Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

10 Oct 1944





Higgins and Gillette Get Legion of Merit

By FRANK MILES (Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the Fifth Army in Italy (IDPA) -- Iowa was twice honored lately when Col. Melvin E. Gillette and Major G. Higgins were in Des Moines in 1916, joined the 3rd Iowa regiment of the Iowa National Guard soon afterward and awarded the legion of merit.

Colonel Gillette, a regular army officer was graduated from Des Moines college was with that outfit in its Mexican border service. After the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, he served in the 34th division in which there were many Iowans at Camp Cody and overseas.

The colonel was one of the first army motion picture men in Hollywood and has much to do with the production of army training pictures.

As assistant signal officer in charge of the army pictorial service with the 5th army, he won his citation for exceptionally meritorious conduct on performance of outstanding services in Italy in the period from Oct. 8, 1943 to June 15, 1944.

He is now officer in charge of the Army pictorial service of allied forces headquarters.

Mrs. Gillette is at Jackson Heights, N.Y., but the colonel is credited to Iowa.

Major Higgins, 28, is a graduate of Clinton high school. He was formerly purchasing contract officer for the CCC in Iowa. While in that job as a civilian he obtained a commission as a reserve army officer, and was called to active duty in the ordnance section of the army in May 1941. He arrived overseas in November, 1942 and has been with the Fifth Army ever since it was organized. His service has taken him through Africa and Italy up to where the 5th was when it was written. His citation covered the period from April 1, 1943, to June 5, 1944.

The major's residence is now in Des Moines. He has a wife and daughter, Judith, 4 1/2 years of age, there. His stepfather, Julius Johannsen, lives in Clinton.

Lt. Vernon Carson, who operates the first army mobile radio station, hails from Clinton, where he was engaged in radio work before he joined the army.

Lt. Gen. Mark Clark, commanding the 5th, recently promoted him from 2nd lieutenant. He and Major Higgins were friends in high school in Clinton.

"Buddy, you've about walked me to death today," Cpl. Marvin Siegel, of Sioux City, Iowa was saying to a soldier friend when I ran into them in Rome.

Serving in the ground forces at an army air base in Italy, the 2 GI's were on 3 days' leave and had been sight seeing. Shortage of taxicabs and buses forced them to "get around on the hoof," they explained.

The corporal when at Central high school was an outstanding football player at guard. He later attended Trinity college, and was a civil service employee at the Sioux City air base when he donned the uniform. In the 10 months he had been overseas, he has been through several bombings.

Mrs. Siegal is in Sioux City.

"Are you going to vote?" I asked him.

"You betcha," he replied.

Siegel has no fears about what the future might hold for World War II veterans.

"Our government will see that we come through all right," he said.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, October 10, 1944

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