Lehi Veterans of World War II 1941-1945 (2024)

Lehi Veterans of World War II 1941-1945

Stanley E. Abbott Darrell S. Adams Franklin B. Adams Ralph W. Adams Howard R. Adamson Dorald M. Allred H. Don Allred James Darrell Allred Markland E. Allred Rulon B. Allred R. Chase Allred Ralph H. Allred Reed T. Allred Sherwin R. Allred Wayne H. Allred Charles G. Anderson Don Anderson Ralph Evans Anderson Theo Anderson C. Grant Ash Don J. Austin Lowell D. Austin Robert H. Austin Boyd J. Babco*ck Max E. Babco*ck Jay O. Barnhart Rolland J. Barnhart Willard D. Barnhurst Allen C. Barnes Van Allen Barnes Elwin Barnes Don Fletcher Barnes C. Jack Barnes Lynn Barnes Raymond E. Barnes B. LaVar Bateman Ralph H. Bateman Burlin D. Bates B. J. Beck Ray Beveridge Eugene Ray Bone John Lloyd Bone L. Richard Bone Russell P. Bone T.J. Bone Glen A. Boren Joseph K. Bourne Merlin G. Bourne Warren Bernard Bradshaw Harris Axel Bradshaw Mark J. Bradshaw Blain Brokaw Charles Roberts Brooks R. Lynn Brooks Gail A. Brown Ferres D. Brown Howard B. Brown Richard A. Brown George W. Buchanan James W. Buchanan G. Dale Burgess Myron H. Burgess H. Keith Bushman Boyd Wilson Calton Keith W. Calton Robert Grant Calton Alma Kay Candland Harry Candland Leo Carlton Lloyd R. Carlton Harold J. Carson John R. Carson Junior D. Carson Wayne Carson Vivian Ray Carter Edgar Allen Case Ernest R, Cedarstrom Harold J. Chapman Lowell W. Chapman Roy S. Chapman A Kelsey Chatfield Jr. *Spencer K. Chatfield Edward L. Chestnut Glen B. Chilton Allen Chipman *David W. Christofferson Dean D. Christofferson Paul V. Christofferson Allen L. Clark Asa Elden Clark Duane S. Clark Keith Clark George N Clover Donald J. Coates Donald L. Colledge Evan L. Colledge Jr. Evan Joseph Colledge Evan M. Colledge George Harold Colledge Ivor Colledge John A. Colledge L. Dee Colledge Ralph Colledge Edward F. Comer La Grand Comer Sherman Fjeld Cook Don R. Coombs H. Eugene Cooper Perry J. Corbridge J. Theron Corbridge Sheral R. Covington Jay Taylor Cox Craig C. Crabb Jeanette M. Crabb Kirkham V. Crabb Bernard F. Cude Claud L. Curtis Darrell K. Curtis Paul L. Curtis Robert S. Curtis La Mar P. Dahl Maurice J. Dahl Glen La Mar Davis George E. Davis John Evans Davis Merlin C. Degelbeck Irvin C. Dickerson La Drue B. Dorton Robert Dorton James F. Doyle John W. Doyle A. Spencer Dransfield Paul C. Draper Jack K. Dunn Jefferson N. Eastmond E. Keith Eddington Richard H. Eddington E Eugene Erickson Floyd J. Erickson John R. Erickson Donald N. Evans M. Duane Evans E. Glenn Evans Glen T. Evans Grant S. Evans Howard C. Evans Junior Evans *Keith G. Evans Mrs. Mary Ellen Evans E. Paul Evans Sherman R. Evans R. Sterling Evans Elvin B. Frandsen Reed A. Frandsen Evan Fenn Harold Fenn Lester Fenn Terry Fenn Ronald N. Flygare Donald C. Fotheringham Jack Fotheringham Edmund Dale Fowler Milan P. Fowler Delbert L. Fox Earl K. Fox Franklin D. Fox Harold L. Fox La Mar Fox Lowell G. Fox Milo P. Fox *Morris O. Fox Earl B. Gaisford Richard D. Gaisford Donald Gale Elden Gale A. Rex Gardner E. Merlo Gardner Wallace B. Gardner E. Thornton Garrett Richard W. Gilchrist Stanford L. Giles Lawrence O. Glathar Howard D. Glover J. Ralph Goates Wayne A. Goates Clarence R. Godfrey Jr. David Godfrey J. Ernest Gough Gale G. Gough A. LaVar Grace Joshua Grace Myrten F. Grant Calvin Gray Earl Gray John J. Gray Joseph R. Gray Lynn H. Gray Owen L. Gray Robert A. Gray Albert H. Green Lloyd F. Gunther Donald Gurney Earl W. Gurney M Dean Gurney Lynn Gurney Richard K. Gurney Marvin Hall Mason W. Hall Lane P. Hall Virgil Hall Oral D. Hansen Don T. Hansen Sherman O. Hansen Darrell Hansen Isaac L. Hardman William F. Hardman Carl E. Harris James Hartshorn Arvo V. Havilla Roy Hayco*ck *Waldon I. Hayden Ralph J. Haws Charles O. Holquist Francis B. Herron Charles Hickman Durward J. Hicks Jay B. Higginson Harvard Roy Hinton William B. Hitchco*ck Ambrose R. Holmes Don C. Holmstead Edward C. Hunt Elwood Hunt Lynn O. Hunter Harold C. Hutchings J. LaMar Hutchings E. Russell Innes Harold W. Ivers Ephraim W. Jackson Calvin R. Jacobs Chester E. Jacobs Ralph B. Jacobs Richard J. Jacobs Gordon S. Jensen John L. Job *Don U. Johnson E. Paul Johnson Earl C. Johnson H. Boyd Johnson Harold T. Johnson Irvan W. Johnson Ivan E. Johnson Richard W. Johnson Robert O. Johnson Blaine L. Jones David J. Jones Daniel H. Jones Harold S. Jones *La Var Jones Marlin R. Jones Melvin T. Jones Nile D. Jones Robert W. Jones Victor W. Jones William D. Jones Paul S. Julian Kenneth J. Kearney Dale B. Kirkham Dean A. Kirkham Gene W. Kirkham Sherman B. Kirkham Joseph I. Kolan George R. Lamb Ross V. Lamb Anton H. Lambert Clyde E. Lambert E. Jay Lambert Boyd J. Larsen Keith Larsen Ralph E. Larsen Rex N. Larson George C. Leany Benjamin A Lewis Jack D. Lewis Rex Losee James L. Logsdon Wilson C. Lott Leo H. Loveridge Jerry D. Mangum Harry D. Manning Sidney L Manning Richard Marks Morris A. Martendale Paul E. Mason Lyle H. McIff Donald R. McMillan Doran Mecham Perry A. Mecham Charles E. Mercer John L. Merritt Eldon M Messersmith C. Read Miller Darwin Miner Albert D. Mitchell Benjamin Mitchell Forrest R. Mitchell John W. Mitchell Leonard G. Mitchell Robert W. Mitchell Victor Mitchell Wm Mitchell Karl Moore Roland Morford M. Lynn Norberg Bruce Nostrom C. Reed Nostrom Byron L. Orton Gordon C. Orton Delbert L. Osborne Eldon N. Otterson Delbert J. Owen Don L Peet Allen Peterson Berl Peterson Bert E. Peterson Douglas Peterson Eldon A. Peterson Glen J. Peterson LeRoy Peterson Keith L. Peterson Max Wayne Peterson Nels R. Peterson Norris G. Peterson Orrin C. Peterson Ronald C. Peterson Valno W. Peterson Robert R. Phillips Wayne R. Phillips Arnold D. Powell Dean J. Powell *Glenn S. Powell Lorin H. Powell Ralph H. Powell Shirlee L. Powell Wayne S. Powell Karl E. Price *Paul J. Price Leo Pulley *Vernon R. Radmall Wesley Rasmussen Max Ray Dale H. Ricks Dale D. Roberts Glen C. Roberts John D. Roberts Lee Ray Roberts Ralph S. Roberts Reed C. Roberts Richard S. Roberts Virgil K. Roberts Howard W. Robinson LeGrande G. Robinson Leland L. Rockwell Athol D. Ross Earl L. Ross Lee L. Ross Royal Dean Rothe Glenn R. Roundy Hyrum W. Roundy La Mar Roundy Raymond Roundy Howard Glen Royle Arland L. Russon Dale L Russon Glen R. Russon Leo W. Russon Maynard B. Russon Milton W. Russon Stanford D. Russon Ernest G. Rutledge Soren G. Sabey Alvin G. Schow Clifton P. Schow Harold B. Schow Morris R. Schow Orien J. Schow Randall Dee Schow Russell S. Schow Wesley S. Schow Paul Schuman Vern Scott Norman D. Scown Vincent F. Scown Max W. Sharp Glen E. Shelley Stanford J. Shelley Donald A. Sherwood J. R. Sherwood William T. Sherwood Elmer Sims George A. Sims Wallace I. Skinner Glen E. Smith Grant J. Smith Leland E. Smith S. Glenn Smith *Victor Smith John O. Smuin Carlton Southwick Ray N. Southwick Joseph L. Southworth Joseph Edward Stein Charles M. Stephenson W. Bramwall De St. Jeor William De St. Jeor G. Wilson Stoddert R. M. Stokes Reed L. Stone Allen R. Strasburg Eugene Strasburg Lloyd Strasburg Don C. Street Howard B. Street Leo J. Street Lloyd P. Street T. Wayne Sunderland Howard R. Taylor Stanley Maurice Taylor Jr. Earl L. Thomas Howard S. Thomas E. Dee Thrasher Keith S. Trane Ralph A. Trane Homer J. Trinnaman Arvin A. Turner A. Gerald Turner Henry Turner L. Jay Turner H. Kenneth Turner Merlin A. Turner Newel B. Turner Wayne E. Turner Ernest P Urry Raymond Urry Donald G. Wager Joseph Ross Watkins Val R. Watkins Elmo J. Wanlass Kenneth N. Wanlass *Lelan D. Wardle Miss Claire T. Wells Allen K. Webb B. Richard Webb John Wayne Webb Marshall J. Webb Harold D. Westring Fred D. Whipple Vern G. Whipple Robert Boyd White Boyd Dave Wilkin Jay Wilkin Jerry S. Wilkin Dean S. Willes Paul S. Willes Alva Ralph Wing Marvin M. Wing George C. Winslow Gaylon Wilson *Gene L. Wilson Robert S. Wilson Glen M. Woffinden Howe M. Woodhouse Daniel C. Worlton Ernest D. Wright Don Wright Frank R. Wright Robert W. Wright Carl Zerold Cecil J. Zimmerman Glen R. Zimmerman S. Rex Zimmerman

Don Urban Johnson Casualty of World War II

Don Urban Johnson, son of Urban and Emily Wanlass Johnson, was born at American Fork, Utah, February 12, 1923. While a small boy he moved to Lehi with his parents.

He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserved on October 27, 1942.

On July 1, 1946, while piloting a plane on a routine flight , he met death. His body was not found until December 17, 1946. Eldon ‘Paul’ Johnson as interviewed by Judy Hansen

Paul was born May 12, 1926 in American Fork to Urban and Emily Wanlass Johnson. Although he lived in American Fork, his family moved to Lehi when he was four years old so the only thing he remembers is growing up in Lehi. They lived at 588 North 200 East. He is the youngest of five siblings; Dick, Boyd, Jean, Don, and Paul. He went to school in Lehi and graduated from Lehi High.

Paul joined the Navy May 9, 1944, four days before he turned 18 because he didn’t want to be drafted into the Army. They sent him to Farragut Naval Training Station in Bayview, Idaho for his basic training. After that they sent him to Ordinance school at Norman, Oklahoma a U.S. Naval Training School that had just been newly established and commissioned on September 20, 1942. After he finished there they sent him to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he was assigned as cook. He said, “I sat around the flight line making hot dogs and stuff.” All those hungry men sure appreciated his efforts. He was then shipped up to Edenton, North Carolina where he was assigned Ordinance work which was servicing all the planes. He had to load all the guns on the planes that went on the carriers. He also had to keep them clean. In August 1945 they had just got a flight crew with four different types of airplanes completed and the flight crew left when the war ended.

Even though the war was over he had to stay in the Navy until his enlistment ended. After the war, they sent everyone down to Memphis, Tennessee where he stayed for almost two years. They had old airplanes there they were decommissioning so he was assigned to take the weapons out of them. They found out Paul could type so he ended up in the office. He was assigned to complete the watch list (duty roster). The Chief would give Paul the records and he would type them up. It only took him a couple hours to type it so he had a lot of spare time and got to play a lot while he was there. Someone else would run the list over to make copies and post. Paul was discharged May 12, 1947 and went home.

After he got home, him and Wayne Peterson went down to Provo and enlisted in the Navy Reserves. In the Reserves they sent him to Denver for a while then the National Guard took him to Fort Douglas, Hill Air Force Base, but finally they decided they needed them in Alameda, California where he ended up going most of the time for years afterwards. He would have to go once a month for a weekend and then for two weeks once a year. Paul did this for 47 years. He enjoyed it in Alameda because it was always cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

While he was serving in the guard he was assigned ordinance work loading the guns for the regular military. Then again they found out he could type so he ended up in the office.

The Reserves don’t start paying retirement until age sixty (60) so he stayed in the reserves until he was able to get his retirement pay. He started getting his pay two months before they shut Geneva Steel down. He was in the military 42 years and 4 days. When he retired he was E7 (Chief). That was the highest rank he could have earned at that time because then they didn’t have E8 or E9.

When he was young he started working in the open hearth at Geneva Steel after he got out of the Navy and ended up in the foundry. Geneva sent him to school to learn the trade of boilermaker. The last three years he worked at Geneva his boss called him and gave him a two job class upgrade to work with him. All he had to do was go around an extra hour each shift and make sure all the jobs had the material they needed. He worked there for 39 years and 2 days.

Eldon married Shirley Jean Felsted on June 19, 1948. They raised a family of five children, David Paul (Riverton), Mark F (Tennessee), Gary Brent (Washington), Lorrie Swain (Hawaii), and Lisa Welsh (Tennessee). His sons Mark and Brent both served in the US Navy.

LaVar T. Jones Casualty of World War II

LaVar T. Jones, son of Evan and Jemina Hansen Jones was born January 27, 1918 at Lehi, Utah.

He entered the service October 3, 1942. At the time of his death he had been drafted by the army to work in the mines, working there for three months.

While driving a motor alone, he met his death. Dean Kirkham as interviewed by Judy Hansen August 2014

I was born the 9th of July 1923 to Oliver and LaVerde Kirkham right here in this home (708 W Main, Lehi). There are five of us; Reed, Avery, Donna, myself and Dale in the family. I graduated from Lehi High School and then I went to Branch Agricultural College in Cedar City to play football. I had a scholarship. That school is now SUU or Southern Utah University. There were four of us from Lehi that went; Mark Bradshaw, Keith Bushman, me, and Bob Zimmerman.

I was down in Cedar City a year and then I came home. Everybody was gone or was going into the military and I knew that I would be going too. When I enlisted I went to Salt Lake. They gave me a choice of which branch of service I wanted; I went back home a Marine. I felt the Marines were the right way to go. I entered the military in May 1943. I was 19 years old. I had to wait a few days before they shipped me out but they ended up putting me on a train and sending me to San Diego. I never went to Camp Pendleton which is the most well- known Marine base; I was sent to Marine Corp Air Station Miramar to get processed and then onto El Centro Marine Base Air Station before they turned it into Naval Air Facility El Centro.

I had been working in auto parts before I went into the service and when I said “auto parts” they put me in the Marine Air Corp. I presume they figured that was similar to aircraft.

My first year in the military I parked planes. They would fly all the planes into our position there. Too often they couldn’t fly them to the coast in San Diego because it was too foggy. I made Sergeant right away. I had a group of men that had to park planes. They were flying planes in as fast as they could get them there. These were brand new planes straight from the

1 factories. It was quite a project getting these planes parked because they were flying in by the hundreds.

I didn’t mind my time in the service. Of course there were some parts of it I didn’t like. One day one of the planes was in the parking lot and the guy that wanted to use it yelled at me and talked me into going on a joy ride with him. I said, “OK.” He ended up telling a whole bunch of other guys too. We all got in the plane and started taxi-ing off and an officer stopped us. Another guy came running toward us and wanted to go so I got out and he got in. Well, they were flying up this canal and there were some cables that run across it. The plane hit those cables and killed the guy in the back seat that traded places with me. I guess it wasn’t my day to die.

It wasn’t too long after this they put me on a ship and sent me to Pelelieu. That was one of those cruises where we were always on watch wondering if someone was going to start shooting at us. The Battle of Peleliu (Sept – Nov 1944) had just ended when I got there. We replaced a whole bunch of people that was in that battle. I served with the 396th Platoon.

The Japanese had built tunnels on Peleliu. When the American’s had taken the island over during the Battle of Peleliu there were still Japanese living in these tunnels. I remember at night hearing our American Soldiers firing their weapons at the Japanese soldiers coming out of the tunnels. I was thankful I didn’t have to go inside of them. We were in pretty good shape on the airfield and didn’t have to worry too much about the Japanese.

I was assigned one specific plane that I was pretty well acquainted with; the Chance Vought Corsair and one pilot. The pilot I was assigned to was Captain W. I. Branagan from Michigan. It was my responsibility to get his plane ready to go in the mornings. He flew out pretty much every day. I’d have to go through the plane, gas it up, change the oil every so often, and make sure things were in working order.

One day Captain Branagan took me for a ride; not in the Corsair because that was only for one person – he showed me where he had caught of bunch of Japanese on a boat. There wasn’t any left after he finished. During the first part of the Battle of Peleliu the American’s had sunk a bunch of Dean (left) and Captain Branagan


Japanese ships. While I was flying up with Captain Branagan the water was so blue that I could look down and see those ships lying on the bottom of the ocean. There were a lot of ships; maybe a dozen or so. They are probably still there except what the treasure hunters have hauled off.

