Share Your Story


As part of constructing the South Dakota World War II Memorial, we want to preserve the stories of South Dakotans during that period. Please share with us a story of your experience during that time.



            Tech 4, HQ CO. 2ND Battalion 386th Infantry Regiment

            Of Fruitdale. Son of James Thornton and Laura Tetreault McIntire . Graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1943.

            Inducted Mar. 13,1944, at Ft. Crook, NE.  Truck Driver, light.  Served 2 years, 1month, 18 days, of which 1 year, 2 days, was overseas.  Left U.S. Feb.19, 1945,arrived in Europe Mar.2; returned to U.S. June, 1945, left for Pacific Aug.28, 1945, returned to U.S. April 23,1946

            Joined his father in the Bee Business in Fruitdale on his return.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001




            Drafted from Butte County-Oct., 1942, and was discharged at Camp McCoy, WI, January,1946.

            Basic training was at Camp Polk, LA--maneuvered through southern states and Mohave Desert- prepares for the overseas at Lompoc, CA.

            Oversea Assignment--European-London and across channel-through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany-The Battle of the Bulge highlighted my experiences.  I was in full attendance from the beginning to the end.

            My main duties in the service were  clerical, guard duty, casualty reporting  {notification of next of kin}.

            P.S. I remember leaving from Belle Fourche on my trip to the service; briefly stated-two gentlemen to see me off were Elmer Conner and Walter Blake.  Walter was there to present me with a fifth of whiskey and Elmer {the sheriff} to see that I behaved myself.  There were others there, but don't remember.

            My departure from Belle Fourche was last of May, 1948-departing north of town, Iran into Mitch and Maurice Chasing Wild Horses.  They didn't believe I was leaving and neither did I.  I have been retired from the school business since July,1978.  The last 26 years as a school principal in Portland .  I really enjoyed it, as I do enjoying working and being friends of people.

            My family consists of two daughters and two grandkids; all doing well.  My wife is deceased.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            "Dies In Action- PFC Francis E. Mitchell"

            "PFC. Francis E. Mitchell, USMC, Belle Fourche, has been killed  in action".

            "Word was received here yesterday from the commandant of the Marine Corps that PFC. Mitchell had been killed in action in the bloody fighting for the island of Iwo Jima on the approaches to Japan." The brief report said Mitchell lost his life March 15.

            PFC. Mitchell had been in the Marine Corps since 1942.  He was originally attached to a Marine Corps Parachute Unit, then saw action in the fighting on New Britain.  He was a veteran of the treacherous battle for hill 66 in the Cape Gloucester Campaign.            "His wife and son are living in Belle Fourche, he is the son of Frank Mitchell, also of Belle Fourche."

            So read the front page story of the Saturday, March 31, 1945, issue of The Daily Belle

Fourche Post.  Another family had received that dreaded telegram, informing them a loved one had been killed.                    Francis Elvis Mitchell was born Oct. 5, 1918, in Gann Valley, SD.  He was working in this area when he met and married Mary Evelyn Durr of Belle Fourche.  Then the war began!

            On March 25, 1942, Francis signed the dotted line as an enlisted man, stating he had "voluntarily enlisted as a private in the Volunteer Marine Corps Reserve for the duration of the national emergency, unless sooner discharged by competent authority."  He placed his name on this document in Minneapolis and was then sent to San Diego for training. A short report in the local paper stated that Francis E. Mitchell, Belle Fourche, and Henry J. Kruger, Aladdin, passed their preliminary examinations in Rapid City and left that week for Minneapolis to take their final examinations.                A one cent card (an actual penny postcard) with a cancellation date of March 24, states he had just arrives in Minneapolis and expected to leave the next day for San Diego.  The next card, postmarked March 26, states "am on my way to San Diego ,will arrive Saturday.  Will write then".

            A letter, postmarked March 30, from San Diego and stamped with a 3 cent Thomas Jefferson stamp, arrived next.  He writes:  "I guess I am a Marine.  Just got through taking a couple of shots and beginning to stiffen up, I suppose tonight will be worse."  He states he had written to his wife and young son, Jerry, and that he hadn't seen Dick Hanify yet, who also just left for the Marines.                        He continues that they were confined to barracks.  "Tomorrow we will get our hair cut-and what a hair cut-they just take those electric clippers and run up the side of your head until there is just a spot as big around as a cup with hair, then instead of trimming you up a little bit, they just turn you loose.  Very Pretty. Guess it doesn't make much difference because there is no one to see you but a bunch of guys that look just as bad as you."

            Mitchell was home for one furlough after he had been engaged in several battles.  His father, Frank Mitchell, hosted a dinner in his honor at the Don Pratt Grill, inviting family and friends, after a fine meal, Frasncis spoke to the group, telling them of some of his experiences.            The morning of the Naval Vessel, he met Seaman Bob Denson of the Broadus area.  He asked Denson for a poncho or some covering for his rifle to protect it from the sea water as they went ashore for the bloody fighting.

