Corporal Earl Ervin Perkins served in Headquarters Company and Military Police Platoon, 34th (Red Bull) Infantry Division during the Second World War. Born on 6th June 1912, he was the son of the late Francis Oliver Perkins and the late Verna M. Perkins (née Roper) of Crosby, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Both Perkins’ parents had died before his time in Northern Ireland. On 6th February 1931, Earl had married Ethel Marguerite Yoder in Minnesota, U.S.A. The couple, however, divorced before the onset of the Second World War.
Perkins died on 7th March 1942 aged 30 years old at Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Co. Antrim. The Corporal was the first serving member of the United States Army to die in Northern Ireland. Cause of death was a fatal gunshot wound sustained during a rifle-cleaning exercise. The American infantryman was standing side on, causing the bullet to pass through both lungs.
Burial first took place on 12th March 1942 from Wilton’s Funeral Directors, Crumlin Road, Belfast to Glenalina Extension, ES, 74 of Belfast City Cemetery. The Stars and Stripes draped the Corporal’s coffin on its final journey. It was later sent to his next of kin in the United States of America.
Major De Loss Marken, 34th (Red Bull) Infantry Division Chaplain and Lieutenant Warren Hall conducted the ceremony. Marken, a pastor of College Avenue Christian Church in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.A. paid tribute to Perkins, stating that although he lay in Irish soil, it was a resting place among friends.
A reburial later took place at Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery, Belfast. After the war, Perkins was repatriated to Section C-22, Grave 12742 of Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, U.S.A.