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.

 

Veterans

We meet before the bar at five
Those of us who still survive
A war and five score years
What hair is left is turning gray
Our waists get thicker day by day
But time can never take away
The bond that calls us here
 

I see us yet as strong young men
Who rose to meet the challenge when
Our freedom was in peril
We fought the war on land and sea
To stop the foes of liberty
Who sought the rights of you and me
From our native land

Today we stand and ponder o’er
Those yesterdays of hard fought war
So many years ago
No one can know who wasn’t there
The sights we’ve seen to make us stare
Or heard the sounds that haunt us still
And surely always will  

And so we meet before the bar
Apart from all of those who are
Not members of our clan
Aging men we now here stand
Proud of the service to our land
Grateful that fate gave us a chance
To save this nation we adore
But who would think we won a war  

By Harry Putnam

 

Remember Me

I showed you my award today
You said “that’s nice” and turned away
To talk of you and things you’d done
What caused you pain and what was fun
And this award so dear to me
Be it for brains or bravery
Was once again with just a glance
Dismissed by the ignorance
Of those who neither care or see
How much this symbol means to me
 

While others did what was required
To hold the job when they were hired
I took advantage of each chance
To achieve the excellence
That wins awards for those who can
Excel beyond their fellow man  

But for each joy there must be pain
For every sunny day some rain
For what we gain there must be cost
Be it wealth or leisure lost
And so I used some time of life
Endured denial, suffered strife
And this award that I can show
Is all I have to let you know
Of an accomplishment that I
Achieved as life has passed me by
What it means you may not see
But it really is a part of me  

