Mother of Ted Sharpton
Essie Sharpton of Dacula, Georgia, was such a blessing to Clabe and Leora Wilson. Her youngest son was a gunner on the B-25 missing since November 27, 1943.
She began writing information to them as soon as the military revealed in early 1945 the addresses of the families of the six missing crew members. They’d been Missing in Action off Wewak/Boram, New Guinea.
When Mrs. Sharpton learned of the Wilsons’ other losses, she wrote, “Truly you have had more than your share of sorrow in this world conflict–and though my sorrow is great, I’m ashamed to complain. I feel humble and sorrowful in your great sorrow, and I know it could just as easily have been me instead of you. Why, I don’t know, that it was you who lost three instead of me? I don’t feel I deserve the difference. I’m just trying to be thankful and trusting the Lord for guidance, as I know you are or you couldn’t stand up under so much. May He continue to give you the strength of faith and love that it takes to carry one.”
Only combat mission
Yet, there was a hope that the missing crew members might show up, and she was still hoping and trusting that they’d be found. Her son, Willie Ted Sharpton, was added as the sixth crew member, to man a gun.
He was lost on his only combat mission.
“Yet I know I’m not better to give than my Heavenly Father, who sent His only Son to die a horrible death for our sins, and I know He knows best whatever has happened–and I know I must trust to Him for comfort. He’ll bear our burdens if we’ll trust him.”
The week before, a young Air Force man had visited Mrs. Sharpton. Part of the squadron in Europe, whose job was to do a thorough job of searching for MIAs. Just because they’d been presumed dead didn’t mean they’d quit searching for them.
(Later I found evidence that this was true. The records of this crew were compared with evidence found by these search teams, even several years later.)
Mrs. Sharpton said she’d be better satisfied if she could visit New Guinea, and hoped that some day she could, but I don’t think she ever did.
“And though we may never understand why we had to bear these burdens here, we can know in the Great Beyond, and only trust a Higher Power to guide us to a better life.”
She said she was always glad to hear from Leora, and added, “God bless and be with you.
Leora Wilson and Essie Sharpton wrote each other, at least at Christmastime, for decades. What a blessing these two women were for each other through the decades.
After Mrs. Sharpton died in 1982, her daughter continued to send Christmas cards to Leora. After Leora died in 1987, the daughter sent Christmas cards to Dale Wilson’s twin, Darlene Wilson Scar.
Essie Sharpton had nine children, the oldest dying as a baby. Mrs. Sharpton was six months pregnant with her youngest when her husband died suddenly of a heart attack.
I’m still in contact with two great granddaughters of Essie Sharpton.
Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook, also as an audiobook, narrated by Paul Berge.
It’s also the story behind the Wilson brothers featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. All five served. Only two came home.