|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.
Schatz is a retired farmer residing in Roscoe, South Dakota
after a life long career as a South Dakota farmer.
He served in the United States Army in the European
theatre achieving the rank of Technical Sergeant.
He served in the 737th Tank Battalion, more commonly
known as "Patton's Spearheaders".
He received a medal for serving in the 5 major European
that included the landing on Omaha Beach during D-Day as
well as the Battle of the Bulge.
all those who served that I might be free.
the children, of a nation’s peace
Look back and try to comprehend
The sacrifice a nation made
When it stood, and refused to bend.
By common men uncommon deeds
would be wrought for you and I.
How can I tell you my heartfelt thanks?
Can you tell me why?
Why you were chosen to whither there
And leave your youth behind?
Why you chose to risk it all,
And to me should be so kind?
For I am the child you fought to defend.
I have lived in the peace you won.
Please accept the simple thanks
Of America’s peacetime son.
Anthony J. Anderson
would tell his mother?
Who would write the letter
Every mother feared?
He’d once been young
And full of the hope
A young nation had inspired.
On a bright spring day in ’41,
He walked across a stage.
A stage no man in his family
Had every strode before.
With the voice of youth and innocence
mixed an anxious pride,
spoke to friends,
Under a vast Dakota sky.
would tell his mother?
Who would write the letter
Every mother feared?
December came in ’41
And things had suddenly changed.
An entire world warred.
Then the young man marched again.
Not to “Pomp and Circumstance”
But to a cadence call.
Brutal men taught lessons hard
And he learned those lessons well.
In his nineteenth springtime,
A young boy learned to kill.
would tell his mother?
Who would write the letter
Every mother feared?
December had come three times since
And the boy was no longer young.
He’d sometimes try to recall his youth
For he couldn’t call himself a man.
For the here and now though,
He wanted to be warm.
Blankets were wrapped around his feet.
He couldn’t remember a bed.
Sergeant’s stripes were on his arm.
The last three now were dead.
He only wanted food and warmth
For himself and for his men.
He wanted open spaces
the shadows of Ardennes
would tell his mother?
Who would write the letter
Every mother feared?
When the last battle there had ended
His platoon was down to four.
The snow had made it easy
To find the one they called the kid.
The red stood out so very very well.
He stared through the one called kid
Who was now older and younger than he
With eyes that saw a thousand yards
Even further when they closed.
He’d learned to see with the eyes of death
And write to the homes of the dead.
Long into the watches of the night
He wrote of the duty, honor, and pride
Of the men with whom he’d killed
And the boys with whom he’d died.
He wrote to the parents
of the one called kid
He was long past dreading the chore.
He’d seen and done far too much.
He would cry no more.
so he told his mother.
And so he wrote his mother
A thousand words that said,
“Your son shall soon be coming home,
But your little boy is dead.”
We embarked for Japan on The
Haversford Victory which was a small troop ship. There were 1500
of us on board and I noticed there were only three small life
boats so had we gone down there wouldn't have been many saved.
It took us 17 days to go to Japan and I think we hit every storm
in the Pacific. We were reported sunk and my folks were really
worried but it turned out to be another ship. Most of my time in
Japan was spent searching for American planes that were shot
down during the war.
Harley served with the 147th
in the Pacific. He
then was sent to Europe on B-17s with 8th AF, 303rd
Orville served in the Army Air
Force and was assigned to the 8th Air Force in
Rita was in the Navy WAVES and
assigned to the Hospital Corps in San Diego.
Kenneth was a machine gunner in
the 96th Infantry.
He fought in the Philippines and Okinawa.
He was wounded on Okinawa where he received a purple
heart, lifetime disability, and the silver star.
Robert served in the U.S. Navy
from March 18, 1941 to April 28, 1961.
Mr. Russell Wayne Taylor served in the Navy during
W.W.II. He was on a ship that was attacked by Japanese, he was
one of few survivors.
served in the Army Nurses Corp from 1944 until the end of the
war in Europe.
