Francis Eugene Lindsay – Sergeant, United States Army

Francis E. Lindsay
St Francois, Missouri
Born 1929
Sergeant, U.S. Army
Service Number 17195752
Missing in Action – Presumed Dead
Died November 2, 1950 in Korea

Sergeant Lindsay was a member of Company B, 70th Medium Tank Battalion, 24th Infantry Division.

He was listed as Missing in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea on November 2, 1950. He was presumed dead on December 31, 1953.

For his leadership and valor, Sergeant Lindsay was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal.

A military funeral brings family together


Left to right, Betty Ann Shaw, Beulah Pickett, Patricia Sweet, and Evelyn Barry look
on during the funeral for Sgt. Francis Eugene “Gene” Lindsay Thursday.

Betty Ann Shaw's petite frame shivered as she grasped the handrail inside the elevator to keep herself from collapsing under her anticipation.

The doors opened and she saw the aunts she had never met.

“We've been looking for you forever,” said Evelyn Barry of Tuscon, Ariz. Barry, 73, who along with her sisters, Pat Sweet, 70, of Fredricktown, Missouri, and Beulah Pickett, 67, of Shrewsbury, had wondered if this moment would come in time for the burial of their brother, the man they believe is Betty Ann's father.

Betty Ann Shaw is now 57, and her father, Sergeant Francis Eugene Lindsay, was declared missing in action in the Korean War. Last year the military identified his remains, ending years of uncertainty for his sisters.

On Thursday he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In his death, he brought together a daughter he never knew and the sisters who hadn't seen him since their childhood in St. Francois County.

On Memorial Day, the Post-Dispatch published a front page story about the sisters' quest to find their brother's wife and child.

That story sparked the interest of Cyndy Woller of Arnold, a geneology buff. She was able to track down an obituary for Doris Jane Gibson, Lindsay's wife. On January 10, 2004, Doris Jane died from congestive heart failure in New Albany, Indiana, at age 70.

Woller's involvement ultimately led to Betty Ann Shaw, Lindsay's only child and the oldest of Doris Jane Gibson's five children.

Doris Jane Gibson was born in 1933 in Jeffersonville, Indiana. She was the only girl among eight boys.

When she was 15, she married a 19-year-old soldier, Lindsay, at the St. Louis Courthouse.

Lindsay was the only boy from a family of four born in Esther, now part of Park Hills.

Charles Gibson said he doesn't know how his sister met the soldier, whom she called “Gene.”

“I don't think it lasted all that long, and it was a marriage of convenience,” Charles Gibson said.

In 1949, Doris Jane got pregnant and she also met a man named James “Tunney” Hall. She married him and her first child, Betty Ann, was born four months later on January 22, 1950.

Four more children, including a sister and two brothers, came after that. And so did the teasing, Betty Ann said.

“I can remember as a kid, my mother's sisters would tease me and say Tunney isn't your daddy's name, it's Gene,” Betty Ann said. “My mother would always tell them to stop.”

But she never said it wasn't true, Betty Ann added.

In the late 1980s, Tunney Hall was about to undergo heart surgery and was in need of a blood transfusion. Doctors turned to Betty Ann and her siblings for donations. He returned to the waiting room where the siblings had gathered and told them one by one their blood types.

Betty Ann's four younger siblings all had type AB blood. Betty Ann's was O.

In 2002, Doris Jane's heart started to fail, and Betty Ann, along with her daughters, Angel Jackson and Beth Ann Ferree, began spending a lot of time caring for her.

Perhaps sensing her own mortality, Doris spoke to her daughter and granddaughters about her first marriage. But she kept it brief. She said that he was a nice, good-looking boy named Gene and that she received military papers in 1953 saying that he had been presumed dead.

Gene had been assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment when Chinese forces attacked on the night of November 1-2, 1950. After the battle, nearly 400 soldiers from the unit were declared missing or killed in action. Lindsay was declared missing, according to the U.S. Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.

Lindsay's remains were one of 10 discovered in a mass burial site by a farmer living near Unsan, North Korea, in 2000.

On Thursday, Betty Ann Shaw, along with her daughters, were at the grave site in Arlington.

Less than 48 hours before, they had learned that Lindsay was being buried.

They made it to Washington in time for a late-night dinner with the Lindsay sisters. Evelyn Barry pulled the ring that was found at Gene's burial site out of her purse and gave it to Betty Ann.

“It's yours if you want it,” she said.

Betty Ann slipped it on her finger and marveled at the dull and worn gold as if it were a 20-carat diamond. “It fits perfectly.”

Then, Thursday morning, the Lindsay sisters invited Betty Ann to ride in the family's limousine.

Once at Arlington, a military official told Betty Ann that the Army is researching ways to conduct a DNA test to prove whether she is Lindsay's daughter.

She then sat beside the Lindsay sisters in the front four seats next to the casket as tears fell down her face from underneath her sunglasses.

After the ceremony, the sisters each placed a rose on the casket. Betty Ann cradled hers in her arms. She kept her eyes focused on the casket until it disappeared into the ground, then turned back in her seat and began to sob.

“It's just not fair,” she said, as Beulah embraced her. “I never got to know him and I never got to know you. … But I am somebody, I belong to somebody.”

As the families said their goodbyes at the hotel, they promised to keep in touch. “If this is my daddy,” Betty Ann said, “then I've found a new family. And if not, I've found some new friends.”

