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. We would like to post these stories on our website. 

Cpl. Willmer D. Heintz
Battery A
51st Field Artillery
6th Infantry Division

Served with the Army's 6th Infantry (Red Star) Division in the Southwest Pacific Theather from 1942 - 1945. As a member of the Division's 51st Field Artillery Battalion he participated in the New Guinea and Philippine Campains. During these engagements he flew back seat in a light spotter plane adjusting artillery fire; served on a 105mm howitzer gun crew; and commanded a Browing .50 caliber machine gun crew that provided perimeter defense to the Battalion gun batteries.

In New Guinea the Division fought in the Battle for Lone Tree Hill which was part of the Maffin Bay operaton near Hollandia. Here the untested dough boys of the 6th received their baptism under fire from battle hardened troops of the Japanese_ _ Infantry Division in what was to prove to be the bloodiest ten days of the entire New Guinea Campain. During this engagement the 6th took the subbornly defended hill from the well entrenched veteran Japanese force. Chronicles written after the war credited the Division's artillery with a major part in dislodging the Japanese forces. On June 21, 1944, the 51st Field Artillery fired 1032 rounds into enemy positions on Lone Tree Hill, often dropping them less than 100 yards from the perimeter of the 20th Infantry Regiment to destroy pill boxes, gun emplacements, and personnel. For this action the 51st was singled out for providing some the most accurate artillery fire in any engagement of the entire Pacific War.

During the Philippine Campaign the Division spearheaded the Battle for Luzon Island. During this engagement it was in continuous combat for 219 days; an unchallenged record for the most consecutive days of cambat by any unit in the Pacific Theather. During this action the Division fought through the Sierra Madres Mountains, Rosario, Battan, and the Cabarvan Hills to destroy a strongly entrenched veteran enemy force led by General Yamashita who was known as the "Tiger of Malya". When the war ended in August of 1945, the 6th Division was the most heavily engaged unit in the United States Army fighting Japanese forces. The Division's three artillery battalions fired over 253,000 rounds in support of Division infantry actions. Corporal Heintz rotated home in September of 1945.

Submitted by his wife, 11/9/00, modified by his sons 01-11-02

 

Jerauld C. Hein

Jerauld served with the US Marine Corps throughout the 2nd World War. 

Submitted by his sister-in-law, 11/10/00

 

Alvin Anderson and Lloyd “Bud” Eisnach

Both these men were killed in World War II.

Submitted by their relatives, 11/10/00

 

Johnny V. Devish

Johnny volunteered for the Army in July, 1941 and served with the 10th Mountain Infantry Division and the 45th Signal Corps in the European Theatre, Sicily, Anzio, Naples, Rome and Po Valley.  Johnny was discharged September, 1945.

Submitted by his wife, 11/11/00

 

Gerald L. Legge

Gerald served in the Army from May, 1942 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Tacoma, Washington and Camp Roberts, California and was discharged in June, 1945.

Submitted by his sister, 11/11/00

 

Chester, Ralph, Harry and Bob Sedelmeier

All four brothers served in World War II at the same time.  Chester served in Italy.  Ralph died on 7/26/44 in France.  Harry served in the Aleutians.  Bob served in the South Pacific.

Submitted by their relatives, 11/16/00

 

Theodore and Raymond O. Lang

Theodore was the father of Raymond.  He served in France during World War I.  Raymond served in Saipan during World War II.

Submitted by the daughter and sister, 11/13/00

 

Urban Odson

Urban and his wife were both native South Dakotans but did not meet until during World War II.  Among the places Urban served were the Aleutian Islands, other U.S. bases in the lower 48 states, and from Norfolk, VA to a long tour of duty with the Pacific Fleet. 

Submitted by his wife, 11/17/00

 

William Lipp, Joe Lipp and Joe Lipp

All three brothers served in the U.S. Army from Dewey County, South Dakota

Submitted by daughter and niece, 11/11/00

 

Francis R. Clark

Francis contributed to the war as a combat aircrew member in Europe and a stay in a German Prison camp after being shot down. 

Submitted by himself, 11/15/00

 

Charles Week

Charles entered the U.S. Army on October 13, 1942 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  He was stationed in Camp Campbell, Kentucky and Camp Barkley, Texas.  Charles was shipped to Europe in September, 1944, serving in France, Germany and Austria.  He was discharged in February, 1946.  He returned the family ranch in Perkins County.  He married Violet Gehring, and they had three children, Bruce, Debra, and Lori.  He died on October 22, 2000 and was buried at the Black Hills National Cemetery.

Submitted by his wife, 11/15/00

 

Don Reider

Don served from 1942 to 1945 in the European Theatre.  He died October 24, 2000 at the age of 81.

Submitted by his children, 11/20/00

 

Stuart and Darlene Bradbury

Stuart retired from the National Guard after 33 years of service to his country.  He retired as a Warrant Officer.  He served during World War II and was mobilized to Alaska during the Korean Conflict.  He also was mobilized to Rapid City during the big flood.  He was honored with the Bronze Star, for making a road under enemy fire with no weapon aboard.  He was the full time National Guard 1st Sergeant for first Howard, SD then Madison, SD.  He was also co-author of the Enlisted Men’s Association doctrine.

The one memory that my father told me about was as follows:  “We were in Italy, there was incoming fire.  There were three of us that were in a foxhole, when shrapnel exploded around us.  The guy in the middle got hit under the arm and severed a major artery.  He died in my arms.  It was one of the hardest things I ever went through, except when my brother, Tommy Bradbury, was lost at sea.”

Darlene Bradbuy was one of those who stayed behind and made all of the sacrifices of the times.  She supported Stuart throughout his military career.  She was teaching country school in Miner County during WWII.

Submitted by his daughter, 11/1/2000

 

Fred Mayo

Died in the Bataan Death March

Submitted 11/13/00

 

Cornelius E. Landman

Cornelius was inducted into the Army April 28, 1944.  He was assigned to Infantry training and later as a truck driver in the 355th Engineers where he drove supplies and personnel.  He made repairs, serviced, cleaned and lubricated the vehicle.  He was discharged April 28, 1946.  He received the Good Conduct medal and the World War II Victory medal.

Submitted by his wife, 11/13/00

 

Ray H. DeKramer

Ray was a U.S. Army Glider Pilot in the European Theatre.

Submitted by his wife, 11/13/00

 

Verna M. Sturdevant

Verna served in the Army Nurses Corps from 1942 to 1946.

Submitted by herself, 11/25/00

 

John Butler

John was blown out of his big bomber at 14,000 feet and survived.  He was a German POW for either 4 or 5 years. 

Submitted by his cousin, 10/27/00