I remember when they announced the US was going into Japan. You’d hear so many things over there that you’d wonder if it was true or not. I was in Peleliu when we dropped the atomic bomb and we wondered if that was true or not. There had been so many heavy bombers that had come and gone. You hate to see people killed.

The morning the war was over Captain Branagan brought me a case of Canadian Brandy – (he laughs and comments, maybe that is what is wrong with me now) Red Cap Ale. He brought it down to the barracks. Those Officers had stuff we enlisted guys didn’t have but this was the only brandy I had seen over there. I didn’t drink it all; it was shared all around. I’d like to have got a hold of Captain Branagan after the war was over but I never did.

Believe it or not I used to play basketball over there. I had to play basketball to keep in shape for football (he laughs). We had tournaments between the Islands. After the war was over with we would fly to Guam and the different islands to play. If we ever went anywhere we had to go in a plane. We were about 600 miles from Guam – there were 10 of us players on the team. We played for the championship against a team that had all black players. They beat us but we expected that. Oh boy what a game!

They eventually put me on a troop ship, the slowest way back on earth; they weren’t anxious to get me home. I came back to Santa Ana Naval Air Station. They handled things very well. The first thing they did was fix us a good dinner. I remember fillin’-up. There were sure a lot of marines there. I ended up doing some guard duty. I didn’t mind doing that because when I had joined I knew I would be assigned some guard duty. Santa Ana was very close to Ray Kirkham, Tom’s dad and my brother Avery who lived in Los Angeles. I was really close to them and was able to go visit from time to time. I was there about six months or something like that.

After I was discharged in May 1946 I came home on a bus. The military paid my way home. The bus stopped in Cedar City and I thought I’d go see an old girlfriend I had when I was going to school there; Vilda Bowman. She had been writing me for a while but the letters stopped. When I got to her house her mother seen me comin’ and ran out of the house shooing me away. She told me Vilda had gotten married. I guess that was why she quit writing me. It happened she married Craig Crabb. I had to pick up my bag and go back to the bus stop.

When I got home I went back to work for my brother Reed at Bradshaw auto parts. Then I decided to go down and talk to the Utah County Sherriff to see if I could get a job using my military guard experience. I went to work as a Deputy Sheriff for Utah County and worked for them over thirty years.

I married Gloria Stone from Provo on February 19, 1948. She was a pretty nice girl. We had five children; Karen, Terry, Rebecca, Gail, and Barbara Jo.


Gene Kirkham as interviewed by Judy Hansen April 2014

My parents were Fred O’Dell and Glida West Kirkham. Dad was born and raised where I lived in Lehi and mother was originally from Pleasant Grove. I was born and raised in Lehi at 358 West 200 North next to the Denver track by the rodeo grounds. I lived there until I was about fifteen. After that my dad built a new house on the corner of 200 North and 300 West and that is where I lived until I got married.

I milked cows for Delbert Norman early in the mornings then rode my bicycle to Roy Gammon’s farm and topped beets until noon. Farm labor was scarce due to the war effort. We would top beets to get credits for our agriculture class. Half of us were topping beets in the morning and the other half of the class would top beets in the afternoon. After I finished with the beets, I went to afternoon classes until about 3:30.

I went to school until mid-November 1943. There was a war going on so I went to Salt Lake City and signed up for the Navy. They called me in for a physical a few days later. On November 22nd 1943 I turned 17. That was the night I was shipped out to Farragut Naval Training Station in Idaho. I was in Navy boot camp. Farragut was divided up into five different camps and I was at Camp Waldron. Each camp had a big grinder where they drilled and a hospital for first aide. It was a big place. They had so many people going through for training there was just no way they would do it all at one base. They had to have swimming pools, drills, yards, fire-ranges, and boats so men could learn how to get into a life boat and operate them. There were so many people. Normally you were in boot camp for six weeks but they just couldn’t handle them all in one camp. I don’t know how many barracks there was around the grinder but there had to have been ten or twelve. The grinder was the place where they would drill and it was bigger than a football field. I was there for twelve weeks.

After I left Farragut I was put on a Great Northern Railroad troop train and sent to basic engineering school at Great Lakes Navel Training Station that was located along the shores of Lake Michigan north of Chicago in Illinois. It took four days and three nights to travel over and it was the month of February. We had an old WWI troop car on the train that had a stove in it

1 and we would have to run up to the tender on the engine every time we stopped to get a bucket of coal to keep the fire going.

At engineering school I had done a little work in a machine shop. It was mostly like a regular school. There were math classes; well really all kinds of classes. They would teach us the history of the Navy and what was expected of us. We were on what they called swing shift and went to school in the evenings. Just because we were in school at night that didn’t matter, they got us up early anyway and had Phys. Ed, drill, and we would go for walks even out into the city. I was there six weeks.

Then I was sent to a Navy diesel school in Richmond Virginia on another troop train. I can’t remember the name of the place but it was in an old Navy yard. It happened that Navy base had a school that taught people how to be a cook. The cooks they were training when I was there were all colored people. The Navy Officers back then always had colored cooks for their vessels. All that has changed now, it’s not that way anymore but that is the way it was back then.

They taught me how to tear down diesel engines, how to repair them, how to rebuild injectors, and maintenance in general of the diesel engines that were in the landing craft in the LCVP’s1 and LCM’s2. That is what we had on our ship. I was in that school for another six weeks.

Whenever they sent me anywhere I was always in a group. My group took another troop train. All the trains I took were pretty well packed most of the time but at least everyone had a seat. We never knew from one day to the next what Corp you would be in or if you going to be in the same one all the way. The troop train I got on in Richmond went down to Birmingham Alabama, then right across the bottom of the country through Texas and then turned north. We ended up in New Mexico, then turned around and went down the Colorado River across into Needles, California and up to a war time camp near San Francisco. It took us about nine days. We stayed there about a week wasting time until they told us we could go to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard and get on a boat. Then they took us to Coronado, California. That is where I went into training for amphibious forces. Then I was assigned to the USS Hunter Liggett (APA- 14). I was only there about six weeks when I was re-assigned to a brand new re-construction in San Francisco the USS Hansford (APA-106). We loaded that ship with everything we needed, from ammunition, paint, clothing, food supplies, or whatever. It had refrigeration for some meats and vegetables.

We had shakedown cruises for about six to eight weeks in San Pedro, California. Sometime we were only gone for a day but we were always in and out of the bay. When we would go out on those shake-down cruises they would even have firing practice. An airplane would fly over

1 Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP) or Higgins boat 2 Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) or Landing Craft Mechanical

2 pulling a cloth sleeve target behind it and we would shoot at it. One time we got lucky and hit the rope that was pulling it and shot the target down (as Gene says laughing).

The day after Thanksgiving in the year 1944 we left at 6:00 in the morning and headed for Pearl Harbor. We picked up destroyer escorts (they were the only ones with sonar that could pick up the submarines) and several merchant ships3. We had all kinds of ships with us that were headed for Hawaii under escort. It took us about nine days to get to Pearl Harbor and we sit there for a couple of weeks. Then we got notice that we going out on a little exercise. We ended up in the big island of Hawaii. They have a big desert on one side of it just like Arizona; cactus and sand. They had the 5th Division Marines there going through training and we loaded them up on the USS Hansford and one other ship. We had most of the infantry. We puttered around for two days and one morning we decided to go for a ride. We went out a little ways and ran into a bunch of other ships that wanted to go for a ride with us – there were attack transports and one hell-of-a destroyer escort. We traveled along slow and went as far as Saipan. They had gunnery practice and then we moved down by Tinian and we had a little drill with the boats. After that night we left.

We were anchored off Tinian, just north of Saipan where the planes would go off to bomb. They would leave early every morning in the dark. Japan was within reach of the B-29 and so they would go off to bomb. I don’t know how many would go but they would be gone for hours. We’d go to chow at noon and we’d see them coming back. Every once in a while when we got done with chow we’d see a smoking B-29 coming back. The longer it went in the day the lower they were and the more they would smoke when they returned. That is why they originally wanted the invasion on Iwo Jima, so they could get a landing field further up in the pacific. This would give the planes that were badly damaged a place to land to save the crew. We did get a landing field there and the first airfield was named after our Lt. Commander of the beach party, the first Naval Officer killed on Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima isn’t worth a dime. It is nothing but volcanic ash and rock.

They told us we were going to Iwo Jima. Nobody had ever heard of this place but this is where we were going. We were the assault transport on Red 1.4 We would load the marines in those boats and took them into Iwo Jima. We also had seven doctors with us. We had what they called a ‘beach party’ that were corpsman and just about any and everything else. They went in also. The first four waves to go in were amphibious tractors and our beach party went in on another ship and got on those tractors. After they were in, we started on the boats and took troops in. We landed on red 1 which was right under Suribachi. I was on a LCVP going back and forth taking troops in and the wounded out. We were there seven days. We had our ship unloaded completely of men and supplies. Any wounded we picked up we took either to the

3 Whenever we would run out of ammunition or what not they would tell us where to find a merchant ship in an anchorage and we would go to them to refill our supply. 4 At this point in our interview Gene became very emotional as did everyone in the room. You could see the pain in Mr. Kirkham’s face as he remembered the events of Iwo Jima.

3 hospital ship USS Mercy, the hospital ship USS Hope, or back to our own ship where we had doctors.

I lost my boat (LCVP) the third day. There were rough seas that day and when we landed, there were nine foot swells (waves). When a swell would hit, you’d go. We were sitting there and a swell hit us in the rear, turned us sideways, and pushed us up toward the beach and then we couldn’t get off. Within minutes it got hit by shells and eventually sunk. We got on the beach and stayed there until one of our own boats came in. When it was unloaded we ran, jumped in it, and they took us back to our ship. We stayed there that night, showered, got clean clothes, then when one of our boats came back in we traded crews and went back out and they came aboard. There were 29 LCVP’s and four of them were LCM’s that were big enough to take a 10 wheeler truck in loaded with ammunition. The LCVP’s could take a jeep and a trailer but they mostly took supplies in a sling that was lifted off with a crane that had been taken to the beach previously. They had all kinds, and all colors going in there; they had been in enough invasions they had things pretty well figure out how to do it and what to do. We ended up losing 9 boats during that engagement. We had one break in the seven days we were there. After seven days we ran out of anything we could do. The group we went in with also was done so we left as a unit with an escort.

When I was on the ship I had a station to go to. I can’t think of the term they used but if it was hit by a torpedo I was in the crew that would go and put a patch or band aide on the whole ship to keep it from flooding any worse. On the landing craft I may have had to repair the engines but I never had to stand any duty watches on the ship in the engine room. I only went down to the engine room on ship a couple of times to look it over to see what was there.

While we were anchored in Iwo Jima, I saw the flag go up. I actually saw both the 1st and 2nd flags being raised. When I saw our flag I thought the war was over. Not so! Everything there was repetitious and we just did what we had to do.

After we left Iwo Jima we headed south for Guam. They had a big military hospital there and we had a lot of injured people on board. We held a funeral one day going down and buried the dead at sea. After we took the injured to Guam we headed down nearly to Australia and picked up the Army’s 4th Calvary that had been left down there after some of the battles in the South Pacific. We stayed down there in the Marshalls and Carolinas going here and there picking up different troops. Some of them knew we were coming and some didn’t. We had to wait until they could get everything together and we’d load them up on the ship and take them to the Philippine Islands. After that we headed up for Okinawa.

We got to Okinawa ten days after the initial invasion. We stayed there. Even after we unloaded, I don’t know why, but we stayed there for quite a while. We helped every night with aircraft raids and we made a lot of smoke with a smoke generator to cover up the merchant ships that

4 were in there with ammunition; that way the enemy kamikaze aircraft suicide planes that were looking for ships to crash into couldn’t see them.

After we left Okinawa we went back to the Philippines and got involved taking troops to different islands and making landings. We were all loaded with the Army’s 4th Calvary Division. We had them through-out their training for several weeks and we were all ready to go to Japan for assault invasion. We were waiting for our orders and would have been one of the first ships to invade. In fact, we had a two star Admiral aboard and were going to be the amphibious flagship into Tokyo Bay at the end of the war. We got the Admiral aboard and we were supposed to lead the parade. We were one of the happiest ships in the ocean when we heard about the dropping of the atomic bomb.

There was one picture they took of the USS Missouri and the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender and you can see the fantail of our ship the USS Hansford. We were right next to it when the picture was taken. We could see a lot of the goings on but we were just not on the right ship at the right time – but we were close.

About two weeks after the war we were on occupation duty in Japan. They had a pretty good little train that would take anyone who wanted to go up to Hiroshima to see where the bomb had been dropped. I took the trip. The train was nice, clean, moved along pretty good, and was narrow gage. Every day that train took train-loads up there. If you have ever been out in a desert valley where there are no towns, no cars, or anything; if you burned off all the brush, put in some paved roads, curbs, gutters, sidewalk, even a railroad track; no people, no houses, no buildings, no smokestacks; that is what it looked like. It was as bare as could be. You’ve seen melted glass – well that is what it was; maybe there was a melted brick or something. I saw one steel wheel off of a train out in the middle of it. I don’t know where the rest of it was, the axel, or anything else; it was just one wheel.

Anyway, the war was over and we started hauling troops home5. If they had enough points for discharge we brought them home. We went down to some island in the southern part of Japan and loaded up. They told us there was a typhoon coming in. You remember, there was a typhoon that wrecked Okinawa right after the war; this typhoon done a number on everything. They got on the public address system and said if we could have everything loaded and be ready for sea at 1:00 we could head for the States. We had to go through the break water by 1:00. You’d see officers out doing whatever needed to be done because they wanted to go home (Gene laughs). We were out of there all right. We went on the north circle route and that typhoon really stirred up the water. We were with another ship and a British aircraft carrier when we left. We never saw them all the way around the Aleutians and coming down to Vancouver. It was rough and it was foggy. We’d see their search lights at night because they would flash messages up on the clouds so the signalman could read the messages off the blinks on the clouds.

5 Operation Magic Carpet


We bought troops into Seattle once, into Long Beach twice, and into San Diego once. We made all the trips from the islands of Japan. One time we made a trip over to Shanghi, China and went up the Yangtze River. We took some replacement troops in and picked up some that were ready for discharge to take home.

When we finally got into California I had two more days before I was ready for discharge. I was in the Navy for 2 ½ years. We pulled out of San Diego and I’m glad they did because I got a trip through the Panama and we went through Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk, Virginia. That is where they decommissioned the ship. I read they made a merchant ship out of it. I was discharge and sent off the ship the next day and I went to Shelton, Virginia. They give me enough money to come home. Right after I was discharged, I went out to get on the bus to go to town and there was a man standing there wanting a quarter for the bus ride. He said, “You’re a civilian now.” I paid the quarter to get into town. I was with Dean Ihler from Salt Lake (originally from Carbon County). We decided we’d fly so we went into Richmond, Virginia and ran into some guys we knew. One of the guys lived there so we took a taxi and went over to see him and then that night we got a flight out to Chicago on Delta Airlines. In Chicago, we got on an old DC-3, the last two seats, and left there at 9:00 in the morning. We got to Salt Lake at 6:00 that night.

I hit the highway with my thumb and was home in about an hour. I got a ride to Murray going down old Highway 91. I no sooner got my feet on the ground and some teenagers picked me up and brought me to Lehi. There wasn’t a damn sole home. Well, dad was home but my mother and sister was at the church for some reason. I scared the hell out of my dad. He could hear someone coming in but didn’t know who it was. He was surprised to see me. I got home in May 1946.

After I got out of the Navy I bummed around. There was no work. Geneva Steel and the brick yard was both closed down. Everything was shut down. These places were changing from military to civilian and it took a year. I never got a steady job until November. I went to work in an auto-part store in Salt Lake. I stayed there for a little over a year but could see there was no future in it so I quit and went to work at Geneva Steel. I’d always wanted to get into machine

6 shop and I was able to get an apprenticeship as a machinist. I worked there for 38 years in Central Maintenance.

I married Emma Lou Gene Peterson November 6, 1946. I have four children, Peggy Lou (Michael) Williams, Danny (who married KayeLynn Ernst from Lehi), Laurelee “Sam” Nozumi, and Glade (who married Judy Curtis from Lehi).

I lived on 1st South and Center for a while and I traded that home for the home I raised my family in at 340 West 700 South in Lehi. I had a pasture next to that place so moving there was more convenient. After Lou Gene passed away in August 2006, I re-married Jan Estes on 9/11/2010. I moved into her home on 970 west where I currently reside.


James F Lafferre Jr. as interviewed by Judy Hansen April 2014

I was born in Parkersburg West Virginia in 1919 to James Frances Sr. and Mary Ethel Petty Lafferre. My father was a plumber. I grew up on 615 Camden Street in Parkersburg being the oldest of seven siblings. I had four brothers and two sisters; Bill, Joe, John, Ed, Mary, and Betty.

I attended Jefferson School from the 1st grade to the 6th grade, Washington Jr. High from 7th to 10th grades, and graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1937. When I was in High School I worked for Broughton’s Dairy Store which was a restaurant type business. They had sixteen to eighteen kinds of ice cream and served sandwiches & soup; it was that sort of thing. After school at 4:00 I went to work for them and worked until it closed at 11:00 pm. After the store closed I had to count the monies, make the supply order out for the next day’s business, and stop by the bank to make the deposit, then walk ¾ mile home. I usually got home around 2:00 in the morning. It didn’t work out too well because then I would have to get up early for school and I was only getting about 2 or 3 hours of sleep. I rented a room next door to where I worked so after I closed up I could just go to bed.

After I graduated, my friends and I all got together; there were 13 of us, and we started talking. Someone said something about wanting to go to the Air Force and fly airplanes. So the next day we all took a bus into Columbus, Ohio and went to the recruiting station. Only two of the group passed the flying training exam to fly. The rest of us felt the spirit of the recruiter and enlisted. On December 12, 1940 I enlisted in the United States Air Corp, I wasn’t drafted. At that time the Air Corp was a Division of the Army.

