Episode 18 - The Hero

(3 February 1977)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Tony Brand.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"It had been my grandmother's idea to bring out the first commemorative issue of The Blue Ridge Chronicle, but she was still in the hospital, and the job of organising the event came to rest on my shoulders. If I had expected wholehearted support from the community and my family, how wrong I was!"


Olivia and Grandpa sit at the table while Grandpa confesses he misses Grandma. John-Boy walks in to convince them he needs their help with Honor Day. Olivia does not like anything involving war but John-Boy reminds her that Honor Day honors the day World War I ended. Grandpa recounts the day when the boys came home and, to this day, says he can still hear footsteps of the boys that did not make it home. Grandpa suddenly remembers he must feed the chickens even though Ben knows he performed the job earlier. John-Boy reminds Ben that their daddy came back from the war but their Uncle Ben, Grandpa’s other son, did not make it back. While Jim Bob looks at a problem in the Sheriff’s car John reminisces about returning from the war. John-Boy is attempting to fill the Chronicle with war stories when he hears Ep recount the times he saw Rolls Royce trucks rolling in a column. He asks Ep if he drove an ambulance in the war. Ep said he didn’t and leaves before John-Boy can further inquire about his role in the war.


Using Ike’s telephone, John-Boy finds that the Hall of Records does not possess statistics from the war because all records before 1925 were burned in a fire. John-Boy is referred to the city of Richmond for such records. Ike suggests that while in Richmond he should visit the Red Cross because it kept war records. Ike also suggests he talk with Ep who has records at the Sheriff’s Office. While talking with the Sheriff John-Boy asks him what he did in the war. Ep hesitantly states, “I figure that’s my business.”


The family looks over war souvenirs to be placed on display for Honor Day. Grandpa shows letters that his son, Ben, wrote from France, along with his Victory medal and Certificate of Merit. Ben asks John why he was named after his Uncle Ben. John said he wanted to keep his name alive and, like his son Ben, John’s brother had red hair, and was smart and full of ideas. After hearing this, Ben decides to build a memorial bench to his namesake in time for Honor Day.


Olivia and John-Boy drive to Richmond to meet with Sarah Griffith of the Red Cross. Griffith provides them with large books of records; one specifically from the Second Division of Virginia. While searching the documents John-Boy finds a reference about Marmaduke Ephram Bridges who captured an enemy gun emplacement at the Battle of Marne, was critically wounded, and then decorated by General Pershing. When Sara Griffith hears about Marmaduke Bridges she asks where Waltons Mountain is located.


John-Boy shows Ep the information he found and asks him why he kept the honors and medal quiet for nineteen years. Ep says, “Does a man deserve to be honored for killing a man?” A gun emplacement Ep declares, “is not concrete, it’s men like you and me.” Ep finally agrees to allow his war honors to be part of Honor Day as long as John-Boy agrees not to call him “Marmeduke”.


Jim Bob is riding old Blue when he comes across Sarah trying to fix her car. While walking to the house, Jim Bob finds she was a nurse and ambulance driver in France during the war. When John-Boy and Ep approach the porch, Sarah is talking with Olivia. John-Boy introduces Ep to Sarah but it is obvious that Sarah has already met Ep. She says that the first time they met was late spring in 1918 and he had just brought in his wounded and prisoners before collapsing from his injuries. The last time she saw him was when he promised her an evening in Paris with a bottle of wine. The two walk off recollecting their time together in France and catching up with the lives since then. Sarah has never married. (She later admits to Olivia that Ep always stood between any man that came into her life.) Ep did marry but his wife passed away and his two sons are grown.


At Honor Day festivities, Jason and his band sing and play songs from the World War I era. John-Boy thinks it would be nice if Sarah would settle around Waltons Mountain. Ep responds, “You never know.” Ep later tells Sarah he regularly gets over to Richmond and Sarah reminds Ep she is still with the Red Cross. John-Boy speaks at the Honor Day festivities about the local men in the Great War; especially the men that are not buried at the cemetery but lie somewhere in France.


"We were all grateful for the success of Honor Day, and to Grandma for suggesting that first commemorative issue of the Chronicle. But my brother Ben, and his memorial bench will always be best remembered. The bench is still there, for all the Waltons and all the others who came to remember those who gave the best they had. And for Ep and Sarah Griffith, there was a rekindling and a new beginning, that Jim Bob didn't grow up first".


Erin: Jim Bob?
Jim Bob: Yeah?
Erin: Did you know the first valve-in-head engine was built in 1902?
Jim Bob: What about it?
Erin: I'll bet you don't know who Alice H. Ramsey was!
Jim Bob: I don't even care who she was.
Erin: She drove from New York to Oakland California in 1909. The first woman to drive from coast to coast.
Jim Bob: No kiddin'.
Erin: In a Maxwell-Briscoe.
Jim Bob: You sure didn't know anything a couple of days ago.
Erin: Well I'm not going to be just a wife, you know!
Olivia, (gently): Goodnight, Erin!



An interesting note is that three of the crosses in the cemetery contain the name of Earl Hamner, the creator of The Waltons, and the names of Harry Harris and Lawrence Dobkin, two of the directors of the television series.

Ep Bridges is originally from Washington County in Virginia.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Sarah Griffith (Lynn Carlin); Marmaduke Epram “Ep” Bridges (John Crawford); Mrs. Brimmer (Nora Marlowe); Patsy Brimmer (Eileen McDonough).