            Mitchell lost his life o March 15, 1945.  The sad irony, March 16 the island was secured by the allies.            Mitchell's military record states he was killed in action on Iwo Jima of wounds, multiple, extreme.  Remains interred in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery, Iwo Jima, Plot 7, Row 2 Grave 1756, on March 17, 1945.

1943; Iwo Jima, Volcano Island, Feb. 19, 1945 to March 15, 1945.

            Francis was awarded the Silver Star Medal; Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon Bar with a Star; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal.

            In a letter dated June 1, 1948, his wife received notice she would receive the posthumous awards to which the late PFC. Mitchell was entitled; Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and the Victory Medal of World War II..

            Harlan J. Bushfield, then a United States Senator from South Dakota, sent Mrs. Mitchell a letter, dated May 30, 1945, stating he had just been informed of the death, he expressed his personal and sincere feeling of sympathy.  "There is little that anyone can say or do at such a time, but I want you to know that all of us who have some loved one ion this conflict have a boundless sympathy for each other.  I cannot relieve your grief, but I do send you my sympathy."

            After the war, the process of returning bodies of the service men began.  The Daily Post of April 14, 1949,mstates that Frank Mitchell had received word that a body of his son, Francis Mitchell, USMC, has been shipped to the United States for reburial in the National Cemetery near Sturgis.             Memorial services for PFC. Francis Mitchell were held on May 27, 1949.  The body arrived at Frost and Son Funeral Home on My 25.  Memorial rites were held at the Funeral Home with Rev. L. A. Johnson officiating.  Re-burial took place at the National Cemetery near Sturgis.

Francis was survived by his father, his wife, Mary, his son , Jerry and three sisters.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001



Thomas A. Newland grew up on a ranch in WY. And attended school in Belle Fourche.   He graduated from high school in 1937  and taught school in Montana before enlisting in 1942.  He became a Medical Administrative Officer now know as a Medical Service Corps. He served as Medical Officer aboard two different Victory Shops;  they were the Mulhemberg Victory and the USSR Victory.  He was discharged from Ft. Leavenworth in July, 1946, and returned to Montana to teach.  He later studied to be a Veterinarian and had his practice in California.  He lives in Southern California.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            Glenn Barton Norman was drifted out of Fall River County, May 26, 1943, Oelrichs, SD.  He chose the Navy for his service and trained at Farragut, ID. For boot camp, then radio school for 20 weeks.  He boarded the USS Steamer Bay, CVE{carrier vessel escort} at its launch site at Vancouver  WA, April 4,1944.  Glenn was on the this ship for over 2 years.  In 1947, the ship was placed in reserve, out of commission.  He was separated from service on March 12, 1946, in Minneapolis.  He went to CHADRON, NE, where he began work for Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.   Transferring to Belle Fourche in 1948, he married Letitia  Blackford April 15,1950.  They have two sons Rogue and Colby, and one grandson, Thrace.  He continued work with the C&NWR, Retiring after 40 years and 1 month.

            In September of 1993, 17 men of the USS Steamer Bay had a reunion at Omaha, NE.  Three days of stories  and memories were recalled, remembered and rehashed.  The story of their ship was that it had been sold for scrap in 1959 and was being towed to Japan when for some reason -- it sunk to the bottom of the Pacific.  The old sailors are still chucking--but NOT during WW II with them aboard!

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            PAUL STANLEY PETERSON WAS BORN ON February 26, 1922, in Denver, CO, the son of Verna  and Paul Peterson.  He moved with his family to the Nisland area in 1932 and attended schools there, graduating from Nisland High School in 1940.

            Stanley attended Spearfish normal school in Spearfish for a year and a half.  He married Dorothy Russell from Wanblee, SD.       When Stanley entered the service he received training with the 194th Glider Infantry at Camp Mackall, NC., and then in August of 1944 he was transferred to Camp Forrest, TN, with the 17th Airborne Division , this group sailed to Europe for further training England.

            On December 12,1944, he was among 30 young men who died while on a routine glider flight over Newbury, England, checking out older English gliders for possible future use.  The bodies were recovered and buried in England.

            William Stanley Peterson was born  a few months after his young father's death.

            In 1946 Stanley's body was brought back home with a military escort.  Final rites were held at the Peace Evangelical Church on the hill in Nisland and he is buried now at Pineslope Cemetery in Belle Fourche.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


Edwin C. Petranek was born Sept. 9, 1916, in White River, SD, to Joseph and Anna Petranek.  He attended county schools for eight  grades, then was graduated from White River High School in 1938. He attended college at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, and received his BS. degree there in 1942.