After I enlisted I was waiting for my first assignment at Jefferson Barracks at Lemay Missouri just south of St. Louis. As a young kid I was going to try to make is easy on myself. I had learned some welding in my high school years so I wanted to attend their welding School. After four months and the welding school never opened up to me I changed my mind and decided to go to the mechanic school program.

I went to aircraft and engine maintenance school and graduated on October 24, 1941 with 771 hours of training. During the next fourteen months I was assigned duties as the crew chief to the BT-13 (basic trainer aircraft). It was used to train British Cadets at Macon, Georgia and then later at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas to assist our allies in fighting the Germans.


As a crew chief I was responsible to take care of the aircraft after the pilot landed and get it ready for the next flight. I would have to do the maintenance check and fix any problems with the aircraft. My aircraft was never out of commission very long so they offered me a commission which would have raised my rank to 2nd Lieutenant. I turned that down because I liked what I was doing. Thank goodness a month or so later they came and asked me again and that time I accepted. They made me flight chief. As a flight chief I had about seven or eight airplanes and their crew chiefs that I supervised and was responsible for. With the knowledge I had I was able to get in and start up an airplane and determine right away what was wrong. Then I would tell the crew chief so they could fix it.

After attending several schools of various subjects I attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) after being offered my commission and on May 29, 1943 graduated as 2nd Lieutenant.

I was assigned maintenance for the 776 B-24 bomber squadron of the 464 bomber group in Pocatello, Idaho. While I was stationed in Pocatello I went into town once in a while to the drug store to get stuff I needed and I met the owner’s daughter. We were dating and a friend asked me to see if she would get a friend of hers so he could have a date. I asked this young lady and she agreed. She got her friend Marjorie Bevan to go on the date. Well, I liked Marjorie and later decided that I would date her. After a while we decided that we would get married. I married her on January 12, 1944 at the Pocatello Army Air Force Base. Later that year we had our first child James Michael.

The ones working on the B-24 was to go overseas but because I was married they transferred me to the base commander’s office as his maintenance tactical advisor. If any of the planes on the base had problems I had to solve them for the commander.

They were training Mexican cadets for a while and then they started training American cadets in the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. It later became known as the ‘Jug’ because if it developed any maintenance problems with its single piston engine it would just go straight down.

We received the newest model of the P-47, a long range fighter plane. The training for this aircraft was a top secret program in which the pilots were trained to escort the bombers over to Japan if needed because this newer model could fly further without stopping. They didn’t want any other country to know we were training to go to Japan if it was needed. The unit ended up being disbanded because they didn’t use the program.

On November 17, 1945 as a 1st Lieutenant I decided I’d had enough and left active duty. I moved back home to Parkersburg, West Virginia and became an officer in the reserves. I went to work selling life insurance for two years and during that period of time in December 1947 we had our daughter Jeannie. I continued to sell life insurance until 1950.

I went to work at North American Aviation in Columbus Ohio. They were producing the F-86 Sabre Jet and I became one of a six man round test flight crew. When that airplane came off the assembly line from the factory we went through it and corrected every error that was on that airplane to make it ready for the test pilot. The test pilot flew it and anything he found wrong we

2 would fix that and then it was sold to the Air Force. I enjoyed this kind of work because I enjoyed solving problems.

I only worked for North American Aviation for three months because the Army Air Corp found out that I was familiar with the F-86 and called me to active duty on 1 March 1953 as a 1st Lieutenant.

I started my 2nd tour of duty in 9 April 1953 during the Korean War. I was assigned to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. I continued with aircraft maintenance duties. There were T- 33’s and some F-84 jet trainers and I was the only maintenance officer. My job as an officer was to always oversee the maintenance of the airplanes. There was so much going on that after a couple of months they gave me a young ROTC officer to help me.

On May 1, 1954 Strategic Air Command (SAC) took over the base. SAC decided they were going to have the U-2 program. The U-2 spy program was a high altitude aircraft that went over the enemies and took pictures; electronically I guess, of what was going on down below. These pictures were fed into the top brass and they decided what program they would use, how they were going to fly the aircraft, and which aircraft (bomb or fighter) they would fly. I was one of the few who were transferred from the training command program into the SAC program.

In Del Rio schooling was ongoing all the time because I’d have to learn the new items that were on the planes, the procedures, and how to maintain things. Sometimes I was sent somewhere and other times they would do the training right at the base. After I would learn, I could teach it to those that were under me.

On Aug 18, 1957 I was sent on a one-year unaccompanied tour to Thule, Greenland. This was north of the Arctic Circle right up by the North Pole. My family couldn’t go with me so they went to Bountiful, Utah for a year to have the support of my wife’s family.

In Thule the temperature never got above 30 degrees. The airplane we had at that time, the B-47 couldn’t fly from the United States to Russia so they had to have a place they could be re-fueled in order to make the trip. They didn’t think the aircraft could make it back from Russia on one tank of fuel so that is why we opened the base on Thule. We had over 15 aircraft that would come up after being fueled in Washington State to Thule. We would re-fuel and check them out in Greenland and they would go onto Russia. All the planes that left for Russia thankfully always made it back after dropping their bombs. We never had any loses over Russia.

In 1958, after I got back from Greenland I was transferred to Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, California. We lived in Merced which was 20 minutes away from the base and we were there about five years. While I was there I had a heart attack at age 45. I was off work for a while. I had been raised in the Catholic Church. My wife was born a Mormon but I raised my children Catholic. As I remember, the Catholic Church claimed they existed during the time of Christ. I had a book on ancient history and I decided the Catholic Church couldn’t be right and didn’t exist during the time of Christ like they said. I also had a Book of Mormon that I read. My wife was kind of sneaky and would get away with putting markers in my book. While I was recuperating I invited the Stake Missionaries to come to the house and teach me and my family.


In June 1962 I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; I had been married 19 years. We joined the church on a Saturday and left Merced the following Monday because I had been transferred to Dyess Air Force base in Abilene, Texas.

I was in Strategic Air Command (SAC) and started as job control Officer on the 12th of July 1963 at Dyess Air Force Base. I lived there for about five years and then they transferred me to Thailand. I lived in Thailand for a year and during that time my family moved back to Merced. Thailand was a nice country and the people were nice.

When I finished my work in Thailand I was transferred to Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York. This is where I was when I retired in 1969 with 30 years of service at the age of 50.

Throughout my service career I was able to advance through the ranks. As I went through the various grades I was given more responsibilities in the maintenance of the airplanes. I advanced through 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant, Captain, Major, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. I could have been a Colonel in another two months but my wife said, “No.” If I had advanced to Colonel they were going to send me overseas and she didn’t want me to go.

After I retired I bought a trailer and traveled with my wife around the country for a year. My daughter got married Aug 16th, 1969 in Utah and my son married August 21st, 1969 in California. We traveled to both weddings. I promised my wife if she would follow me throughout my career she would be able to pick where we would live. She wanted to live in Utah so we moved to the east side of Salt Lake City for a year then built a home on the west side of Salt Lake off 5400 South and 2700 West. I went to work at ZCMI for a little bit and took a couple of trips to England and Europe to do genealogy. When my wife got too ill to care for herself, my daughter built an apartment in her home at 591 North Center in Lehi and we sold our home and moved in with her and her husband Robert Fox for four years. My wife died on July 19, 2002 and we buried her in Lehi.

My daughter decided to take me down to St. George so I could meet some guys to play golf with. She thought this would get me out of the slump I had gotten into after losing my wife. There was a woman across the street and I decided she was more interesting than the guys playing golf. After a year I remarried Ruth Roland in Robert & Jeannie’s backyard. I moved to Bountiful with Ruth and then I bought a condo where I lived for seven years. When she passed away I moved back into the apartment with my daughter and son-in-law Robert and Jeannie Fox and have been living here with them for the last three years. My son J. Michael and his wife Susan live in Madera, California

I’ve loved my career with the United States Air Force. I’ve had a pretty good life and enjoyed the challenges that I have had. Although I am the oldest in my family I have outlived all my siblings.


Rex Neil Larson as interviewed by Judy Hansen

Rex Neil Larson was born in American Fork, Utah February 18, 1925 to Neil and Erma Fox Larson. His dad and two of his brothers bought their grandfather’s farm that sits north of the Training School (Utah State Developmental Center) in American Fork where Lone Peak High School is. They ended up losing the property during the depression due to the way his grandfather had managed things. His uncle got his dad to go up to Wyoming to Jenny’s lake and they worked for the forest service for one summer. Then they moved back to Lehi when Rex was six years old where he has lived ever since. Rex started school in Lehi in the 1st grade. He went on through Lehi High School and when he became a senior he was able to go to vocational school in Provo. He went there in the afternoon to take machinist classes while he continued to take classes at Lehi High in the mornings. While he was learning this trade, Tom Pierpoint, who owned a foundry on the corner of Center Street and 500 West in Provo hired Rex and he would go over there at nights and on the weekends to work for him. He also worked at Geneva Steel while they were building that plant. He would go down to Geneva at nights and ‘keep the salamanders rolling1’ so the cement would stay warm. After he became a machinist and Geneva Steel opened for production he work there until he went into the Navy.

There were only one or two young men that was Rex’s age who had not been drafted left in Lehi so they went to the draft board and asked if they could take them. Rex was turned down the first time because he had a hernia. The second time he went up they took him. He was drafted along with his friend Boyd Calton. All the draftee’s had to check in at Provo and from there they caught the old urban train into Salt Lake. Once in Salt Lake they put Rex on a bus and took him up to Fort Douglas. Rex went into one room to talk to an officer while his friend went into another room to talk to different officer. They both came out at the same time. Rex asked him what he took and his friend told him he took the Navy. Rex also said they let him have the Navy too. He enlisted 16 Sept 1944.

1 A salamander was a 50 gallon barrel full of fire from coal. It had holes in it so it could keep a draft.


He went home and then a week later he had to go to Farragut Naval Training Station in Bayview, Idaho for his basic training. He was in 884th Battalion. After basic training he was sent to San Diego. They lost his gear. He was down at Camp Pendleton and several others had their gear lost too. He had a pretty good time there until they found everything. He never drank but he would go out bowling. He was a little disappointed that his stuff was found. He decided he would go down to the station one day to see if his gear was there and he found it.

He was assigned to the ship USS Breton, an aircraft carrier. They went to Hawaii and he stayed there for three or four days. During that time he wrote a letter to his folks telling them where he was. His mother wrote a letter back and told him his letter was all cut up. He had written about a lot of things that was in hiatum, things that were going on in the military. His mail had been read and censored.

His grandmother lived across the corner from his parent’s house. They had the old fashion phone that would hang on a hook. Rex would call his grandmother and tell her he would call back in 10 or 15 minutes and she would have to walk over to get his mother who would come over to talk to him.

After leaving Hawaii he went to Guam. It was the assignment of the USS Breton to sail throughout the pacific taking men, supplies, and aircraft to various units of the fleet that was striking the enemy, it was an escort carrier. They would dump their airplanes off then go back to Hawaii to get more airplanes. Sometimes they would bring soldiers back to Hawaii that were hurt.

Rex traveled all over on the USS Breton to New Guinea, the Marshall Islands (Eniwetok), Guam, Western New Guineas, The Caroline’s (Ulthi), the Philippines, Marianas, Iwo Jima, and during the assault and occupation of Okinawa in April 1945.

There is a port and starboard side of each ship. Port side would take their leave and when they came back starboard side would take theirs. Whenever Rex would get four or five days leave he would fly home and back on a commercial flight.

Rex received three medals, the Asiatic-Pacific for two campaigns, the American Campaign, and the WWII Victory medal. When Rex was in Eniwetok the Captain said there would be no prank initiations when they crossed the International Date Line because they were going on a secret mission. That kind-of got everyone worried. They headed out for Okinawa. Before they hit Okinawa they saw a little light that was only about as big as a city block. Rex went out on the sponson2 and counted over a hundred ships every direction as far as his eyes could see. The USS Breton had to leave sooner than the battlewagons (battleships) and cruisers because it was a much slower ship. There were two groups of two aircraft carriers and two cruisers together. The USS Breton took one side of the island while these two groups took the other. They launched

2 platform jutting from ship’s deck for gun or wheel 2

their planes; some came back and unfortunately some didn’t. The two aircraft carriers and the battlewagons were shooting over the top of them.

Rex didn’t think the guys that ran those 40mm machine guns could hit anything. He thought if we really got in a fight with someone they would be goners. The Japs were using suicide machines (Kamikaze aircraft) and the pilots would take their own life. The USS Breton didn’t have bombs they only had machine guns. When they did get to where they had to use the machine guns to prevent from being hit by a Kamikaze attack the guys were pretty good with them and knocked a couple of Japanese planes down.

After Okinawa they headed back to Hawaii for repairs and more planes. The USS Breton only traveled about 16 knots3 so it took time to travel back and forth to Hawaii.

Rex’s job was in the engine room. He would run the throttle that turned the prop. He was in the Corp of Engineers. They kept that ship afloat.

The flight deck had two elevators; one fore and one aft. They would bring the planes up the back elevator and then they would go up front. They had 100 feet to get off the ship. They called it the catapult. There were two great big air compressors in the engine room and they could tell every time one of the planes went off because the air pressure would drop. They would have just enough air pressure in one air compressor for one plane to get off. The other air compressor would be building up pressure for the next plane.

They have several cables across the deck that is about 5-6 inches high. There would be a signalman on the back of the ship with his flags signaling the planes where to go. One day they were taking a plane down the front elevator and another plane came in. The hook on the back bounced over every cable and the incoming plane’s propeller hit the airplane that had just started going down the elevator. It cut the plane right behind the pilot. The pilot was still in the plane and it hurt him. There was enough damage they brought the plane back up and just pushed it over the side into the ocean.

They were very fortunate when it came to people not getting hurt. If anyone got hurt it was their own fault. The enemy never hurt anyone on his ship. No one ever lost their life.

When the war ended Rex was just coming into Pearl Harbor. There were a lot of fireworks going on. The men on the USS Breton didn’t know what was going on but Hawaii sure had the sky lit up. It was after they got docked they heard over the PA system that the war was over. It was a joy to see all of it and know that the war had come to an end. Some of those poor islands he had been too were just flooded with destruction. The trees had no leaves on them and half or more of them were just gone where the bombers had hit them.

3 A nautical mile is 1,852 meters, or 1.852 kilometers. In the English measurement system, a nautical mile is 1.1508 miles, or 6,076 feet. 3

A lot of the army guys went back to San Diego. There were more than 300 army guys on ship. The ship was pretty big and a person could easily get lost on it. After they unloaded the army soldiers in San Diego they went up to Tacoma Washington. He had to stay on the ship a couple of weeks before he was discharged. That is where the USS Breton was taken out of commission. Rex was discharged 6 June 1946, he got on a bus and came home. He never told his parents he was coming home. He wanted to surprise them and he did when he walked in the door about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Two weeks after he returned from the service, Rex went back to work at Geneva Steel as a machinist. All the servicemen that had worked there were able to get their jobs back after they returned. He eventually quit that job and went to work at the Murray Refractories where he worked for about a year or a year and a half. He really didn’t like it so he quit and again went back to Geneva where he was working in the rolling mills as an inspector.

Just a little over a year from his return from the service, on April 2, 1947 Rex married Evelyn Smith from Pleasant Grove. They lived in Lehi after they married.

Before Rex went into the service he had a few mink. His father also had some and his father told him he would take care of his while he was away. When he came home he started to increase his mink. He had both the mink he was taking care of and working at Geneva. It became too much so he told his wife it was either Geneva or the mink. They decided to go with the mink and they increased it as fast as they could to hold quality. The mink farm was on 400 East and 100 North in Lehi. At that time they were in the county. There were dirt roads and the water truck would come and wet down the roads. The School Board had come to Rex and wanted to buy ground where he had the mink farm and he told them he wouldn’t sell it. They came back a second time so Rex and Evelyn talked about what they should do. People had built around the mink farm so in 1957 they finally gave into the School District, sold to them, and went out west of Lehi found ten acres of ground and built their home there. Rex and Evelyn were in the mink business full time.

The first phone they had in the new house was a party line. There were three other parties on the line. Rex would screw the mouthpiece out and listen to their conversations. He would listen to Bertha Fenn and Ruth Keetch have conversations that he said would just blow your mind. Shame on Rex !

Running a mink ranch was a heck of a lot of work, but it was fun. He really enjoyed it. They would have to kill the mink, skin them, and then there was a tapered pole they were put on. When he first started doing it he used a case knife out of the kitchen to get all the fat off the hide. All the fat had to be off the hide before they were shipped. Later on it got easier because Rex was able to buy a semi-automatic machine they made in Holland. It cost him $30,000.00 to get it to Lehi and set up. His son could do a male mink on that every 70 seconds it was so fast. There were two poles so you could get one mink done on one pole while another mink was getting


ready on the other pole. Then when the first mink was done you just had to flip it over and the next one was ready to go.

Rex would breed and raise all his mink by hand. To choose the breeders they would run their hand up the mink’s back to feel how soft they were and how deep the fur was. Evelyn could always stand back and pick the best black mink to breed with her eye. They would mate the mink in March and the babies would be born the last part of April or the first part of May. Their gestation period was very short. They were generally ready for pelting in November but that would depend on their color. They would start the blue mink before Thanksgiving and the black mink they would have to wait longer until after the 1st of December. He would kill close to 20,000 mink a year. There was no vacation raising mink. It was work all day and ½ the night a lot of the time. The mink would need to be bedded, fed, and areas cleaned. Evelyn was the work horse on the farm. No one ever saw anyone work as hard as Evelyn. She would go out and shovel manure. She could work circles around any one.

One time, Rex made a machine to feed all the mink with so he wouldn’t have to feed them by hand. He told his wife Evelyn to try it but she got her leg caught under it and she was lucky her leg didn’t break. After that she told Rex she was not going to use his machine any more.

