Monday, May 31, 2010

World War II: Lessons in their dying

Paul Dominic Pastovich's high school graduation photograph.

I’ve been working lately, obviously if you follow this blog, on rosters of the Lucas County dead in our various wars --- those who, as Lincoln put it, lay their lives down for us, sacrifices at the altar of freedom. That concept of sacrifice has been ridiculed now and then in these post-Vietnam years, but I can’t imagine being among those who do it. And Lincoln’s “altar of freedom” rings off-key to some 21st century ears. Although rarely at a loss for words, it’s something I have a lot of trouble talking or writing coherently about --- most of us do. So it seems best most of the time just to stand there in awed silence.

What’s been done so far about Vietnam and Korea already has been posted here. I’d hoped to have the World War II roster done by this time, too. But there were too many losses, too many stories to tell in time. I’ve posted scraps of the list before. Now, since it is Memorial Day, I’ll post the list as it stands now with the names of those still to be accounted for at the end.

Paul Pastovich stopped me cold this week. My mother and grandfather, neighbors of the Pastovich family near that imaginary line that separates English from Pleasant townships in northeast Lucas County, spoke of him when I was growing up. Born in the mining camp of Olmitz, just down the road from the Miller family farm, to Dan and Anna Pastovich and into a coal-mining family headed by immigrants from Croatia and Italy, Paul beat the odds --- neither miners’ sons nor farmers’ daughters were expected to go to college, nor could they afford to do so, in the 1930s.

Paul did, earning his degree from Iowa State University in 1941, the year the United States entered the war. Enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps, he earned his wings and was commissioned second lieutenant in June of 1943. A few months later, on Valentine’s Day 1944, he was piloting a B-24 bomber from Florida to North Africa when it went down in the Atlantic with all hands perhaps 90 miles off Dakar.

So much promise lost in that war, and all our wars. In their dying, those young people left lessons, but I think those lessons have to be discerned individually. I hope you’ll spend a little time thinking about that today and in the days that follow --- and keep repeating their names.


Phrases like “the last good war” and “the greatest generation” often are used in relation to World War II and those who fought in it, both on the battlefield and the homefront. And these phrases are not exaggerations.

From Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forced the United States into war against both Japan and Germany, until V-E Day on May 7, 1945, and V-J Day on Sept. 2, 1945, the nation was united in a single cause to an unprecedented degree.

The war also was extremely costly in terms of human life. An estimated 290,000 U.S. troops died in combat and 114,000 of other causes during the war for a total of roughly 405,000, the nation’s greatest loss since the Civil War.

Of this total, between 40 and 50 of the hundreds of young Lucas Countyans who served gave up their lives. No distinction is made here between those who died in combat and those who did not. Because of the oddities of record-keeping, the list is by its nature incomplete.


PFC Mahlon B. "Buster" Angstead

ANGSTEAD, MAHLON B., U.S. Army Private First Class, age 20, of Chariton. PFC Angstead, known as "Buster," son of Ira and Lula Angstead, was born 12 December 1924 in Chariton and inducted into the U.S. Army  on 13 July 1942. He had served honorably for two years and eight months when he was killed in combat.

Serving with the 346th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, PFC Angstead was engaged in an assault on the city of Koblenz that involved crossing the Moselle River when he died on 15 March 1945. Germany surrendered less than two months later. Initially reported as missing in action, his death was not confirmed until February of 1946.

PFC Angstead's remains were repatriated to Chariton during November of 1949 and funeral services were held and burial in the Chariton Cemetery occurred on Sunday afternoon, 27 November. Awards: Purple Heart Medal. He was survived by his mother and six siblings: Iris Davenport, Irene Williams, Donovan Angstead, Gay Steinbach, Fay Olson and Mary Jane Smith.


BAXTER, JOHN E. JR., U.S. Army Air Forces Second Lieutenant (promoted posthumously to first lieutenant), age 20, of Chariton. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John E. Baxter Sr., husband of Glea. Inducted 4 November 1942, commissioned 4 February 1944 at Blackland Field, Waco Texas; landed in England 30 June 1944.

Lieutenant Baxter died 28 July 1944 when the B-17 Bomber he was co-piloting went down over the North Sea after colliding midair with another B-17 approximately 15 miles off the English coast on the return flight from a bombing mission targeting Merseburg and ammunition factories in the Ruhr. Remains not recovered. Awards: Air Medal and Purple Heart Medal. Commemorated on Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Military Cemetery, Cambridge, England.

Mark D. Bingaman

BINGAMAN, MARK D., U.S. Navy Yeoman First Class, age 31, of Chariton and Arlington, Va. Son of Robert and Elsie J. Bingaman, husband of Marcella K. (Norris), father of Robert Lee. Born 28 December 1913, Lucas County; 1933 graduate Chariton High School; enlisted U.S. Navy October 1933 and served four years aboard U.S.S. Saratoga; employed after return to civilian life by U.S. government in Washington, D.C.; enlisted U.S. Naval Reserve March 1942; assigned to carrier U.S.S. Franklin 17 December 1943.