            At college graduation, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant with the R.O.T.C. Program and went to Camp Robinson, Arkansas, with the Amy Infantry.  His basic officer training was at Ft. Benning, GA, and Camp Rucker, AL,  where Ed was assigned to the 34th Infantry Division.

he was sent overseas as a replacement officer and crossed the Atlantic with a convoy and disembarked at Oran, Algeria, in Africa.  He was stationed for about a month  there.  He went to Bizerte, Tunisia, where he boarded an LST that took him to the replacement deport  in Naples, Italy.   He was assigned to the 36th Division on Dec. 15,1943, as a Platoon Leader.

            The 36th pushed to San Pietro with full combat against the Germans.  That Christmas was spent in a foxhole with lots of snow!

            In January, 1944, Ed was fighting with General Mark Clark's 5th Army.  He was with Company B of the 143rd Regiment on Jan. 20 and 21.  Those were two terror packed days of bloody attempts to cross the  treacherous Rapido River.  This fight decimated the 141st and the 143rd Infantry Regiments.  On Feb. 10, 1944, near Monte Cassino, Ed was hit by mortar fragments in his left shoulder and was returned to Naples  for hospitalization.  While there he ws able to witness the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius across Naples Bay. The ash accumulated to four inches deep and they waded through that on the sidewalks.

            After three weeks, he returned to his same unit and reorganized for the Anzio Beachhead assault.  May 18, 1944, was the break-out attack where they engaged in artillery, tank and infantry warfare at the last German defense before Rome.

            Rome fell to our forces the day before D-Day, June 5,1944, and Ed was among those who marched into the city.  After that, they pushed northward to Grosseto where they relieved and they moved back to Naples to prepare for the invasion of France.

            August 15, 1944, was D-Day on the Riviera!!! Their landing was at San Raphael, then seven days later they swept into Grenoble, the site of the University of France, 200 miles above the beaches.  Days later the Battle of Montelimar  left a litter of wreckage with tanks, trucks, and weapons testifying to the intensity of the action. 

            Sept. 3, 1944, Lyons was liberated and then the Moselle River was crossed on foot.  The men waded armpit deep in water, carrying  their packs and weapons.  Exhaustive fighting continued through the month and on to Tendon.  Ed and his men were fighting in the Vosges Wilderness when he received shrapnel wounds in his lower back that were taken care of by corpsmen in the field.  One week later he was hit in the lower right leg by an 88 shell fragment and was again hospitalized in Naples.  Surgery was performed, healing took place, and in another month he was sent back to France again with fighting in Selestate-Ribeauville-Riquewihr  sector.  The German Army was counter-attacking frequently.

            Christmas of 1944 was spent in Strasbourg, France, then the 36th Division was relieved from the line after 133 consecutive days of contact with the enemy.

            Early in 1945, the 36th Division began to move again, with Ed now a First Lieutenant and Company  Commander of CO. B. Ed could see the Rhine River near Oberhoffen, when he was wounded for the 4th time on Feb. 10,1945.  His right hip was shattered, his hearing permanently impaired from close cannon fire. For his gallantry in this action , he was awarded the Silver Star Medal.

            He was evacuated to a hospital near Paris, then to a series of hospitals there and in England for his hip surgery, traction for weeks with pins in his left knee, then into a full body cast.  He was put aboard the U.S. Army St. Olaf Hospital Ship on April 21,1945, and arrived at Halloran General Hospital on May 10, 1945.  From there a hospital train took him, still in his full body cast, across the continent to Barnes General Hospital in Vancouver, WA.  They had him walking within three weeks.  He was at Barnes until Oct.12,1945, when he was assigned to limited active duty as a company executive officer at Camp Roberts, CA. From October,1945 to July, 1946, when Ed received a medical discharge.  He remained in the Army Reserves and was officially discharged in 1956.

           Medals received, besides the Silver Star, included the Purple Heart with 3 oak leaf clusters, The Bronze Star with cluster for meritorious service, Infantry Combat Badge, The Victory

Medal,  European Theater Combat  Ribbon with 4 stars and an Invasion Arrowhead.

            After his honorable discharge, he went home to White River and Vermillion for a time, then was hired as a high school principal and coach at Colome, SD.  There he met and married Alice Gooby Schweight on June 23, 1948.  They moved to Vermillion where Ed worked toward his master's degree at the University of South Dakota, and their son Rodney was born there in 1950.

            That fall he began his teaching career at Belle Fourche, where he taught until retirement in 1979.  Ed's hobbies have been with antique cars and wood working.  He has been a contributing citizen of Belle Fourche theses past forty-plus years.  Ed is an avid reader and gardener these days.

