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Sheriff's department veteran set to retire this week

August 29, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - Jim Carbone has worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department for more than 20 years.

On Tuesday, he will retire from the force.

"I wore all kinds of hats," Carbone said.

Carbone, who serves court papers for the department, once oversaw the old Jefferson County Jail in Charles Town.

He had a knack for earning respect from inmates at the old jail behind the Jefferson County Courthouse at the corner of George and Washington streets.

Carbone, 67, said inmates were well-behaved when he oversaw the jail, which he said can be attributed to the fact that he treated all of them fairly.


"I was a 'Mr. Carbone' to them. It wasn't, 'Hey you,'" Carbone said during an interview at his Orchard Hills home.

When Carbone assumed his job at the jail, he was the "chief jailer." That was before the term "correctional officer" came into use.

Carbone transferred inmates from the county jail to the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, W.Va., before patrol cars were outfitted with dividers to protect officers from occupants in the car.

Carbone said he used to shackle as many as five inmates at a time, put them in his car and head to Moundsville. He said he never had a problem with the inmates.

Before joining the sheriff's department, Carbone had an extensive career in the military, working as a gunner in a mortar group and a platoon sergeant, a position he held while working in a U.S. Army engineering company during the Vietnam War.

Carbone worked with others in the engineering group to construct roads and bridges during the war, he said.

"It was pretty cagey because you were out in the night in the middle of nowhere," Carbone said.

After that stint in Vietnam - one of two for him - Carbone returned to the U.S. and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan.

His job was to pick up the bodies of fallen soldiers who were being sent to California from the Vietnam War. Carbone would escort the corpses to the hometowns of the soldiers.

Carbone flew across the country, meeting families of the servicemen in funeral homes. He said he often recommended to families they not open the caskets because of the conditions of the bodies.

Carbone said he could not remember how many bodies he handled.

"I tried to erase it from my mind. It was a hardship job," he said.

Carbone grew up in New York and left for Atlanta in about 1957.

"I always wanted to see what the South was like. I'd heard so much about it and I fell in love with it," said Carbone, who spent part of his military career in that part of the country.

After retiring from the military, Carbone and his wife, Carolyn, wanted to move back to West Virginia where her mother lived.

They picked Jefferson County, where Carbone worked at a number of jobs, including as a service manager for a Cadillac dealership in Martinsburg, W.Va., and in security at Charles Town Races & Slots.

He started work at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department in 1982 under former Sheriff Donald Giardina.

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