Yoeman First Class Bingaman was among 836 personnel killed on 19 March 1945 when a single Japanese bomber dropped two armor-piercing bombs on the U.S.S. Franklin, which had maneuvered closer to the Japanese mainland than had any other U.S. carrier, killing many outright and setting off massive fires and explosions that killed hundreds of others. More than 600 crewmen survived and saved the badly-damaged ship. Bingaman was buried at sea. Commemorated: Tablets of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, National Cemetery of the Pacific; Oxford Cemetery, rural Chariton.

Mark D. Bingaman memorial stone, Oxford Cemetery.


BLUE, DAVID L., U.S. Army Air Forces Technical Sergeant, age 23, of Derby and Peoria, Ill. Son of Walter L. and Mary Ethel (Kells) Blue; born 9 November 1921, Grosse Tete, La.; moved to farm near Derby at age 4; 1939 graduate of Derby High School; employed by Caterpillar Tractor Co., Peoria, Ill., when he enlisted in August 1942; called to duty February 1943.

Sergeant Blue, assigned to the 561st Bombardment Squadron, Bombardment Group (H), 8th Air Force, was serving as radio operator aboard a B-17 Bomber flying his 23rd mission over Germany on his 23rd birthday, 9 Nov. 1943, when it sustained a direct hit and went down near Trier. Three crew members, including Blue, were unable to parachute to safety. Awards: Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart Medal. Buried: Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, Luxembourg City.


CACKLER, ORA EVERETT JR., U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class, age 19, of Chariton. Son of Ora E. Sr. and Minnie Cackler, husband of Lena M. (Spencer). Born 5 May 1925; 1942 graduate of Chariton High School.

Deployed with the Sixth Amphibian Tractor Battalion, First Marine Division, on Peleliu Island, PFC Cackler was assigned on 17 September 1944 during combat with Japanese forces (Battle of Peleliu; Operation Stalemate II) to an amphibian tractor hauling ammunition to the front lines and evacuating wounded to hospital ships in the harbor when he was fatally wounded. Because of the questionable strategic value of the island and the very high death toll (more than 1,800 U.S. troops were KIA or MIA), this remains one of the most controversial battles of World War II. First buried on Peleliu Island, Cacker’s remains were repatriated during September of 1948. Buried: Fletcher Cemetery, Lucas County.

CARR, THOMAS EUGENE, U.S. Navy Apprentice Seaman, age 20, of Melrose (Monroe County). Son of James and Mary (Fitzgerald) Carr, born 13 March 1923, Melrose. Carr is carried on some lists of Lucas County's World War II dead perhaps because he was living in Lucas County at the time of his enlistment or because his parents lived in Chariton for a time after his death.

Seaman Apprentice Carr entered the U.S. Navy on 21 February 1943 and was assigned to the Farragut Naval Training Station in Idaho. Less than a month later, he was diagnosed with meningitis and died on March 22, 1943, at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Farragut. His is remains were returned to Iowa where funeral services were held at St. Patrick's Church, Melrose, with burial following in Mount Calvary Cemetery.

Beryl L. Clark

CLARK, BERYL L., U.S. Army Private First Class, age 24 (above left). Son of Melvin R. and Mabel D. Clark. Born March 7, 1920, Lucas County; 1938 Chariton High School graduate; farmed with his father until enlisting and his induction 4 February 1943. A military policeman, initially assigned as an army and prisoner escort in Africa; reassigned to 6th Infantry Division.

PFC Clark, serving in Luxembourg with Paton’s Third Army, was killed in combat on 11 January 1945, two months after the death of his brother, Lt. James D. Clark. The brothers’ remains were repatriated together to Chariton during August of 1948. Awards: Purple Heart Medal. Burial: Chariton Cemetery.

James Duane Clark

CLARK, JAMES DUANE, U.S. Army Air Forces First Lieutenant, age 28, of Chariton (below left). Son of Melvin R. and Mabel D. Clark, husband of Barbara M. (Sutton) Born 8 February 1916, Lucas County; 1933 Chariton High School graduate; trained and worked as a structural steel worker and welder; enlisted 23 Feb. 1943; earned pilot wings and commissioned second lieutenant 8 February 1944, Camp George Field, Ill.; deployed to England 13 June 1944; promoted to first lieutenant October 1944.

Lt. Clark, assigned to the 563rd Bombardment Squadron, 388th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, was co-piloting the B-17G Cicero Kid on its crew’s 33rd mission on 9 November 1944. Taking off from Station 136, Knettishall, England, the targets were marshalling yards and rail facilities of Saarbrucken, Germany. Over Foriches, Belgium, an engine caught fire and a simultaneous violent explosion broke the plane into three parts. Seven crewmen parachuted to safety, but co-pilot Clark and pilot John J. Chimenti perished. Clark’s remains were repatriated to Chariton in August 1948 along with those of his brother, Beryl, killed in combat in Luxembourg 11 January 1945, two months after James’s death. Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart Medal. Burial: Chariton Cemetery, Lucas County.

