The knocking on the kitchen door was persistent that Saturday morning in June 1945, late in the Second World War. The door opened and there stood a very somber-faced man. "Is your father home?" he asked.
"Yes, he's in the living room," I answered, and pointed him in that direction. Crossing the dining room he could see Dad sitting in a rocker reading a paper. As Mr. Anderson reached the door of the living room he said, "Frank, I have some sad news for you."
By this time I was at the living room door. The sad news brought that day by Mr. Anderson, Red Cross contact person for our county, was that Vedis, one of my brothers, had been killed in action in the Philippines on May 26. With Troop C, 7th Cavalry, of the First Cavalry Division, he had fought in numerous battles from New Guinea to the Philippines. We would later learn that he died near the town of Infanta on Luzon as he led his squadron up a hill.
Breaking into tears I returned to the kitchen. My younger sisters asked why I was crying. I said, "We have lost Vedis." One immediately wanted to go tell Mother who was supervising a chicken house chore.
"No. You stay here. I'll go tell her." Being a naive teenager, it never occurred to me that Dad should be the one to break the sad news to Mother. As I neared the chicken house Mother saw that I was upset and asked, "Nova, what is the matter?"
"Vedis was killed in action." Hearing those words Mother went to pieces. At no other time did I ever see her so upset. By now Dad and Mr. Anderson had come outside. Dad took Mother by the hand, and with his arm around her shoulder led her back indoors. Shortly Mr. Anderson left. As word spread through our rural county, friends and neighbors called to offer condolences. Some had suffered similar losses. Some days later we sisters were discussing our loss with Mother. She told us that several days previously, she didn't remember just how long, on awakening one morning Dad had told her: "One of the boys was in a really tight spot last night." We concluded that it was near the time of Vedis' death. Brother Jim, in the Army Air Force in England, had awakened one night weeping. He, too, sensed that Vedis was badly hurt. Vedis was two years his senior. Eventually Vedis' personal effects were received at home - a small box containing his wallet, a watch and a few family pictures. Later his medals - a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts - also arrived. My parents took the option to have Vedis' remains returned to native soil. They were reinterred in the soldier's section of Collinsville Cemetery in Collinsville, Oklahoma.
Nova Felkins Bailey
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.