Rex was always the first one to try all the new machines that came out. Someone had a feeding machine they wanted the co-op to sell but the co-op wouldn’t so Rex went to Oregon where it was made and he bought one. The ranchers would come to Rex to see the machines and pretty soon they started buying them.

They had another feed machine that came out that had a 300 pound tank you would put behind you and it would pump the food out onto the pen. The mink ate meat, mostly fish but sometimes horsemeat if they could find it. It had to be fresh because if the meat was spoiled it would kill them. They had to be pretty fussy on what they fed them. They had fisherman on the coast that would go out and catch the fish and then bring them into their plant they had on the coast. The fish would be put on a conveyor line where they were ground and then frozen. Afterwards they were put on a semi and brought to Murray, Utah where their co-op plant was in Utah. They also added Kellogg Cereal products and antibiotics to the mink feed.

Rex was on the Board of Directors for the Fur Breeders Co-op for 20 years. They use to have little mixers that would take all day to mix the feed for the next day. The manager of the Co-op didn’t like Rex and Rex didn’t like him but Rex was OK with that. Rex went to the Pribolof Islands west of Alaska and the Aleuts would kill and skin seal up there. The Co-op also had a plant there and they would take the seal carcasses to that plant, grind them up, and ship them to Seattle, then to Salt Lake.

At the same time Rex was on the Board of Directors for the Co-op he was also on the Board of Directors for the EMBA Mink Association (The Breeders Association) and served there for eight years. While he served on that board he was able to see the rest of the world that he hadn’t seen


while in the Navy. They really liked mink in Europe. Russia and Japan would come to the United States to purchase a lot of the mink pelts. EMBA would put on new style shows of the new garments that were made with mink. The EMBA held these shows in England, Germany, and Sweden. Evelyn would travel with Rex to these shows.

Rex would sell his mink pelts in New York or Seattle. Professionals would bundle the pelts up according to size, color, and quality. Rex was known worldwide and always topped the market for his blue mink. Rex became good friends with a man at the Seattle Fur Exchange. He told Rex to give the buyer who buys his top bundle in each color face a plaque. So he did. He was still on the EMBA board at that time and one of the Managers, Don McCormick of EMBA went to Japan and toured the fur market. He went around a corner and seen all of Rex’s plaques in a store window that said, “Sold by Rex Larson at the Seattle Fur Exchange.” Mr. McCormick came back and really cussed Rex out and said no wonder he was getting good prices for his furs. After that everyone started giving out plaques. The black fur always sold for the most. There were five or six mink farms around the Larson farm at that time.

Once Rex got a letter from some animal rights group that said if he didn’t quit his business they would burn him down. Four others got the letter as well as the Fur Breeders Association. Rex went to the Lehi City police who told him to take it to the County Sheriff (because Rex was in the county) so he gave it to the county Sherriff who gave it to the Utah Attorney General. Rex was never bothered but there was a fire set at the fur breeders’ co-op in 1997 and explosives in 2012 where they kept the feed. They caught the guy in the 2012 explosion and he was sent to prison.

Around 1980 Rex had a heart attack and open heart surgery. His wife wanted him to give up the mink farm but he didn’t want to. He ran the mink ranch until about 1990. Then again in 1995 he had another open heart surgery. Evelyn passed away right after that and he shortly remarried until his 2nd wife also passed away.

Rex and Eveyln are the parents of four children; Lynn Larson (husband of Diane Bair) of Lehi, Neila Peterson (wife of Steven Peterson) of Lehi, Lloyd Larson of Lehi (never married), and Janet Kay (wife of Fred Kay) of Provo.


Cleon Leany and His Service in World War II

Cleon Leany enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1939, just a few months prior the war in Europe. Mr. Leany was as he described a “19 year old farm kid from Hinckley, Utah”. The depression had brought on hard times, and there were no jobs in Hinckley, or in the nearby town of Delta, Utah, so you Cleon Laney went to Salt Lake City to enlist. Little did he know what lay ahead. The Army Air Corp later notified him that he’d been accepted.

There were only two men from Utah accepted at the time, which may have been why Mr. Leany was not required to participate in basic training. His first job was on a refueling truck. It lasted one week. Shortly after that, Mr Laney spent six month at radio communications school at Albrook Airfield in the Panama Canal Zone. There he was trained as a radio technician and high speed morse code telegrapher.

After finishing his schooling, Leany was assigned to west of Rio Hato, a tiny one strip landing field about seventy miles from the Panama Canal Zone. His job was to help land the aircraft as control tower operator, and give weather reports which he made simply by looking outside. Rio Hato was also a practice sight for bombers. Mr Leany remembers watching the planes practice by dropping bags of flour around 10,000 feet in an attempt to hit a target that was roughly 50 feet in diameter.

His weather reports on wind velocity helped the bomber pilots calculate when to drop the bags. Leany described his weather reports as such “I would take a look...and guess at it...I would look out my window and the windsock was right outside...if it was straight out, 30 mph wind; if it was down, plus a little, 15 mph; and if it was straight out plus a lot of tumbingling weeds...” pausing to laugh, he went on to say, “I would start off in the morse code RHWX which is Rio Hato Weather”. After a period of six months or so I was a weatherman. I insist that I’m the only weather man who ever actively worked in it that was one hundred percent right...every afternoon at 2 o’clock it started to rain.

An experience on Rio Hato that was particularly memorable for Cleon Laney came one day when he heard on his radio a voice saying: “Rio Hato radio, this is Lieutenant Barnett. I need to land. Give me landing instruction please”. I said “listen Lieutenant”,(he was in a B18 which is a two engine bomber)”...it’s raining too hard. You can’t get down here. Go on back to Albrook (airfield), He Says, “ I can’t do it gotta get down now, you’ve gonna have to guide me down.” So he circled and I watched and he finally came in sight and I go “Lieutenant, your’re lined up to the runway now. Land. Go ahead and land”. I says, you’re about fifty feet off the ground...now you’re thirty feet off the ground...no you’re ten feet off the ground, Land! He landed, turned the plane around and taxied back to the radio shack and he walked in and said,”:Listen, you about got me killed”. and I said”Listen, two years ago I was a farm kid in a country town in Utah...I ‘m sorry I did the best I could do.” I loved that job.

Following Rio Hato, Mr. Leany returned to Albrook Airfield, for a brief period. there he had to help land another bomber pilot in trouble. It was a nightmare, and a pilot by the name of Captain Kelly had fallen asleep and flown off course. He radioed Albrook Airfield and said he was unsure whether he was over the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. Leany, who was the only radio operator working that night, told the pilot that he could use the radio range (homing device) in order to navigate his way back. To their disappointment, and surprise, it wasn’t running and Mr. Laney did not have access to it to turn it on. Leany then had the idea to have the pilot prepare to turn on his landing light so that nearby ships could see him to let him know where he was located.

Strangely when Leany radioed for ships that were near the canal in the Pacific and the Atlantic, he found that there were none. as a last resort, Leany decided to have the Captain choose a direction to fly in and if he heard the radio signal fade then that would tell him he was headed away from the Airfield. They tried this and it worked. The pilot began to hear the radio signal fade, so he turned around and headed in the opposite direction and was able to find Albrook. He landed with only fifteen minutes of fuel remaining. After relating these two stories of helping the bombers land at Rio Hato and Albrook, Mr Leany stated, “The Air Force owes me $500,000 for saving those two planes. I’ve thought about sending them a bill”.

Following that experience, Mr. Leany was allowed to leave for visit home. He had advanced to the rank of Tech Sergeant. His visit was cut short because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Sergeant Leany reported back to Albrook and was assigned to the nearby David Airfield. At David, Mr. Leaney was chief operator of the radio station for both the Army Air Corp and the Pan American Airways. Their purpose was foremost to protect the canal from being bombed. Planes were required to check in with the radio operator before flying across the canal. To prevent planes from bombing the canal, barrage balloons were set in place. these large balloons were suspended high in the air, and fastened to the ground by steel cables. Low altitude barrage balloons reached heights of 6,000 feet, while high altitude balloons reached 20,000 feet. Barrage balloons were first sent to Panama in 1939 and were frequently used in various areas of the world throughout the war.

Mr. Leany also remembers watching ships travel through the Panama Canal at David. They were required to check in for permission to pass through, just as the planes were. Once permitted to pass through, the gates would open and water would be pumped into the canal to increase its depth to that of the sea.

In late 1942, while he was at David, Sergeant Leany was given the opportunity to attend Officer Candidate School in New Jersey. He decided to go. The trip to the states was by boat. The journey was a perilous one due to the fact that German U-Boats had been terrorizing the eastern seaboard. In the first six months of 1942, on the east coast, the allies lost 173 boats (834,196 tons of shipping), and 144 of those were sunk by U-boats. In May and June of that same year, Admiral Donitz of Germany began to shift the focus of U-Boats attacks to the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. After just three months, Donitz had sunk some 750,000 tons of Allied shipping in the area. As a result, ships were escorted by navy destroyers.

The ship that took Cleon Leany to Panama in 1939, did not have an escort. On that trip, the troop transport ship had several men on board assigned the task of watching for German subs. During the return voyage in 1942, with a destroyer escort, had and his fellow troops were alerted that a U-Boat had been spotted. Their ship was near Guantanamo Bay, and was sent there where a safety net was drawn across the bay to prevent U-Boats from entering. Then, Leany and the rest of the crew waited.

Their destroyer escort went on ahead, found the U-Boat, and sank it. Me Leany remembered passing by the large oil slick left behind on the water by the submarine. U-Boat records show that U94 was sunk on August 28, 1942 off of Haiti which is just southeast of Guantanamo. Mr. Leany estimated that his voyage occurred around September of 1942, very close to that date. The probability that this was the same sub is quite high when considering that record indicate U94 was the only German Sub in the Caribbean sanki close to that time.

The boat sailed on. A few nights later, Sergeant Laney had a difficult time sleeping. He was restless and decided to go up on the deck of the ship. Alone on the bow he stared ahead, mesmerized by the sounds of the waves hitting the boat and the hum of the engine. As the dawn approached, he saw a speck on the horizon. The ship drew closer and he recognized what it was, the Statue of Liberty. He then leapt to his feet, stood up tall, and saluted. With tears in his eyes he said, “ I love my country with all my heart, I love the United States of America”. It was an experience Cleon Laney would never forget.

Shortly after his training in Officer Candidate School, Mr Leany was called to serve in the combat zone of the Pacific. He was ordered to report at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, Hawaii. While there, Leany, witnesses a tragedy at Pearl Harbor that is rarely spoken of, occurring nearly three years after the original “Day of Infamy”.

Though the exact date is debated (some sources claim it was May 21, 1944), Mr Leany asserts that it was Sunday June 4, 1944. He was sitting on the steps of the barracks at Pearl City overlooking the harbor and saw twelve naval LST’s destroyed. “As I looked, the first ship, then the second one, then the third one...all twelve blew up. This was Pearl Harbor number two”. The ships were numbered among hundreds that had been prepared for a top-secret mission to Saipan, Hollywood Filmmaker and Marie, Harold Weinberger was there with his camera recording the event on tape. A recent documentary produced by the History Channel contains this rare footage. Though the disaster is somewhat obscured, it left 3,000 dead.

There are differing theories on how they were destroyed. Whether from a bomb placed under the hull of one ship, and those nearby caught fire from the explosion, or if all the ships had bombs under the hulls is uncertain. The attack was well coordinated, and how the attackers knew where the boats would be, and when they’d be there in order to inflict maximum damage is a mystery.

According to Mr. Leany, a Brigadier General was stationed at Fort Shafter at that time. He had sent his wife back home to the states. After doing so, the Brigadier General had his oriental secretary move in with him. The question of whether or not this affair enabled the Japanese to get inside information is an interesting one, though difficult to prove. Mr. Leany maintains that this played a major role in bringing about the disaster, and that the bombing had to be an inside job performed by Japanese residing in Hawaii.

Attempts by the Japanese to attack American soil weren’t uncommon. In March of 1942, Japanese bombers took off from the Marshall Islands and attempted to bomb Pearl harbor. The plan failed because dense clouds obscured their targets, causing their bombs to land in the Ocean, miles off course. They also launched thousands of bomb carrying balloons which were intended to be carried by the jet streams across the Pacific to the west coast. However many of the bombs missed their targets and those that landed on U.S. soil only caused minor damage. Other plans were made but not carried out, and those that were, were ineffectual.

While at Fort Shafter, Cleon Leany, now a Lieutenant, was given the assignment of heading and organizing a communication team. As a vital part of the strategic island hopping campaign in the Pacific, Lieutenant Leany’s team followed behind the Marines and Seabees, setting up communication systems.

Two weeks after his arrival in Hawaii, Cleon Leany received his first introduction to the realities of the combat zone. In an effort to share with me the indescribable horror he witnesses after landing on Eniwetok, he stated that he saw “hundreds of dead scattered in every direction, smells....flies so bad you couldn’t open your mouth without drawing some in. I put a helmet over my face so the flies couldn’t get in my mouth, we had to use mosquito nets...that was my first experience with combat.” Most of the Japanese Mr. Leany saw throughout the war were dead. To bury them on Eniwetok, he remembered that a large trench was dug, and with a bulldozer the bodies were carried to the trench and dumped inside. The trench was then covered with dirt, and an airstrip was built over the top of it. “It was a terrible experience”, he said, “The Japanese also had the habit of putting a hand grenade under their dead, and if you turned over it would set off the grenade.”

On Eniwetok, Lieutenant Leany and his crew constructed a control tower and a homing transmitter which he referred to as a “radio range”. This system enabled bombers leaving Eniwetok for the island to Truk (the headquarters of the Japanese Navy for the Pacific), to find their way to the site of attack, and return back to Eniwetok.

Later on, the Marines landed on Tinian. Three days after the invasion. Leany and his crew were ordered to go ashore. He remembered and innocent mistake they had made: I was to take my team ashore as soon as the marines had secured the town of Tinian. My team and I moved in and set up camp right on the edge of town near a ravine. The marines were camped 200 yards in front of us... the Marine Corp Captain discovered my location. As the night darkened, he whispered to me, “Leany, this is the front line! To keep the Japanese on the other side of the ravine throughout the night, our Marines would fire flares into the air to illuminate the darkness, the Marines then fired volleys from the 50 caliber machine guns. I knew if the Japanese made it back up the ravine, they could possibly overpower and kill my team and myself. No one got much sleep that night with the enemy dug in several hundred yards away on the opposite ravine. The enemy gun fire was buzzing around the structure my crew was bedded down in. Gratefully no one from the team died that night. I can assure you there were promises made that night if we survived the ordeal, I prayed throughout the night.”

Thier mission on Tinian was to build a radio tower, and a radio station on Masalog Point. They helped to alert Air Defense Command on nearby Saipan of any Japanese bombers heading to the island after being sighted on the radar. Mr Leany recalled an occasion where the use of this system had enabled the allies to shoot down 48 Japanese bombers in one night. Building the station was no easy task. A cave was located within 100 yards of the construction site where some of the remaining Japanese soldiers were hiding. Mr. Leany remarked that the possibility of being in the sights of a Japanese sniper rifle “made a nervous wreck out of ya’”

Lieutenant Leany’s fears only increased when he was assigned to go to Saipan to oversee the construction of a radio telephone and teletype system on top of Mount Tapochau. There, 300 Japanese snipers had been organized to kill or snare off anyone possible. The top of the mountain was fairly level and was surrounded by thick vegetation that the Japanese would hide behind. while on the project, a Japanese sniper shot one of his fellow servicemen through the temple, killing him. Following the shooting, one of the men took anM-1 and went out to find the Sniper. Afterward he took Lieutenant Leany and showed him not only 1, but 5 dead Japanese snipers as proof of his work. Although leany was given a 45 handgun to carry on a shoulder holster, it didn’t bring much comfort because he knew that he wasn’t the hunter, but the hunted.

Later on Saipan, a friend of Mr. Leany’s shot and killed a Japanese soldier he had caught sneaking into their supplies. Leany hated the violence associated with the war and was glad his primary responsibility wasn’t to kill or be in combat. “I saw so much violence that by the time the war was over I was sick of being a professional soldier.

While I landed on Kwajalein, I saw a u.S. soldier sitting on top of a dead Japanese soldier, using his knife to cut the gold out of the Japanese soldier’s teeth. It was so bizarre. I don’t understand how a person could do that”. Without doubt, these experiences have had a profound emotional impact on Cleon, who still has nightmares of the war. His screams alarm his wife, and she does her best to comfort him.

Amidst all the dangers, they were able to finish the project which involved building three large radio antennas. These antennas permitted Admiral Hoover (Cleon’s commander) to hold a radio conference with George Marshall in Washington D.C., General Macarthur, Admiral Nimitz or whoever necessary. The radio telephone, and in particular, the teletype systems proved to be of “inestimable value” for communication throughout the war in the Pacific and in other areas as well. “The teletype arrangement proved the most satisfactory, since it afforded opportunity for a fast two-way exchange of views and information and provided a complete record of the discussion. Teletype Conferences were particularly valuable when preparations were being made for assault operations and the theaters were confronted with the usual and urgent needs for supplies and equipment.

After completing the project on Saipan, Cleon returned to Tinian, and the war ended soon after. When asked what he thought about the August 1945 atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Cleon related an experience he had after returning home. One day a Japanese woman came into his office at the store he owned and notice a map of Tinian on Cleon’s wall. After asking him about the map, she spoke to him of the atrocities her people suffered from the incendiary and atomic bombs. He sensed that she was still bitter about it.