Prosdocimo J. "Dutch" Della Betta

DELLA BETTA, PROSDOCIMO J. “DUTCH,” U.S. Army Air Forces staff sergeant, age 24, of Chariton and St. Louis. Son of Olivo Michele “Mike” and Maria Angela “Mary” Della Betta, husband of Dora (DiBacco), born 15 October 1919 in Hocking, Monroe County; 1938 graduate of Chariton High School; working in St. Louis when he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps on 5 February 1943; deployed to England January 1944.

Dutch was a member of a 10-man crew aboard the B-24 Liberator Pocatello Chief when it took off on Wednesday morning, March 15, 1944, from Royal Air Force Station Wendling, Norfolk, with other B-24's of the 576th Bomb Squadron, 392nd Bomb Group, for a mission over Brunswick, Germany.

The mission was a success, but the Pocatello Chief ran into trouble as the planes turned for the return flight to England. She was observed from other bombers in the squadron as Pilot Bert D. Miller peeled off after the run with bomb bay doors open, then fell behind and was lost to sight about 11:30 a.m. The plane appeared to be in control and no parachutes were sighted but it was not heard from again.

Working with German records after the war, investigators concluded that the Pocatello Chief had been damaged by flak, then attacked by German fighter pilots after it fell behind. A mid-air explosion resulted and the plane crashed near Hiddinghausen, killing all 10 aboard.

They were, in addition to Dutch, 1st Lt. Bert D. Miller, 22, Abilene, Texas, pilot; 2nd Lt. William E. Wilson, Santa Rosa, California, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Charles R. Williamson Jr., 28, Encinitas, California, navigator; 2nd Lt. Gabriel Wishbow, 26, Lawrence, New York, bombardier; Staff Sgt. James M. Lynch, 24, Sioux Falls, S.D., gunner; Staff Sgt. Henry T. Mayer, 21, Bellmore, New York, gunner; Staff Sgt. Thomas L. Rice, 19, Meridian, Miss., gunner; Staff Sgt. Truman F. Roberts, 21, Batesville, Arkansas, gunner; and Staff Sgt. Gerard P. Lemily, 25, Brooklyn, New York, gunner.

The remains were recovered by German forces, identified by dog tags and buried on March 21 in 10 adjacent graves in a cemetery for prisoners of war at Dortmund, where they remained until after the war ended.

U.S. forces recovered the remains of the 10 crewmen after the war and transported them to Belgium. The families of five asked that their remains be returned to the United States. Five were buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.

Dutch's remains reached Chariton by train on May 26, 1949. Funeral services were conducted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, at Sacred Heart Church in Chariton. Burial followed at St. Mary's Cemetery, Albia, where Mike and Mary Della Betta had buried two other children before moving to Lucas County. Dutch was awarded the Purple Heart Medal posthumously.


ECKERMAN, WALTER L., U.S. Army Air Forces second lieutenant, age 26, of Chariton and Burlington. Son of Ray and Agnes Eckerman; born 1919 in Iowa; 1936 Chariton High School graduate; working in Burlington when inducted 10 May 1942; commissioned bombardier 13 May 1943.

Lt. Eckerman was stationed at Lewiston, Mont., on 25 August 1943 when the B-17 bomber he was aboard crashed in a wind and hail storm while dropping practice bombs at night killing all 11 men aboard. Burial: Chariton Cemetery.

Roy Ellis

ELLIS, ROY, U.S. Army Air Forces staff sergeant, age 22, of Williamson. Son of Frank and Mary C. Ellis; born 31 January 1920 in the mining town of Andersonville (Marion County); lived as a child in Pershing, moving to Williamson in 1931; a 1937 graduate of Williamson High School; worked in Williamson-area mines until enlistment on 8 October 1940; completed training as radio operator in October 1941.

Sergeant Ellis, transferred June 5-11, 1942 to the Alaskan Zone, was killed in action on his first mission over Kiska Island on 11 June 1942. Generally acknowledged as the first Lucas Countyan to die in World War II. Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart Medal. Buried: Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.

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; Russell Cemetery.

Ellis H. Hatfield

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.


JERVIS, WILMA LUCILLE, U.S. Army Nursing Corps second lieutenant, age 22, of Chariton. Lt. Jervis, always known as Lucille, was the daughter of John and Ruth Jervis, born 15 December 1921 near Chariton; 1938 graduate of Chariton High School; 1940 graduate of Chariton Junior College. She graduated from nurses training during the fall of 1943 at Broadlawns General Hospital, Des Moines; enlisted and was inducted 30 December 1943, then called to duty in January 1944.

Lt. Jervis was assigned to Birmingham General Hospital, Van Nuys, Calif., when she was killed in an accident in Van Nuys, reportedly struck by a drunk driver, 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.

Andy Knapp

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.

