Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More of the World War II dead

It's been stormy week so far --- rain and wind, then more rain. Rain is banging against the east windows right now. Frost Saturday night proved the wisdom of veteran southern Iowa gardeners who caution against planting tender stuff until the 1st of May and under no circumstances, tomatoes until after May 10. I lost a little basil and a pepper plant got scorched, but my tomato plants still are at the greenhouse. Others weren't so fortunate.

It has been a good week to continue plugging away on the roster of Lucas County's World War II dead and I'll append a second installment here. Eventually all of this will be pulled together into a single post and the eventual destination is the historical society's Web site.

Although it was written in another country and during another war, the fist eight lines of Rupert Brooke's great World War I sonnet came to mind as I researched the burial places or memorial locations of those Lucas County boys whose remains didn't make it home --- North Africa, Manila, Honolulu, scattered across Europe. I wouldn't be so bold as to substitute "Iowa" for "England" here, but you can do that if you like:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

The illustration of the Purple Heart Medal is taken from a monument at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery honoring all who have earned it, and of course all of Lucas County's combat-related dead did. The date 1782 inscribed in granite is the year George Washington instituted an award of a heart made of purple cloth called the Badge of Military Merit. "Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the purple heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen," that original order read.

Rarely awarded but never abolished, the Purple Heart was given new life in 1932, the second inscribed year, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.4 million have since been awarded.

On Saturday, funeral services will be held in Perry for 19-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Davis, killed while fighting in the Helmand province of Afghanistan May 7. He will  buried in the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, not far from this depiction of the Purple Heart. By now he has been awarded one --- posthumously.

Here are the names of more of Lucas County's dead:

EXLEY, FORREST J., U.S. Army private first class, age 21, of the Last Chance neighborhood. Son of James C. and Gertrude Exley, born 28 March 1923 in Lucas County; inducted 2 February 1943, deployed to the Pacific theater 1944..

PFC Exley, serving with the 147th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division, reportedly was among troops who volunteered to fight on Iwo Jima after a year of service on New Caledonia. The battle for two airstrips on Iwo Jima was the first U.S. attack on the Japanese home island and because of overwhelming force, a U.S. victory was assured. Nonetheless the fighting was fierce and bloody. A total of 6,821 U.S. troops were killed and more than 19,000 wounded. The Japanese toll exceeded 16,000. PFC Exley’s death reportedly occurred on 27 March 1945, perhaps of earlier wounds, several days after the 26-day battle officially ended. He is commemorated at the Honolulu Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

GATHERCOLE, GERALD O., U.S. Army private first class, age 38, of Chariton and West Branch. Son of Robert and Emma Gathercole, born 13 July 1906, inducted 3 February 1943.

PFC Gathercole died of a heart attack at Fort Jackson, S.C., on 4 May 1944. Buried Chariton Cemetery.

HAINES, KENNETH H., U.S. Army private first class, age 19, of Chariton and Oregon. Son of Alva and Ruth Haines, born 11 October 1925 in Warren County; attended school in and around Chariton; accompanied family to Oregon; inducted 6 January 1944 at Hood River, Oregon; deployed to Europe January 1945.

Assigned to Co. F, 89th Infantry Division, PFC Haines was killed in action on March 20, 1945, in Germany, during the Battle of the Bulge. His remains were repatriated to Chariton during late August, 1948. Burial: Norwood Cemetery. Awards: Purple Heart Medal.

HANKS, ARLIE L., known as “Shovel,” U.S. Navy electrician’s mate third class, age 41, of Russell. Son of William and Laura A. Hanks, born 31 March 1901 at Russell, worked as a telegraph operator for the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad, inducted in Chicago on 1 January 1942.

EM 3C Hanks was serving aboard the USS Edward Rutledge (AP-52) which had successfully landed troops at Fedhala, French Morocco, on 8 November 1942 and lay off the beach unloading her cargo with two lifeboats, the only boats remaining after the assault. He was on duty in the engine room on 12 November 1942 when she was torpedoed by a German submarine that had slipped past the escort screen to sink the Rutledge and two other transports. The Edward Rutledge’s crew attempted to beach her, but power had been lost and she sank with the loss of 15 men, including Hanks. Remains not recovered. Commemorated: Tablets of the Missing, North African American Cemetery and Memorial, Tunis, and Russell Cemetery.

HATFIELD, ELLIS H., U.S. Army private first class, age 27, of Millerton, Chariton and Chicago. Son of Calvin Ellis and Nancy Jane Hatfield, husband of Wilma (Moss), father of Melvin, Ellis Dale and Gerald; born 24 Feb 1919; spent childhood at Millerton; 1936 graduate of Chariton High School; working at a defense plant in Chicago when inducted 2 June 1944; deployed to Europe late 1944.

PFC Hatfield, assigned to the 398th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division, Seventh Army, was participating in the final allied drive into Germany when he was killed in action on 5 April 1945. According to the citation that accompanied the Bronze Star Medal he was awarded posthumously, PFC Hatfield was serving as an ammunition bearer with a unit that became surrounded by a numerically superior German force. Attempting with a comrade to reach a nearby U.S. machine gun post, the comrade was wounded. Ellis was killed instantly by machine gun fire while attempting to carry that comrade to safety. Awards: Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart. Buried: Lorraine American Cemetery; commemorated: Salem Cemetery, Lucas County.

