Born in Henry’s Fork on May 29, 1933, Paul Whytsell
is a native Calhouner.
He recalls the Craddock Hill one room schoolhouse
and the eight grades he attended there. He continued his secondary years
in Grantsville and graduated from Calhoun County High School in 1951.
After graduation, Whytsell worked at an automotive
body shop in Spencer until he enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry
At 19, he found himself in basic training at Fort
Dix, N.J. After graduation from basic, he spent only three days at home
before he was shipped to the 1st Calvary Division for amphibious landing
training in Japan.
Three months of grueling drills and countless
maneuvers readied Private Whytsell for the next 17 months of combat in
the mountains and valleys of Korea.
In November, 1952, he set foot into Outpost Harry
in Korea, which would be his forward operating base during his time
overseas. He would see a great deal of the Korean countryside before
After attaining the rank of corporal, he was moved
between Papasan Mountain, Chorwon Valley, OP Harry, and several other
locations to fight an ongoing battle.
During his service in those foreign lands, he
suffered more than the pains of combat, but also the agony of horrible
conditions, unbearable weather, and impossible terrain.
Today, Whytsell is 100% disabled from the frostbite
he endured in the Korean winter of 1952.
With the end of conflict came the return home for
many soldiers. In December, 1953, Sgt. Whytsell was honorably discharged
from active duty.
“I was not a hero,” said Whytsell, “I was just a
soldier from West Virginia. Many of our soldiers never returned. I guess
I am one of the lucky ones.”
His service to his country did not end there, as he
enlisted in the National Guard and served four more years stateside.
After the Army, Whytsell worked for 11 years at
Weather Tite Factory, Bedford, Ohio.
He returned to Calhoun County in 1969 and was
employed by the Dept. of Highways. He worked for the construction
division for 24 years before retiring.
Whytsell became active in Disabled American
Veterans in 1998. He and Freda, his wife of 36 years, have been the DAV
van coordinators for the last 10 years, nine of which Paul served as a
He has also been an active member of VFW Post No.
5959 for 45 years.
During his six years as VFW commander, he was
awarded a trip to the national conventions in Washington, D.C., and
In 1979-80, he served as 1st District Commander in
District 5, which consists of Calhoun, Wirt, Ritchie, Wood, Jackson,
Roane, and Pleasants counties.
He remains involved in the VFW as the service
officer and adjutant.
“I am proud of the 45 years that I have belonged to
an outfit like the VFW Post No. 5959. We help each other and understand
each other. We are comrades. We have been where it’s been. We are
brothers,” he said as he sat in front of the plaque of the original VFW
I have spent several hours with Whytsell as he
assisted me with a series of articles on the VFW, but, as he spoke of
his own service to our country and his own sacrifice and dedication, I
felt like I was truly getting a glimpse into who he is.
The colors he wears on his veteran’s cap are the
colors branded on his heart and in his actions.
A patriot, a veteran, and a son of Calhoun, he
exemplifies the U.S. flag and all it represents.
The true colors of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Whytsell, at
the age of 19 and now at the age of 74, are without a doubt--Red, White
“To all the veterans of World War II, Korea,
Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Afghanistan, and Iraq, you will
never be forgotten,” said Whytsell.
The soldier stood
and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other
To my church have you been
The soldier squared his shoulders
“No, Lord, I guess I ain’t,
Because those of us who carry
Can’t always be a saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully
But I never took a penny
That wasn’t mine to keep . . .
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears.
If you’ve a place for me here,
It needn’t be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was silence around the
Where the saints had often trod
As the soldier waited quietly
For the judgment of his God.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s
your time in hell.
A reprint from
The Good Old Days