            Silver Star Citation:  Issued from Headquarters, 36th Infantry Division, U.S. Army for Gallantry if Action.  A Silver Star Medal is awarded to First Lieutenant Edwin C. Petranek.  The Citation reads "Edwin C. Petranek, First Lieutenant, 143d Infantry Regiment, for Gallantry in Action on 10 February, 1945, in France.  During an attack through a wooded area Lt. Petranek left his men in a covered position and moved forward alone to reconnoiter a clearing.  Shortly after he left the tree line he was fired on and painfully wounded by an enemy machine gun.  As enemy artillery shells began bursting in the area, he valiantly crawled forward  and observed a cleverly concealed enemy road block.  He returned to his men and directed small arms and tank destroyer fire on the position, eliminating the road block and enabling his men to continue forward .  Lt. Petranek then gallantly remained with his company, refusing to be evacuated for medical  treatment until he had led his men to their objective, reorganized the and planned its defense.  Entered the service from White River, South Dakota."  The Citation is signed by John E. Dahlquist,  Major General, U.S. Army, Commander.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            Wayne L. Pluimer was born on a farm near Goodland, Indiana, Feb. 17, 1922, to Fred and Grace Plumier.  I was the third child in a family of 12 chrildren-8 boys and 4 girls.  My first 10 1/2 years I attended school in Morocco, Indiana and moved with my family t Belle Fourche, SD, in February of 1938.  I worked until school started in 1940. Tom Gay hired me as a night man so I could afford school and graduate from BFHS in 1941.

            I enlisted in the USN on July 8, 1942, attended boot camp at Great Lakes, Il.  I was then sent to Iowa State College for Electrical  School and assigned to Amphibious Base at Solomons, MD, then further training an LCT'S in Florida.  From Florida was sent to Mare Island, CA, to pick up new LCT.  This was loaded in 3 sections on top deck of LST which carried us VIA Pago Pago, New Zealand, in to Sidney, Australia.  We re-assembled our LCT in Sidney Harbor.  From there we went to Nelson's Bay, just out of Newcastle, NSW where we trained with the Army for amphibious landings.  Then up to Brisbane for more training .  From there we towed behind a Liberty Ship inside the Great Barrier Reef to Port Moresby, New Guinea.  We proceeded up the NG Coast and took part in 7 amphibious landings in New Guinea and New Britain with Aitape being stop before being rotated home to U.S.    

            After leaving, I reported in to Solomons, MD, again, then sent to Boston to help put new Landing Craft Support [LCS] into commission.  We sailed from Boston to Norfolk to Key West to Panama, San Diego, then across to Pearl Harbor and Saipan.  The LCS carried a crew of 70 and was loaded with 40MM, 20MM, 30 and 4.5 cal rockets and was designed for close-in support for amphibious landings.  I took part in Okinawa invasion as part of the deceptive force to threaten landing an East Coast while main landing was on the West Coast.  After the invasion was secure, we were assigned to run picket duty to stop reinforcement from coming from the North Islands and Japan.  When Okinawa was secured, I was sent back to Saipan to prepare for Japanese landing.  We watched the daily bombing runs of the B-29'S to Japan.  It was there that we heard of the dropping of the first atomic bomb, after the second bomb and Japanese surrender I was rotated home and discharged Oct. 27,1945, at St. Louis MO.   

            After the war, Tom and Doris Gay again encouraged me to continue my education.  I attended the S.D. School of Mines under the GI bill and received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering in 1949. I worked a year for Northern State Power Company in Sioux Falls, when Tom Gay again called me to take over his business, The Truck Stop in Belle Fourche.  I did- in 1950 and in 1958 I built Wayne' s Service, operating it until I sold it in 1984.  While in business in Belle Fourche, I served ten years on the Belle Fourche School Board and another ten years as a Butte County Commissioner, and was , and still am a member of the VFW and American Legion in Belle Fourche.

            I married June Heisler on June 5, 1948, and our first son was born in August 1949, the same weekend I finished college.  Our family grew to 7 children, three boys and 4 girls all who worked in the family business and graduated from BFHS. June and I live in Spearfish Canyon, SD, and have 15 grandchildren.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001



            Emmett Gene Riley was born Jan.19, 1921, about 8 miles east of Rochford, SD, the son  

of Thomas and Eva Riley and the grandson of James M. and Ellen Rose Riley-settlers from Nebraska who came to the Black Hills in the late 1870s.  A family of six boys and 5 girls, Emmett attended Gimlet Creek School through the eighth grade.  He grew up in the Rochford, Mystic and Pactola area.  He left home at 16 years of age and worked as a ranch hand throughout Montana and Wyoming logging camps until he entered the service.

