Episode 8 - The First Casualty

(10 November 1977)
Writer: Andy White.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage.

 

"In the fall of 1939 the people on Waltons Mountain were becoming increasingly affected by the spreading war in Europe. In our family and others, despite our rural isolation it was to cause immediate and profound change".

 

Ike motorcycles pass John, Grandpa, and Jason at the mill without stopping to say his usual Ďhelloí. He stops at the Willardís to deliver a letter from the War Department. Curt has been called up to active duty much to the shock and anger of Mary Ellen. Curt tells the family he will be commissioned a first lieutenant at Fort Lee. Jim Bob talks about flying in the war but Olivia is disturbed at the possible thought of her son in the military. She hopes Curt will understand when she does not see him off after earlier vowing never to see another family member off to war. On Monday, after Curt says good-bye to the family at the Rockfish bus station, Erin sees G.W. arrive home on leave from the army.

 

At the Dew Drop Inn, Yancy gets a back rub from Sissy while Horace drinks a beer and Jason plays the piano. G.W. and another soldier arrive at the bar and sit with Yancy and Horace. A war report suddenly blares from the radio. Yancy realizes how close the war is coming to their home shores, declares, ĎIím goiní to fight the Huns!í, and asks Sissy to marry him. Yancy prepares for his entrance into the military by asking Ben to take care of his animals while he is gone and getting hitched at the Baptist church. Rev. Buchanan officiates at the ceremony while Corabeth is the soloist, Ben is the best man, and Thelma is the maid-of-honor. The wedding is only slightly interrupted when Rev. Buchanan asks if anyone has any reason to prevent this marriage from taking place. Yancy looks around at the congregation knowing he only has a few precious moments left in his bachelorhood. But no one speaks up and Yancy and Sissy are married.

 

Erin and G.W. talk about his experiences at Camp Lee. He tells Erin how he feels about the land, his religious beliefs, and his country. Erin knows G.W. does not really want to return to Camp Lee. She feels guilty thinking that she was the reason he joined the military in the first place.

 

Yancy is given a big send-off by the town folks complete with music played by slightly inebriated members of the marching band. Before stepping on the bus G.W. tells Erin that he loves her and kisses her. On the bus ride back to camp, G.W. writes a letter to Erin and (for some unknown reason) a letter to John.

 

Feeling lonely without Curt near her, Olivia and John find Mary Ellen quietly crying while rocking their grandson. They ask her to stay with them until Curt returns home. Mary Ellen gladly accepts the offer. After settling back into the Waltonís house, Mary Ellen decides to travel to visit her husband. It has been a long time since a baby was in the house, but Olivia and John gladly take care of John Curtis while their oldest daughter is gone.

 

As John loads sacks into the back of the truck, the bus returns with Yancy inside. He sees John and asks him to sneak him out of town. Yancy tells John he is embarrassed about being rejected by the army for flat feet and for being over the age of thirty-two years. Returning home, he is also shocked to find that his new wife has redecorated his shack with a womanís touch and removed his beloved animals to the out-of-doors.

 

Mary Ellenís returns home early to tell Olivia, John, and Erin the sad news that G.W. was killed in a training exercise at Camp Lee. Erin listens with shock and disbelief. Curt and John drive the body back to the Hainesí. John tells Curt to relate the whole story of how G.W. was killed so the Waltons children realize what horrible consequences can happen from war. In the morning, the family prepares to attend G.W.ís funeral but Erin suddenly says she can not bear to go and runs off. While Rev. Buchanan speaks about how Waltons Mountain has given up one of its fine, young men, John leaves to find Erin. He finds her and reads the letter that G.W. wrote to him. The letter is a will in which G.W. bequeaths to Erin the bottomland acreage that his parents gave to him. He states that he knows Erin will love it and protect it.

 

GW's letter to Erin Ė

 

Dear Erin,
I'm writing this on the bus after we said goodbye at Rockfish. I'm returning to Camp Lee and whatever Fate may bring. This for legal purposes is a Will - I, George William Haines, on this date do bequeath to you, Erin Walton, the bottom land acreage given to me by my parents and recorded in the Jefferson County Hall of Records. I know you will love it and protect it. Thankyou for sharing my thoughts and my dreams. GW

 

"That first casualty brought the war home to our mountain. There were to be many more sacrifices during the long war years ahead, but GW Haines was remembered most especially because he was the first from our area to give the fullest measure of his devotion".

 

Elizabeth: Where's Erin?
Olivia: She's outside.
Elizabeth: Is she alone?
Olivia: I don't think so. Goodnight Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Goodnight Mama.

 

Notes:

G.W. stands for George William.

The first name of G.W. Hainesí father is George.

The first name of G.W.ís mother is Louise.

The name of G.W.ís horse is Red.

Jasonís car (that was passed down from John Boy) has license plates 46-4072 Virginia.

The Willardís truck license plates are 56-7203 Virginia.

 

Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); G.W. Haines (David Doremus); George Haines (Lin McCarthy); Louise Haines (Jean Allison); Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner); Sissy (Cissy Wellman); Horace Brimley (A. Wilford Brimley); Thelma (Dorothy Shay); Rev. Hank Buchanan (Peter Fox); Curt Willard (Tom Bower); Mickey (David Dotson); The Radio Announcer (Art Gilmore).