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1943 Ernest Eugene Field 2024

Ernest Eugene Field

May 17, 1943 — January 28, 2024

Petersburg

Army Staff Sergeant Ernest “Ernie” Eugene Field, former lumberjack, lifelong auto mechanic, proud Vietnam war vet, hard-as-a-rock jack-of-all-trades, died on Sunday, January 28th, 2024 at the age of 80 from colon cancer in his home in Petersburg, Virginia.


There was nothing he could not do and absolutely nothing to complain about in life.  His rote response to “I’m exhausted,” was “Be thankful you have a job.  Lots of people don’t.”  His response to “I’m feeling sick,” was “I’ve never been sick a day in my life.”  Up until the last year, that was mostly true, or he was really good at hiding it.


His motto in life was simply, “As long as you have the will and determination, there's nothing you cannot do,” and he surely lived by it.


On May 17th, 1943 he was added to the Field family joining his 3 big sisters and 1 brother: Eddie, Mary, Edie, and Ethel.  His mother, Mary Bickford Field, was not done increasing the Field population in Maine though.  He had 3 more brothers and a sister to come. Freddy, Jinny, Maurice and Norman.


It seems that he was born with a chainsaw grasped in his tiny hands in the woods of Maine.  He started at the age of 7 chopping wood for the wood stove and taking responsibility for keeping the family warm. Many have had the privilege of driving on Rt. 2  in Wilton, Maine where he worked alongside his dad, Kenneth Field, clearing the way for progress.  If he didn’t have enough to do alongside attending school in the one room schoolhouse and cutting down trees, his side jobs included picking beans and raking wild blueberries.


His childhood was hard by most people’s standards.  He spoke of eating biscuits with lard because butter was a luxury.  For a time, he lived in a house on the shore of a lake in Mt. Vernon, and they would cut a hole in the floor and fish right through the floor.  He grew up in poverty and uncertainty, but he would remember those days fondly and talk about them constantly.


He was drafted into the army on December 1st, 1964 and spent time in Korea, Germany, and Vietnam.  Two memorable moments during his military career would be landing in Cameron Bay in Vietnam two weeks after the North had destroyed the runway.  Let’s just say the landing was “challenging.”  He, of course, immediately threw himself prostrate on the runway grateful for the gift of life and solid ground.


Of course the most memorable moment would be meeting his bride, Chong HaSun, in October of 1969 while stationed in Korea.  She was a catch that took him a while to catch because of the pesky ole army deploying him elsewhere.  He finally married her on June 22, 1973, and they celebrated their 50th anniversary in June of last year surrounded by their kids and grandkids at the local Asian buffet because buffets were his happy place especially Golden Corral.


He and HaSun welcomed two daughters, Angel and Noreen in 1974 and 1976. Because of the can-do-attitude that was instilled in both of them, they literally believed they could do anything. Maybe it was the days spent underneath a car handing him tools or behind the wheel trying to pump the brake when their legs were too short or on top of a roof assisting in tearing off and putting on new shingles. Noreen’s first year of college, he talked her through changing out the alternator on her car because he thought the local mechanic was trying to swindle her for sure. In the last months of his life, you would find him under a car with Angel, both of them determined that the two of them could put in a new air compressor with her hands and eyes and his brain. So in their Daddy’s footsteps, the two of them have fixed cars, roofed houses, sided two story homes, roughed-in plumbing, and probably a million other things that they weren’t exactly qualified to do.


Thanksgiving and Christmas were Ernie’s happy days.  He would play “Boxcar Willie” on this massive record player in their living room.   In the early years of his marriage, he would be covered in flour and other miscellaneous ingredients as he made mincemeat pie and more.  He later discovered Mrs. Smith’s frozen pies and decided to entrust pie making to her. 


On his first Christmas married to HaSun he made sure to make a long distance call to his mom in Maine to get her recipe for stuffing.  From that time forward the family had turkey with stuffing literally stuffed in the cavity of the bird.  They tried to explain to him that it was safer/easier to cook it in a pan, but he would have none of that nonsense.  It just wasn’t the way it was done.  Not to mention the year his kids “tried” - key word being “tried” - to just have Korean food instead of turkey.


