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. 

Floyd Hampton

Floyd was drafted into the armed services in July, 1941.  He was sworn into the infantry and it did not appeal to him so he signed up for the Air Force for three years.  He took maintenance training for 22 weeks, was sent to Davis Monthan at Tucson, AZ in February, 1942. 

Floyd was chosen with a group of 15 to receive bombardier training,   As a buck private was sent with a group of 13 to 17 in May to California on patrol.  He was at San Diego when the Dutch harbor was bombed.   He was returned to Davis Monthan.

On July 4, 1942, we were headed for staging area when orders were received for no more enlisted bombardiers.  We went back to Davis Monthan in October, 1942 where the 94th was organized.  We completed three phases of training. 

We left New York in May, 1943 for England.  We stayed in England until December, 1943.  He entered OCS in January, 1944 graduating  on April 29, 1944 and joined the Eastern flying training command that trains French pilots.

After VE day, he was sent to Selma, Alabama until VJ Day then on to Minnesota where I was separated from service placing me in the reserve for 10 years.  I received an honorable discharge in October, 1945.  Floyd has three honorable discharges and one separation from service.

Submitted by himself, 10/16/2000

 

Bernard & Ida Poppenga

Bernard and Ida were young farmers at the time.  They knew many of the veterans, at least twelve or more of their cousins were called to service.  They all came home.  We are thankful for that.

Submitted by Ida, 11/28/00

 

Emil Eckert

Emil Eckert was among the 15 victims of a B-24 bomber crash found near Tollgate, Oregon on August 25, 1945.   Eleven of the men were from Sioux Falls Army AirField.  The tragic flight was a routine training mission, which began early in the morning when the 11 men were picked up at the Sioux City air base by the bomber from Walla Walla, Washington.  The plan was reported missing later that day.  It was found the next day seven miles east of Tollgate.  All of the men were killed.  Cause of the crash was never determined.  Another plane in the flight arrived at Walla Walla with foliage from treetops in its bomb bay, and a third plane crash landed at Butte, Montana with no crewman injured.

Submitted by a friend, 11/29/00

   

John Rotthermal

John was killed in action in Normandy, France on July 13, 1944.

Submitted by his sister, 11/29/00

Greek Brothers

These five sons of Perry and Emma Greek served in the military service at the same time during World War II: from the left, they are Irving, Lester, Daniel, Henry and Elvin.  
(Photo taken 12/26/46 at Winner, SD.)

I946 photo of the five Greek brothers in uniform

Jim Byington

James P. Byington was 32 years old and an employee of the McLaughlin Messenger newspaper at McLaughlin, SD when he was drafted into the Army on April 27, 1942. He received 13 weeks of basic infantry training at Camp Roberts, CA.

After basic training, Byington was sent to Seward, AK, then took a train to Fairbanks.  He and the rest of Company E, Old 4th Infantry Regiment spent 14 months providing security at Ladd Field, AK. The men spent much of their time performing drills and practicing army maneuvers. They patrolled in full winter attire, including mukluks and snowshoes. While at Ladd Field, Byington also was the company columnist and wrote for the Midnight Sun, a wartime newspaper.

The 4th Regiment fought in the Battle of Attu and lost 52 men and five officers. Originally the 7th Division was supposed to fight, but they did not have the proper winter equipment so the 4th stepped in. After the battle, there was no need for security at Ladd Field, so the men were shipped to Ft. Lewis, WA for two months. Many were suffering from frosted lungs from the cold Alaska weather.

Next, Byington was sent to Ft. Benning, GA to train new officers. He served as company clerk, mail orderly, charge of quarters, handyman, and 1st sergeant. His duties included writing up the officersı problem of the day, preparing the morning report, and filling out ration requests.

On June 11, 1945 Byington was shipped to Cebu, in the Philippines. There he earned rifle sharpshooter and expert sharpshooter honors as well as being promoted to staff sergeant.

