Wake up with a Smile

Join our newsletter

Georgia Songwriter Pens “Powerful” Ballad Inspired By WWII Hero’s Gravestone: Listen


This Memorial Day, songwriter Craig Gleason is remembering the WWII hero who inspired his song, The Ballad of Ervin O. Jones.

Craig remembered his 2014 project with Fox News on May 26th. The Georgia native said he felt compelled to pen the lyrics after he and his daughter stumbled upon Ervin O. Jones’ tombstone in Alpharetta.

The songwriter had taken his then 12-year-old daughter, Audrey, to an old churchyard cemetery for a homeschool field trip to study local history. After the gravesite caught their eyes, they decided to research the man behind the name.

“When you homeschool your children, you use real-life experiences, every place you go and everyone you meet, as a learning experience,” he said. “I told Audrey, you can learn a lot from these tombstones.” 

When Craig and his daughter began digging into the past of U.S. Army PFC Ervin O. Jones, he was haunted by the history. Craig, who teaches songwriting to veterans during country singer Zac Brown’s Warrior Week, felt called to put PFC Jones’ tale to music. So he set out to learn more.

“It’s a powerful story, man,” he said. “It’s powerful.”

The Young WWII Soldier Died A Hero

Craig learned that the soldier’s younger brother, Curtis, was still alive and living in the neighboring town of Canton, so he paid him a visit.

“Curtis was living in a little trailer out in the woods,” he remembered. “And I knocked on his door and introduced myself. I said, ‘I’m writing a song about your brother Ervin’ and asked if we could talk.”

“Curtis was like old-school backwoods Georgia—real salt of the Earth,” he continued. “He invited me in, and for the next three or four hours in his living room he pulled out artifacts, pictures, and an old guitar that Ervin owned.” 

PFC Jones died during the Battle of Okinawa on April 17, 1945, at only 20 years old. The farmboy and his brother grew up in poverty and spent their free time bonding over their shared musical passions.

Curtis noted that his big brother died a hero, and shared a letter written to his mother by PFC Jones’ commanding officer, Capt. William B. Cooper.

“His courage and aggressiveness in this action was truly an inspiration to the officers and men in his company,” it read.

Craig Gleason also pointed out the agony wartime deaths caused for families. The soldier’s parents never recovered from his death and carried the loss until their own dying days.

“The pain of the loss of their firstborn son Ervin never went away and they grieved until they died,” PFC Jones’ nephew and his wife, John and Judy Jones told Craig via text this week.

Learn more about the fallen WWII hero by watching the video for The Ballad of Ervin O. Jones.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.