Cleon went on to say that the dropping of the bombs was a terribly sad event, but saved thousands of lives. He spoke of the leaflets that were dropped in Japan prior to the bombing. Dropping leaflets as a warning before bombings wasn’t uncommon for the Allies to do. Mr. Leany remembered the warning on the leaflets saying, “seven more days and were gonna wipe you off the face of the earth...give up...quit. He found it interesting that even after the bomb was dropped some of Japan’s military leaders still didn’t want to quit fighting. Leany feels that if the bomb wasn’t dropped, he would have been part of a mass invasion of Japan. Due to the high estimates of casualties that the allies would have suffered in that mainland invasion, he may have been one of them.

While in Tinian, Cleon made application to go home. The war was over, and Cleon remembered sitting in his office one day, on Tinian, when a fellow serviceman came to speak with him. While there, the man asked what Cleon was going to do with his handgun. “Why? Do you want it?” Cleon asked. The man said he did. Cleon grabbed the gun and threw it to him. Cleon said of the experience, “I was so tired of the war, I didn’t even want to own a gun”, Cleon was granted his wish to return home. He packed 15 clean uniforms for the return trip. One of them stands today in the Veteran’s Hall in Lehi, Utah, next to his father’s who served World War I.

After the war, Cleon decided to settle down and start a family. He served in the officer’s reserve until April 1, 1953, when he was honorably discharged. He gave up the opportunity of having a successful military career. Leany continued to receive Christmas cards from the men he served with for more than l20 years after the war. A few of them still refer to him as “Lieutenant Laney”.

Cleon Laney and his wife met after the war while she was working at a store owned by Cleon’s parents, who had recently moved to Lehi. They were married six months later. Together they have five children, many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It only takes a short time being with Cleon to see how much he loves his wife and family. He is so happy to have been able to raise them in a nice community and country, with the freedoms he fought to keep. “There’s no better place on earth than the U.S.”, he said.

One thing I’ve notice among the veterans I’ve interviewed is that they are so appreciative of the things they have. They cherish what many American take for granted, namely, our freedoms and family relationships. Cleon personifies this gracious attitude. On Memorial Day of 2008, Cleon Laney was recognized for his service in a large gathering at the Legacy Community Center in Lehi, Utah. If they built a monument a mile high in recognition of the farmboy Leany, and others like him, it wouldn’t be high enough. My Experiences in the Service in World War II Written by Earl Lelegren 26 May 2005 Lehi, Utah

I was born in Los Angeles on March 23, 1924, and reared in Glendale and Burbank. I graduated from high school in February 1943. I certainly remember hearing about Pearl Harbor. I was at a rodeo in Sun Valley, California, that Sunday. I was riding with some men who were in the Reserves or something, and they felt bad they would have to be going into the service. My brother was in the Eighth Armored Division, and though he hadn’t yet gone overseas, my family were all worried about me being in the army. I had only the one brother, no sisters (though another boy had died as a baby).

My father, Henry R. Lelegren, was a sign painter at Lockeed Aircraft, where my cousin, Louis Wuhlfkueheler, was the head secretary. We lived right near Lockeed Aircraft.

I was drafted about two weeks after graduating from high school and was immediately sent to the 97th Infantry Division, which was being reorganized from World War I at Camp Swift, Texas. I didn’t enlist in another branch of the service because I didn’t think I would enjoy the military. I grew up with a very happy childhood, being raised mainly at a summer resort in San Fernando, California, where we enjoyed lakes, duck hunting, fishing, and swimming all summer long—and lots of pretty girls. So I just waited till I was drafted.

My parents worried to death about their boys in the army, because that was all they had to live for. They didn’t have any religion or anything like that—my mother was a Catholic, my father a Protestant. They got along fine, but during the war, they just stayed home and worried. My brother and I were all- important to them.

I have a letter from my brother, who was trying to comfort me. I had written to him complaining about basic training, especially how some men received serious injuries. As I recall, a few of the soldiers in my regiment committed suicide, and a lot of them were feigning illness, trying to get out of the army. I was with a lot of Italians and Poles from the Northeast. One Italian, when we were out bivouacking in the field, put his foot on a stump, took an ax from the side of a jeep, and asked me to chop the end of his foot off, so he could get out of the army. I took hold of the ax, realizing that I should never do anything like that, so I didn’t do it. Most of the men hated the army.

I was also surprised that the army didn’t want soldiers who wet their beds. Some of the men were actually bed-wetters, or some of them may have faked it in order to get out. At night, the army would move cots out between the barracks, so the bed-wetters would sleep outside. I presume that many of

1 these men did get out of the army. On the other hand, many soldiers were really not physically capable of going through the obstacle courses. They would fall and injure themselves, but the army would still make everybody put every effort into doing the course. They insisted we do whatever they wanted us to do, to build up our bodies. I found in one of my letters to my brother that one man either broke his neck or was otherwise seriously injured going over the obstacle course—jumping over hurdles and ditches, and climbing on and moving along horizontal ladders, with rocks and things below us. Sometimes the heavier soldiers just couldn’t hold on. They would fall down and be seriously injured. Still, there was never any sympathy toward them. We had to do what we were asked to do, and if we couldn’t do it, we would be injured. If injuries were serious, we were sent to the hospital, and I suppose some men did get out of the army. Our sergeant was from Columbus, Georgia. I loved the South (I have a farm in Kentucky), and as soon as I became a little acquainted with him, I asked him to tell me about the South. I had seen Gone with the Wind, which had come out in 1939, and the Old South fascinated me. “How do you get along with the Negroes?” I asked him. He said, “I’ll tell you one thing: if a nigg*r woman sat next to my wife on the bus, I’d slap her in the face” I had to live with that man for the next three years, and I couldn’t tolerate that kind of a person. Negroes had to sit in the back of buses; and not having been reared among the black folks, I sometimes used go right to the back of the bus. Everyone would look at me real funny—I didn’t know we weren’t supposed to sit in the back. Finally I got wise and sat in the middle of buses.

In my first lecture at Camp Swift, a colonel in World War I leggings gave us a lecture, after we’d been in his regiment only a week or so. The first thing that impressed (and depressed) me was when he said, “I want you men to drive everything out of your minds but one thing: that is to kill!” We were not to have any other interest than to be a strong, able rifleman who hated and would kill the enemy. We were shown films of the enemies doing all kinds of horrible things to Americans. We were shown so much of that stuff that we really came to hate the Germans and the Japanese—really hate them, and want to kill them.

I had had no religious training up till then, only to pray. My mother taught my brother and me to pray.

We were thirty miles from Austin, and a closer town, Bastrop. Every Friday night we had opportunity to take leave and go to town. I can still remember going a couple of times with some friends. On Saturday evenings, many of those soldiers would be vomiting—on the bus, even, if they could open the windows—from all the drinking they had done. We were sent one weekend to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to be the honor guard to the Secretary of War of Brazil. On the Saturday night, I went with some of the soldiers to the beer joints, where I would drink a beer. Three men I was with, from New York or New Jersey, were pretty wild people. They wanted to go find a lady that they could rape. About that time, I figured I’d better try to get back to the camp alone. I just left them. But that’s the kind of men I was with. Another thing: when we showered, we had to make sure we put our wallets in our locked footlocker, or have some personal friend we trusted watch them. Anything we left out would be stolen, and the officers over the company would do nothing about it. I guess they figured that most of us would be killed eventually anyway. There was just not a lot of concern about things like that in those days.

I was at Camp Swift from February until about October. I was trained to be a radio operator, but then I was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, where paratroopers were trained. At Camp Swift, we went to movies every Sunday afternoon, the only thing I enjoyed about being in basic training. I came home one afternoon from a movie, and just before dark, a highly admired lieutenant was in front of the barracks, checking when Earl Lelegren came back. I said to him, “I’m Earl Lelegren.”

“Well, you received the highest grade on an aptitude test to be a radio operator in Company F. Would you like to come to headquarters company and be a radio operator?” 2

I replied, “I sure would!” So I went to radio school. But in October, somebody was needed at Fort Benning to go to the motor transport school for three months.

The main thing to learn in radio school was Morse Code. I remember only that at the end of a sentence, you’d punch “ditty-dum-dum-ditty” (two dashes and two dots, or something), which meant “end of sentence.” It was kind of boring to sit and learn Morse Code. I liked being a radio operator, which I later was for a while, operating Walkie-Talkies, and another radio that was on the back of jeeps. I would sit and receive messages and pass them on to the officer. We went to classrooms in a building, where we learned the dashes and dots of Morse Code.

Fort Benning was also an officer training school, where “90-day wonders” went, to become an officer in ninety days. But the training was with the parachute school. I admired the paratroopers, who always had nice, shined boots, and they were tough. When they went over to Opelika, Alabama, all the locals left the beer joints, because they didn’t want to get beat up by the paratroopers. But they had a tough job, jumping out of airplanes. I admired them for what they could do.

I went to a motor transport school, learning about convoys and maintenance of the trucks. I had also had the highest aptitude for that type of training, and I really liked that training. I remember I learned how to post guards in towns when the convoys were going through, how to control traffic, how to see to it that the drivers maintained their vehicles properly. We had a lot of GMC six-by-six trucks, along with jeeps and vehicles that carried machine guns. Our teachers were very intelligent, and we had students from just about every infantry division, even the First Cavalry Division, the 101st Airborne, the 82nd Airborne—all divisions had to have someone specialized in transportation. I was at Benning three months, living in fine old dormitory buildings from the old army in World War I.

Some of my respectable friends would go to the beer joints in to Opelika, just over the line, but the people of the town were unhappy with us, because some of the soldiers didn’t behave as they should have—some were drunks, and so forth. They would beat up people, and I’m sure there were some rapes in those days, more than we heard about.

In February, 1944, the 97th Division was taking training in the swamp country of Louisiana. We were there for three months, learning about amphibious landings and whatever else was required to invade beaches. At that time, it was thought we’d be going to the Pacific. When we finished training, we were all sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, near Springfield. We weren’t there very long. We were sent to Camp San Luis Obispo, California, for amphibious training. For example, we had vehicles that were combination trucks and boats. You could run them out in the ocean, where they would float and be driven by propellers, and then you could drive them up on the beach as trucks. I believe they were GMC’s. We also had the LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry). We would be lowered into them from ships, then jump off onto the beach through a door that would drop down. That was dangerous, because sometimes when the door was let down, a soldier might slip and his legs get back under the door and get crushed. I didn’t see any of that, but I knew it was dangerous.

I was fairly healthy through all of this, but I didn’t like militarism. For one thing, the language was very bad, though I got used to it. I swore with the rest of them, I’m sure. Most of the men in our division were from New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania; and most of them weren’t principled. I agreed with some of the more intelligent men who concluded that we were there because most of our guys didn’t amount to much anyway, so you might as well put them in the infantry, and “we won’t miss much if they get killed.” I think that was the attitude.


After being in California, in early 1945 we were sent to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where we got on a Liberty Ship, the USS Pope, I think, and left for somewhere—we didn’t know where we would be going. We were on the ship for several weeks. What concerned me is that we were down in the hold of the ships in our bunks, and after we’d been at sea for a while, I heard explosions going on out in the sea. I had a little pocket Bible a chaplain had given me in California. I kept it in my upper pocket. One night when I got worried, I read in it something to the effect that if we desired something special, had faith that we would receive, and prayed about it, it would come to pass. I didn’t want to get killed, and I prayed that I wouldn’t.

I didn’t get seasick at all, though a lot of men vomited from seasickness. I remember that we didn’t have very good food on the Liberty Ships. Then we arrived in Le Havre, France, I believe on a Sunday afternoon. There were little kids out in boats, begging for food or chewing gum or money. It must not have been very cold, because there were a lot of children in the bay. It was fun looking down at them and throwing them candy. I also remember all the church steeples in the town, although much of the town had been destroyed.

We were taken to Camp Lucky Strike. We used GI soap to wash our mess kits, and boy, it was strong. We all had diarrhea, and I can remember men getting up in the middle of the night and rushing to the bathrooms, tripping over the ropes holding up the tents we were living in. Then they’d come back and clean themselves up, but it was a mess. I knew right then that I wasn’t going to like life in Europe.

We were in France only a few days, and I remember the taverns and restaurants, but the only thing you could buy was hard apple cider. It tasted good, but I was always worried about sanitation—how clean it was.

We were at Lucky Strike for about five days, and then I was assigned a jeep to drive the company commander, Captain Kanady. He knew I’d had training in Georgia, so he asked me to be his driver. But I didn’t drive him until after we were in Germany. We were in a convoy, and another driver was taking turns with me. We went straight through France, Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg. I was in the passenger seat when we came to Aachen, Germany, sleeping, slouched over. The driver shook me and said, “Look at this.” I remember seeing cutting torches in the middle of the road, cutting up debris, probably so we could get through. I remember flashes on the wall in German, reminding me of German movies that I’d seen. I thought to myself, “Well, we’re gettin’ into it now!” We soon could hear explosions and see airplanes going over back and forth.

The next day we were in the battle of the Rhineland, at Cologne, Germany. I can still remember looking up at the two towers of the Cologne cathedral. This was all after the Battle of the Bulge, which had taken place in late December and early January, so it was probably in late January. One thing impressed me: I was in a courtyard one morning, in Remagen, on the banks of the Rhine River, where the Allies first crossed into Germany. A captain from the 101st Airborne was wearing shiny boots, though I knew he had been in and out of an airplane. “Where would he have got the polish to shine those boots so shiny?” He was a good looking, rugged guy, I thought to myself, “There’s a guy who’s really been through it.” I had a brief conversation with him.

We had the First Infantry Division on our left, and the Second Infantry Division on our right. We were the 97th Infantry Division, the 387th Infantry Regiment, and I was in the headquarters company of the Second Battalion. The next thing I remember was that the captain told me one morning to get the jeep and trailer. The Germans were on the other side of the Rhine, but it was foggy. He said that some of our own soldiers had buried a German soldier, and we couldn’t leave the body there. We went up on the banks of the river, and somebody showed the captain where the body was buried. It was only about 4 three feet down, and he told me to get the shovel. I dug down through the freshly dug dirt, and the first thing I came to was a black leather boot, kind of like a German field boot. I dug a little further toward where the head was, then grabbed hold of the boot and pulled the body out. As I was pulling, I realized that half his head was shot off, and tissues holding his teeth were dragging in the mud and dirt. It made me kind of sick, but fortunately he didn’t weigh a lot. I threw him in the jeep trailer.

When I got back to the courtyard, I remember taking the body out of the trailer, but there remained in the trailer lots of blood, teeth and different things. I emptying a five-gallon can of gasoline in the trailer, swishing it around, and having another soldier help me trip the trailer up so I could empty it all out on the ground. We sometimes carried ammunition and food in the trailers, and we didn’t have soap. I figured the best thing to use was a five-gallon of gas to clean the trailer. The body was probably put in a body bag.

But then for lunch, we had stewed chicken. When I looked at the stringy meat and bones, it reminded me of the soldier’s head being dragged away, and I couldn’t eat the chicken.

My job was to drive the company commander and the scouts. Probably a few days later, the battle of the Rhineland ended, and it seems to me it was a Sunday afternoon. I stood for four or five hours on the side of the road, the whole afternoon, watching surrendering German soldiers pass by. They looked terrible, half-starved, their uniforms worn out and dirty, and they hadn’t bathed for a long time (of course we hadn’t had baths ourselves for weeks). The road was probably thirty feet wide, and for hours, a steady stream of German soldiers passed by to a compound. I think school playgrounds or something was used to keep them. It then became just a matter of feeding and watching them. Among those German soldiers were some tough-looking German girls, doing what, I don’t know. I’m sure most of the soldiers were happy to have the war over with, and they probably figured we’d be feeding them. This would have been in late March.

We immediately went over to the battle of Central Europe, toward Czechoslovakia. I still have all the original maps furnished us, maps I had in my jeep. The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945. I was on the front lines then, and I remember the day that happened. I was going somewhere in my jeep, and we always kept the windshield down. Sometimes we worried about piano wire that might be stretched across the road, which would take our heads off. A lot of the jeeps had a piece of angle iron coming up just above our heads, which would break such wire.

On that trip, we were in a mountainous area, and it was night. We had blackout light, so you couldn’t see much in front of you, only the lights of the back of the jeep in front of you. You didn’t want to get very far behind, because you might get off on a side road and get lost. We came around a bend, and I could just barely see a man, a German soldier, on my right front. I don’t remember if he tried to stop me, but I hit him and he flew off the bank and down into the ditch. We just kept on going. We couldn’t stop, and it probably wouldn’t have been safe anyway.

About that same time, we were at Lieverkausen (near Dusseldorf), looking for some explosives outside of town. A Gestapo officer was going to help us find them. He had a German Luger pistol, and we all wanted one. After I became a little acquainted with him, I asked him, “Haben-sie pistola?” (Have you a pistol?) He told me he had a Luger, but I’d have to go with him into the city hall, down in the basem*nt. I followed him. The ceilings had all been torn off, and there was a lot of water in the building. We came to some stairs (he could speak some English), where he let me know there was no use of my walking into the basem*nt. He said, “Wait here.” He went down in the water, came back, and handed me a Luger pistol, loaded. It had been soaking in water. (I still have it, though it’s a little bit rusty.) But it had extra

5 ammunition in the holster. We were alone as he came out of the basem*nt and handed me the pistol; he could have shot me and thrown me down in the basem*nt. I probably had some K-rations in my pocket, and he was very hungry, as all the Germans were.

One night in the battle of Central Europe, I got lost and didn’t know where the captain or anybody else was. I was in a little village, and it was quiet. I went upstairs in a house, looking for a bed (we always looked for dry beds). I found one and laid down. It was a fairly large home. I don’t remember checking to see if anyone else was in the home or not. I remember lying down, but before I went to sleep, I thought, “I’d better look under the bed, to see what’s under there.” I looked under the bed, and there I found stuffed a complete German uniform—helmet, buckle, boots, the whole works. I worried all night long that its owner might still be in the building. But nothing happened.

