Much of Dowd Cemetery was destroyed in the 1970s. A few stones remained, but were damaged. This is one of those stones. Essie B. Easley served in World War II as a TEC 5 in the 401st Quartermaster Truck Company. E.B. Easley was born July 22, 1917 in Mississippi and was living in Tunica County when World War II broke out. On the 1940 U.S. Census, he was listed as married and living on the J.E. Sills Plantation in Tunica County. He enlisted Jan. 13, 1943 as a private for the duration of the war. Easley listed his job as a general farm hand and was separated, without dependents. Evidently, he and his wife had separated. His height was about 5’6 and he weighed 159 pounds. Essie B. Easley was discharged on January 5, 1946. He died after he returned home to Tunica County on August 7, 1949. During World War II, he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and received several high grades on his work with the 401st Quartermaster Truck Company.
The 401st Quartermaster Truck Company was constituted November 6, 1943 and activated November 29,1943 at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma. It was inactivated April 2, 1946 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The 401st received participation credit at Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe during World War II. This was a segregated unit during the war. Below is a picture of another Quartermaster Company in World War II, but the 401st would have driven similar vehicles. These African American soldiers and their trucks were known as the Red Ball Express. The Red Ball Express was a famed truck convoy system that supplied Allied forces moving quickly through Europe after breaking out from the D-Day beaches in Normandy in 1944. In order to speed cargo to the front, trucks emblazoned with red balls followed roads closed to civilian traffic. If it had not been for these brave soldiers, World War II would have been much longer and may have had a different outcome. These men, including Essie B. Easley , were real American heroes.
Sources: 1940 U.S. Census, Tunica County; Military Headstone Applications, 1925-1963; U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records 1938-1946; Wikimedia.org; http://www.history.net.com
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