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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Vance Ballard McWhorter

". . . don't grieve that I am again in war, my heart and mind and heritage will let me do no less . . ."

Vance B. McWhorter in a letter to his sister

Vance Ballard McWhorter was born November 16, 1921, in McWhorter, West Virginia, the third child of Olen and Ina Ballard McWhorter.

Vance graduated from Lost Creek High School and in 1942 enlisted in the military, serving with the Air Force in India and China during World War II. He was a member of Maccabees Tent No. 19, Veterans of Foreign Wars of Clarksburg, and the McWhorter Methodist Church. Prior to serving in Korea, he studied International Law in Hawaii for three years.

A reservist, Vance landed in Korea on August 1, 1950, a member of the Hawaiian Fifth Regiment Combat Team. While in Korea, Vance wrote a letter to his sister in which he set forth his reasons for wishing to take part in the fight in Korea.

It isn't burning patriotism to my country alone that brings me to this departure from the real into the unknown but it is love of all free people:the Indians who built our air strips in India with their bare hands. The Chinese who fed us when they were hungry themselves and the Pigmey black men in the Himalayas who aided us under great hardship and tenderly cared for our airmen when they were crash victims. It is for the people I've had in my democracy class, the young and the aged who live only for admission to our free shores. The white, the black and the yellow people everywhere who ask in all languages, in all faiths, help us! It is for you and all my family's family to be. So don't grieve that I am again in war, my heart and mind and heritage will let me do no less. I must go! (Marlinton Journal, September 7, 1950)

On November 9, 1950, Lt. Vance B. McWhorter was in command of the lead tank of an armored patrol probing deep into enemy territory near Hyonggyo, North Korea. His tank hit a land mine that disabled it and blocked the road. Simultaneously, the enemy who were waiting in ambush opened fire using automatic weapons and heavy machine guns. Lt. McWhorter, dismounting from his tank, hooked a tow cable to the second tank in the line in order to pull a disabled tank out of the way and allow the column to advance. In the ensuing action the second tank struck another mine, and Lt. McWhorter, who was standing in an exposed position, was killed.

The body of 1st Lt. Vance Ballard McWhorter was returned to the United States and on June 18, 1955, was reburied in Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Clarksburg. In November, Lt. McWhorter's mother, Mrs. Ina Clem, was presented with the Silver Star awarded her son for his actions at Hyonggyo and the Bronze Star for meritorious service at an earlier period of the Korean Conflict.


West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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