In the battle of Central Europe, a week or so later, in late April, I was driving three scouts, who were supposed to determine where the Germans were in a heavily wooded area. We didn’t have many airplanes over us at the time. We got ahead of the front lines and into a quaint, pretty little village of about a hundred homes, or so. We didn’t see any Germans, so we figured the German civilians had moved ahead. We just parked in the middle of the town square, where there was a well that the citizens used. We were eating some of our rations. Pretty soon, about a dozen German soldiers in a home just a hundred feet from us came out, their arms up, to surrender to us. It must have been fairly cold, because they were wearing overcoats. We had them line up, but wondered what we were going to do with them. We didn’t know where our people were, or how long before they would be with us. We hadn’t seen allied soldiers or equipment for a couple of hours. We just told them to line up, while we were trying to decide what to do, the four of us there alone.

One of the soldiers dropped from under his coat to the ground what we called a 42 machine gun. I told the other guys, “Look at that.” They walked over and grabbed it, but he had been prepared to use it in case we didn’t treat him in a civilized way. They also knew we had food, because we’d been eating it when they came out of the house.

Shortly after that, I saw another German soldier coming out of a house down the street. We all wanted pistols, and the cooks all wanted guns as souvenirs, especially the Lugers. This soldier had his arms up, so I walked over to him and asked, “Haben sie pistola?” He said, “Ja,” then had me follow him around the back of the same house he came from. There we found a lady in a rocking chair—it was a sunny day. He said something to her in German, then he went into the woodshed near the house. I could hear him moving some stuff in the shed. Then he came out and handed me a World War I German Mauser pistol, loaded. I still have the article from the Berliner that was stuffed into the holster to hold extra rounds of ammunition. He handed the pistol to me, but he could just as well have shot me. The war was still going on, but they wanted to get it over with, probably because they were fearful of being captured by the Russians, who were harder on the Germans than the Allies were. And they could probably tell that we were good natured.

By the way, I was interested in talking to the German women, though we hardly ever saw them, because they were hidden. When we did see them, they never had any makeup on. They made themselves look as homely as possible. I never liked getting close to them—I hadn’t had a bath for several weeks. I worried about the women smelling me. One nice-looking German lady who could speak English complained that we had stolen her silverware from her house. And the Americans probably had—we took everything.

Once when we were headed toward Czechoslovakia, going through pretty, rolling hills, we had an American interpreter with us, though we never knew whether we could trust him. We pulled into a little 6 village, where we stayed a couple of hours. A very nice German lady (I don’t know where she got the food, because food was scarce) had fixed up a fifteen-inch diameter platter of little pieces of sausage, cheese, and so forth. She put it out on a table and said, “You enjoy this”—letting us know it was for our enjoyment. Our captain shook his head, as if to say, “We’re not supposed to eat or take stuff from the Germans.” We weren’t even supposed to associate with them, only be firm with them. But I felt bad for her, offering us this food, when the Germans were starving. I’m sure she wondered why we didn’t touch it. She probably thought that we suspected she was trying to poison us.

We pulled into a little town near Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, on a Sunday night. We had traveled all day and were cold and wet. I hadn’t slept in a bed for a month or two. My clothes had been wet all that day. We went into a house, and our sergeant, a Christian Science man (I had been with him for a couple of years) by the name of Smith, said, “Lelegren, go downstairs.

We’re going to be shelled.” I had just started to walk upstairs. The few German civilians there had said we were going to be shelled heavily that night by the famous 88 artillery, which was in the woods in the next community, probably only half a mile or a mile from us. I said to him, “I’m not worried about that. There’s a bed upstairs, and I’m going to sleep in it.”

Sure enough, in the middle of the night, along came the artillery barrage, almost in a steady roar. I could see through the windows in my bedroom that the house next to me was burning. As fast as I could, I promised the Lord that if my life would be spared, someday I’d do something to compensate him. Nothing happened to me that night, though a few hours later, I heard that Billy Kazakawitz and another soldier had been killed. (I have their names in the casualty list of a book that contains the history of our regiment.) [Shows the names in the book under the heading: “This book is dedicated to the officers and men who lost their lives, while performing their duties in combat with this regiment.” The book must have been printed in Japan, after the war ended. It tells about our being in the army of occupation of Japan.] Kazakawitz was a very wild guy. That same night, when we were shelled heavily, I heard some other scouts downstairs (of the I&R—Intelligence and Reconnaissance) say, “Billy Kazakawitz was killed.” It was still dark, and I thought to myself, “The captain is going to have me get Billy in the morning.” Sure enough, when it became daylight, the captain had me get the trailer and a stretcher, and we headed forward about a quarter of a mile to the edge of a thick woods. There was a lane going into it. Another soldier in our company, also a scout, Walter Cadenbach (a fine young man, good looking and healthy), was standing along the side of the woods. The captain said to me, “Stay with the jeep this time. I’ll take Cadenbach with me.” Cadenbach was big and strong and could carry Kazakawitz out. They went into the woods, and about five minutes later, I heard a German machine gun (the German machine guns shot more rapidly than ours and were superior—we called them “42’s”). I thought, “Oh, oh.” But I didn’t hear anything else. Pretty soon one of our tanks drove up, with a soldier sticking his head out the top. He asked, “Where are they?”

I answered, “Probably just down that lane.”

He went down the lane, and I could hear him firing at a building, and it sounded like the building was soon on fire. Maybe the tank’s shells were incendiary. Then a sergeant came back and said, “You’ve got to get both Kazakawitz and Cadenbach.” Cadenbach had been killed as he entered the woods. Later when I went in, I first came to Cadenbach. His helmet was on the ground, next to his head; and he had a bullet hole right in the center of his forehead. I remember that one of his arms was sticking up, for some reason. I remember thinking, “His mother is going to get a telegram, and my mother won’t.”

We put Cadenbach in the trailer, then drove a little farther, down a narrow road, probably only fifteen feet wide, with banks on either side. Kazak had been shot with a machine gun, and of his innards were 7 laying outside of his body. His face was still covered with the backening the men used to prevent their faces from shining when they went scouting at night. He must have been hit with several rounds. We loaded him in the trailer.

I was in combat the whole time I was in Germany, but I never killed anybody. I was in danger of shrapnel, though I was never shot at, that I know of. For example, on the Sieg River, I remember trying to climb up the river bank in my jeep, after passing through the river, but I kept sliding back. The German shrapnel from the 88’s was landing all around us. Finally, I got up out of the canal, and we came to a castle. I went in and took off the wall a shotgun made by the most famous gunsmith in the world, Adolph Losche. I still have it. In Bamberg, Germany, we were allowed to make little wooden boxes to send our souvenirs home. Of course we couldn’t put ammunition in the boxes, but we were allowed to mail all these things home. We could also carry, as I recall, one or two revolvers or other automatic handguns home with us. We were inspected when we came home, but I was able to carry my Luger and Mauser pistols home with me. (From Japan, I later mailed home a couple of Japanese rifles and Samurai Swords, as well as hari-kari knives. I still have all those.)

My brother was in the Eighth Armored Division, and I suppose I asked where he was. But you didn’t have time to look somebody up.

We were in Europe only about five months. There had been a lot of transfers out of our unit. We came back on a ship called the USS General Sturgis, one of the Liberty ships. We went into New York harbor, on a nice, warm evening, a little before dark, and when I saw the Statue of Liberty, I thought how lucky I was to have lived through it all, and then be back home in the United States. I think when I got off the ship, I kissed the ground.

I was furloughed and took a troop train home to Burbank, California, and I had a thirty-day leave. I got on a bus in Los Angeles to go to Burbank, and then I had to hitchhike home. A man picked me up on the street where I was walking and asked me where I’d been. I let him know that I was just getting home from Europe. He thought I was just coming from an army camp. When I told him I had been in Europe, he said, “Well, you want to get home in a hurry.” He broke all speed limits while driving me to where I lived, so that I could get home. My mother was very happy to see me, and she called my dad on the phone, who was working at Lockheed. He was there in about fifteen minutes. I remember standing next to our dining room table, and my dad was so happy to see me, he shook my hand. As we were talking, he looked down at my right arm, and then my left arm, to see if I still had my arms. I could tell that he was wondering if I still had my arms, because my parents hadn’t heard from me for two or three months. My brother had written to me, as well as my uncles and aunts, and my grandmother in Chicago. They all worried, because they knew I was in the infantry, the worst service to be in. I don’t remember getting much mail while I was in Europe, though I wrote to my folks once a week. I don’t know how long it took them to get the mail. I had one girlfriend, a Catholic girl, but she didn’t want me. She told me that a priest would have to perform the marriage, though I told her that didn’t matter.

I remember once attending a Catholic service, where the other soldiers all around were all kneeling down, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. I remember they were not friendly with me— none of them shook my hand or said, “Nice to have you here,” or anything. I went to a Protestant service in Japan; the chaplain was from Texas. He warned us not to visit the houses of ill repute: “Gentlemen, if you go to those places and get interested in that type of entertainment, you’re taking away your future good life from up here (pointing up) and using it down here (pointing down with his fingers).” I think most of the soldiers were spending time in those places. But he let us know that if we did that, we were detracting from our later lives, having excitement here but paying for it later.


I was still in the United States when the atomic bombs were dropped. It was still a month before we left for Japan, in early September, as I recall. Many agreements had to be signed before we could occupy Japan. One thing I liked about President Truman—he wanted to get the war over.

Then we had to go to Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and from there back to Washington, and to the Pacific. We went to Cebu Island, then to Leyte (in the Philippines). When we landed in Cebu, I looked up, and there was a sign on a bank that said, “Bank of the Philippines,” but you could hardly read the writing, it was so gouged so badly. From there we went to Yokohama, where I drove the lieutenant to every police station, with an interpreter, saying that we wanted everything that had to do with war brought to the station: daggers, spears, guns, etc. We later saw ancient spears and hari-kari knives that had been in the shrines. All that stuff had been turned in, though the families hated to give some of those things up, because the items were three or four hundred years old, assigned to each family. We had truckloads of such stuff, which we either threw in the river or broke or burned it up. But anything the soldiers wanted, they could of course have. We all got a lot of souvenirs, and I still have some.

I was among the first to drive a jeep inland, where we went to the town of Oata, where the Mitsubishi aircraft plant was located. We stayed at the Mitsubishi plant, where we fixed up some little side rooms to sleep in. We went into the hangers, where the little kamikaze planes were stored. We’d sit where the pilot would sit, then pull a lever. The wheels would drop loose and the plane would drop to the floor. You could hear those plane dropping all over the hanger, from the soldiers going in. I got a rear gun sight from one of those. The pilots knew that if they flew one of those, they’d never live, because their mission was to fly them into the sides of ships.

The Japanese people were as polite and cooperative as could be, friendly and nice. We hired them to work for us. The older men we hired were pleasant and humble. They asked us our names, but we gave a dirty name to each one of us. We’d tell them that so-and-so’s name was ______(I won’t repeat the names). We did this as kind of a joke, of course. In general, Japan was a pleasant place. We had pretty good food shipped to us. I remember the salami, which we would fry. We had no problems once we got to Japan; everything went smoothly.

What disappointed me, the second day we were there, a bunch of officers in our company, maybe six or eight, loaded into my jeep and wanted to go to the red-light district. It was a disgrace. Of course they invited me to go with them to the “geisha district.” I told them, “No, I’ll wait here with the jeep and come back later with my friend to get you.” Sometimes, I never went back. Sometimes I wanted to, but I never did. Those girls became very fond of the American soldiers, because they wanted money. My father had always told my brother and me that if we reached age twenty-one and hadn’t started smoking, he would give us a special present. So we knew we shouldn’t be smoking. But in Japan, I smoked cigars once in a while, because the Japanese people thought we were wealthy millionaires when we smoked cigars. So I just did it to show off once in a while. Of course we had all the cigarettes we wanted, though don’t think I smoked more than ten all the time I was in the army. I traded mine to the Japanese for flags and other different things. Some of us had American civilian oxford shoes. We could get as much as $45 a pair for them—a lot of money then. I remember selling my own for that price. The problem was that we couldn’t take the money back to the States with us. I had to buy stamps or collectable items with my money. We were paid yen (fifteen yen to the dollar), but we could trade it back into American money. I could only buy postage stamps, and I remember buying as many as I could, because I did make money by selling some of our stuff. Having a jeep, I could go into other towns, for example, a wealthy silk town, called Kiryu, where the people had a lot of money. I took with me stuff I had to sell and exchanged it for silk. There was a narrow alley, and if you drove down it and honked your horn, some wealthy Japanese would come

9 out of a certain building and buy everything we wanted to sell. We’d just park the jeep, though we were taking a chance. We could have got in a lot of trouble for doing that. I did buy some silk and kimonos to bring back home.

When I was in Japan, I went to the first rodeo ever held in Japan, in Niji Stadium, where baseball games were held. It was the Australian soldiers who put it on. It was spooky to come back to the base on the trains late at night; it was hard to find your way around. I remember a Japanese girl naming the towns the train was going through. I told someone that I needed to get back to Oita. We were in boxcars, which had a lantern at the end. I was the only American in the car, going from Tokyo to Oita, in the middle of the night. There were no seats; we were all standing up. I remember everyone looking at me. There was straw or something on the floor. A Japanese girl came over and stood by me, kind of wanting to flirt with me, I guess. I remember putting my arm around her, but I was worried about the other Japanese coming over and stabbing me or something, though they never did.

I was in Japan until early February 1946; I was separated on February 19. I had built up a lot of points to come home. By then, I was glad to be alive. Knowing that I would likely not get killed, I didn’t mind being in the occupation in Japan, though I did want to get back home. Until the bomb was dropped, I was worried about getting killed. After the bomb, I was fairly happy.

I came home on another Liberty ship. The only time I got very seasick, I laid down on my bunk. I vomited, and the vomit went all over the bunk. I left to go into the restroom to clean up, then came back to my bunk. It was completely clean; I had been in someone else’s bunk.

We docked at Long Beach, California, then went to Fort McArthur, where we were separated. I’ll never forget the morning that I got out of there.

After I came home, I drifted around, and that’s important. I went to Glendale College, in a nice part of Southern California. There, I met a nice girl from Kentucky, a Baptist girl, the only religious girl I ever met there. I did know one LDS family, but I didn’t see much of them. I took this girl out several times, and she didn’t smoke or drink, like all the other girls did—during the breaks, they smoked in my 1940 black Mercury convertible (it had a white top). This girl got me to going to church with her in San Fernando, and I enjoyed going with her. But I couldn’t quite get converted to her church. For one thing, a young Baptist preacher told the congregation in one meeting, in about 1949, that if the congregation couldn’t pay him more than $500 or $600 a month (whatever it was), he was going to go find another congregation. That didn’t go over very well with me, because I think I’d heard that the Mormon clergy didn’t get paid.

I had known some Mormon boys in high school. My first lesson in tithing was from a good friend in high school who paid tithing on money he earned by stealing automobile parts! At the end of the school year in 1949, the Baptist girl went back to Kentucky to her family. I received an invitation to visit their home. Her father was an assistant to a political boss, and he and I became good friends. Through the father, I met the governor and some of the political leaders in Kentucky. Her mother took me to a Baptist church meeting in Owensboro one Sunday night, in October or November of 1949, and she had already told me about R. G. Letourneau, who had become wealthy manufacturing tanks and other heavy equipment for the army, because he paid tithing. The mother was trying to get me interested in the Baptist church. A famous Baptist preacher from the Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans gave a very moving talk on tithing. He very much impressed me, and then he passed pledges around. I didn’t like the idea of pledges. I decided right then, in 1949, that I would pay tithing, because I had promised the Lord, during the war, that I would do something. I figured that this was the one thing I could do—start paying tithing.


I went back to California, and my friend from high school (who had paid tithing on stolen auto parts) came to my home and said, “Earl, come with me to Brigham Young University.”

I said to him, “No, I’m going to Glendale College, where there are a lot of good-lookin’ girls.”

He said, “Earl, the best-looking’ girls in the world are at BYU.” Then he added, “Let me use your telephone.”

He called the registrar, Loren Jackson, at BYU and told him about me. He registrar said, “Bring him up. We’ll get him in some way. We’ll get him in.”

My friend explained, “He doesn’t smoke or drink or anything. I’d like to bring him up.”

So I came to BYU, and the first day I was there, he took me in to meet Hugh B. Brown, who was a friend of the family and was over the department of religion. My friend said to him, “My friend Earl is not a member of the Church. What should I do with him?”

Brother Brown said, “Put him in Norman Dunn’s class.” Brother Dunn was a fine old man from England who taught English and religion. Norman Dunn used a book by Lowell Bennion called The Religion of the Latter-day Saints. I was quite impressed by everything I saw at BYU. I read Moroni 10:5 in Bennion’s book. I then wanted to go back to Kentucky, to convert that girl to the Mormon Church. At the time, I was living in a gloomy basem*nt room on Center Street, near the mental hospital. The second morning after I prayed about the Book of Mormon, right before daylight, I found myself looking upward, and a personage in a white robe was above me, looking at me. He said, “These things you are learning of Mormonism are the truth, and you are to tell them to others.” The voice was clear as mine is right now, and I was fully awake when the personage came to me.

I was immediately awake, and it was beginning to become daylight. He could have said nothing more understandable and clear.

I never told anyone about this visit, not even my friend who had brought me to BYU, until about a year and a half later. I now knew the Church was true, but I didn’t think I would ever join it. The next year, I was attending a Catholic college in Kentucky in the spring of 1951. I had been paying tithing in the LDS branch in Provo, but I still wanted to live in Kentucky. But I could see that the Catholics just didn’t have what the LDS Church had. I loved the nuns—I became very close to one of them. But I could tell there was something wrong in the class that was taught by a priest. That spring, I wrote my friend, Wallace Anderson, in California and told him I was going to come home in the summer and have him baptize me into his church. In the meantime, I was paying tithing to the mission office in Louisville, Kentucky, and they were wondering who the nonmember was in Owensboro who was sending tithing to the Church. Some of the people nearby got hold of me in some way, and I started to go to church with them. In 1951, I had my friend baptize me, and I went back to BYU.

