Gilbert Houston Fortner
Born 27 August 1930
Private First Class Fortner was a member of the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea.
He is buried at Cross Anchor Cemetery, Greeneville, TN
Picture from The Greeneville Sun, October 23, 1951
The Greeneville Sun, October 23, 1951
Mr. and Mrs. Willis T. Fortner of Greeneville, Route 11, have received a telegram from the War Department stating that their only son, Gilbert Houston Fortner, age 21, was killed in action in Korea, October 4, 11951. Pvt. Fortner entered the service February 7, 1951 and sailed for overseas July 7. Mr. and Mrs. Fortner received the following letter from a buddy of their son in which he described the tragedy.
Monday, Oct. 8, 1951
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Fortner,
I don’t know how to begin or what to say to explain what I have to. I promised you I would write to you. It’s about your son Houston, if you haven’t already heard from the War Department. He was killed in action October 4th, 1951 while taking Objective Hill 281. He didn’t suffer, I can assure of that. He was hit in the head and it was all over. The only thing I can say is that all of you should be proud of him and try not to worry or be sorry. I know that is the way he would want you to feel. He was a swell guy, I know, I’ve been with him ever since he has been here, and if the rest of the guys back home were like him and would come over and do their part, America would be a lot better today. Houston gave all he could. His life, for his Country, is there any more for us to give? If we weren’t here, someone else would be. Most people think it’s only a police action. Well they don’t know. I’m here and I can say it’s a whole lot more than that. I’m also sorry to say that the company had five killed and 30 wounded. The battalion, consisting of A.b.C.D. company, had almost 95 wounded and killed. That’s too many for something like this, a country of only Mountains. Let me tell you about the attack. It was about o’clock of the morning of October theth, still a long way from day light. We got up and moved out across cold wet rice paddies two feet in mud. We marched about 2 miles in this, then reached our objective. My Sqdn. Took up the hill first. Aftera bout hours of fighting, the hill was ours. Houston wasn’t hit until he reached the top and the hill was ours then. A few snippers were left, that’s all and thats what happened. One Chinese with a Semi-Bolt action, American – rifle, which we gave China in the last was, has taken the life of our boys. They have a lot of our equipment which the big shots in the states sold them to make money, only to be used againt us later. But you should have seen the yellow devils run. We were cutting them down as fast as they come. I can assure you they lost heavily. I’m a B.A.R. man automatic rifleman. I got me a couple more to bring the Total to 16 dead and I don’t know how many wounded. They had just got their pay. I am sending you some of it, although I don’t guess you will feel like receiving it now. I didn’t know the other who was from Greeneville that got killed in action. I’m sorry I have lost many a good buddy in the eleven months I’ve been here. The Good Lord has taken care of me all these months. I’ll give this letter to the Mess Sgt. at noon so that he can mail it to you. Well I’ve told you in the best way that I know how about your son getting killed. I know I’m not much at explaining things, but I tried to explain the very best I knew how. I hope you will still write to me in the future, because Houston was a swell guy and I know that you are swell too. I will look forward to hearing from you in the future. I will close now, saying that I was hurt as much as i fit had beern my own brother. I’m terribly sorry, believe me. I know the Lord gives and takes, but he being the only son, I know it will hurt mroe. You have my most sincere sympathy.
A buddy of Houston’s
- Rank: Private First Class
- Date of birth: 27 August 1930
- Date of death: 4 October 1951
- County: Greene
- Hometown: Greeneville
- Service Branch: Army
- Division/Assignment: 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
- Conflict: Korean War
- Awards: Purple Heart, Combat Infantrymans Badge, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and Republic of Korea War Service Medal
- Burial/Memorial Location: Cross Anchor Cemetery, Greeneville, TN
- Location In Memorial: Pillar XX, Middle Panel
- Contact us to sponsor Gilbert H. Fortner
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