            Emmett entered the service Sept. 2, 1942, at Sundance, WY.  He was sent to Fort Logan, Colorado Basic Training [O.C.A.] Oklahoma City Air Force Bas e Depot for a two week period.  From there, was sent to Estler Field, LA, for more basic training [had 18 days in service by now] when they received overseas duty [APO 709],Army Post Office shipping order.  Left Louisiana Sept.30, 1942 for Camp Stoman, CA [which was the largest port of Embarkation in the United States]where more than one million men left for the overseas.  We left Camp Stoman after four weeks of running up and down those hills not far from San Francisco.  Boarded ship Halloween night [ship was Clip Fontane] a converted Danish Luxury Liner that was built for 600 first class passengers.  There were  three thousand two hundred aboard [crowed to say the least].

            We left in a large convey.  We were unlucky enough that our ship was the Flag Ship[a lot of brass]! Uneventful ocean crossing except for two sub attacks, no damage was done.  We landed on the Island of New Caledonia [an old French Penal Colony Island], on Thanksgiving Day.  Left New Caledonia second week in Jan. 1943, for Fiji Island bound for Nandi Air Force Base where we were stationed until the last week of July for the Solomon Islands.  We landed on Guadalcanal Friday, August,13, 1943.  We saw our first Japanese Fighter Plane and learned quite a bit about the destruction for war the first.  The USS John Penn was sunk about 1 mile off shore by the Japanese torpedo planes, there was no survivors.  We stayed at Guadalcanal for 15 months and two weeks on a fighter strip [Fighter 2 which by the way I learned was an 18 hole golf course when I returned there in 1992] .We left Guadalcanal November,1944, for a short stopover in New Guinea  on our way to the Island of Morotai, which is in the Netherlands East Indies Island Group.  We were there from mid-December until after the war ended.  We flew out of Morotia the last week of August, 1945, for the Philippines to the Island of Samar and remained there until we left for the Leyte [another island], en route  to the United States and home.  Left the Philippines the 18th of November,1945, landed at Los Angeles Dec. 10th en route to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  Was discharged from Army Air Corps, on December 18, 1945.

            Came to Belle Fourche after service in the fall of 1946, worked in construction .  Met and married Dawn Anderson March 6, 1949.  He has operated the business of Riley Sand and Redimix [R.S.R] with son Zane for the past 21 years.

My personal remarks in closing; I have been fortunate enough to return to most of the islands where I had been during the war.  It had been a dream of mine or an obsession[which grew stronger as I grew older to go back and visit the areas].  In 1978, February 5th, I flew back to Fiji Islands where I spent four days reminiscing and sightseeing.  The old Nandi Air Force Base that we ran in 1943 is now a Jumbo Jet Nandi Airport [same runway just bigger] .

Went from there to Sidney, Australia, where I spent 2 days and from there to Port Morsby [ capital of New Guinea] then over to Owen Stanley Mountains to Mandangs, a beautiful seaport town on the North shore of New Guinea. I then traveled by jeep West 95 miles to the small plantation named, Bogiea,  ran by my wife's first cousin and her husband who have been Lutheran Missionaries in New Guinea for over 20 years.  I stayed  with them for 8 days, found and have pictures of Japan and  American planes that had been shot down in the jungles in 1942, left New Guinea for the Philippines.  I stayed in Manilla, and went to the Island of Corregidor and to where the old prison camps Bilbid and Sanatomas were.  I  did a lot of sightseeing while in the Philippines, came home from Manilla having been gone about 25 days.

I again had been fortunate to take another trip back to the island of Guadalcanal where we stayed so long during the war[15 1/2 months] .  I left Friday, March 13th, 1991, which is ironic because we landed there the first time Friday, August 13, 1943!  It was much nicer and more peaceful this time.  Stayed at the beautiful Mendana Hotel in the same town of Honiara[capital of Solomon Islands], a town of about 35,000 people.  When we went ashore there in 1943, there was absolutely nothing there except a sandy beach.  I stayed there 5 days, and did much sightseeing.  I saw the only surviving Wild Cat Fighter Plane off the aircraft carrier Lexington that was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea [the type Joe Foss flew when he got his Congressional Medal of Honors].  Saw two of our P-38 Fighters from the 70th Fighter Squadron they had fished out of ocean.  As I mentioned before, our one coral and one metal fighter strip is now a beautiful 18 hole golf course.  I got to see them dedicate the Lungga River Bridge-a new-11 million dollar structure [money furnished by Japanese], landed and left from Henderson Field which has been famous for over 50 years.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            Born:  Linton, ND. On Dec. 15,1923.  Parents:  Joseph and Catherine Schmaltz.  Attended school in Belle Fourche area at- Ingersoll, White and Belle Fourche public.  Graduated from Belle Fourche High School, class of 1942.

