Calhoun Pow Honored With Bridge Naming

July 30, 2021 - A bridge at Minnora has been named for Korean war POW Charles E. Jarvis, not far from where the Spencer Jarvis family had their roots

CALHOUN SOLDIER SURVIVED 507-MILE DEATH MARCH AND CAPTIVITY - Jarvis Made Narrow Escape, Family Wants To Honor Him With Bridge Naming


By Bob Weaver 2020

Seventy years have past since a healthy country boy from Meadow Run near Minnora enlisted to serve in the Korean War, barely surviving a 507 mile death march after being taken captive by North Korea.

It is painfully difficult to read the tribulations Jarvis and others endured, he being among a handful of survivors.

Recovering in a California hospital, he left against medical advice [AMA] hitchhiking back to Calhoun, desperately wanting to be home with his parents and family in the hills.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Jarvis, were operating a small restaurant in Minnora when he arrived, and neither of his parents recognized him.

His wife, Madelon now 87 (above) lives in Elkview, she and her family want to name a small bridge near his home place at Minnora in his honor, a vigorous effort that began in 2019.

His sister, Arletta Jarvis Conley, says the family has been assured by officials the bridge naming will occur during the 2021 legislative session.

Family members congregated at the Minnora church near the designated bridge to recall the great suffering and life and times of Charles Jarvis.

The family spent time in the Minnora church ...

Relationship to fallen soldier (L to R) Arletta Jarvis
Conley (sister) Isabella Perkins (great-grandaughter)
Madelon Jarvis (wife) and Sharisse Smith (daughter)

~~~~~~ ORIGINAL STORY ~~~~~~

By Bob Weaver

Calhoun solider Charles E. Jarvis, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Jarvis, was a handsome 17-year-old farm boy from Minnora when he joined the army just before the Korean War started in 1950.

Jarvis, at 19, was captured by North Korean communist troops and forced to walk on a 14-day 507-mile death march from Taejon to Seoul.

The Reds had planned to place a ransom for the soldiers return.

17-year-old Calhouner, Charles Jarvis after
completing basic training (left) and a healthier
Jarvis when released from duty in 1953

Jarvis, who walked every foot of the way, said the capture started with 375 Yank prisoners, with only 125 still living when they arrived at Pyongyang.

The remaining soldiers were then placed on a train, most of them to be doomed.

"We were in a boxcar with our knees tucked up to our chins. Eight men died in my car," Jarvis said.

When the train stopped to allow the prisoners to get a drink of water, nineteen-year-old Jarvis and three buddies fled to a hilltop.

"We just kept on going when the train stopped," said Jarvis.

Their fleeing instinct saved their lives.

Jarvis said four hours later he witnessed about 70 of his comrades being ordered to sit in three bunches in an open field, after which the guards opened fire with machine guns.

"The guys never knew what was up. We saw it all happen and there was nothing we could do," he said.

Twenty-one Yanks managed to survive the massacre.

Jarvis and his three friends continued their escape, finding some chickens and roasting them, after living on a handful of rice once a day.

A North Korean farmer gave them some rubber-soled shoes and delivered them to US officials.

News accounts in 1950 described Jarvis as a lucky young GI.

The photo of his starved and emaciated body appeared on the front page of hundreds of US newspapers, having lost 66 pounds. Five machine gun bullets had torn through his left arm and his left leg was riddled with shrapnel.

Gov. Bob Wise and officials present medals
to Jarvis' wife Madelon posthumously

Jarvis returned to the US after the war in 1953, to marry a California girl, Madelon DePaul of Long Beach. They moved to Elkview, West Virginia to continue their life together until Jarvis' death at age 63 in 1995.

"It is hard to imagine what it must have been like for a Calhoun country boy to be thrust into such a situation," said wife Madelon, recalling her husband's military experience.

Since Jarvis' death, he has posthumously received a Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medal, presented to his wife by former Gov. Bob Wise.

The aging photos of Jarvis, from age 17 to age 19, really tell the story of his near-death experience, and his service to this country.


The nine children of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Jarvis
of Meadow Run (1994) Standing (L-R) Frances Saffir,
Dorothy Rice, Arletta Conley, Mary Bittner; Seated (L-R)
Charles, Jack, Danny, Kenneth and James Jarvis