Clayton R. Osness served in the U.S. Navy during World
War II. He was
preceded in military service by his father, Chester
Osness, and uncle,
Henry Osness, who fought in World War I. Henry Osness
died in action,
and the American Legion Post in Langford, SD, is named in
his honor and
commemorates the patriotism of the town.
At age 21, Clayton R. Osness enlisted in the U.S. Navy
and traveled by
train from Langford, SD, to report for duty in San
Francisco, CA. He
served as a Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class aboard
the U.S.S. Duffy
in the Pacific Ocean. Clayton was a diesel engine
specialist, and was
responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of
combustion engines. The U.S.S. Duffy serviced destroyers
carriers. Clayton received awards for excellent
marksmanship and a Good
Conduct medal. During his tour of duty, Clayton sent most
paycheck to his mother because "he really didn’t
need much money where
he was at [on the Pacific Ocean]." Upon receipt of
Discharge for net service of three years, one month, and
Clayton’s mustering out pay totaled $100.00.
Aboard the U.S.S. Duffy, sailors observed a ritual of
overboard the first time they crossed the Equator.
Clayton said he "sank
like a rock" on his initiation. He received the
"Imperial Order of
Neptune witnessed by Davey Jones."
Clayton R. Osness has been married to Katherine Sherrard
by the Osness family 9/6/01
years. They live on their farm near Langford. Dancing is
activity. Clayton and Katherine have three children:
Joyce, and Dian; four grandchildren: Sarah, Monique,
Robert, and Ryan;
and four great-grandchildren: Anthony, Angelina, Surya,
Lt. Delbert W. Miller
Delbert W. ‘Buck’ Miller, son of Walter C. and Eliza Miller of
Dupree, SD, entered the service 18 April 1943. Flight training,
Gunnery and Advanced Bombardier courses were attended in
California, Arizona and New Mexico. ‘Doc, the bronco buster
from South Dakota’ as he was known at Bombardiers school,
graduated in the Class 44-7 Bombardiers at Kirtland Army Air
Field, NM. He was assigned as bombardier in a B-29. He located,
identified and bombed assigned targets while on bombing
missions; inspected and tested bombsights and allied equipment
prior to clearing the ground and, on occasion, helped to
navigate the aircraft. Delbert was based in India, China, Tinian
in the Marianas, and flew missions over Manchuria, China, Burma,
Thailand, French Indo-China, Malay Peninsula Japan, Honshu. He
was wounded in action 26 May 1945 when his plane was shot down
over Tokyo by ack-ack. Dad said he parachuted out of a window
that was way too small to fit through let alone make it out with
his flight suit and chute on. He figured God had a plan for him
by allowing him to live. When he was captured, the Japanese
civilians put a noose around his neck ready to hang him and the
Japanese soldiers saved him. He was a prisoner of war at the
Omori POW Camp, Japan, for 3 months and 3 days. He was rescued
when the United States Navy entered Tokyo on the 29 August 1945.
The family at home didn’t know he was a POW until he was
liberated. Our Uncle Casey Miller wrote, ". . . it was the
worst day in my life when I had to come home and tell our
parents that their youngest son had been shot down and was MIA
and presumed dead." Our Aunt Inez (Boettcher) was at Aunt
Verna (Flick)’s house when a list of POWs was broadcast just
before the war ended. She said they opened a can of pineapple to
1st Lt. Delbert W. Miller, 40th Bomb Group,
44th Squadron, received the following decorations and
citations: the Victory Medal, Air Medal, Purple Heart,
Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with 6 Bronze Stars, and the
American Theater Medal; and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe held
a Pow-Wow in his honor and gave him the Sioux name, Flying
Dad never spoke much about his captivity in Japan. He said that as
a POW involved in bombing missions, they were thrown handfuls of
rice and fish heads and that they would have eaten roaches had
they been strong enough and fast enough to catch them. We
remember Dad telling us that when he was liberated from POW
camp, he was so thin he was able to circle his waist with his
two hands. Another story was of the ‘gauntlet’ the POWs were
forced to walk where two rows of Japanese soldiers would line up
and hold iron bars at a certain height. The prisoners were
blindfolded and forced to quickly walk between them. Dad said he
was so lucky to be so short, 5’ 4", as he missed being
hit on the head by the bars. He made light of his treatment
while a prisoner at Omori Camp. A friend and member of the
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who stayed with him at his parents
home south of Dupree while he was convalescing remembers the
scars on his back from mistreatment while in the POW camp. He
always said he was never treated that badly, not nearly as bad
as some of the other prisoners. It was his nature to minimize
the atrocities he experienced so that no one would feel bad for
Dad never felt he did anything special; he just did what was asked
of him and then wanted to blend back into society and lead a
normal life. Years later, the chaplain at Ft. Meade who spoke at
Dad’s burial at the National Cemetery at Sturgis in 1984
related that when he was in the Chapel at Ft. Meade on a Sunday
morning a few weeks before Christmas 1983, he noticed Dad
sitting quietly with head bowed and tears running down his face.