Unfortunately one of his most memorable moments was on August 27th, 1987 when the devastating happened. Ernie was getting ready to retire after 22 years of honorable service, and offered to cut trees behind the little Korean church HaSun went to.  The neighbor on the other side of the parking lot asked if he would cut some limbs for him for the payment of a case of beer. 


He and his friend quickly agreed and walked across the parking lot with their steel ladder.  He climbed.  He cut.  The limb broke. He fell. The limb that was as wide as most tree trunks and the ground 22 feet below did immense damage.  He was on the brink of death.


HaSun rushed to the hospital only to be met by the surgeon prepping for surgery.  His words to her were to not have hope, but he would give it his best.


Death is not what she had asked God for.  She had asked God to save him.


You see HaSun had been praying for Ernie every morning around 3am for years.  The family slept and sometimes woke to the sound of her voice crying out for the salvation of her husband. 


That very day Ernie and Hasun had a “discussion” in the kitchen before heading to the church.  

HaSun said they needed life insurance.  

Ernie said they didn’t.  “I’m not going to die! I am strong. I don’t need insurance.”

She explained that God could take him anytime.  

He corrected her with “God can’t do anything to me,” and slammed the door in his wake.  


The family proceeded to squeeze into the cab of Ernie’s tiny pickup truck and head to the Korean church to trim trees.


After six months in the hospital, Ernie came home.  He was visibly whole, however he was told that he would slowly lose his vision in both eyes.  Not too long later he lost the vision in his right eye and part of the vision in his left eye.  After many car accidents, he realized he couldn’t drive safely.  This man who had earned an “Expert Driver Badge” in the Army felt like he had lost a limb.   And  there began the journey of giving up a life of alcoholism and slowly giving his life over to Jesus.

 

If you know Ernie, there were two versions of him.  Before August 27th, 1987 and after.  His belief in Jesus grew steadily over the years (not without a fight) and he wouldn’t leave a phone conversation without a “God bless you! Have a nice day!” in his Maine accent.  He woke up daily at 4am to read the Bible, sing hymns as off key as possible, and pray with HaSun. He faithfully attended church every single Sunday until he literally could not physically do it anymore.  


He seemed indestructible to everyone.  His epic words, “I’m not going to die” from 1987 seemed legit, because he never once admitted to pain or sickness.  If you hugged him, it was like being hugged by a tree trunk because he always stood up ruler straight with his chest out.  He was not just human, he was a force.


He will be missed - his startling blue eyes, and his smile that could win anyone over, and his can-do attitude.


His motto in life was simply, “As long as you have the will and determination, there's nothing you cannot do,” and he surely lived by it.


He is proceeded in death by his father Kenneth Field and mother Mary Bickford Field and his siblings Mary, Ethel, Freddy, Eddie, and Jinny.


He leaves behind his beautiful wife, HaSun Chong Field, and two daughters, Angel Field Williams and Noreen Lemon.  Believe it or not, there are 9 grandchildren too!  Elijah, Alura, Iziah, Joshua, and Asia Williams and Ayden, Analiese, Adalynn, and Avriel Lemon.  He also leaves behind his sister Edie Kennedy, brother, Maurice Field, and brother, Norman Field, and all of the nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews too.


A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, at the Colonial Heights Chapel of the E. Alvin Small Funeral Homes, 2033 Boulevard, Colonial Heights, VA 23834. Interment will follow at 1:00 p.m. in the Virginia Veterans Cemetery at Amelia, 10300 Pridesville Road, Amelia Courthouse, Virginia 23002.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Ernest Eugene Field, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Funeral Service

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

E Alvin Small Funeral Homes and Crematory - Colonial Heights

2033 Boulevard, Colonial Heights, VA 23834

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Interment

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Virginia Veterans Cemetery at Amelia

10300 Pridesville Rd, Amelia Court House, VA 23002

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