Korea vet celebrates 80th birthday with family and friends

Published 12:53 am Sunday, September 6, 2009

I think most would agree turning 80 is a milestone. It certainly is an accomplishment worthy of recognition. The Korean War generation is now turning the trick.

Korean War veteran and former Dallas County Commissioner James S. “Whet” Wilkinson celebrated a belated No. 80 Saturday, Aug. 22. Family, friends and fellow Korean War veterans turned out for a barbeque at Whet and Joyce Wilkinson’s home near Carlowville to celebrate the occasion.

There was a bounty of good food and plenty of fellowship.

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Whet Wilkinson has a long list of accomplishments to back up his age. The Lord has blessed him with a warm personality, a big heart and generosity beyond description.

He is quick to point out how blessed he has been and how much pleasure he takes in serving the Lord.

Wilkinson was a member of the local National Guard unit when the Korean War began. They were called to active duty and departed by train from Selma to Fort Jackson, S.C.

Tank commanders were in short supply in Korea and Wilkinson was the first pulled from the Selma guard unit to go. He arrived in Korea in August, 1951, and recalls the bitter fighting for the ridges in and around Old Baldy. As a tank commander, he experienced first-hand the hardships of those fighting and dying in Korea.

Upon returning in 1952, Whet Wilkinson and Joyce Hewston joined hands in holy matrimony to begin their journey through life together.

At this time, Wilkinson began a farming business that later developed into a successful sod farm in Dallas County. He found time away from farming to serve as a Dallas County commissioner and became a charter member of the Craig Field Airport and Industrial Authority Board of Directors, a position he held until his recent retirement. But, Whets’ greatest satisfaction is from serving his church and community. He points to Shiloh Baptist Church where he has served in many positions including the chairmanship of the Deacon Board as his most rewarding endeavors.

Whet and Joyce Wilkinson are two of the most generous people I know. They have been blessed and in turn blessed others. Surrounded by their children, Stan, Emmett (Terri), and Melissa (Keith), seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren, thanksgiving and respects were paid to the Wilkinson patriarch on his 80th birthday.

Wishing a great American patriot, James S. “Whet” Wilkinson, many more to come.