Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

08 Jan 1945




Miles Hears 2 Friends Are Casualties

By Frank Miles
(Iowa Daily Press Ware Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy (IDPA) -- "He was killed in action 3 days after he last talked with you."

That was the answer I got when I asked the whereabouts of a tall, Iowa farm boy, who had been a tank commander when I visited his outfit up front.

I had met him after we crawled out of his machine in the field 7 weeks earlier and converse with him a few minutes 3 days later.

"We were attacking - a Jerry shell hit his tank and a piece of shrapnel went through his stomach," a buddy explained. "He was a grand guy."

"Tough," I said, trying to swallow a lump in my throat. "Well, where is _______?"

"He's been missing in action 10 days. The Jerries made it so hot for his tank the crew abandoned it. Three of them got back but we haven't heard from him since," I was told.

Again I choked. I had met the missing lad, who was from Iowa, at the time I became acquainted with the slain youth.

He may be a prisoner. I hope so. It's bad enough for a soldier to die and his body given a Christian, military burial. It's worse for one to lie out exposed to the elements and insects.

Comrades of the 2 departed Hawkeyes, including 3 from our state showed me their winter "village" on a mountain slope so located the crest provided protection from the enemy shells fired from the north. Many holes in the area showed that the nazis were trying to dislodge them.

Each of a collection of huts was a combination of cave, ammunition boards, sacks of sand and a pup tent which was occupied by two men. A ceiling was not high enough for a soldier of medium height to stand upright but the 2 cots within were dry if not wholly safe. A bunk used by one had been left behind by the Germans.

"We try to build our house to keep out German heat and Italian cold," grinned another.

As I slogged back to my jeep I wished people at home, who think our soldiers over here are on a sightseeing tour, might live a day and a night with that tank outfit.

Earlier I met Capt. Clayton Horton, of Fairfield, who had just returned from a furlough to home.

"I don't think I spent more than two and a half hours away from my wife and five-year-old daughter, Mary Sue, all the time I was there," he said.

Captain Horton, who joined the Iowa National Guard in 1926, first came overseas in February, of 1942.

Seven more Iowans, all of the 133rd infantry, 34th "Red Bull" division, have been awarded the bronze star:

For Heroic achievement in action -- Staff Sgt. Leland D. Wiggins, Toledo, Posthumously; Tech. Sgt. Pierce D. Montgomery, Forest City; Sgt. Byron R. Parr, Comanche; Cpl. Henry A. Jones, Knoxville; Pfc. Henry S. Mennenga, Reinbeck.

For meritorious service in combat -- Capt. John G. Goettsch, Sioux City

For meritorious service in support of combat operations - Sgt. Charles W. Rusch, Davenport

Jerry planes have been strafing roads, installations and bases at night in the sector, where I am billeted, and as if that were not enough to disturb sleep, however produces earthquakes, gave us a couple of tremors on a recent morning. Natives said the shocks were the worse since 1929.

I found my quarters "invaded" one night by a rat. He and I went 'round and 'round with me throwing a brush at him until he jumped up on a window sill and tried to escape between the shutter, which was slightly ajar. That's where he made the fatal mistake.

Announcement has been made that eight more Iowa "old timers" of the 34th division were homeward bound on 30-day furloughs:

Pvt. Max E. Larson, Harlan; Staff Sgt. Luther M. Severson, Riceville; Sgt. Harold R. Kerch, Kanawha; Lt. James D. Bell, Bennett; Cpl. Lester A. Lampe, Waverly; Pfc. Lorin B. Schipper, Villisca; Staff Sgt. Raymond F. Wunnenberg, Mediapolis, and Lt. Donald G. Caviness, Fairfield.

Larson has the combat infantryman badge; his brother LaVerne, is a navy lieutenant, and a brother Hueneme, is an army private.

Severson, has the purple heart with an oak leaf cluster; his brother, Milford, is in the navy, a brother, Erling, is a flight officer in Italy, and another brother Willard, is an army sergeant in France.

Kerch has the good conduct medal and pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon.

Bell has the purple heart and two brothers in service - Pfc. Harold, in the army, and Keith, in the navy.

Lampe has the combat infantryman badge.

Schipper's brother, Donald, is at Camp Hood. Wunnerberg has the bronze star, the purple heart and good conduct medal.

Caviness's brother, Dale is in the navy.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 8, 1945

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