The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Opinion: Dear Charlie, Carl: We're keeping your memories forever


November 11, 2018

Charlie Ledbetter was about 11 years old when he came to eastern New Mexico with his family from Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1907.

The Ledbetters settled in the Blacktower community — where Cannon Air Force Base stands today — and spent their days farming.

Charlie’s dad, James, was a member of the school board at Grier, west of Clovis. After graduating from Clovis High School, Charlie was postmaster at Grier and later became a school teacher there.

Historian Don McAlavy reported Charlie Ledbetter was drafted into the Army as World War I broke out. He was killed in that war, on Nov. 7, 1918, just four days before it ended with the signing of the Armistice.

In a 2004 interview with the Clovis News Journal, Clovis’ Dudley Bailey said the family learned of his uncle’s death via telegram.

“(W)hen he was killed they said he was buried in the shell hole that killed him and two other boys,” Bailey said.

Ledbetter was 22.

Roosevelt County’s Carl McDermott wrote his mother in June 1918 that he was feeling good and “in pretty good health,” despite his location in “a pretty hot spot” somewhere in France.

“No, I am not fat,” he wrote.

“There is a rumor that we go near Paris, so we are impatiently waiting for relief.”

But that expected leave never came for McDermott. He was killed in June 1918, just a few days after writing his final letter home.

“(H)e had a large circle of friends in and near Portales who will learn of his death with sorrow for the loss but with pride in the fact his life was given in defense of his country and for the deliverance of mankind from the horrors and treachery of Prussian militarism,” the Portales Journal reported.

“The people of Portales will ever remember him with kindness and pride.”

McDermott was 27.

It has been 100 years since that Great War ended.

Today — Veterans Day — we remember.

Thank you for your service, Charlie Ledbetter and Carl McDermott ... and the millions of others whose lives were lost in that war to end all wars.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Editor David Stevens and Publisher Rob Langrell.


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