Paying tribute to a lost hero
A War Mother lays down a wreath for Sgt. Francis Eugene “Gene” Lindsay
Daily Journal Managing Editor
Courtesy of The Daily Journal



Nelda Bleckler, national president of American War Mothers, prays
before placing a wreath on Sergeant Francis Lindsay's grave.

ARLINGTON, Virginia — Her cardinal red cloak and cap stood in stark contrast to the pristine headstones at Arlington National Cemetery on a bitter and blustery day in mid-December. Nelda Bleckler, cold and with tears in her eyes, paid tribute to one of St. Francois County’s lost heroes.

“I even told the President what I was going to do,” Bleckler said. “I told him ‘I’m going to lay a wreath across America for a friend of mine from home.’”

The Desloge woman, now national president of the American War Mothers, participated in Wreaths Across America on December 12, 2009, by placing a wreath on the final resting place of Francis Lindsay.

“They wanted to get a picture of me with my sash, so I had to take my coat off,” Bleckler said. “It was cold and I had some ‘inner-chill bumps,’ but the heart-felt warmth for having the opportunity to lay a wreath for one of our own from our community and for his family helped keep me warm.”

Sergeant Francis Eugene “Gene” Lindsay was an Esther native and was among the 350 missing from the disastrous Battle of Unsan. He was reported missing in action November 2, 1950, in Korea and presumed dead on December 31, 1953.

His family finally realized some amount of closure when his remains were identified in 2006. They had been discovered along with 10 other men in a mass burial site by a farmer living near Unsan, North Korea, in 2000.

Then, in June of 2007, Lindsay’s surviving sisters – Evelyn Barry of Tucson, Arizona, Pat Sweet of Fredericktown, and Beulah Pickett, of Shrewsbury – along with Betty Ann Shaw, a woman they believe to be his daughter, gathered at Arlington to give him the proper burial he so rightly deserved.

Sweet said that although there were never any tests performed to confirm that Betty Ann was her niece, they all believe that she is.

“We were all young when Gene got married, but Mom had to sign for him because he wasn’t 21,” the Fredericktown woman said. “We also know that his wife wrote him while he was in Korea telling him that she was pregnant.”

Sweet said that there had never really been any closure for her family until her brother’s remains were returned to the United States.

“We always wondered if he was alive or dead,” she said. “The not knowing is always the worst. But, they found his body, his dogtags and his ring that Mother gave him when he graduated from high school, so that really gave us closure. That and finding his daughter and his grandchildren.”

Sweet has nothing but wonderful things to say about the Army and the way her brother’s funeral was handled. “They treated us like royalty and gave him a wonderful funeral.”

She also said that she stays in touch with her niece who lives in Jeffersonville, Indiana, by exchanging cards and by phone conversations.

The date was November 1, 1950. The place was near Unsan, North Korea.

In October, officials had almost claimed a certain victory in the Korean Conflict, as it was referred to then. Just four months after the United States sent troops to join forces with the South Koreans and other United Nations forces, it seemed the conflict was over.

There were, however, rumors that Communist Chinese troops were amassing to aid the North Koreans.

Sgt. Francis Eugene Lindsay from Esther, who was attached to the 24th Infantry Division, had been sent to Unsan near the Yalu River.

On November 1, two Chinese divisions suddenly lashed into the unsuspecting troops.

Those who survived reported that the Chinese surprised the Americans near sunset. They raced out of the hills, screaming and blowing their bugles and hurling grenades and firing guns.

Thousands of Chinese were attacking from the north, northwest and the west. Witnesses reported they seemed to come out of nowhere and poured like a “human wave” around the flanks and over the defensive positions.

Within hours, the Americans were falling back into the city of Unsan. As morning dawned on November 2, the Chinese guns fell silent and American troops tried to withdraw. However, a roadblock forced them to abandon their artillery and they fled into the hills in small groups. Only a few survived to tell the story.

The Chinese “human wave” struck again that morning in the same fashion, blowing bugles, screaming and firing shots. They almost immediately overran the command post. Efforts were made to rescue an isolated battalion but with insufficient artillery support and the determined enemy, the attempt was futile.

As the sun began to set, the relief effort was broken off and men were ordered to get out of the trap any way they could. Soldiers broke into small groups and moved out under the cover of darkness. In all, more than 800 men were killed and 350 were missing — including Francis Lindsay.

For his leadership and valor, Sergeant Lindsay was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal.

Wreaths Across America is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization and was formed as an extension of the Arlington Wreath Project. The Arlington Wreath program was started by Morrill Worcester (Worcester Wreath) in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5,000 Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. This became an annual journey for Worcester.

The wreath laying is now held annually on the second Saturday of December.

Bleckler said there were literally thousands of people at the cemetery waiting to lay wreaths when she arrived.

“I was greeted by a Patriot Guard Rider named ‘Trike’ who escorted me up front where I met Mr. (Morrill) Worcester.

“He told me to get my wreath and the commander of the VFW in Washington escorted me to my site (Lindsay’s grave).

“My heart was warm but I was cold on the outside and I just felt that I had done something good for our county. I was crying and I was praying out loud,” Blecker said.


“It was a most moving experience. You just have to experience it to know. I still get emotional thinking about it.”

DATE OF BIRTH: 06/07/1929
DATE OF DEATH: 12/31/1953

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