Roger would be 77 years old this month. He is buried on a hill alongside our parents, above their home in Payne Gap. He was my only baby brother, he was my best friend.
He always looked up to me and wanted to be like me. I was 8 years older than Roger, and when we left our farm for the two-mile trip to Burdine School, my mom would always say, “Everett, take care of your baby brother.”
He stayed with me at Sampson Air Base, N.Y., during the beginning of the Korean War while he was on spring break. He always thought I was the best printer in the world. Most of my printers were young and some had brothers at home, and I would watch them talking to Roger and showing off their skills while operating the printing equipment.
Roger fibbed about his age, and went to Korea as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. After the war, and when I was home on leave, I could tell he had changed a great deal.
I noticed he seemed to have a hard time holding onto a job. A couple of times I thought I had talked him into returning with me to California where I could get him a good-paying job with the company I was working for part time while I was assigned to Travis Air Force Base.
He always changed his mind at the last moment and wanted to stay in Kentucky.
In April 1968 I got a phone call from our quarters on base, my wife telling me that my baby brother had been killed.
I drove cross-country to Jenkins for the funeral, only stopping for gas and food. That was one of the worst days of my life.
My mother never got over the death of her baby.
A few months later, I was assigned to Germany. I think the three years I was there eased the grief of losing my baby brother.
Happy birthday, dear brother.