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John William Calvert, Jr

  • Birth 7 Dec 1928 Abbeville, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
  • Death 3 Feb 1958 Sumter, Sumter County, South Carolina, USA
  • Burial Abbeville, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
  • Memorial ID 86785628

Funeral Services were held here last Friday afternoon for 1st Lt. John William Calvert, Jr., 29, son of Mrs. Harriet Coan Clavert and the late John W. Calvert, Sr., from the Abbeville Presbyterian Church of which he was a member. He was born Dec. 7, 1928.

The services were conducted by the Rev. B. Herman Dillard and the Rev. William H. Kryder of Graham, N.C., former pastor of the church. Burial with full military honors was in Long Cane Cemetery. Active pallbearers were members of the 515th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Charleston Air Force Base.

Lt. Calvert was attached to that squadron at the time of his fatal crash in mid-air on Feb. 3 while on a tactical flight.

The honor guard was composed of Air Force Officers and men from the Donaldson Air Force Base at Greenville, S.C..

Besides his mother, he is survived by one sister, Mrs. Jerry (Harriett) E. Dempsey of Atlanta GA and several nieces and nephews.

Lt. Calvert was a graduate of West Point in the Class of 1953. He graduated from Abbeville High School in the Class of 1946 and attended Clemson College before receiving at appointment to the Acadelmy.

Source: The Abbeville Press & Banner, Feb. 13, 1958

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John W Calvert Jr tribute by Montecue J. Lowry
John W. Calvert, Jr. 1953
Cullum No. 19490 • Feb 03, 1958 • Died in Shaw AFB
Interred Long Cane Cemetery, Abberville, SC

John William Calvert Jr., was a true son of South Carolina, a southern gentleman and a Clemson man who enjoyed life to the fullest. The first time that I saw John was when he responded to a First Classman yelling, "Mr. Calvert!" That was on the first day of July 1949 when the Class of 1953 entered the awesome ordeal of Beast Barracks. I remember John during the summer of 1949 as a new cadet with a big smile on his face, a bandage on the back of his neck covering a boil, and his thick southern drawl which he most carefully and deliberately cultivated to the fullest and finest degree.

I got to know John rather well during Plebe year, mostly on our Saturday night visits to the quarters of Chaplain and Mrs. Frank Pulley. The Pulleys were friends that John loved dearly, and he became quite close to them during his four years at West Point.

John was a camera bug, fond of pictures, and during the first year at West Point he bought an Argus C-3 camera which he and I used quite frequently. Due to his interest in pictures and several visits with him to White Studio, I managed to obtain a fair collection of snapshots of our West Point days. Many of these captured John in his usual jovial mood at the various points of interest around the Plain.

As a Plebe John got more than his share of demerits and spent a few tours on the area. His favorite antic during Plebe year was to create a situation in which an upper classman would ask him who some South Carolina dignitary was. I recall two instances in which the reply by John was: “Jimmy Byrnes,” and “Strom Thurman,” respectively. The upper class response was, “Mr. Calvert, has he recognized you?” John very proudly answered: “Yes sir.”

At the end of Plebe year, some of the new Yearlings were looking around for roommates for the next year. John asked me if I would like to room with him, George Haas and Tom Spinner. The four of us became roommates for the remainder of our cadet years.

John was always a highly congenial person with a friendly word for everyone. I do not remember him ever being angry at anyone. I have also seen him very concerned and serious, especially when he was turned out in mathematics in December of Yearling year and the time he went to bat for a Plebe who had been falsely accused of an honor violation. On both of these occasions, I observed John’s Christian faith in action at its maximum mobilization. He not only sought spiritual help, but he was very active in doing everything possible himself to improve the situation as rapidly as possible.”

At the end of Plebe year, John asked me to visit him and his family en route to my home for summer leave. This I did. We flew from Stewart Field to South Carolina in a C-47 piloted by Dick Phillips’ father. When I met John’s family, I discovered a close family group who practiced the southern hospitality about which John so frequently bragged. During my short visit in Abbeville, South Carolina, I got to know a few of the people that John grew up with. While on this visit, I went with John to Clemson where he had been a senior prior to entering West Point. He was really a Clemson fan. During football season, much to our irritation, he seemed to be more interested in the Clemson scores than the Army scores. His loyalty to Clemson was so great that he arranged to obtain a Clemson class ring which he wore for three years at West Point just as proudly as he later wore his West Point ring.

A sad moment occurred when I returned from Christmas leave of Yearling year. As customary, many of us met in the Hotel Astor in New York City the night before returning to West Point. When I saw John on that December 31, he greeted me with the phrase: "Big John is not with us any more.” Big John, his father, had died of a heart attack while John was on Christmas leave. Although saddened, John still enjoyed that last day of freedom before returning to West Point. We managed to work our way out into the middle of Times Square that night to welcome in the new year.