LONG, DONALD DUANE, U.S. Army Air Forces corporal, age 19, of rural Russell. Son of Lloyd and Dorotha (Duckworth) Long, born 22 September 1926 at Chariton. Enlisted 17 October 1944, deployed to the Pacific 25 February 1945.

Corporal Long, assigned to the U.S. Army Air Forces 4th Rescue Squadron, was aboard  a B-17 type aircraft of the squadron that crashed west of Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, on May 27, 1946. At the time he was stationed on Eniwetok Atoll and had served in the Pacific theater for 14 months. He had participated in the invasions of Leyte and Mindanao.

No remains were recovered. He is commemorated in the Chariton Cemetery and Courts of the Missing (Court 7), Honolulu Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

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 1949. Burial: Chariton Cemetery. Awards: Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal.

MARSHALL, WILLIAM, U.S. Army Air Forces Major, age 26, of Chariton. Son of Adam and Ruth Marshall, born 27 July 1918 at Chariton; graduate of Chariton High School; working at a dairy in Ottumwa when he enlisted as a U.S. Army private in August 1940. received his wings and commission as second lieutenant 7 March 1942 at Kelley Field, San Antonio; served in Panama and other points in Central in South America, where he was promoted to first lieutenant; served as an instructor at many posts in the United Staes; promoted to captain 1 August 1943; deployed to the Pacific Theater in August 1944; promoted to major 1 October 1944.

Major Marshall, deployed to India, died in a plane crash there on 30 January 1945. His remains were repatriated to Chariton during early June, 1948. Burial: Chariton Cemetery.

MINCKS, FRED E. JR., U.S. Army Air Forces second lieutenant, age 26, of Monroe County and Chariton. Son of Fred Sr. and Nettie Mincks, husband of Luetta (Hobbs), father of Sandra Sue; born 10 February 1918 in Monroe County; apparently lived in Chariton late 1930s and early 1940s.

Lt. Mincks, assigned to the 705th Bomber Squadron, 44th Bomber Group, was piloting the B-24 Bomber Happy Go Lucky on 25 August 1944 when it went down, apparently because of engine failure, over the North Sea killing all 10 aboard. Body not recovered. Commemorated: Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery, Cabridge, England, and Avon Cemetery, Polk County, Iowa. Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart.


Lyle H. Morris

MORRIS, LYLE H., U.S. Navy storekeeper fist class, age 22, of Derby. Son of Otis W. and Leta G. Morris; born 3 September 1920 at Derby; graduate of Derby High School and the American Institute of Business, Des Moines; enlisted and entered the service 22 October 1940.

Storekeeper First Class Morris died at this battle station aboard the carrier USS Enterprise during a Japanese assault on 25 October 1942 in the south Pacific. Buried at sea, he is commemorated on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. He was the third Lucas Countyan to give up his life in service to his country during World War II.

MORRISON, RAYMOND D., U.S. Army Corporal, age 23, of Cedar Township and Chariton. Son of John Wesley and Mary F. (Dean) Morrison, born 29 October 1920 in Cedar Township, inducted 15 October 1941.

Corporal Morrison, assigned to the 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, was killed in action near St. Lo, France, on 15 July 1944. He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France (Plot A, Row 3, Grave 36).

MOSBEY, LYLE E., U.S. Navy electricians mate 2nd class, age 23, of Chariton. Son of Carl and Lillie Mosbey, born 4 April 1920; a graduate of Chariton High School where he was described as an all-time basketball great; inducted 26 October 1941.

Electricians Mate 2nd Class Mosbey was assigned to the USS Scorpion, a Gato-class submarine whose mission was to patrol in the Pacific. The Scorpion departed Midway Island after refueling and reprovisioning on 3 January 1944 to patrol the East China Sea. On 5 January 1944, the Scorpion rendezvoused with the USS Herring to attempt transfer of an injured crewman, but the transfer was unsuccessful because of sea conditions. The Scrorpion was not seen again. It is presumed that the submarine struck a Japanese mine and was lost with all hands on board. The official date of loss is 11 January 1944, but that is naval guesswork. Mosbey is commemorated on the Tablets of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery, in the Philippines, and also in the Goshen Cemetery.

NEEDLES, WAYNE M., U.S. Army private first class, age 22, of Chariton. Son of Marshall S. and Amy Needles; born 10 September 1922; completed 11th grade at Lacona High School then farmed with his father four years; enlisted U.S. Army Air Corps 27 September 1942, later transferred.

Assigned to Co. F, 415th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division, PFC Needles was killed by enemy artillery fire on 31 October 1944 while his unit was engaged in seizing a bridge head over the Mark River in the vicinity of Standdaarbuiten, Holland. Awards: Purple Heart Medal. Buried: Chariton Cemetery.

Loren E. Nussbaum

NUSSBAUM, LOREN E., U.S. Marine Corps private first class, age 23, of rural Lacona. Son of Ferman and Chloe Charity (West) Nussbaum; born 24 September 1920 in Liberty Township; graduate of Lacona High School and Chillicothe (Missouri) Business College; enlisted 18 January 1942.