He asked, "Delbert, is anything wrong, are you ok?"
Dad replied, "I look around and there are so many here who
have not been nearly as fortunate as I. I have so much to be
thankful for." Dad passed away about 3 weeks later as
result of complications of heart surgery.
Submitted in his memory by his daughters: Sally Sanderson, Lake
Jackson TX; Sue Starr and Janie Davis, Dupree SD; and Mary
Briggs, Midland SD.
was from Morristown, South Dakota.
He enlisted in the US Army on September 4, 1940. After
training, on October 9, 1940 he left the United States for duty
in the Philippine Islands where he was stationed on Corregidor
when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941..
The following was written by his Wife, Evelyn, shortly after his
Husband, Mark E. Nehl, 63, passed away at our home in Keldron,
SD on June 21, 1981. He had a known heart condition, a nervous
condition and numerous other health problems due to his 42
months of Japanese internment.
served with M Bty 60th Coast Artillery (Ssgt) and had been
stationed in the Philippine Islands for over a year before World
War II was declared. He was one of 3 men who survived a direct
hit on a gun pit on top of Melinta Hill on April 29th 1942. He
was a Japanese POW from the Surrender of Corregidor May, 16,
1942 to September 4, 1945. He was part of the
Japanese Victory March where the Japanese forced about
40,000 POWs to march 70 miles to prison camps, the so called
Bataan Death March, where over half of the prisoners died from
or maltreatment. He was interned at Cabanatuan Camps #3 and #1,
at Lipa Batangas, at Camp Murphy, at Bilibid, on a prison Ship
to Formosa for 39 days, he said the ships name was Benji Maru--the
ship was loaded with prisoners standing up on coal when they
left the Philippines. So many of the men died on that trip that the remaining ones
could lie down on the coal before
reached Formosa. He was on Formosa for about two month when he
was put on another prison ship took him to Moji, Japan. The
remainder of his internment, From January 1945 until his
release, he worked in a cooper smelter at Kissed, Japan.
He was the recipient of the American Defense Service
Ribbon with 1 Bronze Star , Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon with
2 bronze Stars, Philippine
Defense Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal,
Distinquished Unit Badge with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters GO#14
9March42 and the Victory Medal.
He was a member of the American EX-POWs, a charter member
of the Black Hills Century Chapter
the American EX-POWS and the National Rural Letter Carriers
Association. He served as a Rural Mail Carrier at Keldron, SD
for over 34 years and was in the process of retiring at the time
of his Death. Mark
married Evelyn Short upon his return from the War.
enlisted in the US Navy on February 1, 1944. He took his boot
the Navel Training Center at Farragut Idaho. January 5 1945 he
was assigned to the USS Birminghan at Treasurer Island Calif.
The ship went to back to the Pacific.. He was involved in the
Saipan Campaign and from there to Iwo Jima to two weeks. On
D-Day, May 4, 1945 a Jap plane crashed in to our bow, killing
and injuring a lot of our crew and causing damage to the Ship.
We went of Guam for temporary repairs then to Pearl Harbor to
Dry dock. August 10th
we headed of Okinawa. We were out about 2 days and we got the
good news, the war was over. We then went to Australia for about
two month then back to the United States. He was Discharged
November 30, 1946. He passed away August 6, 1955.
