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Carrington McGhee

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial


Jessie Carrington McGhee

"Jessie died at age 22, but our memory of him is strong; his infectious grin, his black twinkling eyes, his slender handsomeness and his quiet Gary Cooperish use of words. He was an honest decent man and he remains an inspiration to all who loved and respected him."

Jessie Carrington McGhee was born September 22, 1922 in Mercer County, West Virginia to George Washington and Margaret Edwards McGee. In 1926, George, a coal miner and part-time sheriff's deputy, was shot to death in Iaeger, McDowell County. Margaret was in poor health and unable to work to support herself and her six children. She eventually returned to Princeton, but times were tough and most of the children were raised by relatives and foster parents. Jessie, who was the second youngest, stayed with his mother for most of his early years.

J. C. McGhee in
California during basic training
J. C. McGhee in California during basic training
Lester McGee, the oldest of the children, eventually brought Jessie to live with him and his wife Garnette Tucker McGee at their home in Kimberly, West Virginia. There, Jessie was employed by the Koppers Coal Co. Shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Jessie joined the Army. While in the service, he became a staff sergeant and served with the 32nd Infantry Regiment. He received at least some of his basic training in California. Jessie saw combat in the Pacific Theater, where he was killed in action on Leyte Island by sniper fire during MacArthur's campaign to retake the Philippine Islands. He died exactly one month past his 22nd birthday on October 22, 1944.
Jessie's sister-in-law, Garnette saw to it that Jessie received mail on a regular basis, and her concern for him grew as no reply came to her letters. On two different occasions, her letters were returned unopened and marked "deceased". Although he was killed in October of 1944, his family did not hear any official confirmation of his death until December of 1944. Jessie McGhee News Story
Letter from Jessie McGhee In his own letters sent to Garnette before his death, Jessie speaks of killing at least one Japanese soldier, his loneliness and homesickness, and his desire to see his family again. However, it would not be until his untimely death that Jessie could at last find peace in his home state.

Some of the McGee children, including Jessie, spelled their last name "McGhee". This may have stemmed from the children being raised apart from each other and their mother. In any case, the spelling variations of the last name did not seem to occur until after George McGee was killed. However, Lester confirmed with relatives that their last name was in fact spelled "McGee". Jessie and some other siblings, though, kept the spelling "McGhee". In the West Virginia Department of Health birth index, his last name is spelled "McGee".

Jessie was buried where he fell at first, and then later his body was moved to the American Cemetery in Manila before it was returned to West Virginia in 1948. His body was then laid to rest for the last time in Cunningham Memorial Park in St. Albans, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Jessie McGhee with friends in
With friends on R&R in Hawaii


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