After the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, Byington was on the island of Odawara from September 8 to early December of 1945. His company picked up Japanese ammunition and loaded it onto trains to be dumped into the ocean. They also obtained rice from hoarders and rationed it out to the townspeople. ³Iım thankful that the United States dropped the bomb,² Byington said. ³Otherwise the war would have continued and my company would have fought Japan.² Byington was sent home by ship from Odawara. He was officially discharged on December 8, 1945 at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

Submitted by the Timber Lake Topic, 11/10/2000

Adolph Singer

At age 24, Adolph Singer volunteered for the U.S. Army on November 17, 1943 after he was unable to join the Navy because of his eyesight. He underwent 17 weeks of basic training before being sent to New Caladonia in the South Pacific as a part of the Infantry Army 322nd Regiment, which made up the 81st Infantry Wildcat Division. When they reached Angur Island the fighting was already over.

Next Singer was sent to Lyte, in the Philippines, with a fleet of 500 ships.  A torpedo was fired at his ship but it went underneath the craft and everyone avoided injury. ³We were unloading a ship one night in the Philippines,² Singer recalled. ³The rope holding the load broke and all of the food went into the ocean. Then a large shark swam up and ate all of what had fallen into the water. That was a wake-up call for us, since we didnıt have any docks and had to jump into the water to board ships.²

The 322nd Regiment was the first group to land at Amori, Japan (south of where the atomic bomb was dropped) in 1946.  Singer was then sent to Hokaido for four months. While there, each of the soldiers acquired a 25 caliber Japanese rifle, and Singer shipped his home.

On February 16, 1946 Adolph made it home after 22 months of duty. He took a ship from Yokohama, Japan to San Francisco.  ³When I landed in San Francisco, I bent down on my knees, kissed the ground, and gave thanks to the Lord that I made it home safely,² he said.

From San Francisco, Singer went by train to Ft. Leavenworth, KS, where the men got their ³mustering out² pay.   They received $100 cash and the other $200 was sent home.  He and some others hired a car to Omaha and Sioux City, then he caught a train to Mobridge.  ³I got in at night and there were some  people at Mobridge at the show and I caught a ride home with them to Timber  Lake,² he said. Singer has a collection of World War II newspapers and photos which will someday be in the Timber Lake Museum for everyone to see, he said.

Submitted by the Timber Lake Topic, 11/10/2000

   

Pat Peterson

On October 20, 1942 Pat Peterson and his brother Gorman enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Pat was employed at Consolidated Aircraft in San Diego, CA at the time. His employer wanted him to remain at home and request another deferment, but the brothers had made up their minds to enlist. The two brothers had several friends and relatives who were already overseas, including a cousin in a German prison camp.

Pat and Gorman were sent to Ft. Snelling, MN.  ³The clothes we were issued there were about three sizes too big, so we knew that we were in the service for sure,² Pat said. They received some basic training in Minnesota and were then sent to Marama Air Force Base near Tucson, AZ.

When the two reached Arizona, a staff car was sent to pick them up. When they reached the gate of the base, the guard gave them a big salute, until he looked in the car window and saw them in their big clothes.  The officer declared, ³Iıll be damned; Iıve seen everything now.²  Evidently he wasnıt used to seeing recruits in a staff car, which was normally reserved only for officers. While at Marama the two brothers met their future wives, Garnet and May. Pat was also promoted to Corporal.

In late December, 1943 Pat was called back to Consolidated Aircraft on detached service. After six months, he requested to be returned to the Air Corps. A few days later he was given orders to report to the base at Monterey, CA. From there Peterson was sent to Tonopah, NV. ³I liked it there. It was a friendly little town,² Peterson said. ³It reminded me of a cowboy town.² The base at Tonopah was a B-24 Bomber base. The planes were much different from the trainer planes that he normally worked with.

Peterson was still at the Tonoaph base when President Truman ordered the atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan. He was officially discharged at Camp McCoy, WI on February 1, 1946.

Submitted by the Timber Lake Topic, 11/10/2000

Rance Percy Zipf

Served in the U.S. Marine Corps from December 1942 to October 1945. Served with 'I' Company, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines of the 5th Division. Trained in paratroops. Participated in raid on Choiseul. Attained rank of Corporal. Wounded on Iwo Jima on D-Day+3, Febuary 21, 1945. Awarded Purple Heart.

Submitted by son Randy Zipf