A 1940 Arlington High grad, I received my two-year
from Augustana College (Sioux Falls SD) before being
drafted. I was
sworn into the US Army Dec. 17, 1942 at Ft Crooks, NE.
After six weeks of basic training
in FL, I was
designated to Army Air Corps, Ft Logan, CO (March 1943) for
Engineering and Operations school.
In May (while at 376th Service Squadron, 63rd Service
Group, 5th Air Force, Great Falls, MT) I used my 15-day furlough
to return to Sioux Falls to marry my sweetheart of four years,
Eris McGriff. The
day after our wedding, I received a telegram saying,
"Circumstances necessitate your return to your base at
The 376th (commanded by Captain Edwin Phillips of Huron
SD) was going overseas. (He
rose to Lt Colonel and died at age 80, Aug. 15, 1992)
We left Camp Stoneman, CA June 23, 1943 (5,000 troops) on
the ship U.S.S. Mt. Vernon.
Two weeks later we harbored at
Sydney, Australia, which was then a "black-out"
city. Our first
camp was with tents on the grounds of Warwick Farm Race Track.
By ship we finally reached
Oro Bay in New Guinea.
Nearby was the site of the Buna Campaign a year earlier,
where my cousin Ellsworth Helgeson (Watertown SD) had seen
Mail caught up with us there, and I received 65 letters in two
days (mostly from my wife). Sept.
5th our 5th Air Force flew over the Owen Stanley Mountain Range
and dropped 1,700 paratroopers of the 503rd US Paratrooper
Regiment into Markham Valley, which we later called Nadzab.
This was to block 20,000 Japanese, who were faced by
Australian forces to
the east, from escaping. Two
days later, the 376th landed at Nadzab and proceeded to build a
base from which to carry out bombing and fighter plane missions.
It was there I got my first taste of C rations before
cutting our way into the jungle and setting up camp.
I was stationed at Nadzab over a year, serving as
clerk/typist in Air Corps Supply
Sub-Depot. Here we
were bombed and strafed repeatedly.
We lost a few of our squadron to disease and bombings, as
well as a murder and suicide.
there I assisted in the burial ceremony of my buddy who
died of malaria. The
burial took place at Lae in an open field with planes buzzing
overhead as I sang
"Abide with Me." Oct., 1944 we flew to Dutch New Guinea prior to
going to the Philippines. When we landed on Leyte Island,
Philippines we started seeing more kamikaze action.
The day before Christmas we shipped to Samar
to be in the Christmas mood, a soldier played the folding field
organ while we caroled "Dreaming of a White
Christmas." Our singing was
interrupted with a red alert and we could hear the Betty
Bomber. It circled
over our heads and dived into the harbour.
The torpedo was a direct hit and the plane itself landed
close to a ship, which didn't sink but was listing.
Reportedly, we lost 15 men that night and the next
morning we saw hundreds of life jackets on the
shoreline--evidence of saved soldiers.
From Samar, we went to the Philippines, where in Manila I
saw the most death and destruction.
I attended a church service lead by an American Baptist
who had been a prisoner of war.
This is where I learned that President F.D. Roosevelt had
traveling by ship from Subic Bay to Okinawa, our 12-ship convoy
was caught in the middle of
a typhoon, an experience I'll never forget.
We landed on Ie Shima in June, where I learned that the
famous war journalist Ernie Pyle had been killed by an enemy
sniper. My time on
this island included the historic landing of the Japanese
emissaries to finalize their surrender with General Douglas
MacArthur. I was at the edge of the landing strip and was able to
take fantastic pictures similar to what Stars and Stripes was
capturing that day. While
on the island, I tried unsuccessfully to find the grave of
former Arlington SD native LeRoy Back, who had been killed on
the first wave of Okinawa invasion.
