By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Roscoe S. Kirkland attended many of the monthly Memorial Flag Raising Services on the Tarboro Town Common that honors Edgecombe County's deceased military veteran. On Monday, Kirkland, who died in April, was the honoree. For his sister Iris Kleintop, he was there in spirit.
"Roscoe. The flag is still flying at your home in Leggett and also here in Tarboro on this day, she said while looking up at the American Flag that was raised by the Tarboro High School JROTC cadets as part of the ceremony. "An in our nation capital. Long may it wave. Thank you Roscoe."
Kirkland's flag flew over the the Nation's Capital on July 22, 2011. The flag was given to the family along with a letter from U.S. Senator Richard Burr.
Kirkland was one of three brothers who served in World War II. He graduated from the old North Edgecombe High School in 1942. A year later he joined the army as an infantryman and fought in Gen. George Patton's Third Army.
Unlike many war veterans, Kirkland wasn't shy about telling war stories. He told his story to a Daily Southerner reporter in 2008.
Below is excerpts from that story.
Kirkland went to North Ireland where his outfit they trained nine months for the coming invasion of France.
“We captured every hill there in six counties more than once,” he said, shaking his head.
As it turned out, Kirkland landed at Normandy about the first week in July.
“The (English) Channel was full of ships,” Kirkland recalled.
Patton had disappeared after the incident in Sicily where he had slapped a soldier in a field hospital. But the general – “Old Blood and Guts” – with the ivory-grip pistols was back, leading the breakout from the Normandy beachhead, dashing across Europe and exploiting German weaknesses.
Kirkland remembers Avranches, a German headquarters.
“They didn’t want to give that up,” Kirkland said. “It took a fight. We took it, and they took it back, but we took it again. Everything was shot down. You couldn’t even tell where the streets were ….”
More battles followed as the Third Army advanced. pl. Kirkland, the champion foxhole digger,, was promoted to staff sergeant.
He recalled a Madam Chaumont’s chateau. The Germans had taken over the house and thrown her out to the servants’ quarters.
“My platoon moved her back into the house,” Kirkland said. “She fixed me a cup of coffee and used sugar cubes that had buried for four years.”
Kirkland praised Patton’s strategy of making the Germans try to break through the American lines “rather than us going through their lines,” he said.
“That saved a lot of lives.”
Kirkland remembers division after division of Germans surrendering, at least 20,000 of them.
“They were fifthly with lice and nearly starved,” he said.
When the war ended and the Americans reached Germany, Kirkland said he was proud of “the American way … we fed them.”
He considers himself one of the lucky ones that survived the war with only severe frostbite.
“I was just a young un’,” he said. “I didn’t even need a razor. I did a lot of growing up ....”
Kirkland recalls coming home on a ship and when it went by the Staute of Liberty, so many men went to one side to see, the ship actually leaned.
In 1983, Kirkland went back to France by himself and visited many of the places where he had fought.
Portion of this story came from a story published in 2008 in The Daily Southerner