Fallen Heroes: Private Roy W. Emhoff

Korean Conflict. Men covering up behind rocks to shield themselves.

This Tuscarawas County fallen hero’s coal mining family lost their first son to illness before his eighteenth birthday and, exactly twenty years later, lost their second son on a far-off battlefield.

The Emhoff family arrived in Philadelphia from Switzerland in 1837. There were four children in the family and, among them, was a son named Nicholas Emhoff (1817-1913). Like many immigrants before and after them the Emhoff family moved westward and, after brief stops in West Virginia, settled in the coal country of Ohio. Nicholas married Anna Bayha (1823-1880) around 1840 and the couple started a family in Belmont County, Ohio where Nicholas made his living as Hostler in nearby Wheeling, West Virginia (then Virginia).

Nicholas and Anna had eight children born between 1842 and 1865; six sons and two daughters. One of those sons, George Emhoff (1858-1932), married Louise Fennell (1852-1927) in Belmont County in 1884. At the time of his marriage George was working as a farm laborer on the farms of his family’s neighbors in Belmont County. George and Louise’s family grew as they welcomed eight children between 1886 and 1909, forcing George to look for better paying work elsewhere. George found that work in, and around, the community of Midvale, Tuscarawas County, where he worked odd jobs and mined coal.

Entrance to Midvale Goshen Coal Co, mine No 7, c. 1935. (Source: https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll34/id/9495)

One of George and Louise’s sons, Lawrence Emhoff (1892-1956), started working at the Royal Sewer Pipe Works in Midvale before he was 17 years old. Lawrence married Bertha Newton in 1920 and the couple rented a house in Midvale where they started their own family. Lawrence moved on to coal mining to support the family of two sons and two daughters by 1930. Tragedy struck the family a year later when their eldest son, Howard Emhoff (1913-1931), caught pneumonia in the spring of 1931 and died at the age of 18.

Their second son, and their youngest child, Roy William Emhoff (1928-1951) was born only a few years before his brother’s death. His age made him too young to serve during World War Two so, after leaving school, he found work at the Quimby Bakery in Uhrichsville. He worked there for six years and, while there, learned to be a baker. Roy had, when he turned 18 in 1946, dutifully registered for the draft. He was selected for service two years later and joined the United States Army in the fall of 1950.

The 24th Infantry Division on the march in Korea, 1951. (Source: https://history.army.mil/html/books/020/20-4/index.html)

After he completed basic training Roy was sent to the Army Baking School at Camp Carson, Colorado. The war in Korea started to intensify and Private Emhoff was reassigned to a combat unit. Private Emhoff joined his new unit, the 5th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) of the 24th Infantry Division, in April 1951 just before a major offensive by the North Koreans and Chinese. That enemy offensive drove the American line to the south side of the Han River. The night of May 17, 1951 25,000 enemy troops pushed south down the Pukhan River towards the town of Masogu-ri, and directly into Private Emhoff’s company of the 5th RCT.

Private Emhoff, two days into the enemy assault and exactly twenty years after the death of his older brother, was killed in action by an North Korean mortar round. A number of men from Private Emhoff’s company were also killed in the May 19th battle, including the company’s Lieutenant and a Sergeant, both of whom were decorated for bravery. After three days of brutal warfare, some of it hand-to-hand, the enemy’s advance was finally checked. The 5th RCT’s stand that day in May 1950 blunted any further enemy advance. Private Roy Emhoff is buried at Evergreen Burial Park, New Philadelphia.

Private Roy William Emhoff’s headstone at Evergreen Burial Park, New Philadelphia. (Source: findagrave.com)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.

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