Assigned for 20 months to Pago Pago, British Samoa, and the Wallis Islands, he was deployed during late 1943 with the 22nd Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps, in the effort to wrest the central Pacific Marshall Islands from Japanese control. A battle to capture Enewetak Atol, some 44 islets around a central lagoon at the northern end of Marshalls and the site of a Japanese airfield, began during mid-February 1944. It was there on Feb. 20 that Loren died in combat. His family was told much later that he had been wounded in the right forearm, but refused to be evacuated. As the battle continued, his company commander was wounded and while Loren was attempting to aid in his rescue, he was caught in crossfire and died instantly. Buried temporarily on Japtan, one of the Enewetak islets, his remains were repatriated in the fall of 1947. After arriving in San Francisco with the remains of 2,038 others from the Pacific theater aboard the transport ship Honda Knot during late October, his body was transported to Chariton where funeral services were held on 9 November 1947. His remains were the first repatriated to Chariton after the war’s end. Buried: Chariton Cemetery.

NUTT, RAYMOND A., U.S. Navy Seaman Second Class, age 18, of Chariton.

Son of E.B. and Ruby Nutt, born 1926 perhaps in Warren County; attended Chariton High School while living with his brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Keith Nutt, rural Chariton; enlisted soon after his 17th birthday.

Seaman Second Class Nutt was assigned to the USS Indianapolis, which delivered the world’s first operational atomic bomb to Tinian Island on 26 July 1945 and then was ordered to join the USS Idaho at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. Refused an escort by Naval authorities, the Indianapolis was midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf when it was hit on 30 July by two of six torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine. Blasts blew the ship apart and in sank within 12 minutes. Of the 1,196 men aboard, 900 made it into the water but only 317 were alive when discovered and rescued five days later because of constant shark attacks, dehydration, exposure and wounds. Raymond is commemorated on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.


Bobby Hunt/Find A Grave

ODEN, HOWARD M., age 21, U.S. Army Air Forces second lieutenant, of Russell. Son of Preston H. and Olive Oden; born 18 May 1922 at Chariton; 1939 graduate of Russell High School; attended Parsons College for two years and then worked in Washington, D.C., for a year before enlisting 10 April 1942 in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Second Lieutenant Oden was deployed to North Africa with the 448th Bombardment Group 20 November 1943, flying a B-24 Liberator. On 8 December 1943 he and 10 other airman were killed when their plane exploded during a training flight over Algeria. Their remains were repatriated during 1949 and buried in a common grave at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Chariton (Iowa) Leader, 23 August 1949

OSENBAUGH, JEFFERSON A., U.S. Army private first class, age 24, of Otter Creek Township, Van Wert and elsewhere. Son of Charles R. and Effie L. Osenbaugh, born 26 December 1917, inducted 24 March 1942.

PFC Osenbaugh, assigned to Headquarters Co., 1st Battalion, 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division, was killed in action in Normandy on 11 June 1944 during the days following the allied landings there on 6 June 1944. Awards: Purple Heart Medal. He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France (Plot C, Row 10, Grave 42).

PASTOVICH, PAUL DOMINIC, U.S. Army Air Forces second lieutenant, age 24, of Pleasant Township.

Son of Dan and Anna (Braida) Pastovich, born 3 September 1919 in the mining town of Olmitz (now vanished); graduate of Williamson High School and, in 1941, of Iowa State University with a bachelor of arts degree; inducted 24 June 1941; enlisted September 1941 in U.S. Army Air Corps; earned his wings and was commissioned 26 June 1943 at Randolph Field, Texas.

Assigned to the 787th Bomber Squadron, 466th Bomber Group (Heavy), Paul was piloting a B-24 bomber from Morrison Field, Florida, to Dakar, Senegal, on 14 February 1944 when the plane went down in the Atlantic about 90 miles off the African coast. Commemorated in the North Africa American Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia. Paul also is commemorated on a cenotaph near his parents' graves in Graceland Cemetery, Knoxville.

PATTERSON, RICHARD L., U.S. Army staff sergeant, age 23 (a month short of 24), of Chariton.

Son of Carrie (Becker) Witherell/Ellis and Creed Patterson; father of Patricia Elaine; born 30 May 1920; enlisted U.S. Army Corps of Engineers July 1940; assigned with a U.S. Army engineering unit to the Canada-Alaska Highway Project for a year; deployed overseas October 1943.

Sergeant Patterson, assigned to the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion, was lost in the English Channel on 19 June 1944 when the LST he was aboard, bound from England to the French coast, was struck by a German mine. Commemorated: Tablets of the Mission, Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Awards: Purple Heart.

PEARCY, VERNON EDGAR, U.S. Coast Guard seaman first class, age 24, of Derby. Son of Grover C. and Estella (Savely) Pearcy; born 7 November 1920; enlisted 15 June 1942.

