ELKINS - Elkins resident Cecie Siler Higgins said when her grandparents, Henry and Mae Metheny, started their family, they were not rich in dollars and cents. But they were rich in family, and when World War II broke out, the Metheny family gave all they had to give - their sons.
"My grandparents lived on North Randolph Avenue in Elkins," Higgins said. "They had nine children - seven boys and two girls. "
Higgins said her grandparents told her times were hard back then.
"(They) said they struggled through the Depression, and even their children took whatever jobs they could, not for spending money for themselves, but to bring home a sack of flour or a bag of beans to help out."
Higgins said when World War II began, six of the seven sons, and one son-in-law, enlisted in the service. She said when men were drafted into the military, the government first took single men, then those married with no children, and then those married with one child, to avoid disrupting families. But each of these men enlisted to serve the country for a cause they believed in.
Kermit Metheny, a former employee of The Inter-Mountain, was the first son to enlist, joining the Navy in 1941. He was soon followed by two brothers: Thurman, who entered the Air Corps, and Russell Lee, who joined the Army. The next son to enlist in the Navy was Blaine, who was, at the time, married with a child.
The Methenys' son-in-law, Ed Dumire, enlisted in the Navy at age 37. He, too, was married and had a child. Next, Junior Ray enlisted in the Navy, followed by the youngest son, Gerald, who also joined the Navy.
One son, Clair, did not join the military. He was married with two children at the time and worked for the railroad, which was considered an essential job in supporting the war effort. Higgins' father, Leonard Siler, did not enlist either, as his job with the postal service was also considered essential.
Higgins said the boys were shipped out all over the globe, and she said her mother used to talk about how miserable she was having her sons in harm's way.
"Mom said you can't imagine how worried her mother was," Higgins said. "It was terrible to imagine what she went through when they were all overseas. There is a saying that dads cater to their daughters, and Mom said Grandma really missed what she termed 'her boys.'"
Higgins said her family is very proud of the military service provided by her uncles and other members of her family.
"Mom used to say she was so proud of her brothers," Higgins said. "My mother and grandmother wanted people to know how proud they were of the boys. It is a special situation because each of them volunteered and were not drafted. They chose to fight for something they believed in."
Higgins said the situation is hard for someone today to understand unless they have family serving in the military.
"People cannot imagine the worry parents and family members face when they have someone across the sea or in a place where there is fighting," Higgins said. "The family worries and that person is in the forefront of your mind at all times. It is a hard situation."
Higgins said she often has thought about her grandmother and how she worried.
"I've often thought of nights where Grandma must have worried and cried herself to sleep from not knowing where her boys were," Higgins said. "I imagine she worried if they were hungry or in danger. I cannot imagine her fear when Russell Lee was reported missing in action and her absolute agony when she received the telegram from the War Department that she prayed she would never get. That day, the Metheny family, which was rich in sons, had one less."
Higgins said when Russell Lee was killed in action, he was the first World War II casualty to be shipped back to Elkins - a terrible event for the family and the town.
All the rest of the boys returned. Higgins said she is sure each of the boys used the talents they learned in the military to make their living following the war.
"They married and had children and led respectable lives," Higgins said. "Blaine worked for years at Kelly Foundry in Elkins. Kermit moved to North Carolina and worked as a linotype operator. Thurman moved to North Carolina where he managed a grocery store. Eddie Dumire worked as a salesman for Valley Supply Co. in Elkins. Junior Ray moved to Illinois where he owned a heating and air conditioning business. Gerald worked for the Kroger Company. Clair continued to work for the railroad.
"Only Kermit and Gerald survive," she said.
Higgins noted that these soldiers were her grandparents' and parents' pride and joy, and they are her pride and joy as well.
"Tonight, when you go to bed, say a prayer for all the men and women serving their country," Higgins said. "Pray for their wives and their husbands, their moms and dads, and their sisters and brothers who will worry until they walk safely back through the door to their homes. God bless them each and every one."