Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

19 Dec 1944




Mason Cityans Are Busy at Forward Post

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy (IDPA) -- Capt John A.O. Manwiller, Salem, Ore., a service and supply officer in the 91st division in the 5th army, was born in Charlotte, Iowa, and taken from there in childhood by his parents.

Sgt. Gerald Christensen, a GI in his company known as "one man ammunition gang" lives in Charlotte but never heard of each other until military service put them together here.

Nazi shells fell regularly in the area in which I visited them. They were at their duties in the supply station in their regiment. The captain said, though no one had been hurt by an enemy burst in the building, there had been one or more casualties nearby daily for several days.

Pvt. Ronald Watson, Davenport, another of Capt. Manwiller's men, has a 2 year old son, James, he has seen only once. Watson use to live in Centerville.

Sgt. Robert Barrett, of Monterrey Park, Cal., of the outfit, was born in Dallas Center. His mother is of a family of Robinsons who reside in Davis county.

Far up front in an infantry company, which had had much fighting and was awaiting order to do more, I found 2nd Lt. Charles Murphy, Sioux City, a tall, red, curly-haired, handsome youth whom comrades called a "one man army." His fury and valor against the nazis won him a battlefield promotion from sergeant.

The young officer's father was the late Ray Murphy, a World war I veteran, who belonged to Monahan post of the American Legion at Sioux City. Lieutenant Murphy's brother, Pvt. Dan Murphy, has been wounded twice. He won the Silver Star, the purple heart and a French decoration while fighting in the 34th division in Africa.

Legion Past national Commander Ray Murphy, New York City, was originally from Ida Grove, and has a son, Charles, a paratrooper in the army, also a son, Raymond, a naval officer.

First Lt. Lee Zavoral, Mason City, is Lieutenant Murphy's immediate superior, and Sgt. Herman Schutter, Titonka, one of his right hand men.

Lt. Charles Larson, Villisca, another of the company's officers, was at a battalion forward command post.

Lt. Murphy introduced me to Pfc. John Stoker, Fairfield, a medic, who got a purple heart for being wounded on duty as a litterbearer, and Cpl. George Rickoff, Mason City, a cook.

In the same regiment were Pfc. Early W. Bergland, Shenandoah, and Pfc. Ray Wagner, Des Moines both in an anti-tank company. Wagner's father, formerly of Prairie City and Des Moines, now lives in Axial, Colo.

Berlgand, who once lived in Red Oak, was one of 4 soldiers who had a pet parrot, whose actions caused much comment in the 91st. The parrot talked French, and drank Italian, or any other kind, of wine in any given amount so long as it could drink. When it got a broken leg, Bergland and the other 3 masters nursed it back to normal. It then vanished. Bergland doesn't know whether it was a nazi spy, a deserter or an ingrate.

Capt. Elmer Geronsin, Sibley, drove into a 34th division mobile arc welders plant while I was there talking to T/4 Clair Olson of Rapid City, S. Dak, about his pet dog, "Jump." The captain was inducted as a private in February of 1941 and attained the commission her held in the medical administrative corps.

"Jump", a woolly little blue terrier, was pooch-napped by Olson when he was a pup in Belfast, Ireland. He had gone through the African campaign safely and got along okay in Italy until at Cassino when he was wounded bu a nazi shell fragment and had to stay in bed 3 days.

I saw many jerry bursts in the American sector today.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, December 19, 1944

Return to News Index