Seaman First Class Pearcy was killed in a motorcycle accident in San Francisco on 23 December 1944. Buried: Sharon Cemetery, Wayne County.

PESUTH, STEPHEN RODNEY, U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sergeant/Technical Sergeant, age 25, of Chariton and DeKalb, Illinois.

Son of Mrs. Joe (Annie) Semich; born 15 June 1919; living in Chariton with mother, stepfather and siblings as early as 1930; attended school in Chariton; enlisted 30 June 1941 while a resident of DeKalb, Ill.

Technical Sergeant Pesuth was serving as flight engineer aboard a B-29 bomber on a combat crew training mission en route from the United States to Cuba when it disappeared over the Atlantic on 8 January 1945. Commemorated: Tablets of the Missing, East Coast Memorial, Manhattan.

PETERSON, OSCAR EUGENE “SWEDE,” apprentice seaman, U.S. Coast Guard, age 19, of Chariton.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar E. Peterson Sr; 1942 graduate of Chariton High School; worked at Chariton’s Jack Sprat grocery store for eight months before enlisting on 14 December 1942.

Apprentice Seaman Peterson had completed initial training at St. Augustine, Fla., and had just been transferred to New York City to attend diesel engineer school when he sustained fatal head injuries in an accident at the Coney Island amusement park on 16 May 1943. He was to have begun his advanced training training the next day. Buried: Chariton Cemetery.

POUSH, CARLOS LEROY, U.S. Army private first class, age 26, of Chariton.

Son of Harry W. and Carrie L. Poush; husband of Ethel Leota (Smith); born 25 September 1918 near Newbern; moved with family to a farm near Chariton; 1934 graduate of Chariton High School; married Ethel Leota Smith 19 June 1938; worked as a Fuller Brush salesman and for the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. before entering the service on 27 December 1943.

Assigned to Co. L, 350th Infantry, 5th Army, PFC Poush died 19 October 1944 of wounds received in battle on 18 October while his company, stationed in northern Italy, was assaulting an enemy position. His remains were repatriated during November of 1948. Burial: Chariton Cemetery.

ROSS, KENETH HUGH, U.S. Army technical sergeant 4th class, age 37, of Derby.

Son of Joseph H. and Mae V. Ross; born 19 May 1907 at LeRoy; 1925 graduate of Derby High School; enlisted 23 February 1942 with his younger brother, Harold.

Assigned with his brother, Harold, to the 33rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) and deployed to Morotai Island in the Malukus, T/4 Ross was fatally injured in an accident on 28 January 1945 as the unit was preparing to be deployed to the Philippines. Initially buried there, his remains were repatriated during 1948. Burial: Derby Cemetery.

SAMPSON, LEO LEONARD, U.S. Navy Yoeman 3rd Class, age 20, of Williamson.

Son of Charles and Alta Sampson; born 5 October 1924; a 1942 graduate of Williamson High School; inducted 23 August 1943.

Yoeman 3rd Class Sampson was killed in action aboard ship “somewhere in the Pacific” on 11 April 1945 and buried at sea. Commemorated: Tablets of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, National Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu.

SKINNER, HERMAN L., U.S. Army private first class, age 34, of Lucas.

Son of John Skinner and Mamie Skinner/Baker, stepson of Chris C. Baker; born 14 December 1910 near Lucas; inducted 22 April 1942.

Assigned to the 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, PFC Skinner was critically wounded on 21 April 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa and died on 28 April 1945 of those wounds. His remains were repatriated to Lucas County and buried in the Chariton Cemetery during December of 1948.

Maj. Homer L. "Al" Smith
SMITH, HOMER LEWIS, known as "Al," U.S. Army Air Corps major, age 31, of Chariton. Born 20 August 1914 near Chariton; died 19 November 1945 when the P-51 Fighter that he was piloting crashed, exploded and burned 25 miles northwest of Hweichow, China; commemorated on a cenotaph in the Chariton Cemetery and on Tablets of the Missing, Manilla American Cemetery, the Philippines.

Major Smith was a son of George Sr. and Helen (Baxter) Smith, born on their farm southwest of Williamson. He grew up in Williamson, where his father operated a meat market, and was a 1934 graduate of Chariton High School. After attending a year of junior college in Chariton, he went to work as a meat-cutter in various grocery stores until forming a partnership with his friend and future brother-in-law, Bassel Blakesmith, to purchase Chariton's Jack Spratt Grocery Store, located on the east side of the square, during 1940. Both men were flying enthusiasts, traveling to Ottumwa to take flying lessons, owing at least one aircraft, an American Eagle Biplane, jointly. Both men enlisted during February of 1942 in the U.S. Army Air Corps and received their commissions and sliver wings during November of that year at training fields in Texas. Smith had married Mary Ellen Clark on Jan. 1, 1940, in Chariton.

