Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

25 Oct 1944





Miles Learns Views of 2 Iowa Soldiers

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy (IDPA) -- Sgt. Langston Parks, Council Bluffs, and Pfc. Robert D. Matthews, Des Moines, were among the soldiers in the 92nd (Negro) division fighting in north Italy when I was visiting in their area. Parks was in the military police and Matthews in intelligence and reconnaissance.

Nazis 2,000 yards distant on a mountain crest dropped shells on a road near us intermittently while we talked.
"I am in this to the finish if I am spared but I'll surely be glad to see Iowa again," smiled Parks, who enlisted Jan. 30, 1941. "It's a great place - God's country."

"In my work I have much to do with the German prisoners, some of whom tell me more would surrender if they had not been told by their officers we were savages, who would cut their throats or slice off their ears and that if they gave themselves up their women folks would be enslaved," he continued.

"Those who fear being mutilated are positively terror stricken when brought in. We soon convince them they will be well treated, and I wish there were some way we could assure their comrades that if they would quit, their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and sweethearts would not be harmed."

Sergeant Parks was graduated in 1934 from Council Bluffs' Abraham Lincoln high school, where he took and enjoyed R.O.T.C. training. His athletic ability got him a scholarship and a room and board job at Parsons college, Fairfield. He finished there in 1938. He was a halfback on the football team there which won the Iowa college conference championship in 1936, on the basketball team as center and guard and the track team as a high jumper and 440 dash man. In college and high school he ran in 3 Drake relays. After leaving Parsons he taught at Fayetteville, Ark., until he entered military service.

The sergeant was at Fort Crook, Nebr., Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.,and at Fort Huachua, Ariz., before arriving overseas with the 92nd July 15, 1944.

"After the Germans and Japanese are beaten I think there will be more opportunities for Negroes in America than ever before," he said. "I have no patience for those who say there will be a serious race problem. That sounds like enemy propaganda to me. The fine spirit of co-operation which exists between white and Negro outfits in the army will be carried into civilian life."

Sergeant Parks has a brother Calvin, who is staff sergeant in the army air forces at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. Two brothers served in World war I, the late Walker Parks, Bentonville, Ark., in the navy and Garland, a sergeant, who lives at Springfield. Mo.

Private Matthews,19, was graduated from North high school in June of 1943, and was inducted at Camp Dodge the following July 2. After that he was at Camp Wheeler, Ga., with the AST at Hampton Va., and trained for 9 months with the 92nd at Fort Huachua before coming across.

"I have seen the worse and the best in the army and it's not pleasant to be under fire, but I like it," he declared.
Upon discharge he expects to study pathology at the University of Iowa.

The Negroes of the 92nd who are from almost every state in the union are making an excellent record.

On my trip to the sector I was accompanied by Maj. Henry Ehrlich, Boston, of 5th army public relations, Sgt. Robert Geake, Fort Wayne, Ind., who has had 5 articles published in the Saturday evening Post. We got lost once and in trying to find out way bounced over roads which made the noise of our jeep almost drown the reports of the shells Yanks were hurling at nazis.

Two white Le Mars, Iowa soldiers here are Cpl. Dick Osterbuhr of a cannon company, who has a wife and a 2 year-old child he has never seen, and Pvt. Donald Winchester, who drives a 2 1/2 ton "six by six" truck for the 11th Field Hospital. Both have been overseas almost 3 years and have seen much action.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, October 25, 1944

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