By Harry Putnam

Richard Malone Family

FINALLY, A TIME TO GRIEVE BY MAGGIE MALONE IT'S BEEN HALF A  CENTURY SINCE
THEY LOST THEIR FATHERS IN WORLD WAR II. NOW THEY ARE READY TO HEAL.
THE LETTERS FROM my father lay at the bottom of the cedar chest, in blue
airmail envelopes. For a curious girl of 9 or 10, living with her mother and
sisters in South Dakota, they were a revelation. I knew very little about my
father. My mother told me he had died in the war when I was 3 and that he
went directly to heaven, a hero. The letters began to make him seem more
real. He wrote from France, Belgium and Germany, telling my mother that no
matter where he was, he would subtract six hours from the time and imagine
what we were doing at that moment back home. ``I can see you bundle up
Kathleen and see her out the door and watch her up the street,'' he wrote.
Then, after 65 missives, the letters stop. On March 24, 1945, my father was
searching a house in Germany when it was hit by artillery. He is buried in
the military cemetery at Margraten, in the Netherlands.  Up until late 1943,
the draft board had spared married men with children. But in the last years
of World War II, the U.S. military drafted 940,000 fathers between the ages
of 18 and 35. Many of the new draftees were rushed into battle. When the war
ended, the victors were welcomed home, the dead mourned. But the children
whose fathers did not return were left to negotiate their way in the
euphoria of postwar America.``It always embarrassed me,'' says Washington,
D.C., psychotherapist Susan Johnson Hadler, 53, whose father was killed near
Aachen, Germany. ``I didn't want to put off people. But we represented death
to them, and everyone wanted to move beyond all that.'' Now many of these
children--all well into middle age--have begun to speak out, seeking
information about the fathers they never knew. This past summer, in
particular, the success of ``Saving Private Ryan'' has rekindled memories
and inspired these ``quiet victims'' of the last just war to reach out to
one another. Though exact numbers are frustratingly elusive, a recent study
by the Department of Veterans Affairs found 183,000 ``dependent children''
had received benefits for fathers killed in the war. ``I thought there had
to be other people like myself that lost their dads,'' says Ann Bennett Mix
of Bellingham, Wash., whose father died at Mongiorgio, Italy, when she was
3. A historian and writer, Mix created the American WWII Orphans Network
(AWON) in 1991 to help survivors share information. ``When I started finding
them, I realized how important it was for them to talk to people like
themselves, so I began the network.'' That December she attended a ceremony
at Arlington National Cemetery for the children of the World War II dead,
organized by the No Greater Love foundation. The foundation provides
programs of remembrance for families who lost a loved one in the military or
by an act of terrorism. It was the first time many of the thousand who came
had talked to another war orphan. Since the No Greater Love ceremony, AWON
has grown to more than 1,000 members, many of them in regular contact on the
Internet (e-mail address: awon@nas.com). The search for information can be
maddening. Many servicemen's records were destroyed in a 1973 fire in the
St. Louis archives. But some of the discoveries have been powerful. Damon
Rarey, of Santa Rosa, Calif., whose father was shot down over France in
1944, says Mix helped him locate veterans who had been in his father's
squadron. Last spring, Mix and Hadler published a book of 24 interviews,
``Lost in the Victory: Reflections of American Orphans of World War II''
(University of North Texas Press). Some of those interviewed told of
satisfying lives; others have had tremendous difficulties. All say they have
felt deeply bereft for as long as they can remember. Since the book came
out, Mix has heard from many other orphans ``astonished that they aren't
alone, that others have experienced the same bewilderment and pain.'' Their
isolation has been a heavy burden. ``No one had ever recognized the needs of
these children to mourn,'' says psychiatrist Vamik Volkan, a pioneer in
bereavement therapy whose wife, Elizabeth, is a war orphan. ``We put up
monuments to those who died, but we forget the children who have to deal
with the consequences.'' Volkan accompanied his wife to an AWON convention
in Washington two years ago. ``I observed that several women had been
involved with father figures or had problems trusting that their husbands
would not desert them,'' he recalls. ``The men either identified with the
hero image or they had pent-up anger toward their father because they so
missed having an identity figure growing up.'' If those interviewed in
``Lost in the Victory'' can be taken as a test lot, it seems that the
mother's reaction to her loss was key to the child's ability to cope. Many
mothers, abandoned emotionally, physically and financially, could barely
keep going. There were no grief therapists to consult; support groups were
unknown. When a mother remarried, some orphans lost contact with their
father's family. Elaine Ricketson Danks of North Hampton, N.H., only
recently found out her father's birth date and the color of his eyes when
she made contact with his family after decades of separation. Orphans whose
mothers did not remarry had different problems, both social and financial.
``The war wreaked havoc with us middle-class people,'' says Bill Maury, a
Kensington, Md.-based journalist whose POW father died on a Japanese ship
mistakenly sunk by American bombers. ``We moved from Los Angeles, where we
had been fairly well off, to a housing development in Washington, D.C. We
had a rough go of it for a while.'' Vincent Papke, a Tuxedo, N.Y., business
executive whose father died in France, says, ``My mother didn't date, didn't
go out. I was a good boy, an altar boy growing up in Queens. But at 16 I
started drinking, got into a lot of fights. I used to watch war movies on TV
and miss my father. I'd be tipsy, 17 or 18 years old, and I'd say, `Where
the heck are you? What happened?' '' In trying to answer that question,
Papke and Maury have become amateur war historians. Wayne Downing of
Colorado Springs, Colo., chose to follow his father more directly. ``I was
the oldest, the male in a family of females. A boy wants to break out of
that,'' says Downing, who recently retired as a four-star Army general. ``It
occurred to me later in life that it must have been tough on my mother when
I was in Vietnam for two tours, but she never said a word about it to me,
never challenged me.'' For all the attention generated recently, the
families of veterans of World War II still do not have a memorial on which
to focus their grief. That may finallyally be changing. This summer the
National Capital Planning Commission approved a design for a monument on the
National Mall in Washington, D.C. The finality provided by such a memorial
can be therapeutic, says Volkan. ``When someone is truly dead to you, you
can bury them psychologically and you are freer to invest in other people,
new relationships.'' Construction may begin by Veterans Day 2000. In the
meantime, reading letters, looking at mementos, talking with others help
many of us comprehend our loss. And begin to move on. PHOTOS (COLOR and
BLACK & WHITE): A FATHER'S DRAWINGS Rarey treasures the work of his dad,
George Rarey (above), who was shot down over France in 1944. He has tracked
down veterans from his father's squadron who have helped him re-create the
past. PHOTOS (COLOR and BLACK & WHITE): REACHING OUT Mix's father, Sydney
Worthington Bennett (right), died in Italy when she was just 3. She's
started a national network of war orphans and written a book about the
experiences of others like her. 'I thought there had to be other people like
myself,' she says. 