John was never overly concerned with grades; however, there were a few times when he became unusually interested in some particular academic subject. Needless to say, the time that he was turned out in mathematics was of great interest to him. He passed the examination and he wore his star with great pride thereafter. He loved the course in History of the Military Art, and he devoted a great deal of his time to the study of that subject, mostly in the hallway after taps. The one time that he became highly concerned with his grades was Yearling year in his Portuguese class. He did well in Portuguese, and he and George dropped a few Portuguese phrases around the room from time to time. On one occasion, John was doing especially well and for some reason was watching the grades in his section rather closely. He became concerned because he believed that the native Portuguese instructor had mistaken him for another cadet and had given them each other’s grades. John fussed and fumed about this for several days; he was sure that he had done much better than the other cadet and that he had been given the wrong grade. John finally went to an American language instructor who informed him that the grades were correct. John accepted this and never during the remainder of his cadet days said another word about grades.

John was a true human being. He loved classical music, the Old South, cigarettes, and an occasional drink. He especially enjoyed the one occasion when Tom Spinner, returning from leave, surreptitiously brought in a bottle of hard spirits which they hid and nipped on for a week or so after taps each night.

During one summer leave, John visited Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where George Haas father was commanding the 200th Infantry Regiment of the “Dixie Division.” This unit was right down John’s alley. To John it was not only a true representation of his beloved South, but there was an added attraction. George’s next door neighbor in Mobile, Yolonde Betbeze, had recently been crowned Miss America for 1951. She was the pride of the regiment, and John came back to West Point with a file of pictures of himself and Miss America. He proudly perused those pictures for several months thereafter.

In 1951 while on the Combined Arms trip during the Fort Knox visit, we were allowed out for the weekend. John went to Louisville with the Haas family. While getting out of the car on a Louisville street, John was struck by a speeding car and suffered a broken pelvis. I visited him in the Fort Knox Hospital at which time he still had that big smile on his face. He never expressed any pain or sadness at all. He spent the summer on convalescent leave and returned to West Point in September as good as new.

John had a good voice, and when the Chapel Organist auditioned to see who would sing in the Chapel choir, John’s “Glory to God...” immediately received a “yes” from Mr. Mayer. John was a member of the choir for four years and he enjoyed it fully. His love of music also led to his becoming an active member of the Record Lending Library which he supervised rather closely for a couple of years.

As all graduates know. West Point is full of incidents which are not in themselves amusing, but due to the atmosphere and the juxtaposition of the incongruous, these episodes immediately become very funny. During Cow year, in an electricity laboratory one morning, John had wired his experiment, had it checked out, and was given a good grade. In taking his wiring apart, he did not bother to turn off the juice. He reached up with both hands and simultaneously pulled out the leads connecting the positive and negative terminals. At noon, he was full of excited talk about the "1000 volt jolt” which he had received across the shoulders and proudly displayed burn marks on his two forefingers. Fortunately, the amperage was quite low and John survived.

John was not a natural athlete nor did he try to be one. He did, however, enjoy sports and being around athletes. He always did well on the annual physical training test. He was also successful as the manager of the fencing team, and he became somewhat of an expert on the rules and the techniques of that sport.

John was an avid reader; he always read the New York Times from cover to cover and could talk freely and with great knowledge about the numerous international and national events of the day. His reading included many books.

During First Class year, we all talked about branch selection. To some this was not an easy decision to make, but John never had any doubt about it—he was going into the Air Force. He very carefully selected his uniforms, and we kidded him about the tremendous waist size of the Air Force overcoat. All of this he took quite well, even the accusation that he looked like a “bus driver.” John selected the Air Force. At graduation, his mother, his sister, and his current "one and only” came up to West Point. John had bought new Pontiac and had great enjoyment in driving his family around West Point in that new car.

I never saw John again after graduation nor did I ever hear from him. He went into the Air Force and became a fighter pilot. In December 1953 while at Fort Benning, Jack Morton and I drove up to Abbeville, South Carolina, one weekend, but no one was home at the Calvert house. In the spring of 1958 while on the staff and faculty of The Infantry School, I was told by Chuck that John had been killed at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. I immediately wrote to the Commanding General of Shaw for the details. The reply indicated that John, flying an F-86, had a mid-air collision with another jet. He ejected, but his parachute did not open.

—Montecue J. Lowry

https://apps.westpointaog.org/Memorials/Article/19490/


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  • Maintained by: James Marvin Williams, Jr
  • Originally Created by: Record Hunter
  • Added: 15 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 86785628
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John William Calvert, Jr (7 Dec 1928–3 Feb 1958), Find A Grave Memorial no. 86785628, citing Upper Long Cane Cemetery, Abbeville, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by James Marvin Williams, Jr (contributor 46526427) .