            Inducted into U.S. Coast Guard at Omaha Receiving Station on 4-8-43.  Attended Boot Camp and Damage Control Training at Manhattan Beach Training Station, Brooklyn, NY and temporary duty at Ellis Island Receiving Station, NY

            Shipped out to sea on destroyer escort USS Howard D. Crow{DE 252} on April 1,1944.  Served approximately two years on this ship in anti-submarine protection of convoys of Troop Ships, Merchant Ships and Ammunition Ships with Brooklyn Navy Yard as Home Port.

            During this period the DE-252 made seven round trips crossings of the North Atlantic Ocean making port at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, five times; Liverpool, England, one time; with a detour to LaHavre, France, one time.

            After V.E. Day the DE-252 sailed through the Panama Canal to San Diego, CA., and Hawaii, then on to patrol at Eniwetok, Tulagi, Midway, and Guadalcanal Islands.

            After V.J. Day the ship returned via Panama Canal to Jacksonville ,FL. to be decommissioned and mothballed.

T. Schmaltz was honorably discharged at the U.S. Coast Guard separation center at St. Louis, Missouri, as CM3C on March 20, 1946.  He returned to Belle Fourche and joined his father and later brother Vince in the construction business.

            In 1950 he married Evalyne Kouf in Belle Fourche.  The couple have one daughter, Cathy Jacobsen at Denver, Co, and one son Larry, at Tampa FL., two granddaughters, Jennifer and Heather Jacobsen.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            Vincent A. Schmaltz was born on July 3, 1921 at Strasburg ND., to Joseph and Catherine Schmaltz.  He moved with his family of 5 brothers and 3 sisters and parents to Belle Fourche in 1932.  He attended school there graduating in 1940.  He worked for Guy Voyles delivering gas and at the local movie theater until he enlisted in the Army in May,1941.

            He was a member of the 382nd Base Headquarters and AB Squadron serving in the State.  During his years in the service he was Chief Clerk in Administrative Inspections, Technical Inspector and Air Inspector.  He supervised from 10-20 personnel in various clerical duties, made system and administrative procedures of base organization, drew supplies and equipment for the department He was acting First Sergeant for the department and organization for 1,600 men.  He was a Chemical Warfare Rifle and Drill Instructor.  He had achieved the rank of Tech Sergeant on the Army Air Force when he was discharged from Ft. Bliss, TX., on Nov. 8,1945.

He returned to work at Rapid City, SD., as a manager of a movie theater where he met and married Loretta Didier on Nov. 25,1946.  They live in Deadwood several months until they moved back to Belle Fourche to work with his father and brother in the Masonry Business.  He and his brother, Tony, still work in the business known as Schmaltz and Sons Masonry Contractors.  They have been in business since May, 1947.

            Vince attends St. Paul's Catholic Church, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, Moose Lodge, life member of the VFW, and Elks of Rapid City.  He was a member of the Cosmopolitan Club, active member for many years in Boy Scouts and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Veterans Association that built the Vets Club in 1952 and maintained almost 30 years.

            Vince and Loretta still live in Belle Fourche, they have two children and five grandchildren.  Their daughter, Vicki French lives in Wayne ,NE., with her husband, Gary.  Their three children are attending college at The University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Their son, Nick, is married and lives in Custer with his wife and two sons, ages 14 and 12.  Vince and Loretta enjoyed a 50th reunion of the 382nd Base Squadron and Headquarters Squadron in August, 1992, at Pocatella, ID.  The Air Base was given to the city for a regional airport when it closed in 1949.  Vince was one who was there when it opened, some of the original hangers are still in use.  It was fun seeing old friends, most of them had not seen each other since they were there in 1942 when they opened the base. They enjoyed telling old tales which were eye-openers for some of the wives, they enjoyed a flying performance by F-16 and F-18 jet fighters,AP-51Mustang, a T-37 Tactical Trainer Aircraft and the US Air ForceF-117 Stealth Fighter and a nice barbecue. Many of the guys brought old pictures to show and some items for the Air Museum, they collected funds for a marble monument listing the different squadrons that had been at the Air Base there.

            (Vince had a stroke  that was secondary to a lethal brain tumor.  He died June 11,1994, and is buried with other veterans at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, SD)

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            Walter Sharbo born Oct. 26,1923, in Williston, ND had long since completed his military service when he moved to Belle Fourche in 1960 to manage the J.C. Penny Store. During WWII he was stationed in England, flying P-47s

            Sharbo relates that when his outfit was shipped overseas, they were given new airplanes and 18 men were killed just trying to break them in before they got into combat.  A war memory is of Gabby Gabreski, who escaped the Germans in his native Poland, and with 2 buddies came to England and asked to fly with the Sharbo's  outfit, soon the Polish Boys were flying with the American crews. In order to have some money for living expenses, the American crews all contributed to their Polish crewmates from each of their paycheck; Gabreski went on to became one of the world's leading Aces of the war.

