Polly Bunker sits on the rusted remains of the tractor that her brother, Edgar, left on the beach on Great Cranberry Island when he went to fight in the Korean War. He was killed in combat. PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Forlorn relic a soldier’s memorial

CRANBERRY ISLES — When Edgar Bunker was drafted into the Army in September 1950, three months after the start of the Korean War, he left his tractor on the beach on Great Cranberry Island.

He had been using it to haul in boats, and it had gotten stuck in the sand.

“Edgar, aren’t you going to move your tractor?” friends asked.

“No,” he said. “I’ll get it when I come back.”

He was mortally wounded in combat a year later.

Bunker, Edgar (1)

Edgar Bunker in his U.S. Army uniform. PHOTO COURTESY OF BUNKER FAMILY

Edgar’s tractor is still on the beach, a memorial of sorts to the community’s fallen son.

“I guess everybody just felt it should be left the way he left it,” his sister, Polly Bunker, said on a recent visit to the tractor.

“It’s just understood it’s here,” she said of the rusted remains of the tractor. “It’s part of the island. It belongs here.”

Then, after a moment’s pause, “It makes me very sad.”

Polly Bunker still lives on Great Cranberry. She will turn 89 on Sunday, May 29, the day before Memorial Day. Her sister Leona, 93, lives with her.

Cpl. Edgar Bunker was 26 when he arrived in Korea in August 1951 and was assigned to K Company, 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division. He was wounded Oct. 7 during the fifth day of a fierce battle with Chinese forces. He died the next day.

He was buried in the Bunker family cemetery on Great Cranberry Island.

Polly Bunker said that before Edgar went into the Army, their father, Elisha, had been helping him get started in the boat-building business.

“He used the tractor to haul boats out of the water and store them,” she said, looking up from the beach. “There used to be boat buildings here that aren’t here now.”

On Aug. 20, 2000, a tribute to Cpl. Edgar Bunker and his family was held at the Congregational Church on Great Cranberry. The main speaker for the event was Vice Adm. Gregory Johnson, Senior Military Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, a native of Bangor.

“Because Corporal Edgar Bunker gave his life, countless others are alive today,” Johnson said. “Although Edgar’s time in Korea was brief, his service endures – like his tractor that still sits where he left it on the beach.”



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.