Reprinted from Newsweek Edition: Domestic; Issue Date: October 26, 1998; Start Page: 64, 
Submitted by Maggie Malone, 7/12/01

 

Don Lyle Hoon

Don served in the Navy in World War II.

Submitted 7/12/01

Joseph, Adolph, Bill and Paul Sejnoha

Joseph and Adolph served in the Army and Bill and Paul served in the Navy during World War II.  They were all brothers

Submitted by their sister, 7/12/01

Heacock Brothers

Ed and Orrin Heacock joined the service after they left South Dakota.  Roy, Harold (Bud), John and Lloyd (Eldon) all joined from Tripp County.  These 6 brothers represented the Coast Guard, Navy and Army during World War II.

Submitted by their niece, 7/12/01

Milo Lyle Miller

Milo served in the Navy during World War II.

Submitted 7/12/01

Woodrow D. Backeberg

Woodrow was a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Dental Corps during World War II.

Submitted 7/12/01

Boyd E. Aringdale

Boyd was a Captain in the 38th Infantry, 2nd Army Division.  He was killed in the Battle of the Bulge on December 17, 1944.

Submitted 7/12/01

Robert C. Bakewell, Jr.

Robert was a 1st Lieutenant in the Infantry during World War II.  He received the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Bronze Star.

Submitted 7/12/01

Wilbert A. Wieland

Wilbert served in the U.S. Navy from July 1, 1943 to July 6, 1946. 

Submitted 7/12/01

Selmar (Sam) Waxdahl

Sam was killed in 1944 in Europe during World War II.

Submitted, 7/12/01

Richard Westphal

Richard was a PFC in the Army during World War II.

Submitted 7/11/01 

Alvin R. Anderson

Alvin served in the Army in the 2nd Armored Division from July 7, 1942 through November 17. 1945 in the European Theatres as an Intelligence and Reconnaissance officer. He received the Purple Heart.

Submitted 7/11/01

Everest A. Anderson

Everest served in the Army Anti-aircraft and Infantry from October 20, 1941 to November 2, 1945 in the European Theatre. He received the Purple Heart.

Submitted 7/11/01 

Benjamin O. Bowser

Benjamin was Killed in Action on October 9, 1944 on the Siegfred line near Urbach, Germany.  He served in the Army in the 2nd Armored Division from July 7, 1942 until his death.  He received the Purple Heart.

Submitted 7/11/01

Paul Lloyd Ness

Paul was a PFC in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Submitted 7/11/01

Lester L. Wiebesiek

Lester served in World War II from December 3, 1941 to September 30, 1945.  He served in the battle and campaigns in the Aleutian Islands, Rhineland and Central Europe. 

Submitted 7/11/01

Richard G. Hibbs

Richard was a Sargeant in the Marines in World War II.  He was taken prisoner of war.  He participated in the Bataan Death March and was held as a prisoner for 52 months.  During this time he was forced to build military ships for Japan.  He weighed 97 pounds when he was released. 

Submitted 7/12/01

Dale Hammon

Dale was a Master Sargeant in the Army Airforce.  He flew approximately 50 missions over Japan as a master gunner in a B-29.

Submitted 7/13/01

Charles Burns

Charles was in the Merchant Marines and served in the war against Japan.

Submitted 7/13/01

George L. King

George was killed in action in the Philippine Islands.  He is buried in Manila. 

Submitted 7/13/01

Robert S. Davis

Roberts was a Tech Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Air Force.  He served in the Pacific.

Submitted 7/13/01

Robert Wayne Palmer

Robert was killed in action in World War II.

