Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities

Lt. Byron Yarbrough


Lt. Byron Yarbrough


Byron Chew Yarbrough, the son of Dr. Cecil and Bertha Mae Yarbrough, was born on February 4, 1920 in Auburn.  Cecil and Bertha Mae Yarbrough had five children, three of whom were born after the family moved to Pebble Hill in 1912.  In 1927, Bertha Mae Yarbrough died at the age of 45 of pellagra.  The following year, Dr. Yarbrough married Mary Strudwick of Demopolis, Alabama.  Dr. Yarbrough served several terms as mayor of Auburn and one term as representative to the Alabama House of Representatives. 

Byron graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1942, where he studied Agricultural Engineering and was a member of the Agricultural Club. After graduation, he enlisted in the Navy and was commissioned Lieutenant Junior Grade.


In September 1944, Betty Jones of Cordele, Georgia, began writing Byron at the request of her cousin, who was the college roommate of Byron’s sister, Jane. Byron and Betty corresponded for five months, sharing stories about their daily lives, SEC football, and the war. This letter, dated February 11, 1945, was the last that Byron wrote to Betty. In a letter he wrote to his parents on the same day, he asked them to send her a gift

Betty Jones



On February 25, 1945, Betty received a package from Byron’s parents. She wrote:

“I know that somewhere in the Pacific is a man, my man, who is the sweetest person I’ve ever known. Today I received a little package in the mail. It was postmarked Auburn, Alabama, but I know the thought behind it came from a certain Navy man somewhere in the pacific. Honestly, Byron the pearls are beautiful.”


Betty wearing her pearls in a photo sent to Byron.
LCI 449


Byron was stationed in the Pacific on Landing Craft Infantry 449, one of a dozen gunboats helping to prepare the area around Iwo Jima for invasion. He was killed in battle on February 17, 1945, and buried at sea.  

His story, and that of the other men who served on LCI 449, are featured in The Heart of Hell: The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima



Purple Heart of Lt. Byron Yarbrough. Currently on display at Pebble Hill.
















Dear Betty, Love Byron

Dear Betty, Love Byron is a collection of letters between Lt. Byron Yarbrough and Betty Jones. 
























Two ways to purchase: 

  • In Person: Bring cash or a check (made payable to "Auburn University") to Pebble Hill (101 S. Debardeleben Street, Auburn). 
  • By Mail: Mail a check (made payable to "Auburn University") to: Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities, Pebble Hill, Auburn, AL 36849.

Questions? Email or call (334) 844-4903.

Last Updated: May 09, 2022