Smith worked as a flight instruction supervisor in Florida, George and Alabama during 1943 and 1944, advancing in rank to 1st Lieutenant, then Captain. During April of 1945, he was assigned to the 530th Fighter Squadron, then operating in the China Theater. Shot down over China during August, 1945, he parachuted to safety and walked 500 miles to safety, rescued during late September 1945. By that time, Japan had surrendered and Smith, promoted to the rank of Major, was assigned to ferry P-51 Fighters "over the hump" from Andal, India, at Shanghai. The fighter that he was piloting went down in a rice paddy 25 miles northwest of Hweichow, China, on 19 November 1945, apparently due to adverse weather conditions. Initially declared missing, Major Smith was declared dead a year later after a search team had visited the crash site and talked with nearby villagers. There were no remains to recover.

SMITH, ROBERT LEE, U.S. Marine Corps private first class, age 19, of Lucas County and Indianola.

Winifred Wennerstrum, Chariton Public Library librarian, was unable to come up with much information about Robert Lee Smith as she attempted to add his military record to the library collection during the 1940s. She determined that he was born 9 June 1924 and inducted 29 July 1940 while a resident of Indianola and that his mother was Mrs. Charles (Lillie) Page, who had lived in Lucas prior to or during the war. PFC Smith reportedly was killed in action on 28 December 1943 in the South Pacific.

STEMM, ZACCHEUS WILLIAM, U.S. Army technical sergeant 5th class, age 22, of rural Norwood.

Son of Charley I. and Nelly Stemm; born 4 September 1922; 1940 graduate of Norwood High School; inducted January 1943. T/5 Stemm, a tank operator assigned to C Company, 752nd Tank Battalion, reportedly was aboard the second tank to enter Rome as it was liberated during June of 1944. A few months later, on 22 October 1944, he was killed in action at Osteria in northern Italy. His remains were repatriated during March of 1949. Burial: Indianola I.O.O.F. Cemetery.


U.S. Army PFC Gerald E. Storie

STORIE, GERALD EUGENE., U.S. Army Private First Class, Battery A, 575th Automatic Weapons Battalion, Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Special), Coast Artillery Corps, age 21, of Derby. Born 2 May 1924, died 14 July 1945, in the vicinity of Schliersee, Germany; remains repatriated 2 November 1948 to Keokuk National Cemetery (Section D, Grave No. 129) from St. Avold, Metz, France.

PFC Storie, known to family and friends as Eugene, was raised in Derby by his grandmother, Lina A. (Thompson) Hilliard, and graduated from Derby High School with the class of 1942. He was single with no dependents when he enlisted in the U.S. Army from Lucas County on 13 July 1943. Assigned to the Coast Artillery Corps, he was deployed to the European Theater with an anti-aircraft artillery unit. He survived the war, but died on the evening of July 14, 1945, about two months after hostilities had ceased, when he drowned while swimming in Lake Scliersee near his unit's quarters, Schliersee, Germany.


THOMPSON, HENRY LEE, U.S. Navy (Seabees) chief machinist’s mate, age 38, of Chariton.

Son of Charles and Ella Thompson, husband of Merle E., father of John, Charles and Richard; born 18 October 1903; worked road construction in Lucas County; inducted 2 May 1942. Chief Machinist’s Mate Thompson, assigned to the 6th Naval Construction Battalion, was among the first Seabees deployed to Guadalcanal during September 1942. He was the first Seabee to die on Guadalcanal on 14 October 1942 when a Japanese shell struck the foxhole he and other men were taking cover in causing it to collapse (although he most likely was killed by the concussion). His remains were repatriated to Chariton during April 1948. Burial: Chariton Cemetery.

Van HOOK, ISAAC M., U.S. Army private first class, age 27, of Chariton and Berryville, Arkansas.

Son of John W. and Bessie C. Van Hook; born 10 November 1918 in Lucas County; moved with family to Berryville, Arkansas in 1929; inducted 29 September 1941 while a resident of Berryville. A machine gunner assigned to Co. K, 160th Infantry Regiment, 40th Infantry Division, PFC Van Hook was killed on Negros Island in the Philippines on 13 April 1945 by a sniper’s bullet to the head.

PFC Van Hook was awarded posthumously the Silver Star Medal for gallantry. According to the citation that accompanied the medal, Van Hook, during an early-morning attack on his company’s camp, “on his own initiative, picked up his machine gun and ran to the only position where he could effectively employ the weapon. From this position, while exposed to accurate enemy fire he repelled numerous attempts of the enemy to secure the commanding ground above the company. He remained at his gun despite warning from other men in the company until he was killed.”

Isaac’s remains were repatriated to Chariton during September of 1948 and burial occurred in the Chariton Cemetery.

VICKROY, JOHN MARVIN, U.S. Army technical sergeant, age 26, of Lucas County and California.

Son of Arthur V. and Marie Vickroy; born 21 November 1918; a former resident of Lucas County who enlisted at Altadena, California, and was inducted 13 July 1942.

Sergeant Vickroy was killed in action 28 March 1945 at Bad Schwalbach, Germany, according to information gathered by the Chariton Public Library. He was “with Paton’s Army.” His parents were residents of Red Oak at the time of his death. No information about his place of burial.