Submitted 7/13/01

Merrill E. DeWald

Both Merrill and his wife were working at jobs in Sioux Falls and were planning on being married "someday". December 7th, 1941, changed their plans and their lives like so many other young people that day. They made plans to be married on Christmas Day, 1941. Merrill was called up for the Army in March, 1942. Many of the young men from Armour and Delmont, S.D., left for Camp Barkley, Texas, to make up the 90th Division.

"We trained for several months before going to the Mojave Desert in Arizona. By then we knew we were getting ready for something big. From there we went to Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and then were shipped overseas arriving in England. June 6, 1944, was D-Day, the Normandy Invasion. I landed on Utah Beach. My war lasted for 320 days. The 90th Infantry Division was on the line 312 days of the 320. The other days we were pulled back a few miles from the front to take baths, change clothes, get new equipment, repairs, or rest. This only happened two times that I remember. Otherwise we ate C & K rations or we didn't eat at all. Our clothing was so dirty it could stand up by itself.

St.Marie Eglise was the first French town we took after we got on the beach. The 82nd and 101st Airborne dropped on the town and the 90th Infantry converged on the town from the ground. We finally encircled the Germans 7th Army in the French Falaise Gap. This battle helped to turn the tide on the German Army. During this fight an American plane, a P-38 fighter, mistook us for Germans probably because we had so many captured Germans with us. I heard the strafing bullets hitting the ground before I saw the plane. It went over my head so close I could have spit on it. Apparently the pilot misjudged the rise in the road and got too close to one of our trucks at the top of the rise. The planes' propellers hit the truck and careened into the woods and exploded, killing the American pilot. Four of our men were killed, and one was wounded. Some of the dead were my best friends. One, Henry Mall, died in my arms. I picked up all four men, two with heads missing, and directed those helping me as to which parts belonged to which man. These were my men. I was their Sergeant. I have never been able to forget this.

I was in the Dash Across France with General George Patton's 7th and 12th Armored Division. The Infantry Boys rode on the tanks and trucks. When we broke through the German line it only increased the German resistance when we began fighting on their homeland. During the winter in Germany I froze my feet and fought the rest of the war with my feet in bad condition. After Christmas, 1944, we traveled most of a day and night with no lights to Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge. We kept on fighting and going until we reached a small town somewhere in Czechoslovakia on our way to Prague when word came down the line from radio to radio that the war was over. It had ended. I'll never forget how quiet it was. No one cheered, shouted, or anything. It was very quiet. Nothing like you have seen on TV. I moved back through Europe with the army and gradually we were shipped home. All of the guys thought that when we got to the States there would be a reception and a homecoming. There was nothing. I always thought that was strange. It had changed my life and everyone else's so much. So many did not get to come home."

Submitted by his daughter, 7/15/01

"I have only seen my father cry twice in his life. Once at his mother's funeral, and then when he told me about his war experiences when his men were killed right in front of him. We are coming to Pierre for the Memorial Dedication in September. Dad, you will finally get your homecoming and your parade! Those who didn't make it home to South Dakota will also be remembered dearly that day."

Submitted 7/16/01

Everett Bradley

Everett served in World War II at the 45th General Hospital in North Africa and Italy.

Submitted 7/18/01

Theo Bradley

Theo served in the Air Force in World War II.  He was stationed stateside.

Submitted 7/18/01

Tommy Bradley

Tommy was in the Navy in the Pacific.  He was killed and his body was never found.

Submitted 7/18/01

Stuart Bradley

Stuart was in the National Guards.  He served in Europe and received the Purple Heart.

Submitted 7/18/01

John W. Healy

John served in the U.S. Marine Corps

Submitted 7/18/01

James Boyd Murray

James was an Aviation Electricians Mate in World War II.

Submitted 7/18/01

Bazil E. (Bud) Murray

Bazil was a Technical Sergeant with the Flying Tigers in World War II.

Submitted 7/18/01

Robert D. Chalberg

Robert was a Lieutenant with World War II.  He later attained the rank of Colonel in the South Dakota National Guard.

Submitted 7/18/01

E.L. “Chally” Chalborg

Chally was a Lieutenant in World War II.

Submitted 7/18/01