Le Shima is where we were when the two atomic bombs were
continued to be bombed
for three or four nights, even though the war was supposedly
We became part of the occupation forces in Japan when the
war ended. I saw
the destroyed cities of Yokohama and Toyko, which reminded me
very much of
what I had seen in Manila. Oct. 20th, we boarded our return home ship and I helped
myself to a Japanese rifle on the docks before we left.
I shall never
forget approaching the Golden Gate Bridge and the band
and barge that came out to meet us.
Soon, back in the states, I was on a train to Camp McCoy,
WI. For discharge, Nov. 2, 1945.
Looking back, I had spent three birthdays overseas on
eleven islands. I
was very ready to move on to the next chapter in my life.
E Starkey entered active service in the U.S. Army on 25 May 1945
at For Snelling MN. He
took his Basic Trainiing at Camp Livingston, a tempory Army
Camp. After basic he was sent overseas and arrived in France on
November 26, 1945. As a member of 1st Engineer Battalion he
became a member of the Occupation Army. He worked in the
Landsburg Prison in which War Criminals were imprisoned. Hitler
was held in this Prison before he took over power in Germany. He
returned to the United States on 30. Sept. 46 and was given an
Honorable Discharge at the Seperation Center, Ft. George Meade,
MD on 31 Oct. 46.
was born to Lorence & Gladys Deuschle on October 15, 1918
at Bison, SD. He was inducted into the US Army on June 19, 1942
and entered into active service July 3rd, 1942 at Fort Crook,
Nebraska. After training he was assigned to Company C , 3119
Signal Service Battalion and on January 6th 1943 departed the
United States for the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. He
precipitated in the Guadalanal Campigan and remained in that
area until May 18th 1945 when he was returned to the United
States. An Electrician in civilian life he continued this trade
in his Army Service. When discharged he was a Technician Fourth Grade. He was
given an Honorable Discharge.
0n 11 October 1945 at the Separation Center at Camp
McCoy, Wisconsin. He was
to wear the Asiatic Pacific Theater Service Medal with four
Overseas Service Bars.
My uncle, Maurice Emley, was from the Martin, SD area and
joined the Air
Force in 1939. Maurice
was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese
retired after twenty years, as a Master Sergeant. Maurice
passed away several years ago, and his widow, Bernice
Tavares Emley, resides
at 415 W. Merle Court, San Leandro, CA 94577.
She was in SD earlier this
summer for a reunion
and won't be returning for this occasion.
He was also a sergeant in the Air Force.
John joined at
Omaha in l942, trained at Chanute Field, Ill and was sent
to Canton Island
as an air traffic controller. John lived in South Dakota
and worked for the
Department of Transportation most of his life.
raised near Lemmon, SD and
was a bomber pilot in WWII and was shot down over
Yugoslavia and his crew made their way overland back to their
base in Italy.
He was was a radio operator in the 5th Armored
immediately following WWII, as his family had obtained a
deferment for him to work on the family farm.
was inducted into the US Army on 9 April 1942 at Aberdeen, South
was a Truck Driver, Heavy-931 attached to 223D Chemical Base
Depot Co. and arrived in England 18 April 1944. He participated
in action in the European, African and Middle Eastern Theater He
is entitled to wear the American Theater Ribbon, the Good
Conduct Medal and the European African Middle Eastern Theater
Ribbon. He was discharged 7 January 1946 at Camp McCoy,
Wisconsin. Leo passed away December 3, 1993.
While in England, Leo met Pvt. Thelma M. Stubbs; It took
action from both the British and Americans Armies before they
could get married. Leo’s request started with "Approved
and Forwarded for necessary action" and ended with "It
is my belief that this
will bring no discredit to the Service". Thelma’s request
started with "To Whom it May Concern" and ended with
"I have known Tec 5 Anderson for the past six months and
believe him to be a Gentleman and a Soldier." They were
married Dec. 8, 1945
enlisted the British Armies Auxiliary Territorial Service 20
was her duty to supply information about incoming German Planes
to the Anti-Aircraft Guns which defended England. When the
German Planes were under control., she was transferred to the
Royal Army Ordnance Corps. She was discharged January 15, 1946.
Six months later she joined her Husband, Leo, in the United