Alva John Ferrel | TSLN.com

Alva John Ferrel

1918-2008

Alva Ferrel (89) passed away on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, at his home four miles west of Hay Springs, Nebraska, with his wife at his side. Memorial services were Saturday, July 26, 2008, at the Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron, Nebraska with Reverend Alvin Trucano officiating.

He was born Alva John Ferrel on October 6, 1918, six miles north of Hay Springs, Nebraska to Harley J. and Anna “Mary” (Phillips) Ferrel. He was the oldest of three children, and was known affectionately as “Alvie” or “A.J.”

He attended grade school at Lone Star, Beaver Valley, Pleasant Valley and Hay Springs, and graduated from Hay Springs High School in 1937.

His family milked cows, and A.J. was often late for school, after having helped his father with the milking and separating, then delivering the milk and cream to customers in Hay Springs. The school janitor would sometimes stall before ringing the bell, so Al wasn’t officially late.

Always the practical joker, Alvie delighted in connecting a battery to the springs under the seat of his Model T and shocking his passengers, including a teacher who rewarded him with a slap.

He worked on the Modisett Ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills for a time. He and his life-long friend, George Brown picked potatoes in Idaho, and in 1937 worked for the Wyoming Tie and Timber Company on the tie drive. Al carried the heavy railroad ties to the water, then floated them down the 100-mile channel of the Wind River to the tie yard in Riverton, Wyoming. A crew of 30 men brought in about 300,000 railroad ties and 30,000 fence posts within 30 days. Al was the youngest man on the crew at that time, and he said that was the toughest job he ever took on.

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In early 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He helped put up barbed wire on the beaches of Pearl Harbor and was one of the first army troops to arrive in Guadalcanal. There he was involved in hand-to-hand combat, and served as a sharp shooter. At that time, A.J. and seven others were the only survivors, out of approximately 36 soldiers in the 27th Infantry C Company. The rest were killed in combat. He also drove army jeeps transporting ammunition and fought in the Philippine and Fiji Islands. In his spare time, he worked unofficially as a barber, and kept a monkey as a pet. He contracted malaria and pneumonia, lost part of his vision in one eye when hit with shrapnel, and sustained a back injury. He was awarded two purple hearts and one bronze stars. He was honorably discharged and arrived home on October 5, 1945, one day before his 27th birthday.

One of Al’s army buddies, Percival Hankins, was killed on Guadalcanal. After returning home, Al visited Hankins’ family, where he met Perc’s little sister, Doris Ferne Hankins, and they were married on September 11, 1946. Doris was the daughter of Homer and Delilah “Lila” (Bomar) Hankins. Alvie and Doris had three children: Diane, Alan and Deloris.

They raised the first Charolais cross cattle in the area, and farmed near Cody, Nebraska for a short time, then west of Hay Springs for the next 60 years.

He and Doris enjoyed traveling and seeing the country. A.J. made seven trips to Alaska and visited most of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and New Zealand. He enjoyed visiting with family and friends, and always enjoyed a good laugh.

In his younger years he was a dare devil, experiencing numerous horse accidents and motorcycle wrecks. In 2007, he suffered a stroke, but maintained his general health.

Alva Ferrel (89) passed away on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, at his home four miles west of Hay Springs, Nebraska, with his wife at his side. Memorial services were Saturday, July 26, 2008, at the Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron, Nebraska with Reverend Alvin Trucano officiating.

He was born Alva John Ferrel on October 6, 1918, six miles north of Hay Springs, Nebraska to Harley J. and Anna “Mary” (Phillips) Ferrel. He was the oldest of three children, and was known affectionately as “Alvie” or “A.J.”

He attended grade school at Lone Star, Beaver Valley, Pleasant Valley and Hay Springs, and graduated from Hay Springs High School in 1937.

His family milked cows, and A.J. was often late for school, after having helped his father with the milking and separating, then delivering the milk and cream to customers in Hay Springs. The school janitor would sometimes stall before ringing the bell, so Al wasn’t officially late.

Always the practical joker, Alvie delighted in connecting a battery to the springs under the seat of his Model T and shocking his passengers, including a teacher who rewarded him with a slap.

He worked on the Modisett Ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills for a time. He and his life-long friend, George Brown picked potatoes in Idaho, and in 1937 worked for the Wyoming Tie and Timber Company on the tie drive. Al carried the heavy railroad ties to the water, then floated them down the 100-mile channel of the Wind River to the tie yard in Riverton, Wyoming. A crew of 30 men brought in about 300,000 railroad ties and 30,000 fence posts within 30 days. Al was the youngest man on the crew at that time, and he said that was the toughest job he ever took on.

In early 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He helped put up barbed wire on the beaches of Pearl Harbor and was one of the first army troops to arrive in Guadalcanal. There he was involved in hand-to-hand combat, and served as a sharp shooter. At that time, A.J. and seven others were the only survivors, out of approximately 36 soldiers in the 27th Infantry C Company. The rest were killed in combat. He also drove army jeeps transporting ammunition and fought in the Philippine and Fiji Islands. In his spare time, he worked unofficially as a barber, and kept a monkey as a pet. He contracted malaria and pneumonia, lost part of his vision in one eye when hit with shrapnel, and sustained a back injury. He was awarded two purple hearts and one bronze stars. He was honorably discharged and arrived home on October 5, 1945, one day before his 27th birthday.

One of Al’s army buddies, Percival Hankins, was killed on Guadalcanal. After returning home, Al visited Hankins’ family, where he met Perc’s little sister, Doris Ferne Hankins, and they were married on September 11, 1946. Doris was the daughter of Homer and Delilah “Lila” (Bomar) Hankins. Alvie and Doris had three children: Diane, Alan and Deloris.

They raised the first Charolais cross cattle in the area, and farmed near Cody, Nebraska for a short time, then west of Hay Springs for the next 60 years.

He and Doris enjoyed traveling and seeing the country. A.J. made seven trips to Alaska and visited most of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and New Zealand. He enjoyed visiting with family and friends, and always enjoyed a good laugh.

In his younger years he was a dare devil, experiencing numerous horse accidents and motorcycle wrecks. In 2007, he suffered a stroke, but maintained his general health.

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