Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

17 Oct 1944




Find Iowans in Visit to Front Line

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy, Oct.13 --(IDPA) --Up front in the 91st division area with Michael Stern, of the North American Newspaper Alliance, and Sumner, Iowa born, 2nd Lt. Roger Cass, of Oakland, Cal., as our escort, my visit was on a day when Americans and nazis were hurling heavy artillery shells at each other.

Infantry men sought concealment in fox holes and other places.

Lieutenant Cass was taken by his parents to California in 1925. He was in the marine corps 4 years, joined the army as an enlisted man 5 years ago and climbed through the ranks to a commission. We had seen a pilot bailing out from his fighter plane which had been shot down by German ack-ack. Later we saw the smouldering ruins of the ship narrowly miss a Yank outpost when ti crashed. The pilot landed safely.

At another outpost I asked a lieutenant:

"Any Iowans here?"

"Any Iowans here?" he called, sticking his head out of a door of the shack in the direction of a hay stack.

"Here's one," answered a doughboy.

He was Sgt. Arnold E. Hailer, of Charles City.

"Here's another," from a GI who came through a hedge fence.

He was Sgt. John S. Garber of Atlantic.

"I'm from Iowa, too," smiled a tall young officer from behind me.

He was Lt. Clarence Larson of Ft. Dodge.

The 4 of us held a Hawkeye reunion.

"Pretty hot here," I remarked.

"Yes, but it's hotter for those Krauts over there," Hailer said, indicating the enemy position.

Garber was proud that he and Mrs. Garber had been married by my friend, the Rev. P.N. McDermott at Atlantic. He had a son, Thomas, Jr., 2 years of age, and confided he expected to become a father.

Both Garber and Hailer wore the coveted combat infantryman's badge.

From there Lieutenant Cass, Stern and I took a course behind foot hills and through trees to reach a 3rd outpost. A few minutes after we arrived, a major informed us the Jerries were dropping shells on and near the road over which we had come, but said we hadn't drawn the fire. Leaving there I crawled into a fox hole and talked a few minutes with 3 GI's. They were grim but smiled readily.

That same afternoon I saw 17 German prisoners, who had been captured the night before and were under guard in a barn, and 18 more brought in - 12 in one group and 6 in another. All had been taken that day. They were well uniformed except for their shoes.They looked well fed.

That forenoon I met Warrant Officer J.G. Vernon Benda, 28, of Cedar Rapids, who before he became a soldier was graduated from Grant high school, studied music at Coe college and worked for the Chandler company. He is now secretary to the major general, commanding the 91st, a rapid rise for the young Iowan. He was stripped to the waist, taking a field bath from a helmet when accosted him.

I also ran into Sgt. Tom J. Carroll, of Davenport, and Pvt Tom Burger, of Iowa City, both of the MP's guarding prisoners of war. Carroll, a former deputy sheriff of Scott county, and Burger, a former Johnson county deputy, were among the first 100 selectees from Iowa to join the 91st division. Carroll has a 14 year old daughter in Davenport and Burger a wife in Iowa City.

The nazis staged a heavy counter-attack that night. It was repulsed with far heavier losses to them than to the Americans. In a jeep early the next morning John McTigue, of Washington, D.C., United Nations news correspondent, and I saw 20 American ambulances coming from the direction of the battlefield and going slowly over rough places in the road to an evacuation hospital we had just passed.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, October 17, 1944

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