Jefferson County Veteran of the Month for June: Ernest McBride
From the Jefferson County Veteran's Service Office
Ernest L. McBride was born at Milford, Nebraska into the Jarvis Family on February 28, 1933, and was adopted by his Step-Father in June, 1947. Like many Korean era veterans, he grew up in a rural environment. The family originally owned and operated a ranch in the Brewster, Nebraska area and Ernest attended rural grade school in German Valley not far from Brewster. The family later bought a farm south of Ainsworth, Nebraska where Ernest attended high school and graduated in 1952.
In those days jobs were scarce and Ernest joined the US Air Force for a roof over his head and three-square meals a day. He was proud of his military service and spent most of his two years, 11 months and 24 days of service working in Germany and France.
Most of his military duty in communication was uneventful; however, on one occasion when his unit moved to a new location in Germany his commanding officer asked him to set up communications between his office and the motor pool where all the military equipment was stored and maintained. Ernest went to work with his handset on the main switchboard and noted that every time he activated one of the switches a siren sounded. He had set off the base alarm.
Sometime later when Ernest went before the promotion board the same officer who had asked him to set up the communications to the motor pool reminded him that he never did get back to his cup of coffee and doughnut. Ernest’s good-natured response was, “A Soldier is supposed to be prepared to be on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week.” For some reason Ernest thought because of this base alarm incident he carried a bulls-eye on his back.
A considerable time went by and when it was time to report for one last payday before returning the US, the payroll office inquired why he had not seen Ernest around for quite some time. Ernest’s good-natured response was, “I have been keeping a low profile.”
Sergeant First Class McBride was released from active-duty September 2, 1956, at Fort Air Base, Topeka, Kansas. His medals include: Occupational Medal (Germany), National Defense Medal and Good Conduct Medal. He immediately began working at Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas before marrying his wife, Luella, in 1958. Over the years while raising two girls and two boys Ernest worked on a ranch in Brown County for one year, farmed with his dad for two years and returned to Wichita, Kansas to work in a gas station before eventually moving back to an acreage near Harbine, Nebraska where all four children learned good work ethics and graduated from Fairbury High School. Ernest worked many years at OK Tire Company in Beatrice, Nebraska until they sold out. When asked about all of his moves and jobs he good-naturedly replied, “I was always in trouble with a neighbor, and one of us had to move.”
Ernest lost his wife in years past and in spite of some health concerns he enjoys living in his own home in Plymouth, Nebraska with family support. He will become a 50-year continuous member of the Beatrice American Legion in 2022. His military uniform can be seen on display at the Fairbury Museum. Four of his five brothers who were eligible to serve and a nephew have all served their Country. When occasionally reminiscing about what life would have been like had he remained in the military, it is obvious that he would not trade any military experiences for his family who mean the world to him.