            Sharbo was attending St. Olaf College in Northville MN. ,when the war broke out and he went to Minneapolis to volunteer, being attached to the 56th fighter group.  His planes were always named for his home state, either North Dakota Kid or The Dakota Kid.

            He relates a story of the discrimination between enlisted men and officers while stationed in England.  Weekends he often spent with his Staff Sergeant visiting the pubs, while this was tolerated by the Americans,  the English considered this as unacceptable behavior.

            As a fighter pilot, Sharbo flew alone in his aircraft, upon return to base, the pilot often had to be helped from his plane because they were so stiff from sitting for such a long time.  They would then go over their aircraft with the ground crew, checking for damages ,bullet holes etc. ,so the crews could prepare the craft for flight the next day.  Then it was off to meet with the intelligence people for a debriefing.  When the planes were returning to base, 50 gallon drums of waste oil would be lighted to provide direction for the pilots in the foggy England weather.  An article in Sharbo's hometown North Dakota paper, tells that two fliers from the Dakotas scored double "kills" in the air as the Eight Air Force Fighters escorted heavy bombers on Christmas Day raids against the big German winter offensive. The Williston Flyer received his wings and commission upon completion of the advanced flight training at Moore field ,TX.  He flies a P-17 Thunderbolt and his group is credited with already having wiped out 723 enemy aircrafts, 561 in aerial combat and 162 on the ground.  Sharbo is now retired and lives in Belle Fourche. 

            --Excerpted from :"A Hero Looks A Lot Like Grandpa" by Jennifer Voyles.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            Al grew up in Iowa and attended school at Liberty Center.  He moved to Belle Fourche in June 1941 and went into the Air Force in Oct. 1943.  He was a Ball Turret Gunner in a B-17.{Jennifer VOYLES BOOK "A Hero Looks A lot Like Grandpa"}.

            His story went like this:

            "IF  you've ever seen a picture of a B-17 there's a bugle in the middle of the wings in the back on the bottom.  It's a confining place but, I'm not a very big person anyway; then I was thinner than I am now and I didn't have any trouble.  The first B-17S didn't have ball turrets.  The fighter planes, the Falkwolf I-90s and the enemy 109s messerschmits, found out they could come up under the planes and rest of the guns couldn't shoot at them and they could then shoot at us from underneath therefore, they put the Ball Turrets in.  Kind of changed the enemies minds about {coming up underneath}

            "The war was over in the early spring of '45, I had flown 30 missions.  We had what we called "slow time" until we got shipped back to the States and then I went to California for a while ,then I was assigned to Eglin Field in Florida until I had enough points to get out in the Fall of '45 "

            "When you fly as a crew you get to know those people and trust' them The engineer and I were good friends, he slept on the upper bunk whenever we moved.  We rode bikes together, went  to town together, ate together, and all that .  He was twice as old as I was ; I was 18 or 19 at the time and he was in his 30's, early 30's"     "But, we had some times when we were getting a lot of , we called it flak, that was enemy ground fire:  that got a little dangerous, I suppose, treacherous---whatever!  At the time you were busy doing your work and {the stress} didn't bother you.  It didn't bother me until I got back and I would get to thinking too much.  We were wondering why you were up there;  but if you didn't fly with a crew that you had that kind of trust, you wouldn't go back; it was just a mutual respect and trust, one for the other"

            One B-17 made an emergency landing with their landing gear up and the guy in the Ball Turret needless to say, the Ball Turret Gunner didn't survive.  I told the engineer to get the barrel out of the flexible gun waste, it was just a big heavy pipe and beat a hole in that turret and get me out of there before they ever landed with the gear up!  So I just think about that, like I said, a lot of our missions were uncontested.  We did very little firing and very little ground fire.

            "We did have a lot of ground fire on our first mission, in a brand new airplane in fact we got 29 holes in it.  When we came back, the ground crew was really upset because we had that many holes in our new plane; I guess they thought that was our choice-that we wanted those 29 holes."

            "They had some jet fighters, I saw two of them is all I ever saw.  They were getting jets way back then in 1945, and they were fast!  Their Falkwolf 1=90 and the Messerschmit 109 were their basic fighters and they were good airplanes.  The Falkwolf was a lot like our P-47 and the 109 was more like theP-51.  Really good planes."

            "With our bombs units we bombed their factories and quite relentlessly toward the end of the war.  Their production was shut down, their manufacturing processes were at a point where they were unable to replace and have new aircraft"

            "The first time we got caught in tough ground fire you could hear the flak hitting the airplane, and that ---that's something you do not forget!  I didn't have any nightmares about it or anything our airplane was not damaged to where it would not fly, but that was something you remember."

