Thinking of the Cousin I Never Knew on Memorial Day

Thinking of the Cousin I Never Knew on Memorial Day
My Cousin Robert Enright

A version of this post was first published on May 29, 2016.

His name was Robert Eugene Enright. He was a farmer who grew up in Madison County, Iowa. Robert was my mother's cousin. My grandfather's only nephew.

I never knew him.

My cousin Mary, who is now in her 80s, told me that her brother Robert was handsome, bright, hardworking, and kind. She and Robert were close. Very close. The evidence was always there but it has taken time for me to fully appreciate it. Barely out of high school when they lost both their parents, Mary and Robert grew up quickly. Spent much of their young lives caring for their sick parents and then grieving for them. Managing the family farm together. Clinging to each other for strength and support.

Mary wasn't the only one who loved Robert. So did my grandfather and uncle. For them, he was the promise of the future after they had struggled through the Depression and WWII. Robert was also the only male in the family born in my mother's generation. Naturally, the women in the family doted on him.

Family timelines and histories are extremely important to my cousin Mary. I now know why. Examined carefully, they tell much more than their dates and facts reveal. Tell the stories that are lost or too hard to tell. Knowing my family's history, I can imagine how shocked and angry they must have been when Robert told them he was about to be drafted. (Wanting to choose his branch of service, Robert enlisted in the Marines in 1950). My grandfather and uncle, I was told, petitioned the government to spare him. They never forgave President Truman for denying their request.

With crushing heartbreak, Mary was notified that Robert had been killed on January 25, 1952. He died on a hill in Korea appropriately called Heartbreak Ridge. Mary said a booby trapped bomb is what killed him. He was just 21 years old. Engaged. He had recently returned to battle, having been injured only a month before. The date of that injury was December 7, 1951.

The day I was born.

A number of years ago, Mary took me to the Winterset Historical Society where she volunteers. She pointed out to me a mannequin dressed in Marine blues. Robert's uniform. I was struck by how small it was. How vulnerable it looked.

This weekend I will be remembering the cousin I never knew. Reminding myself that he is but one of over a million fallen soldiers who are missed, remembered, and never forgotten.


Notice of Robert Eugene Enright's Death and Funeral

The Winterset Madisonian

Winterset, Iowa
Wednesday, January 30, 1952
Page 1


Young Marine Served With Forces in Korea Since July 6

The tragedy of the Korean war has struck for a second time in Madison county.

Robert Enright, a well known young man of this community was killed in action in Korea on Jan. 25, according to a telegram received here Tuesday evening by his sister, Mrs. Robert Welty of Winterset.

The government telegram stated: "Deeply regret to inform you that your brother, Private First class Robert Eugene Enright, United States Marine corps, was killed in action on 25 of January, 1952, in the Korean area in the performance of his duty and service to his country."

The young man was just 21 years of age. His entire life had been spent in Madison county. He was born in Crawford township on June 24, 1930, a son of Thomas and Retta Peed Enright. In 1944 the family moved to Douglas township which was his home until he entered the service.

He attended the Winterset high school, graduating with the class of 1947.

He enlisted in the U. S. Marine corps on Dec. 20, 1950, and was shipped overseas on June 18, 1951. Since July 6, 1951, he had been in action in Korea, serving with the Seventh regiment of the First Marine division.

Pfc. Enright had been wounded in action on Dec. 7, 1951, but had recovered and returned to active duty. Since leaving rest camp, he had been in the front lines again about 12 days, before his death occurred.

Both of this young soldier's parents preceded him in death. His nearest relative is his sister, Mrs. Mary Welty of Winterset. He also leaves two uncles, Roy Peed of Earlham and Ira Peed of Winterset.

Winterset Madisonian, Winterset, Iowa
Wednesday, April 2, 1952

Robert Enright Burial Thursday

The body of Pfc. Robert E. Enright will be buried with military honors in the Winterset Cemetery this Thursday, April 3, 1952.

Robert Enright was the second Madison County boy to sacrifice his life in the Korean War. He was killed in action Jan. 25 while serving with the Seventh Regiment of the First Marine Division.

The body was scheduled to arrive here this Wednesday. As memorial services were held Feb. 10 at the Winterset Methodist Church, the ceremony at the burial will be grave side services. The burial with military honors will take place at 2:30 p.m. this Thursday in the Winterset Cemetery.

The Rev. Glenn Parrott, pastor of the Winterset Methodist Church, of which he was a member, will be in charge. The military ritual will be given by members of Green-Rogers post American Legion.

Robert Enright was a son of Thomas and Retta Peed Enright, and was born in Crawford township on June 24, 1930. Since 1944 his home had been in Douglas township. He graduated from the Winterset High School with the class of 1947 and was engaged in farming. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Dec. 20, 1950, and had been in action in Korea almost continuously since July 6, 1951. He was wounded in action once prior to his death.

He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Robert Welty of Winterset and his fiancee, Ardeth Williams.

The Madison County Court House in Winterset and a number of Winterset business establishments will be closed for one hour Thursday while the burial services are in progress.

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