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Morgan Co. family thankful for much

November 27, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

GREAT CACAPON, W.Va. - Getting together to celebrate Thanksgiving is something the Hutchinson family looks forward to, especially when the patriarch of the family, Gerald Hutchinson, is with them.

"Uncle Gerald" turned 90 this year and traveled home to Morgan County from Indian Head, Md., for hunting season and Thanksgiving.

He grew up in Morgan County and still has a home not far from the home of his nephew, Steve Hutchinson.

The holidays are what he missed the most when he was serving in Europe in World War II, he said.

He was drafted in 1943 at age 22, and served as a rifleman in the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry in Italy and Germany.

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"The big red one," Hutchinson said, referring to the big red number "1" patch worn on the uniforms.

He was wounded in the leg and still carries shrapnel in his body, he said. Gerald Hutchinson was captured in 1944, and spent more than six months in a German prisoner-of-war camp.

When he was released from the Army in late November 1945, and because he was a POW, he received a free two-week trip to Miami. He stayed in a fancy hotel and enjoyed the beach, but he made sure to get back home for Christmas, he said.

Gerald's brothers, Lester and Edwin Hutchinson, who have died, also served in World War II. Lester was stationed in England with the U.S. Army Air Force as a ground crew member, said Larry Hutchinson, one of Edwin's sons.

Edwin Hutchinson was in the U.S. Army in North Africa and Italy, said his son, Steve Hutchinson.

"He manned the big guns," he said.

Margaret Hutchinson, Edwin's widow, said she remembers worrying about the fate of loved ones during World War II. Members of her family also served and were killed. She also worried about her son, Steve, when he was in Vietnam.

"The holidays are important," she said.

Steve Hutchinson, 62, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967. He served in Vietnam from January 1968-69 during the Tet Offensive as a convoy machine gunner.

Each night, the convoy of trucks with about 20 men hauled "mostly bombs, including napalm bombs" to Air Force bases. In one ambush, two friends were killed and two were wounded, he said.

His grandmother died while he was in Vietnam, but he could not come home. Steve said he missed his family the most during all the holidays, and he also missed hunting season.

Each year, the holidays mean more to him as family members get older, Steve said.

Lester Hutchinson's son, Dean Hutchinson, 62, said he served in Vietnam in 1967-68. He said his son, Robert Hutchinson, 40, served during the first Iraq war.

Brenda Hutchinson's father, Arthur "Pete" Peters, 81, enlisted at age 17 and served with the U.S. Army Engineers in 1946-47 in the Pacific. He helped build an airstrip outside Tokyo and then was assigned to the Philippines, he said.

Coming home and being with your family was most important, Peters said.

"It's funny how life just picked up again after we got back home," Peters said.

Larry Hutchinson, 59, was not chosen from the draft lottery, so he did not have to serve, he said. His wife, Lynn Hutchinson, 49, served in the U.S. Air Force in Barksdale, La., from 1980-86.

"I was glad to be a member," she said. "I got to travel and I learned a skill."

She now works as a database administrator in Martinsburg, W.Va.

"It's good to be thankful, especially if family members are older and they are spending Thanksgiving dinner with you," said Brenda Hutchinson, who is married to Steve Hutchinson.

Of Uncle Gerald, Larry Hutchinson said, "he's the patriarch. He's the last of the family."

"He's just like my own brother," Margaret Hutchinson said.

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