Corporal Earl Ervin Perkins served in the US Army during World War Two. Born on 6th June 1912, he was the son of the late Frances Oliver Perkins and the late Verna Mae Perkins (née Roper) of Crosby, Minnesota.
On 7th March 1942, Perkins became the first serving member of the United States Army to die in Northern Ireland. He died aged 30 years old in Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Co. Antrim after a fatal accident during rifle-cleaning operations. The American infantryman was standing sideways when hit, causing the bullet to pass through both lungs.
The Corporal was an unmarried man and both parents had passed away. He had married Ethel Marguerite Yoder in Minnesota on 6th February 1937 but the couple divorced before the onset of war. Therefore, the US Army made the decision to bury him in Northern Ireland. On 12th March 1942, his funeral took place from Wiltons’ Funeral Directors, Crumlin Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
A coffin draped in the American flag proceeded to Glenalina Extension, Section ES, Grave 74 of Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Division Chaplain Major De Loss Marken and Lieutenant Warren Hall conducted the ceremony attended by other members of the company.
Major Marken from College Avenue Christian Church, Des Moines, Iowa paid tribute to Corporal Perkins. He said that although the US military man’s body lay in Irish soil, it was a resting place among friends. After the burial, authorities sent the flag on the Perkins’ next of kin.
American authorities repatriated all US service personnel buried in Belfast City Cemetery to a new site at Lisnabreeny American Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Down. Following the closure of the Lisnabreeny burial ground, Earl Ervin Perkins’ body returned to Minnesota, USA.