About John D Eiland Jr.:
World War II as seen by Steve Duncan, a crewchief with the 71st.
Excerpt from Steve Duncan's letter
to Joan Eiland after "Big John" Eiland died
"I think an honest characterization of Big John would
say he had a natural feeling and caring for people, he loved joshing others, lots of horse play and
was full of fun. Big John was courageous and dedicated to the well being of his comrades of all ranks,
officers and enlisted men alike.:"
" Big John was a man among men and a leader among leaders.
Nothing phony, what you saw is what you got."
"Big John was a hunk in today's street vernacular
in describing his physique. While about six foot plus tall, he was trim and I would guess about 200
pounds in weight. He had black wavy hair, an ever present beautiful smile, a twinkle in eyes and that
great charm and slow drawl of a southern gentlemen. Everything that Big John was in physique and looks,
Captain Hickman was just the opposite. Captain Hickman usually went to Washington D.C. on week ends
and he took Big John along as his co-pilot in the First Fighter Group's C-40. It was rumored that Big
John was along because Captain Hickman was using Big John to draw the ladies."
"Big John used
to enthrall the crew with stories of riding around in his red convertible with the top down to impress
the girls. It was easy to visualize the picture he would be painting verbally with lots of laughter
About Thelma S Showker:
Thelma S. Eiland, 86, of 3935 Sunnyside Drive, Harrisonburg, died Monday, April 3, 2006, at Augusta
Medical Center, Fishersville. She was born Nov. 1, 1919, in Augusta County, a daughter of Joseph and
Nancy Pearl Showker. She was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church. A graduate of the Stuart Circle
Nursing School in Richmond, she was a registered nurse in the Women?s Army Air Corps during WWII. Prior
to retirement, she was an officer of John D. Eiland Co. Inc. In 1994 she received the Athena Award for
outstanding women in business in Staunton. She was an enthusiastic supporter of James Madison University,
Blue Ridge Community College, the Cancer Center at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, and numerous charities,
particularly the arts in Staunton.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by
John D. Eiland; one sister, Bessie Abdallah; and six brothers, Zane, Fred, Leonard, Gemeal, Randolph,
and Richard Showker. Surviving are her three daughters and their spouses, Carolyn E. and George W.
Moore of Asheville, N.C., Patricia E. and Charles M. Stancil of Marietta, Ga., and Joanie D. Eiland
and H. Randolph Laird of Afton; one brother, Gene Showker of Staunton; six grandchildren, Dr. John Eiland
Moore, Jennifer W. Moore, Anne W. Stancil, Christine F. Halbfoerster, Jennifer L. O?Leary, and Katherine
M. Laird; five great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and her friend and caregiver, Loretta
A memorial service will be conducted at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 6, 2006, at Covenant
Presbyterian Church by the Rev. John C. Peterson. The family will receive friends at the church following
the memorial service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Covenant Presbyterian
Church Building Fund, 2001 N. Coalter St., Staunton, VA 24401.