            "Another time we lost two engines and we couldn't keep up with the bomb group, we had to drop out of formation and we kicked our bomb out just to get rid of them and to lose the weight and drag and flew back ourselves.  That is kind of a scary thing, losing a whole formation.  You're vulnerable then, especially with reduced power we didn't have any problems.  Without a  load, the B-17will fly on two engines pretty decent--I really don't know what the problem was with the engines.  Never even talked about it, this is the first time I even considered what happened to them.  We put the props so that did not create drag:  sharp side towards the front, you did not create a  drag that way.  The operating engines would still run without the bomb load and they would maintain an altitude and get you back, it's better if you have one on each side of course, which we did have."

            After discharged as a Staff Sgt. At Maxwell Air Base in Alabama on Oct. 26,1945, Al returned to Belle Fourche and worked in the Shaw Implement Business until it was sold in 1951.  In 1953 Al and Dale Henderson opened an auto parts and tune-up business named E&B Supply.  In 1962, Al joined with Chris Hoseth in the parts store still bearing the Hoseth name.  In 1986 Al retired from active participation in Hoseth Auto and his son, Randy, took over the management.  Al has been active in Chamber of Commerce, served 30 years in the Volunteer Fire Department and still works with Ambassadors, Ag Comm., Hosp. Board and parent organization-North Central Health Service.  On Sept. 1, 1946 Al married Marie Conner and their two children, Randy of Spearfish and Denise of Rapid City each have two children.

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001


            Shelly came to Belle Fourche in 1939.  He was born in Minnesota and moved to Iowa when he was 1 year old.  When he was 13, he moved to Belle Fourche where he attended Belle Fourche High School and graduated in 1944, he then entered the Marine Corps right after he graduated ,and served about two and a half years all together.  He married in August of 1946, Shelly is a pure gentleman, the image of respect and pride.

            I joined the Marine Corps June 6, 1944,just before Christmas that year, we went overseas.  Then after Japan surrendered, I came back to San Diego, and then back to Belle Fourche.

            I was in a Machine Gun Platoon.  It wasn't to bad, I  mean you knew you had to do it, so you just took it day by day.  Of course you were not married then or anything, I guess when you are that age you thought you were invincible.  So it's not too bad really{now when I look back,}it scares the hell out of me.  It was pretty scary; I really do think about it too much.  The war meant that if we did not go over and do something, there would be people over here trying to change our way of life and take our freedom away from us.  That is the way it seemed to me, I think that was [how everyone felt}.  We really did not want to be ruled by a dictator.  We wanted to have a little say in what we did, where we went, and how we did it;  I think that is what we were all over there for.

           Experiences that just stick out in my mind from where I was overseas?  Wondering when I was going to get back home, for one thing.  When I left, I did not ever think I would ever miss it, I did not miss {Belle when I was} going through basic training and so forth.  When I got overseas, then it was a different situation.  How total strangers, more or less, could unite and kind of take care of each other and look after each other is something that impressed me more than anything else.  You would think that they had been born and raised together and practically knew what each other was going to do.  You pretty much lived together, shared everything you had, and just looked after each other.  You had to, to survive.  You just had to.

            Getting shot at is kind of scary.  I don't know how much worse it can get, as far as I am concerned, that is about as scary as it can get.  The rest of the war was a piece a cake after that!!

When we got to Japan, the way those people lived over there compared to the way we do in this country seemed to be a hundred years behind us.  It amazing the way the Japanese have caught up,  I was stationed in Japan during the occupation of Japan.  They were doing  by hand ,that we had quit doing twenty years {before}, then all of the sudden, their technology is {equal to } or better than ours. That kind of impresses me.

            I guess the thing everyone hated the most was KP{Kitchen Patrol} .  When you were training, you thought training was bad, and then they put you in the kitchen.  I think the worst days I ever had in my life were in KP duty and board of troops.  I don't think anybody {understands what it is like} until they go through it.  When you are in training, you wonder why you have to do these things and why there is so much repetition.  I was in a Machine Gun Squad, they would take us out at night and make us fire those things.  They would make us fire them blindfolded and use the controls to guess our elevation and so forth; you wonder ,"Why are we doing all this?" You find that when it comes down to where you have to use it for being real serious; {when you have to start shooting at other people} that training makes you kind of like a  machine, what I call automatic.  You go ahead, you are so scared, that you do this mechanically.  Just through practice and repetition, you go ahead and do you job.  And I think that if you did not have all that training that your mind would probably get the best of you and you probably would not do too good of a job.  Where through the repetition and so forth, you do {your job} automatically, it was probably best if you did {think}, but a lot of the time, there was so much on your mind that it was a little bit hard to think rationally.  You past training just took over and helped you through those kinds of situations.

            Written by Jennifer Voyles from the book 'A Hero Looks A Lot Like Grandpa."

Submitted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, April, 2001