Pfc. Sheldon A. Sherwood
War does not wait for young soldiers to take care of unfinished business. Combat does not choose only those who have already had an opportunity to follow their dreams. No, military conflict pauses the lives of the young who are drafted or who feel the call to serve and strips them away from their livelihoods, their families, their friends, their communities and their goals. Many times, these young people get the chance to go back and pick up where they left off or forge a new path forward. But not all of the time. No, sometimes they come back in coffins draped with flags; their tomorrows ended, their dreams shattered and their families devastated. This was the case for Sheldon Sherwood.
Sheldon Sherwood was born on April 6, 1931 to Gifford and Mildred Sherwood. He grew up in the village of Camillus with his brother Leonard. He could often be found at his father’s drugstore at 70 Main Street; he was known to be a young man with a quiet demeanor who was well-liked by all, especially his friends who congregated at his father’s store. He was a 1950 graduate of Camillus High School and was a member of the Camillus Methodist Church.
After graduation in 1950, Sheldon, noted to be a talented cartoonist who loved to draw, enrolled at Syracuse University’s College of Fine Arts. It can be surmised that this was his American dream, to graduate with a degree and pursue a passion that he greatly loved. But this dream was not to become a reality for Sheldon. Military conflict in war-torn Korea caused Sheldon to put his life and his dreams on hold. He enlisted in the army, joining the service on November 26, 1951 according to a 1952 Post-Standard article. It is stated therein that Sheldon completed his basic training at Fort Indian Town Gap in April of 1952 and was sent off to the fighting in Korea in May. The article cites Sheldon’s assignment as a Browning automatic rifleman with the 25th Division, 35th Infantry Regiment.
Once in Korea, it was not long before this Camillus native saw some pretty serious action. In June of 1952, Sheldon was wounded in the right arm and hospitalized; military records indicate that he underwent surgery for a compound fracture of the upper extremity resulting from explosive projectile shells from guns, mortars or other weaponry. He was luckily able to recover quickly from his injury and was released from the hospital and returned to general duty with his unit in July. Sheldon was not so lucky later in the summer; he was again wounded while on combat patrol duty near Mundung-Ni Valley, in the area known as “Heartbreak Ridge” on August 2nd of 1952 and was again hospitalized. It was fitting that this second casualty occurred in a place called Heartbreak, because that was what his family inevitably would suffer when they learned of his death at the 8209th Army Mobile Surgical Hospital on August 10th as a result of his wounds received from a missile.
Sheldon’s family would receive one final letter from their beloved son; according to a Post-Standard article Sheldon was carrying on his person the last letter he penned to his family at the time he was wounded and evacuated. It was apparently found at the hospital and forwarded by army personnel to Camillus. Because of these efforts, Mr. and Mrs. Sherwood were given the gift of reading the last words their son left on this earth.
Sheldon’s remains were shipped back to U.S. soil aboard the Baylor Victory along with those of another soldier from the Tupper Lake area; they were expected to arrive in San Francisco on September 25, 1952. Sheldon’s body reached Camillus on Saturday, October 11th. A funeral was held for him at the Camillus Methodist Church the following Monday with American Legion Post 1540 and VFW Post 8664 taking charge of military rites. Sheldon was honored with several military commendations; the Combat Infantry Badge, two Purple Hearts, the Korean Service Medal and the U.N. Service Medal. He was laid to rest in his family’s plot in North Norwich Cemetery in Chenango County. His father and mother joined him there in eternal rest in 1994 and 2004 respectively.
Thank you, Sheldon, for your service and your sacrifice.
Index record for Sheldon A Sherwood (1931). Korean War Casualties. Fold3 Ancestry
Sheldon A Sherwood. Findagrave.com
Sherwood, Sheldon A. U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954. Sherwood, Sheldon A in U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954 - Fold3
Syracuse Post Standard Newspaper Archives August 20, 1952 Page 9. Access Newspaper Archive Institutional Version | Viewer (oclc.org).
Syracuse Post Standard Newspaper Archives September 25, 1952 Page 15. Access Newspaper Archive Institutional Version | Viewer (oclc.org).