When I first went to BYU, I knew a little about the Croft family. Faye Croft was only thirteen years old in January of 1950, the eldest of five daughters. I never would have imagined that that girl would blossom into a charming co-ed and that I would later marry her in the Salt Lake Temple.

When I graduated from BYU, I was still wanting to live in Kentucky. On the bulletin board in the Maeser Building, there was an advertisem*nt for a law school in Lebanon, Tennessee. After I graduated from BYU in 1955, I went back to visit the school. The lady at the dormitory told me to come back the next

11 morning and meet the dean and Judge Gilreath. I met the judge and the dean, who looked over my record at BYU, and they said, “We’d be glad to have you.”

I asked Judge Gilreath, “I’m a Mormon. What do you know about the Mormons?”

He immediately sounded off: “Mr. Lelegren, Reed Smoot was a Mormon!” And he said that with a smile on his face. I could tell he liked Reed Smoot. Gilreath was a very prominent judge, known all over the Southeast. “But Mr. Lelegren, I don’t understand about the people getting a dark skin in so short period of time”—talking about curse of a dark skin on the Indians. I didn’t know how to explain it, because I’d been a member of the Church for only about five years.

Of interest, I went to the law school for a year, but came back to Utah, because there were no LDS girls in Kentucky. When I met Faye’s mother, Grace Croft, on campus, I said to her, “Sister Croft, I’m a lot older than your daughter.” She was a very well educated lady (and is still alive at age ninety-five in 2005). “How do you and your husband feel about my taking your daughter? I’m a lot older.”

She didn’t say, “We’ll think about it,” or anything. She was smart enough to know that whatever she said might backfire. She just gave me a very pleasant smile, and in her autobiography, she wrote, “Earl continued to date Faye.” Soon after, I was engaged to Faye and married her.

About eight years ago when I was in Kentucky for an Arabian horse show, I went to Tennessee to get some information on Judge Gilreath, because I thought I might do his temple work. No one in town seemed to know anything about where he originally had come from, or the dates I needed. I went into a flower shop to get some flowers for a little lady whose son I had baptized years ago, a very staunch LDS lady in a rest home. I asked the lady in the flower shop, “Have you ever heard of Judge Gilreath?”

She said, “Yes, he was married to my aunt. My mother was his wife’s sister.”

“Oh, I would like to learn something about him.”

“His daughter, who practices law in Lebanon, is dying of cancer. But she’d love to have you visit her.”

It was arranged that I should go out to visit her, in the old family colonial home on the outskirts of town. She welcomed me and said, “Right there is where my dad died. He was going in to watch Gunsmoke.”

This would have been in the 1960s, though it was just eight years ago (1997) when I went to visit. I said to her, “Catherine, I’m a Mormon, and I’d like to do some things in our temple for your dad. I also understand that you’re not well. We have a prayer roll in our temples. Would you mind if I put your name on a prayer roll and get some information on your dad?”

“I’d be happy to do that. My dad was reading the Book of Mormon when he died.”

She gave me information on her dad, but not enough on her mother to have them sealed. Later, I did get that information.

So I had joined the Church and had kept paying tithing. I was assistant insurance commissioner for seven years, and then I handled liability claims for the Church for sixteen years, part-time as an independent contractor.


I teach tithing about two or three times a week when I can find people who will listen. People come to me often because of the land I’ve acquired, and real estate is now booming in this area. When they ask me how I acquired the land, I always tell the story about tithing. I have never worked anywhere to get a pension; I’ve had no income. But I’ve become quite well off because of the land. I attribute it all to the paying of tithing. I bear my testimony that if we pay our tithing and live the other principles of the gospel, we’ll have everything we want—good health, strength, and a nice family. One of my sons married one of the prettiest girls who ever attended BYU, and now he’s a CPA in Salt Lake City, doing a good job of rearing his kids. One of my daughters married Karl Buehner’s grandson. I have another daughter who married a Chinese fellow. There were some problems, and he was deported. I’m rearing the two children. The daughter is an outstanding student, always on the honor roll; and she’s become a well-known ballet dancer. (She’s been in the Nutcracker at BYU the last six years.) The young boy goes with me to Kentucky and is learning to become a missionary. My daughter lives in my home and works at Thanksgiving Point. Another son is a search and rescue worker.

The military enabled me to have six years of college. If I hadn’t had those years, I would never have found the gospel. The State of California gave me one year of graduate work after the GI Bill ran out. I probably should have finished law school. But that one year helped me greatly in tort law and contracts. I especially enjoyed handling liability claims for the Church—claims for missionaries in accidents all over the world, some involving over a million dollars.

I first lived in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I came into Utah Valley in about 1974 and started buying pieces of ground. I eventually had about thirty-five acres. Now I’ve got about half that. The home I now live in, I built for my brother, whose wife had died in California. We brought him here and built this home for him. He had cancer and died in 1998. My wife and I moved into this home (I already owned the property) and I let my daughter and her children live in our other home.

I’m a lucky man.

I bear testimony that this gospel is true, and if we’ll live its principles, especially the principle of tithing, we’ll have everything we need. There’s no material thing I want that I don’t have. I testify this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Albert W. Mitchell as interviewed by Judy Hansen

I was born in Jerome, Idaho on the 29th of May 1926 to Wilford C. and Eleanor Thompson Mitchell. I only lived there for about a year when we moved to Draper, Utah. My mother divorced my dad right after my kid brother Don was born. I attended school through the 9th grade. The war was going on lickity-split and it was during the depression so I went to work at Draper poultry for a short time.

I decided I wanted to go into the Navy. I went to the Salt Lake post office and enlisted in the USN – not the reserves. I was too young to be drafted but they let anyone in who wanted to go. They sent me to Farragut Naval Training Station in Bayview, Idaho for my basic training. That was a wiz-bang stay and then they sent me to Seattle, Washington. I was assigned to the USS Edgecombe 164. My ship had just been built and was launched on the 24th of September 1944. It came down the Columbia River from Portland.

The USS Edgecombe was a Haskell-class attack transport which meant it was a troop transport with guns. When the ship came down from the place they built it we had to get it ready. We had to outfit it all up with its guns. I don’t remember how long that took but after we were done they told us we were going to have a shake-down cruise to Alaska. The USS Edgecombe was commissioned the 30th of October 1944. The purpose of the shake-down cruise was to find out if there was anything wrong with this brand new spankin’ ship. We sailed up to Alaska then turned around and came back. Everything was fine and dandy.

Our orders were to go to California where we loaded up with a bunch of rag-head Marines. We picked up a grunt load of ‘em. I would imagine it was a couple thousand of them. Then we headed out west across the Pacific Ocean. We ended up in Finschhafen (Fitch Haven), New Guinea. Everybody was raising heck over there - lots of fighting going on.

On #1 General Quarters (GQ)1 my place was on the forward gun. We had 40 mm guns and one five inch gun on the tail. I was a 1st loader on a 40 mm which was 14 feet above the bow of the ship. I had one barrel that I had to keep putting ammunition in. The 2nd loader would hand the ammunition to me, and the 3rd loader took it out of the cabinet and handed it to the 2nd loader. I would just drop a clip of shells in the barrel. Each clip had four shells in it. Then that 40 mm would pump those shells out as fast as it could.

1 When the call to General Quarters (GQ) is announced, the crew prepares the ship to join battle.


My #2 GQ was on the boats. We had landing craft. On an evasion we would get all those Marines down in those LCM (Landing Craft mechanized) and LCVP’s (Landing craft, Vehicle, Personnel) and get them as close to the shore as possible. We had to make sure they could stand up in the water. They would lower the front of the landing craft and the men would run out as fast as they could to shore. Then we would back off and return to the USS Edgecombe to get more people to take back to the shore bank. My job was to lower the boats on #1 hole. I would go down and get on the crane. We would have to hook up to them, get them in the air, swing them out above the water, and then lower them into the ocean. It didn’t take very long to get those boats in the water. We only needed three people to do it; one to hook it up, one to unhook it, and the crane man. I was the crane man. There were three outfits working; the front, the middle, and the rear or fantail. I imagine they had about 14 of those little landing crafts and they each held about 18-20 people. We made quite a few landings in New Guinea. The shooters were scattered all over. My golly, you could hear rifle fire all over the place. They would target anybody. Our Marines were the naughty guys. They would go in and wipe out anything that got in their road.

After we left Fitch Haven we went out into deeper water where the Japanese couldn’t get at us. When their aircraft would come at us we had to give them all they wanted. We would go different places and pick up more Marines but after we dropped them off they were gone. We went all over that Pacific Ocean and we were looking for trouble. We sailed on to Hollandia, West New Guinea.

I was at GQ up on the 40 mm and we were really being shot up by the Japanese. Somehow the gun got swung around – I really can’t remember how it happened – but when I woke up I was layin’ there and I didn’t know where I was or much of anything. I had fallen 16 feet. I shouldn’t have been alive because that deck was solid steel. The next thing I knew after that I was in sick bay. I was relieved of all my duties while I was there. They got a patrol boat or something that pulled along the side of us and I asked where we were going. They told me I was going to the hospital. I asked them where and they told me Hawaii.

We got to Hawaii and they took me up to the big hospital there. I still didn’t know why they took me there or what was wrong. They never told me what my medical condition was. They told me they were taking me back to the States. I remember telling them I didn’t want to go back to the States. I told them I joined the Navy to be in the Navy but they insisted I was going where they sent me. Well, when you’re in the Navy you have to listen a lot because if you talk a lot you get into trouble. So there I was on my way back to the United States. I had to go along with whatever they said.


They put me on an army manned boat and sent me back to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California. I was in with a bunch of guys that had been hurt bad and they kept asking me, “What’s the matter with you?” I had to tell them, “I don’t know.” I kept telling everyone I wanted to go back to my ship. They told me I wasn’t going back to my ship because I was going to Colorado. I didn’t want to go but they put me on a troop train and sent me to the U S Naval Convalescent Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. I went through all kinds of tests and everything. I was there for two months. They said they were going to discharge me but I said, “I don’t want to be discharged.” I had to keep my mouth shut and I was discharged. I had enlisted for three years but only served one year and five days.

I come home and worked as a butcher in the locker plant up in Draper until they didn’t need me anymore so I went down to Geneva Steel and applied. They asked me where I wanted to work and I told them anywhere they make the money. I was told that was the Open Hearth. I agreed and worked there. I started out as 3rd helper, went to 2nd helper, then 1st helper, and my last year there I worked as a melter. I made the heat that came out of the back of the furnace. I not only had one furnace, I had four of them and sometimes five. We had ten furnaces down there and two melters. We had to add all the additives into the steel in the building. The steel was 350 ton. We tapped it every 8 hours. Tapping meant to take the liquid steel out of the furnace and put it into a ladel. They would pick the ladel up with the crane and then pour it into the molds. From there the steel would go to the roller mill where it was rolled out. I worked there for 37 years. I made money but it was hard work.

I married Beth Williams from Murray on March 19, 1947. We settled in Lehi because my Grandfather Thompson’s wife came from Lehi. My Grandfather Thompson married one of the Knudsen daughters. When I first came to Lehi I was renting and a guy that I rode back and forth to work with told me there was a little place for sale just around the corner. I bought that home and we lived there for about 12 years. Then I had this home I am living in built (176 West 200 North) just next door to the west of our home. I had to tear down the big old house that was already here so I could build. This is where I have been ever since.

I have four children; three sons, Dale (Lehi), Dean (Saratoga Springs), and David (Lehi), and a daughter Joyce Baum (Murray). I’ve had a good life and would never believe that I would have lived to the ripe old age that I am.


Karl LaMar Moore Interviewed by Judy Hansen December 2014

I was born January 21, 1927 at the family home in Spring Lake, Utah to Clarence Lee and Beatrice Young Moore. I had nine siblings; Iris, who married Lee Deuel, Vina who married Glen Wilcox, Anna who married George LeFevre, Stewart who died from spinal meningitis at age nine, Lawrence Wayne who also died young from whooping cough, the twins Bernice1 and Bruce, who married Maxine Holm, and Lee who married Ruth Parcell.

My dad owned farmland and ran a service station in Spring Lake. I was the youngest so guess who got to run the service station. I wasn’t even old enough to drive but I made a racket out of that service station. It was during WWII and everything was rationed; gas, food, tires, everything. The smallest gas stamp was for five gallons. Well, the old farmers would come in and they wouldn’t have enough room in their tanks so they could only put in four gallons. I would keep track of it until there were five extra gallons and then I would take a five gallon stamp and put it into my pocket. It wasn’t too long before the kids in school found out I had gas stamps available. I didn’t go without money; or friends. There were many times I had to get on my horse and take a gallon of gas to someone that had run out. We did oil changes, fixed flats, and stuff like that at the station.

One day I had gotten in trouble with a teacher at Payson High School. I came out of the schoolroom door and Lawrence Schramm was going up the stairs the same time as I was. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m thinking about going over to join the Navy.” I told him I would go with him so we went to Provo to enlist. When we got there they took Lawrence because he was eighteen but I was only seventeen and so I had to go back home and get my mother to sign for me.

Right after Thanksgiving in 1944 I reported to Salt Lake City. That was the first time I had ever been there. They took me right straight up to Fort Douglas, give me a physical. They came down the line of men assigning each into a different branch of service; Army, Marines, Army. They took one look at me and said, “Oh he’s Navy.” I originally wanted to go to the Merchant Marines protecting the U.S. shorelines but my mother wouldn’t sign for me if I had done that.

1 Bernice looked as healthy as could be so they sat her up on the warming oven and went back to deliver Bruce. When they went back afterwards she had died.


When we got finished at Fort Douglas they marched us down and put us on a train. There were thirty- three of us but they could only get thirty-one people in the cattle car. It was a car that had bunks in it. I and another guy got the Pullman suite on the next car back; all by ourselves. The seats were nice soft seats. I boarded the train November 26th, 1944. The men in the group were told not to leave the train.

When we arrived in Las Vegas we never got the word that we couldn’t leave the train. The kid I was with was from Las Vegas and his father worked with the railroad so he said, “Let’s go up and get on the baggage car.” We observed from the mail and baggage car when the train stopped in Las Vegas, we wandered around Vegas for a while, and then went back to our train. It wasn’t until we got back we found out we shouldn’t have been off the train at all (Karl laughs). That was how my career started. Thank goodness they never found out.

We rode quite a ways in that car and for whatever reason they left the door open. My friend explained the different communities that we passed through as we rode. I had never been down around that country before so it was interesting to me. We got into Los Angeles and boarded a train to San Diego.

As I remember, the first thing they did was take our picture2 and move us to the barber shop. The guy in front of me had a beautiful head of hair. They asked him if he liked his hair and he said, “Yes.” They buzzed it right off and said, “There it is” as they handed him his hair after they cut him bald.

Next we came to a guy that would look at each man and give him clothing in whatever size he thought was needed. The only thing I remember him asking me was how big my feet were; what size of shoes I wore. They had been handing out so much clothing they just knew by looking at you what size to give you.

The first part of boot camp we were in quarantine for about three weeks. They gave us all our shots and stuff. After that we went into Decatur 3 and they took us out on the rifle range to see how we’d do with a gun. The first three shots I fired were right in the bullseye. The more I shot the further from the bullseye I got. By the time I got through shooting my nose was bleeding, my ears were bleeding, and the next day both my eyes were black (Karl laughs). I know what happened. They gave me a gun that was really short-stocked. I was so scrunched up that when it would go off it would smack me in the head. I kept asking the guy what I was doing wrong. That is the only time I fired a gun in the military. I thought I was a pretty good shot. In fact, after I got home I bought a gun exactly what I’d had there and put a three inch extension on it. I was able to shoot it pretty good.

After I went from there I attended refrigeration school, firefighter school, and another school I can’t even remember. Our job was to put gasoline fires out with water. I learned to do it. We would do it with fog. We’d get the water into as much mist as we could and that would put the gasoline fires out. I trained aboard ship designed for firefighting. They would light gasoline floating on top of water under the walkways for us to put out with fog.

2 The picture that was taken is in the front page of this interview. Notice this seventeen year old kid with long hair. 3 Decater was a camp or section of the Naval base in San Diego


It was the first part of May and I had all my credits earned that year for the first quarter of my senior year in high school before I had left for the Navy. I mentioned to someone that I was feeling kind of sad and one of the guys asked me why. I told them that my High School class was graduating and I wouldn’t be there to graduate with them. I didn’t think anything more about it. Later I got summoned to the Camp Commander over the whole base. I wondered what I had done wrong. I went in and told him who I was and he said, “I understand you’re a little sad because your High School class will be graduating and you won’t be there to graduate with them.” I said, “Yes Sir, I am.” He asked me if I had all my credits before I had left school and I told him I did. He asked where I went to school and I told him Payson, Utah. He asked me who the Principal was and I told him, “Lewis Bates.” He turned to the girl beside him and told her to call the Payson High School and get Principal Bates on the phone. We stood there a minute or two and she handed him the phone. He identified himself and asked if he’d had a student there by the name of Karl Moore. He said, “I understand he had all his credits up until the time he left” and then asked what more he needed to graduate. The Commander then told Bates that I should get so many credits for going through boot camp and then credits for fireman school, refrigeration school, and this other school so I should have enough credits to graduate. I didn’t think anything more about it and I didn’t even mention it to my mother. Well, the school called her out of the graduation audience and gave her my high school diploma.

They had put me on KP or “kitchen patrol.” I had gone to the doctor because my throat was just as sore as could be. He gave me APC4 tablets and sent me back. I had been taking the coffee cups out of the dishwasher and putting them in the racks. Three days later I went back to the doctor and he started to laugh at me. He said, “You’ve got the mumps.” I didn’t think it was funny. They shipped me up to the hospital at Balboa Park. In all the rooms and even in the corridors they had bunks three and four high filled with people that had mumps. I’ve never seen so many people with the mumps in one place before. I remember climbing up the ladder and got as high as the third bed. When I came to I was on the top bunk. I asked the nurse what happened and she told me I’d passed out. She said, “I just threw you up there and took your clothes off so you’d be comfortable.” After two weeks I got out and went back to base.

