Plymouth County

Willard Stearns


Willard Stearns, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Stearns, now of Des Moines, spent a year or two with the Marines in Shanghai, who were evacuated before Japan’s attack, probably to Manila.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, December 9, 1941


Reports of war causalities are becoming more frequent and several Plymouth County service men have been reported killed. The last few days reports from both Africa and the Southwest Pacific areas have added information as to men first reported missing who are now definitely known to be prisoners.

Willard Stearns, who had several years service with the Marines and was at Shanghai a few days before war started, was first reported missing but is now definitely known to be a prisoner of the Japs at Taiwan. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Stearns, moved from LeMars to Des Moines after he entered the service.

Joseph L. Wetrosky, living west of Kingsley, received a telegram Monday from the War Department in Washington, D.C., that his son, Joseph L. Wetrosky, was missing in Africa in the period of February 17. He went into the army two years ago, and was among one of the first groups overseas.

First Class Private Mathias M. Ruba, son of Mrs. Lena Ruba, of LeMars, was announced by the war department Thursday as being a prisoner in the Philippines.

William Bastian Westerberg, 22, boilermaker, second class, is a prisoner of the Japanese, the navy department has notified his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Axel Westerberg, of Hinton. Young Westerberg was born and raised in Sioux City. He attended school here and was graduated from Hinton high school. He is a grandson of the late W. H. Bastian.

Source: LeMars Sentinel, March 16, 1943


Mrs. Frank Stearns has received word from her son, Willard Stearns, from Tokyo, Japan. The message was on a Japanese card and stated that he was well, “health as usual.” He said that he had not heard from home since 1941.

The message came through Switzerland through the medium of the Red Cross. As Willard did not know that his parents had moved to Des Moines, the card was sent to LeMars. He was captured by the Japs at Bataan.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, Thursday, July 29, 1943


Willard Stearns, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Stearns of Des Moines, was serving with the Marines in Shanghai, China, before the Japanese attacked and the last letter he wrote stated his outfit was to be moved to Manila.  His parents, who moved from LeMars to Des Moines about that time, have had no direct word from him since then until last week they received a prisoner of war card from him written in July, 1944, saying he was well and had received some letters and packages from them.  It is presumed he was captured in the Philippines and transferred to a Jap prison in some other island.  Mr. and Mrs. Stearns are hoping to receive more definite and recent word from him now that prisoners held by the Japs are being released.

Source: LeMars Sentinel, September 18, 1945