HAYES, RONALD B., U.S. Army staff sergeant, age 24, of Chariton and Gary, Ind. Son of Leroy and Agnes Hayes, husband of Betty Ann, born 11 December 1920 in Lucas County; working in the steel mills of Gary Indiana when inducted.11 December 1942, deployed to European theater September 1944.

Sergeant Hayes, assigned to Co. E, 395th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division, died 27 January 1945, among the 19,000 Americans who died in the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and bloodiest of World War II battles. His body was repatriated during September 1948. Awars: Purple Heart. Burial: Chariton Cemetery.

JARVES, WILMA LUCILLE, U.S. Army Nursing Corps second lieutenant, age 22, of Chariton. Daughter of John and Ruth Jarves, born 24 December 1921 near Chariton; 1938 graduate Chariton High School; 1940 graduate Chariton Junior College; graduated from nurses training fall of 1943 at Broadlawns General Hospital, Des Moines; inducted 30 December 1943; called to duty January 1944.

Lieutenant Jarves was assigned to Birmingham General Hospital, Van Nuys, Calif., when she was killed in an accident in Van Nuys on 1 August 1944. Birmingham General was primarily a rehabilitation center for troops injured during World War II. Buried: Chariton Cemetery.

KEENE, ROBERT C., U.S. Navy pharmacist’s mate third class, age 20, of Chariton. Son of Homer A and Leah C. Keene, born 27 January 1925 in Lincoln Township, 1943 graduate of Chariton High School where he was an outstanding athlete and scholar; enlisted 28 May 1943.

Pharmacist’s Mate Keene was assigned to the Mare Island Naval Station in California when he died on 30 November 1945 (cause of death unspecified in public reports). Burial: Chariton Cemetery.

KNAPP, ANDY (Theron Andrew), U.S. Army Air Forces Sergeant, age 23, of Chariton. Son of Joe A. and Ethel M. Knapp; husband of Margaret (Tessman). Born 11 July 1918 in Missouri; 1936 graduate of Chariton High School; enlisted 18 October 1940.

Sergeant Knapp, apparently a mechanic, was assigned to the 21st Pursuit Squadron, 35th Pursuit Group, and was transferred with his unit 31 October 1941 to the Philippines. Reported missing in action on 7 March 1942, he was held in a Japanese prison camp until his death from malaria on or about 2 June 1942, thus becoming the first Lucas Countyan to die in World War II. Buried first in the POW cemetery at Camp O’Donnell, last stop on the Bataan Death March, his remains were identified during 1947 and removed to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial where he is buried in Plot D, Row 16, Grave 110. Awards: Purple Heart Medal.

KRASHOWETZ, LORANCE F., U.S. Army Air Forces second lieutenant, age 28, of Chariton and Detroit, Mich. Son of Frank L. and Edna Krashowetz, husband of Emma (Ellis); born 13 October 1916; living and working in Detroit at the time of his induction during May of 1943.

Lt. Krashowetz was assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group, when he was killed on 26 April 1945 reportedly after completing 31 bombing missions. Details are sketchy because his death was not reported in Chariton newspapers and other local records related to Lucas County’s World War II dead are incomplete. Awards: Air Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart. Buried: Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France (Plot B, Row 21, Grave 53); Commemorated with a tombstone near that of his parents in Calvary Cemetery, Chariton.

LARSON, JOSEPH J., U.S. Navy seaman first class, age 20, of Chariton; raised by his aunt and uncle, Germayne and Eva Mullen; 1941 graduate of Chariton High School, inducted 27 May 1943.

Seaman Larson was assigned to the Farragut class destroyer USS Monaghan, part of Task Force 38 consisting of approximately 86 vessels operating about 300 miles east of Luzon in the Philippines after heavy action when it was surprised by a small but violent typhoon on 18 December 1944. The Monaghan as well as two other destroyers, the USS Hull and the USS Spence, capsized and went down with all but a few hands aboard. In addition to Seaman Larson, approximately 790 men were lost. Commemorated: Tablets of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery.

McDONALD, CONRAD FRANCIS, U.S. Navy aviation radioman 3rd class, age 20, of Williamson. Son of Francis and Rosa McDonald, born 12 April 1925 in Lucas County; inducted 23 August 1943.

AR3 McDonald, based on Oahu, Hawaii, was killed in a place crash “somewhere over the Pacific” on 4 September 1945. Details are frustratingly scarce. Body not recovered. Commemorated: Tablets of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Chariton Cemetery.

McDONALD, FRANKLIN W., U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class, age 19, of Lucas. Son of George and Artie McDonald, born 24 September 1924 in Lucas County, a 1942 Lucas High School graduate; enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps 31 October 1943.

PFC McDonald, assigned to Co. A, 5th Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 5th Amphibious Corps, First Marine Force, was killed in action during assault operations against Saipan Island in the Marianas on 15 June 1944, six weeks after completing basic training. According to the citation that accompanied his Silver Star Medal, Frank, crew chief operator of an amphibious tractor, was moving his vehicle in on the beach during landing operations on D-Day. Mortally wounded when Japanese mortar fire scored a direct hit on his vehicle, he drove it onto the beach before collapsing and being evacuated to a hospital ship offshore where he died. PFC McDonald’s remains were repatriated to Chariton during December 1948. Burial: Chariton Cemetery. Awards: Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal.

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