Powers cherishes memories of his days as a ghost
Published 8:55 am Monday, June 25, 2007
Army veteran reconnects with Carolina war buddy after 60 years
By EUGENE L. TINKLEPAUGH
Jessie Powers answered his telephone one day and immediately recognized a voice he hadn’t heard in 60 years.
Powers, a Washington native, first met the Winnsboro, S.C., native in boot camp just before the two were sent off to fight in World War II in the spring of 1945.
The Carolina brothers in arms became fast friends but were separated at the start of their European tours.
Pullen served with the 65th Infantry Division in Austria, as did Powers until transfer orders came.
The North Carolinian’s new assignment was with the 20th Corps artillery unit.
He was transferred to the ghost corps by a decision made simply enough: Fifteen men were counted off from left to right and asked to step forward. Powers was one of those 15, and they became part of the 20th corps. The impromptu unit often worked ahead of the American allies’ front lines to hang communication wire.
Pullen was sick on the day the ghost corps was formed, Powers noted, so that split up the buddies pre-fighting action.
Because the two had last names that were close alphabetically, they shared a tent while under the same command. Every man carried a half of a tent, Powers explained.
After their split, the two saw each other once more post-war. Lining up for the boat ride back to the U.S., Powers let his eyes coast along the sea of faces and spotted Pullen in the crowd.
Both returned to the states and resumed lives in their respective parts of the Carolinas. They hadn’t spoken to the other since until that phone call Pullen made 60 years after the fact.
Powers and his 45-year-old son went down to South Carolina earlier this year to see Pullen.
Powers will be 83 in July. Pullen is the same age, Powers noted.
He says working on old cars and fishing has kept him young.
Powers was drafted at 19 to enter the war, he said.
After his service, Powers worked at the Belk Tyler in Washington for nearly 48 years before retiring.
He’s lived in Chocowinity for the last 55 years.
He has a son, a daughter, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Both of his children live just a few miles from him.
Powers and his son have already talked about going back down to South Carolina next year. Powers said he wants to keep in touch with Pullen “while we’re both still here.”