Carried by "Faith"

From The Jackson Sun
Published First October 18, 2009
Army 8th Div. 121st Infantry Company C
World War - Special Edition -- 2015 - World War II

Alvin Cagle was a foot soldier who marched across France to help defeat the Germans.

He is 91 and still living at home in Lexington with Jo, his bride of almost 63 years.

The high's and lows of Cagle's life can be centered around Dec. 24. He married Jo on Christmas Eve of 1946. Two years earlier he was captured on Dec. 21 and became a prisoner of war in Germany He said he didn't realize Christmas had come and gone that year

For a Henderson County farm boy from Blue Goose, the experiences of World War II were amazing and life-changing. Drafted in 1941, Cagle was 23 when he left the family farm, boarded a train in Lexington and reported for Army duty at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. Two months later, a radio in the barracks announced that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japan.

"The drill sergeant said to us, 'You know what this means.' And I knew then what we were getting into," Cagle said.

He was in the 8th Division, 121st Infantry, Company C. Training continued until Dec. 5, 1943, when the 8th Division sailed from New York Harbor. As his ship passed the Statue of Liberty, Cagle waved goodbye and wondered if he would return.

His best buddy, James Robert-son of North Carolina, turned to him on the ship and said, "I won't come back"

Cagle said, "You've got to have faith that you will."

Robertson said, "They got my uncle in the first world war. They're going to get me in this one."

Robertson was right. On July 26,1944, Cagle saw his buddy die in a foxhole that Cagle had left moments earlier. Cagle said the Germans' shelling was so intense that day, everyone in his 14-man squad, including his sergeant, was killed or wounded except him.

"I was left alone," he said. "I finally got out of my foxhole and went running up the road toward the American lines."

The experience left him shell shocked for life.

"Even today I can't stand to hear a gun shoot or a firecracker go off," Cagle said.

"At church, when something makes a loud noise, it really upsets him," Jo said.

After Cagle recovered a few days from the shelling experience, he continued fighting with his division. At Obermaubach, he and 65 others were cut off from the American lines by the Germans.

"We had nothing to eat, no water; it was tough," he said. "We got water out of the shell holes and used purification tablets to be able to drink it"

After a few days, the platoon was captured and taken to a German prison camp. There was little food, no facilities and sickness was rampant Cagle and 12 other prisoners asked an English-speaking guard to allow them to leave and go work outside the camp.

Eventually, the request was granted. Still guarded, they worked on a farm and had more to eat because the American Red Cross sent a 10-pound parcel of food every two weeks.

As the European war neared an end, Cagle and the others heard that Hitler had ordered that all prisoners be killed. Cagle and his fellow prisoners planned to overpower their guards and escape.

But the guards heard that the Russians were coming from the east Not wanting to fall into Russian hands, the guards took Cagle and the others to the American lines and surrendered in early May 1945. The European war ended on May 8.

In mid-June, Cagle returned to the states on a ship and rode buses from New York to Lexington. The homecoming with his parents in Blue Goose was special.

"That was happy times," he said.

The war in Japan ended on Aug. 14,1945 while Cagle was on furlough. He was discharged from the service in October 1945 and returned to Blue Goose. He and Jo had two children and a good life.

"The Lord was with me," Cagle said. "They gave us a New Testament before we left for Europe, and I kept it with me all through the war. When I got captured, it was the one thing the Germans let me keep.

"I guess faith got me through all these years."

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Alvin C. Cagle (1918 - 2012)

Funeral services for Mr. Alvin C. Cagle, age 94, are scheduled for 1 p.m., Monday, August 20, 2012 at the First United Pentecostal Church of Lexington with Bro. David Beecham, Bro. Bobby Beecham, Bro. Paul Lindsey and Lexington Mayor Tim Pierce officiating. Interment with Military Honors will follow at Henderson County Memory Gardens Cemetery. Pafford Funeral Home of Lexington has charge of the arrangements.

Mr. Cagle, the son of the late Bob and Cordia Bybee Cagle, died Saturday, August 18, 2010 at his residence in Lexington. He was a faithful member of First United Pentecostal Church and a retired clerk for Malone & Hyde. He was an Army veteran who served our country in the European theater, specifically Germany and the Netherlands, during World War II and was a POW for almost 6 months.

Survivors include his wife of over sixty-five years, Jo Lindsey Cagle; his daughter, Vickie (Eddie) Mitchell of Milan; grandchildren, Lindsey Cagle Hightower and Jody Mitchell; daughter-in-law, Susan Cagle of Memphis.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his son, Jimmy Lee Cagle; sister, Mrs. Bertha Richardson; brothers, Johnny and Walter Cagle.

The Cagle family will receive friends from 11 a.m. until service time on Monday at First United Pentecostal Church.

Pafford Funeral Home, 731-968-2544

Published in The Jackson Sun on August 20, 2012

Provided by Frances Donnelly at Find-A-Grave