Marvin Bone Sr.
Marvin Bone Sr. of Madison died December 28, 2012.He was born September 22, 1925 in Bishop. He was the son of Bradford and Annie Evans Bone. Mr. Bone was married to June Conner on August 19, 1950. He was a veteran of the United States Army. He was a member of the 101st Airborne and fought in World War II making 17 jumps. Mr. Bone was retired from Godfrey’s Warehouse and was a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was a Mason and a member of Madison Baptist Church. Mr. Bone was a member of the Cattlemen’s Association and a charter member of the Madison Morgan Cultural Center.
He is survived by his wife June C. Bone and their children, Pamela Bone Whitlock and Dick, Marvin Bone Jr. and Jennifer Bone Cochran; four grandchildren, Ben Whitlock, Laura Whitlock, Mary Ann Cochran and Bo Cochran; and one great-grandchild Mary Bryan Gloer. Mr. Bone was preceded in death by a grandson Bryan Whitlock and a son-in-law Bill Cochran Jr.
The funeral service was held Sunday, Dec. 30, at Madison Baptist Church. Interment followed at Madison City Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to Madison Baptist Church or to the charity of your choice.
A. E. Carter Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Remembering Marvin Bone: “Christmas in war”
The Citizen remembers Marvin Bone with this staff-written piece from our archives, printed in 2004.
Marvin Bone will spend this Christmas in his brick house on Poplar Street. He will be warm and full, stuffed to his proverbial gills with wife June’s annual Christmas brunch, surrounded by decorations and family.
Sixty years ago, he wasn’t as lucky. Bone spent Christmas 1944 cold and surrounded by Nazis. Instead of a Christmas tree, he had unloaded mortar rounds. Instead of his five grandchildren hugging him and giving him gifts, he had fellow members of the 17th and 101st American Airborne division of the U.S. Army huddled in trenches. It was Dec. 25, but Bone wasn’t thinking about wassail, mistletoe or other staples of the season. On Dec. 25, 1944, Marvin Bone was trying to survive the Battle of the Bulge.
He was 19 then, and unlike many boys his age that served in later wars, Bone joined the armed forces of his own volition. While he’d been enlisted for nearly two years, 1944 was his first Christmas abroad with the United States Army. He doesn’t recall warmly reminiscing on that day.
"You’ve got to be on alert," Bone said. "You’re trying to stay alive."
Bone lobbed mortars during the 40-day-long battle, one of his many jobs while in the Army’s employ. He was also a rifleman and a paratrooper, but he said he liked working on the mortar squad the most.
He may have had a favorite job while fighting during World War II, but by no means did Bone enjoy being at war. While he said he wasn’t overly sentimental about Christmas back in his hometown, his mind occasionally wandered back to kudzu and Georgia clay.
"I wondered what people at home were doing," Bone said. "I didn’t think I’d see Madison anymore."
Bastogne, where Bone’s division was surrounded by German troops for a week before reinforcements from the 2nd Armored division arrived, was bitterly cold during the battle. It was a white Christmas, but many men suffered from snowblindness, and the below-freezing temperatures could turn minor wounds like gunshot wounds to the hand into life-threatening injuries. Typically, men don’t want to be wounded during battle, but Bone recalls that less-severe injuries were a ticket home for many soldiers.
"We’d say ‘Lord you’re a lucky booger, because you’re out of this now,’" he said. Bone counted himself lucky if his friends got to go home due to injuries. All too often, they didn’t make it home at all.
"The casualty rate is so high that you learn not to make real close friends," Bone said. "With the casualty rate as it was, nine times out of 10 you or he wasn’t going to make it long."
One of Bone’s friends during the war, a fellow soldier, spotted German troops in a house in Wesel, Germany near the war’s end. The friend signaled that he was going to storm the house through the back, and then Bone was to come in through the front. The friend left. Bone waited.
"It took me a long time to get over that," Bone said quietly.
The weather broke a week after Christmas, just as the men were running out of ammunition and food. Supplies were airlifted into Bone’s camp. Frankincense and myrrh had nothing on bullets and Army rations.
Bone left the Army after shrapnel from a hand grenade embedded in his hand. He spent upwards of nine months in Percy Jones General Hospital in Battle Creek, Mich., recuperating. He almost lost his arm, but today the only residual setback seems to be a slightly gnarled right hand. Bone left home a 17-year-old Georgia Power worker’s kid, but he came back a veteran.
Bone has had his share of happy Christmases. His first Christmas married to June was "the happiest Christmas there ever was," he said. This year, his three children and five grandchildren will all be together in the brick house on Poplar Street. They will call him grandpa, not soldier.
And this one he’ll want to remember.
Printed in the January 10, 2013 edition