WALKER, CHARLES WILLIAM, U.S. Navy apprentice seaman, age 25, of Russell.

Son of Albert D. and Sylvia Walker; born 16 April 1915 at Russell. Apprentice Seaman Walker, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy, was inducted 22 October 1940. He was home on furlough two months later when he died of complications of appendicitis at Yocom Hospital in Chariton. Burial: Russell Cemetery.


WELLS, VERNON STUART, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, age 26, of Russell and Chariton, gave up his life in service to his country 27 November 1943, killed in action during the Battle of Tarawa Atoll in the central Pacific.

A son of Orlan and Mabel Wells, he was born 7 October 1917 in Cedar Township, was a 1935 graduate of Russell High School, and entered the U.S. Marine Corps on 26 November 1940 from Chariton. Home-ported initially in Iceland, he was transferred to San Diego, then to the Southwest Pacific during October of 1942.

Sergeant Wells, assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, engaged in combat operations on Guadalcanal January-February 1943 and was killed in combat by a gunshot wound to the chest 27 November 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa Atoll. Buried initially on Buariki Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, his remains were repatriated during November of 1947 and buried in the Chariton Cemetery.


WERTS, GORDON H., U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant (fighter pilot), age 22, of Russell and Bloomfield, gave up his life for his country on 18 July 1944 when the F4U-1D Corsair that he was piloting disappeared between Roi in the Marshall Islands and Tarawa Atoll.

Born 17 October 1921 in Des Moines, Lt. Werts was a son of Walter G. and Dessa F. Werts and a 1941 graduate of Bloomfield High School. He married Sara Ann Brown on 12 November 1943.

Enlisted 2 June 1942 in the Naval Air Cadet Program; commissioned 2nd lieutenant and designated Naval Aviator; trained as a replacement pilot December 1943-May 1944 and deployed to the war zone during June 1944, assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 113, Marine Air Group 22, 4th Marine Air Wing, flying from Engibi in the Marshall Islands.

Lt. Werts was declared dead a year and a day after his aircraft disappeared, on 19 July 1945. Memorial services were held at First Baptist Church in Russell. His life is commemorated on a cenotaph near the graves of his parents in the Russell Cemetery and on the Tablets of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii.


ZIMMER, FLOYD HENRY, U.S. Army Air Forces staff sergeant, age 23, of Russell.

Son of Perry and Maude L. Zimmer; born 16 November 1919 at Russell; a 1937 graduate of Russell High School; enlisted at Ottumwa and inducted 18 August 1941. Chief Radio Technician Zimmer was chief radio mechanic, assistant radio operator and operator of two guns on board a B-24 Liberator bomber. Assigned to the 66th Bomber Squadron, 44th Bomber Group (Heavy), his plane failed to return from a bombing mission over western Europe on 16 February 1943. Commemorated Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England, and in the Russell Cemetery.


faraway said...

I really enjoy and appreciate your writings, Mr. Myers

Happy Warriors said...

Fine article. Enjoyed it very much. Could be some great additions to my history project

melis said...


We've corresponded before re; Lucas Co IA genealogy. I enjoy checking in periodically and hoping you can answer a question. Do you know who the gentleman is in the portrait/photo along the right-side column of your blog?

Curious, Melis

Frank D. Myers said...

Hi Melis: That's Edward Ebenezer Sargent (third husband of a great-great-great grandmother of mine), linked close to the bottom of the list of links that follows him. When I started this it was impossible to caption photos in the sidebar. I need to go back in and see if that's changed!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting the story of my Dad's uncle, Lyle Harlan Morris, USN. Since he didn't live to have children of his own, as his niece I feel a responsibility to keep his memory alive, nearly 70 years later. Thanks for remembering them all.

Becky Stafford

Jack O. Williamson said...

Howard Oden was my uncle but more like a brother as he was only 5 years older. His fully loaded B-24 took off from from Marrakesh for England but the pilot lost the plane on take-off. They were all originally buried in Marrakesh and in 1948 buried in the common grave in Louisville. Leon Sampson and Conard McDonald were only 2 years older than me and I knew them both very well while growing up in Williamson.

Unknown said...

I was in contact with the company clerk of Company F, 415th Reg of the 104th Infantry, Dominick M. Marrone. He kept records of their movements and those wounded and killed. I have a copy of his typed and hand-written journals. For what it's worth, he states that PFC Needles was killed by a direct hit from an 88 on Oct 31 1944. The company had moved up to a dyke and were caught by heavy artillery fire. I am in the process of transcribing his journal, word for word, on a blog, currently titled "The Battle History of Company F, 1944-45".

Unknown said...

I am wondering if I could have permission to paint the snow scene above

Frank D. Myers said...

Hi David --- Sure --- feel free to paint.

Shawn Woods said...

Forrest Exley was killed by a sniper on Iwo Jima. The battle had officially ended as I understand it.