(c)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL After lunch on a recent first Thursday of the month fundraiser are, from left, Betty Bryant and her daughter, Carol Ann Chason. Standing is one of the servers and Cosby Volunteer Fire Department members and fundraisers Debra (Giles) Parks. The next dinner will be served on June 6 so mark your calendar.
Friday, May 10, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-05-10 19:29:37)
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

This month may go down as record pollen producing year in our hometown, as a pale yellow veil obscures the glowing paint on most vehicles. It seems that nary a day goes by that I don't bump into someone sneezing, coughing, complaining of sore throat, itching eyes, and assorted nasal/chest discomforts.

One highlight last week was the Cocke County Shrine Club paper sale that I covered for the Plain Talk news department. We have made many friends among Shriners going back to the era of Albert Mathis and Roy D. Brown to current friends like fellow Kiwanian Jim Barker, who sees that children get transportation to Shrine hospitals. Jim will turn 80 this year but remains active in many community programs. He started in Masonry in 1971, became a Shriner in 1975 and when he moved to Cocke County in the early 1990s joined t5he local Shrine Club where he has been president, before Jimmy Clark, and also paper sale chairman like Brady Barber is this year. With this weekend's Sunday being Mother's Day, I pondered who might be the mom with the most children, a mother still living and always surrounding by her sons and daughters on Mother's Day? I would like to hear from you on this. Because I have talked with many war veterans for this column it is important to note two significant days in May that tunes our hearts to soldiers: Armed Forces Day, May 18, and Memorial Day, May 27.




May brought liberation


We have been visiting with World War II veteran John Payne, who was a prisoner of war in northern Germany for about six months from December 1943 until early May 1944. I've interviewed several POWs over the past four decades and many endured torture and horrifying prison. John was more fortunate and had to like rutabagas, confined quarters, and boredom. "There were thousands at the camp. I think 7,000." There was nothing good to remember except liberation day. He has never forgotten the lack of food and never took a shower. They did get news from outside because certain groups of men built and secretly monitored news of the war, especially the encouraging progress the allies were making in 1944. He still fondly recalls the Red Cross parcels with Camel cigarettes, Hershey's chocolates, and other goodies. There were 24 soldiers in his barrack, no bigger than 12 by 18 feet.

They did get to play softball but also spent long periods every day on their bunks. These were in multi tiers for a few dozen men in each of the barracks.

One incident sticks with him most. While in their bunks towards the end of imprisonment by the Germans, a rifle shot went through the barrack wall and struck the soldier next to him in the shoulder. Yet, the solider survived and John was able to find out about the B-24 engineer after the war.

On May 1st the Russian front swept into Germany overrunning the prison camp. While the prisoners were glad to see this happen they remained there for two more weeks. John finds it more than coincidental that the B-17 that flew him and others out was one of the same bombers he had been in as a gunner. He landed at Camp Lucky Strike on the coast of France. From here he shipped aboard the Admiral Mayo troop transport to the states and was reunited with Jackie Payne in Boston. He must have been overwhelmed with emotion when the train brought him home to Memphis and all his family and friends were there to salute this hero, the last of POWs living in Cocke County.


Building a life after war


John and Jackie (Mary Jacqueline Norfolk) lived south of Memphis about a mile from the Mississippi state line and they built a frame home shortly after the war ended in 1945. His best job and career was with the US Postal Service as a rural mail carrier at a small office where a woman was the postmaster, directing two carriers. Their daughter, Jackie, was born during this time. Of course you know she met and married Dr. A. J. (Jake) Garbarino and ended up in Newport. 

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