Plymouth County

William Bastian Westerberg

Woodbury County



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

Name Iowa Men Held Prisoners

Navy, Was Department List Men of City and the Area

Washington -- The navy department announced Thursday the names of 1,044 United States Navy personnel, including six Iowans, held as prisoners of war by the Japanese, mostly in the Philippine Islands.

Iowans listed were:

LeRoy F. Barber, gunner’s mate, son of Mrs. Nora Barber, 920 Wright Avenue, Sioux City;
Milford Nielsen, yeoman, son of Mrs. Hattie Westphalen, Hartley;
John W. Reimer, Jr. aviation chief metalsmith, son of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Reimer, Sr., Havelock;
Steve M. Sorensen, chief boatswain’s mate, brother of Hans K. Sorensen, 123 S. Davidson Street, Sioux City;
Rudolph P. Steck, chief commissary steward, son of Mr. Carrie Garber, 416 S. Lafayette Street, Sioux City;
William B. Westerberg, boilermaker, son of John A. ; Westerberg, Hinton.

– The war department has announced the following Iowas as being held prisoners of war by Italy:

Private Milford W. Beldt, son of Mrs. Albona Beldt, route 1, Sheldon;
Corporal Arthur P. Clemitson, son of Halvor A. Clemitson, route 2, Graettinger;
Private Marion DeVries, son of Mrs. Jennie DeVries, route 2, Orange City;
Private Delbert J. Beirne, son of Mrs. Bright A. Beirne, Denison;
Corporal Richard A. Lavrenz, son of Fred W. Lavrenz, Burt;
Private Merwin L. Thompson, son of Lewis Thompson, Okoboji.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, May 14, 1943

Mr. and Mrs. John A. Westerberg of Hinton have recently received their first direct word from this son, Bill, who is interned in a Japanese prison camp on the Philippine Islands. However, more recent news from the United States government stated that William has just been transferred to the island of Japan. The message from their son came on a typewritten Japanese postal card and his message read as follows: “I am interned in the Osaka Umeda Bunsho Prisoner of War Camp. My health is excellent. I am working for pay. Please see that everybody is taken care of. My love to you all. –William.”

Source: LeMars Sentinel, August 23, 1943


Cpl. Roger Westerberg, son of Mr. and Mrs. A. W. (sic) Westerberg of Anthon, has returned to his Marine base in California, after spending part of a furlough visiting relatives in Sioux City.  Cpl. Westerberg has spent two years overseas and participated in the battles of Tarawa and Saipan.  A brother, Billy Westerberg, in the Navy, has been a prisoner of war since the fall of Corrigedor and Bataan.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, February 26, 1945

NOTE re: (sic): Other news articles about these Westerberg servicemen list their parents accurately as Mr. and Mrs. John Axel Westerberg, of Hinton, IA. 

William B. Westerberg, boilermaker first class, who has been a prisoner of the Japanese since the fall of Corregidor, has been liberated and is on his way home. He informed his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Westerberg, of Hinton, by cablegram from Guam. He stated that he was well and would be home soon. His parents said that he was taken prisoner on Corregidor, and was later transferred to a prison work camp in the south part of Japan. In the navy for six and a half years, he has not been home since his enlistment. He has one brother in service, Cpl. Roger J. Westerberg, now stationed at Nyland, Calif., who served for 27 months with the marines in the South Pacific. Mr. and Mrs. Westerberg have three other sons and two daughters who are at home.

FREDONIA: (Special Correspondence)
Mr. and Mrs. John A. Westerberg received a cablegram today, Thursday, from their son, Bill, who is now at Guam awaiting evacuation to the United States. He has more than seven years of naval experience to his credit, half of which he has been a prisoner of war of the Japs.

Source: LeMars Sentinel, September 18, 1945

William Bastian Westerberg was born Apr. 27, 1920 to John A. and Elizabeth Herch Westerberg. He died Dec. 17, 1988 and is buried in Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, CO.