James L. C. Jeter, Private, U.S. Army, Korean War, Killed-in-Action The Silver Star

Published 1:00 pm Friday, August 18, 2023

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Author’s note: This Veterans Day, the Covington Veterans Foundation will pay special honor to all Korean War veterans. We will publish a magazine honoring those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. Army Private L.C. Jeter is one of those from Covington County.

It was a cold day in April 1953, when Private L.C. Jeter’s company moved forward against an entrenched enemy force near Tongungel, Korea. When the company was pinned down by heavy enemy fire, Jeter moved forward on his own, into the no-mans-land to return enemy fire. He managed to crawl through three rows of barb wire while holding down the enemy with fire from his automatic rifle. As Jeter cleared the last strand of wire, his company was able to move forward toward the enemy trench. Jeter was still leading their advance when he was cut down by enemy fire, just short of his objective. The extraordinary courage of Private L.C. Jeter would earn him the Silver Star, which was awarded posthumously.

James L.C. Jeter was born August 30, 1931 in Slocomb, Alabama. His parents were James Clyde and Delpha [Kirkland] Jeter. L.C.’s family moved around south Alabama during his childhood.

They were living in the Searight community in Covington County when the elder Jeter was killed in an automobile accident on January 27, 1945.

The family moved to Red Level, Covington County, Alabama, after the father’s death. The young boys attended Red Level School but had to drop out of school and begin share cropping to help feed their family. They moved to the Rawls community in northern Covington County and began sharecropping for Hiram Brogden.

Around 1950, L.C. began work at a local sawmill in Andalusia. He lived in the workers’ quarters near the sawmill. On August 3, 1951, L.C. married Ruby Faye Echols and they made their home in the workers’ quarters. Ruby was 16 years old at the time. L.C. was drafted into the Army about five months after their marriage.

L.C underwent basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Ruby was able to live there with an uncle, Mac Kirkland, and his family. On Christmas 1952, L.C. had completed basic and he and Ruby came home to visit the family.

In January, L.C. was assigned to Company B, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, and deployed to Korea. L.C. was able to write to his mother and Ruby from Korea. Ruby remained

with the family in the Rawls community. The younger Jeter children attended Rawls School.

On April 17, 1953, L.C.’s Company was part of a massive assault against an entrenched enemy outpost near Tongungel, Korea. That day, Private L.C. Jeter performed the heroic actions described in paragraph two above. His mother was notified of his death by two Army officers from Fort Rucker, Alabama. Her children were still in school when the Army sedan drove up.

L.C.’s mother received his final letter some three or four weeks after his death. The letter was hurriedly written on toilet paper, by the light of a sterno can. It was written in pencil and difficult to read. In the letter, L.C. explained that his unit was camped out in the snow, near the foot of a mountain, preparing for a large battle the next day. L.C. was fearful of the coming fight. He told his mother that he had spoken to the Chaplain and professed his Christian faith. In the letter, he named each of his brothers and sisters and said that he sent his love.

The Jeter family received a letter, dated June 24, 1953, from the 7th Infantry Division Command Headquarters notifying them that Private James L.C. Jeter had been awarded a Purple Heart and the Silver Star.

Jeter’s funeral was held at the Rawls Baptist Church on July 9, 1953. Burial with full military honors followed at Fairmount Cemetery, Red Level, Alabama. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Ruby Faye Jeter; his mother, Mrs. C.C. Edson; his brothers, Charles Earnest Jeter [who was serving in the U.S. Navy], Donald Jeter and Ronnie Edson; his sisters, Pauline Jeter Craig, Josephine Jeter and Frances Jeter.

L.C.s younger brother, Charles Earnest was assigned to Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, in August 1953. On September 9 of that year, Earnest married Ruby Faye Jeter.

John Vick

The author wishes to thank Jeff Jeter and his wife, Grace, for their help in writing about L.C.

Jeff is the son of Ruby Faye and Earnest Jeter. He also thanks Mrs. Midge Burns, the youngest sister of L.C. Jeter.