Quad City Times

Davenport, IA

22 Dec 1944




Miles Meets Iowa Men in Visits at 'Hot Spots' of 34th and 91st Divisions

By Frank Miles
(IDPA War Correspondent)

With the fifth Army in Italy -- (IDPA) -- This winter day in a sea of mud under bright sunshine I visited "hot spots" in areas of the 34th and 91st divisions of the Fifth army.

Major Ronald Carley, Le Mars, and Capt. Robert R. Stary, Cedar Rapids, started me out from the 34th, the former by telling me where a forward artillery command post was, the latter by phoning there to see if I were welcome.

Pvt. (f.c.) Henry Gerveler, Jr., Fort Madison, wearing a special police arm band, met my jeep driver and me by a barn near the immediate destination.

"Since you're from Iowa and I like all good Iowans, 'specilly those born in my home town, I'd say you better get out of here," he said. "Jerries might mistake you for a soldier."

In the barn near some cows, I found Pvts. (f.c.) Howard Hutchins, Waterloo, and Merlin Fry, Independence. They agreed it was an unhealthy place.

A quarter of a mile down a lane s tall pleasant youth in front of a house, which was being used as an observation post and aid station, asked me how I kept my feet so free of mud. He was First Sergt. Bob Lange, Wilton Junction.


Major Jacob Magnami, Mason City, who was in command there, made himself known. We were in the Iowa national guard at the same time.The major has mad a great record overseas but preferred to talk about his three brothers, Second Lieut. Tony, in Italy; Pvt. Mike, in the air corps somewhere overseas and Pvt. Carl Magnani is in the marines in the South Pacific.

We watched Allied dive bombers drop lethal eggs on Nazi positions while we visited, heard American shells whistle over and some Nazi shells crunch in water-logged earth around us.

In the next half hour the major say that I met Sergt. Sherlyn Hansen, Mason City, formerly of Riceville; Tech. Sergt. Earl Egert, Bennett; Lieut. Joe Dennis, Cedar Falls; T/5 Wesley Edwards, Keokuk; Pvt. Ralph J. Reyes, Des Moines; Pvt. (f.c.) Dale Strawn,St Charles; Pvt. (f.c.) Charles F Smith, Mason City; and Pvt. (f.c.) Kenneth Tinkey, Waterloo. These men had been overseas more than 30 months -- in the British Isles, thru Africa and much of the campaign in Italy.

Pvt. (f.c.) Joseph Braco, New York, proudly informed he "came over with these corn feds," and T/4 Sam Cicerale, New York, said he "liked 'em."

Major Magnani and I noticed that an Allied bomber was in trouble as it winged over us. In a 91st division sector I learned the plane had crashed. Soon afterwards I saw the dead, mangled body of the pilot and the graves registration officers put it in a trailer towed by a jeep and drive away. Bystanders resumed that what they had been doing as our shells whistled and Nazis shells exploded nearby.

Sergt. Robert A. Pfander, Osceola, was in an outfit on rest, soon to return to the combat zone. Pvt. Wilbur Halter, Baxter, was in his platoon. Both were replacements in a company that almost had been wiped out by Jerry tanks. They had been here since September.

Source: Quad City Times, December 22, 1944

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