to leave Evelyn behind during those years but that it was something he had to do.
The two have been married since he was in his mid-20’s and have been happily married ever since. The couple has nine children, all of whom have been very successful in life: Patricia Coomer, who nominated her father for this week’s “hero,” Sue Popplewell, Sharon Harris, Richard McFall, Ronnie McFall, Steve McFall, Randy McFall, Cara Murphy and Jon McFall.
They also have a host of grand and great-grand children and nieces and nephews. The couple attends Mt. Hope Separate Baptist Church in Jamestown.
Ed still drives his truck and puts out a vegetable garden each year at his Jamestown home.
He also said he has been blessed in life with all that God has allowed him. Truly Ed McFall is a “hero” we all can look up to.