The first company I was assigned to had all these men from Utah but the second company had men from Oklahoma and Arkansas. I went in and threw my junk up on my assigned bunk. This little guy got off his bunk and asked me my name. He told me he was Gabby Hayes. I’ll never forget him ‘cause he lived up to his name. I went through the rest of boot camp with them. The thing that struck me more than anything else was the number of these men that would cry themselves to sleep at night.

Boot camp was about three months and after I finished they moved me into what they called Camp John Paul Jones5 where they held me until I was assigned. I was able to go home on leave then. When I came back they moved me to Camp Shoemaker. I was there three or four months. There was nothing to do but sit around. They did have some pretty good shows and entertainment.

4 Acepromazine or acetylpromazine 5 Another camp or section of the Navel Training base


They assigned me to the USS Hamilton, a destroyer minesweeper. It was a WWI vintage craft. It was originally a four stacker.6 They took one of the boiler departments out and reclassified it AG-111 miscellaneous auxiliary. It had just returned from overseas and I never had the chance to meet most of the guys that came off the USS Hamilton because they had left. I was told that one of the guys that came off the ship had a beautiful bright red beard. When his wife took one look at him she said, “Let’s go.” They went right into the photography shop, had a picture taken of him, then straight to the barber and had the beard cut off.

They docked the USS Hamilton at the Richman Dock in the San Francisco Bay and brought in a flat bottom house barge so we could live on it. They had to vacate the USS Hamilton and retrofit it to handle a new type of mine sweep gear. They were working on that for six month and during that time we had nothing to do. Richmond California was really close so the guys would go there for entertainment. I didn’t go much because I didn’t have that much money. When I had joined they had a deal where you could give your family so much of your pay so I gave my divorced mother $35.00 a month and I kept $15.00 I got a $5.00 bill one payday and a $10.00 bill the next payday. My mother went on mission to Riverside, California during the last part of my service and I financially supported that.

We went down the coast of Santa Barbara to test the new mine sweep gear. This gear was new and every time they put it in the water we’d have to go below deck so we couldn’t see it. They didn’t want the enemy to know anything about it. Once it was out functioning we could go back up on deck but as soon as they brought it in out of the water to put it away we’d have to go back down below deck again. We were there six months with not much to do except our duties. I was a mechanic; or fireman so most of my work was below deck.

When they finally decided the mine sweeping gear was working they sent us up to the San Francisco Bay and filled us up with food and fuel. We headed out and as we were going under the Golden Gate Bridge the Skipper announced our first port of call was Pearl Harbor and our second would be Tokyo Bay. I noticed a lot of the guys were writing letters. I found out afterwards that most of them thought they had been given their death sentence because the first ship that goes in is the mine sweeper. The USS Hamilton already had scars from being hit before.

Two days after we set out the Skipper announced that we had been reassigned to Panama so we changed course. Shortly after that we were told the war was over, they had dropped the bomb. You know they actually only dropped one atomic bomb on Japan; the other one was not an atomic bomb under the same classifications. Do you know the reason they didn’t bomb Toyko? They had to have a government to deal with. Who would they have dealt with if they had killed off all of the government? The Emperor said, “No, we’re not giving up” when they dropped the first bomb but when they dropped the second one the military took over and said, “We’re done!” So they surrendered. We again had been reassigned; this time to San Diego.

6 Clemson class destroyer


Here again, I was downstairs in the low deck because I was running the engines. They were diesel engines. Aboard ship there were boilers so we had fires to boil the water that made the steam to turn the turbos that turned the props. That was my job on the destroyer. I also had to do repairs. One day some of the tubes in one of the boilers sprung a leak so they had to shut it down. The guy that went in laid down on a board, put his hands over his head, and they slipped him through this hole until he found the boiler tube that was leaking. He put a plug in it so it wouldn’t leak anymore. I told him, “I couldn’t have done that.” I was too big. We had repairs and stuff like that we had to do.

After the war was over we were towing targets off San Diego. We led a target out 1500 yards; they were just a big flat canvas wall. The USS Missouri was sitting across and we couldn’t even see her but she was sitting there shooting at it with her big guns. We could see the shells coming through the air. They used radar to lock onto the target and then they shot what they called a star shell.7 This lite up the target so you could see it and then they had a camera on the aft or stern of the ship that was taking pictures. One day they got our ship and the target mixed up on the radar. They dropped a star shell over the top of us that lite us up like daylight. I could hear the Commander on that radio just a screaming. I don’t know if you ever seen the lights that flash for Morse code but in order to communicate with other ships they would flash this light of Morse code. Our communication man started flashing those lights. That was the closest to war I got (Karl laughs). I always say I fought the battle of San Diego.

Lawrence Schramm, my friend who went in the military the day before I did was one of the first people to step foot on Japan after the surrender. He had been all down through the islands and into the invasions of the Pacific Theater. He had some pretty tough times. He never talked about it. He ended up moving to Lehi and raising his family here too.

Anyway, in San Diego they decommissioned the ship. I got assigned to a yard freighter. We would go out of the mouth of San Diego Bay. We had little boats that went out with us and we were the targets for the torpedo bombers and dive bombers. Because we only pulled about 10 feet of water, the torpedoes would go underneath us so it wasn’t too much of a problem. When the dive bombers started working with 500 pounds of water bombs, sometimes when they would drop those and it would really shake that that old ship pretty good. I did that for four or five months.

I was reassigned to a tug boat. It was the YTB 254; yard tug and fire boat. I was sure glad for this assignment because there was something for us to do. At least on the tug boat I had a job. From then on out I served there for the rest of my tour of duty. It had two Enterprise straight-six diesel engines that produced 400 plus units of power with only 400 RPM’s. The pistons on that thing were a foot in diameter. It was a propulsion motor that put the energy to the generators that drove the electrical motor that drove the props. I had to keep that running. The first thing that had to be done in the morning was to put the crank in the notch and then turn it 365 times to turn it over and make sure there was no water in the pistons. Then I’d turn the power on to start it. If it wasn’t just right and the piston was half full, you’d hit the power and it would blow the top right off the heads.

7 A thin walled shell with a mechanical time fuze. Packed inside is a flare attached to a parachute.


We would go out and bring the ships into dock. They were all coming back from overseas. They couldn’t come in without a Harbor Master. Once the Harbor Master got on ship we would hook onto it and they were ours. They shut their power down and became helpless. We moved them through the water, turned them, and everything else. We would bring them in and tie them up to a buoy or once in a while put them up against the dock somewhere.

We knew which ships were going to be decommissioned so we’d go over on board and they would give us anything we wanted off of them. We would get steaks or fruit co*cktail; anything that was good to eat was great. We had a first class cook who was excellent. He was constantly cooking steak. We ate better than most of the Officers; I think, because they had to eat in the mess halls. I was happy to get clothes because $15.00 a month wasn’t much for me to live on.

Once in a while we would have to take a diving barge out and anchor them up because they would need to find something in the bay. One time we had to take them out because someone had dropped the ‘cash sack’ or money coming off a ship. We spent about a day a half out there. They never did find it. I’ll be right flat honest with ya; I think one of the divers found it and fastened it to the bottom of the barge and when they got back took it and split the money. Now that is just my opinion (Karl laughs).

Once we brought in the USS Saratoga, which was an aircraft carrier. There were also smaller tug boats that would help us by getting on the bough if we needed them and we would push back and forth. When we brought the USS Saratoga in, the wind was blowing so hard we had every tug boat helping and still couldn’t push in into shore. They kept playing with it and finally they got all of them on the very front of it and pushed it over enough to where they could get a line on the dock and then used their winches to pull it in while we pushed the back end in.

I did my share of cooking too. During Thanksgiving, I was downstairs working and the Skipper opened the door and said, “Karl, are you down there?” I said, “Yea,” and he said, “Get up here!” I said, “Yes Sir” and up I went. He said, “Look in that oven.” So I opened the oven and there sat a roasting pan with a turkey sitting in it. No top on it, no liquid around it, and just as black as coal. He said, “I got guests coming for dinner at noon today.” I told him OK but reminded him I couldn’t cook a turkey in that length of time. I told him to call up the mess hall on the base and see what he could get. He called them and I went to pick up the turkey with the trimmings. I had time to bake the potatoes and stuff like that. I was able to get it all put together. I heard his guest come on board and about five minutes after they were settled I stepped in and said, “Sir, your dinner is ready to be served.” I sat outside the door and if the Skipper needed anything he would speak to me and I would go in fill their waters or anything else that they wanted. I was his favorite person on that ship from there on out. They had a third class cook that was assigned to us and he was told he had a Thanksgiving dinner to prepare. I don’t know what happened to him but we never seen him aboard that tugboat again. He just stuck the turkey in the oven and left.

I finished my tour of duty. I got home November 21, 1947 so I was probably on that tug boat a year and a half. I served two years, eleven months, and twenty-one days. When I joined I had gone in before I was eighteen and agreed to stay until the day before I turned twenty-one. A lot of people joined for the

6 duration of the war plus six months. I didn’t do this. I went in on a minority cruise because I was a minor.

I returned home to Spring Lake and went to work for Cream-of-Nebo Dairy. I processed, pasteurized, bottled, and delivered milk. The milk had to come within government regulations; 4% cream. I met Virginia Parker from West Mountain when I was delivering milk at the Payson Hospital at 5:00 in the morning after she had just walked into town for her shift. She looked like she had already had a bad day. I had been engaged to Lois Rogers from San Diego whom I had met during my time in the military but after my discharge I’d went back to get her it and it just didn’t work out. The wedding invitations and everything had already been sent out.

Later, I had been assigned as the M-Men leader for the Stake and Virginia Parker was assigned as my secretary. I ended up giving her rides to and from the meetings. You can see how that turned out; I found out I could go to college on a G.I. Bill in Kansas City so I applied and got accepted into mechanic school. I hurried and asked Virginia Parker to marry me and she said yes. We got married really fast on June 22nd in Manti, Utah and then reported to school in Kansas City, Missouri on July 5th. We lived there for eight months.

I went to school from 6:00 AM, got out at noon, then drove a delivery truck for a grocery store in Kansas City after school. We were right on the Missouri-Kansas State Line. One day someone asked me if I was delivering alcoholic beverages with the groceries. I told him, “Yea, once in a while.” He informed me I was bootlegging in Kansas because it was a dry State so I quit that job and got one at Jones department store in downtown Kansas City. They could have thrown me in jail if I hadn’t.

My wife had gone to work for Macy’s out of New York so she and I were working for the two major stores in Kansas City. I graduated second in the class. I cheated myself out of first because I missed a question that I knew the answer to. We came back home to Utah in February.

The Korean War had started and I found out that Deseret Chemical in Tooele County was hiring. I failed the driving test. I had never been in a 6X6 before. There were no trucks in the Navy. The man told someone to take me out and give me a driving lesson. Then they brought me back in and retested me. I got a job there as a truck driver. At one point I was supposed to have been laid off at Deseret Chemical but then my military preference went through so I was exempt and another guy ended up being the one that got laid off. After I transferred to maintenance, I later got a Supervisor Position in Tooele with a twenty-one person crew; fourteen of them were female.

I moved to Lehi when I got the job at Deseret Chemical; that was 1950. Virginia and I have seven children: Randy, Colleen, Nolan, Ronald, Russell, Cheryl, and Virginia (Jenny). Ronald and Russell are twins.

I have been a member of the American Legion in Lehi for forty-nine years. I am currently the Service Officer. All of my children know how to do flags on Main Street. I was putting flags on Lehi Main Street when we first started doing it. We went to the businesses and asked them if they would buy the flags and then we would post them. The flags cost $45.00 each. We posted the first two blocks on Main


Street. I drilled the holes for the flags in the curb-and-gutter; because it was State Property it was against the law but I didn’t know that at the time. We expanded a little putting more flags up as time went by. Heather Miller was over the Lehi Chamber of Commerce and she asked me to join. I presented the idea to the American Legion and they decided we would do it. Then Heather went to the City of Lehi and told them they needed to get involved posting the flags on Main Street. At one time we put up 192 flags on both Main and State Streets. Now we’re back down to posting them from the Freeway to the Railroad track and the City is doing it because the Legion doesn’t have the man power anymore. I was involved putting up those flags for about forty-eight years. Blackie Harris used to call my wife Betsy Ross because she took care of all those flags washing and mending them.

I was the 2nd Vice-President for a while and the Finance Officer and now I am the Service Officer. Our Legion Hall hosted 235 events last year and I would drive down and opened the door for each event. We host Alcoholics Anonymous Tuesdays and Thursdays and T.O.P.S. every Tuesday. I have always enjoyed the time spent with the veterans, museum staff, city workers, and elected city officials here in Lehi.


Glen Schow Powell Casualty of World War II

Glen Schow Powell, the son of Nicline E. Schow and Thaddeus Ashton Powell was born July 1, 1928 at Levan, Juab County, Utah. After his father died, he moved to Lehi with his mother.

He entered the U.S. Army on June 5, 1943.

On December 9, 1944 he landed in France and there went to the front lines where he was killed in action January 16, 1945. Paul J. Price Casualty of World War II

Paul J. Price, son of George Phillip and Nydia F. Taylor Price was born in Lehi, November 8, 1924.

On August 3, 1943, he entered active service training as an airplane mechanic.

While at Peyote, Texas, receiving final training, prior to overseas duties, he was killed in an airplane crash, August 24, 1945.

Vernon Reuben Radmall Casualty of World War II

Vernon Reuben Radmall, husband of Eloise Russon, was born in American Fork, Utah, September 27, 1917.

He was called in May 1942, to serve with the U.S. Army Air Force where he became a radar operator.

He was killed in action August 18, 1945, in the Tokyo Bay Area. Alvin Schow as interviewed by Judy Hansen

Alvin Schow was born to Archie Randall Schow and Vera Victoria Stewart in their home located at 323 South 100 West in Lehi, Utah. Randall and Vera were married in 1918 and Alvin was born in 1927. He was born and raised in the Latter Day Saint Lehi 5th ward and his membership has never been out of the 5th ward his whole life. Not many people can say they lived in the same ward their whole life. He had four brothers, Russell born in 1919, Wesley a year younger, Dee, Morris, and twin sisters that died before birth. His mother only had the five sons to raise. Alvin was the youngest.

When his oldest brother Russell came home from his LDS mission in December of 1941, the week Pearl Harbor was attacked, he knew he was going in the service. Wesley was 21 years old and knew he was going in. Dee was about 18 and he worked at Hill Air Force base in Ogden as a parachute rigger, folding and preparing the parachutes so the troops could jump out of the airplanes. When he turned 20 he joined the Navy as a parachute rigger and was sent on the USS Ticonderoga, an aircraft carrier. All the aircraft carriers were named after battles and the Ticonderoga was named for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in the American Revolutionary War. His brother Morris was 16 when the World War broke out and was graduating High School so he also joined the Navy. All the brothers were in the service at the same time. His mother had to write a lot of letters.

His mother was very concerned about her boys. Russell and Wesley were over in India. They were helping fly the supplies to the army in China that was resisting the Japanese. They were both drafted in the Air Force. Dee, who was on the Ticonderoga got into a lot of the battles of WW II because of the nature of the mission of the aircraft carrier. Morris was assigned to the USS West Virginia which was a battleship. All the battleships were named after a State.

Alvin was 14 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was a Sunday morning and they had all gone to church. The word came in that the US had been attacked so everyone was anxious to get home and hear the news about the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Alvin grew up with two, three, and then four brothers in the service so when he became 16 or 17 he decided he didn’t want to be part of the ground troops in the Army. He joined the Navy before he turned 18 so they wouldn’t draft him. Just like all of his brothers he graduated Lehi High School in the class of 1945 but he wasn’t home for the graduation ceremony.

The military came around to all the High Schools giving various types of tests to the seniors to know what they would be qualified for. Alvin took the Eddy Test, an examination given throughout WWII as a means of identifying men with the capability and aptitude for being trained as electronics maintenance technicians in the Navy and Marine Corps. The official name was Radio Technician Selection Test (RTST, Nav Pers 16578), but this designation was rarely used. Passing the Eddy Test served as the passport to the Electronics Training Program, possibly the best technical training program then available in the Armed Services. Alvin passed the test and they told him he could join the navy because he was qualified to operate and run the radar systems that were just being developed during WW II.

The family didn’t have a car so in the latter part of February 1945 he paid about $1.50 for a one way ticket on the interurban to the Salt Lake Post Office where the recruiter was. He earned the money for his train ticket working in the beet fields and on the farm.

They assigned Alvin to Great Lakes Navel Training Station north of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan. He was sent there for his boot camp training which lasted for three months. While he was there Germany surrendered. They had invaded Europe and surrendered in May 1945. They went to Alvin and the other servicemen that were scheduled to go to radar school and said they would have to enlist for four years in order to go to the school. When he joined the Navy he joined for the duration of the war plus six months. Now the war was ending. He wouldn’t join up for four years so they took him out of school and sent him overseas as a seaman 1st class.

At 4:00 in the afternoon, they put him on a Union Pacific railroad train and sent him to San Francisco. It took two nights and two days to get there. He got to San Francisco and they put him on a ferry and sent him to Treasure Island, a military island out in the bay of San Francisco. From there they sent him up passed the Aleutian Islands and then down to Guam. All the men were taken off the troop ship and assigned to regular sea ships. He was assigned to the USS St. George a seaplane tender. This means their airplanes landed in the water of the ocean instead of on the carrier or the ship like the aircraft carriers. The seaplane tenders were named after cities and Alvin thought it was interesting that he was assigned to a ship with the name of a city from his home State of Utah.

Guam had been bombed by Japanese in 1941 and was occupied for 2 ½ years but the US took it back in 1944 and it was a military base. The mission of the USS St. George was to find the ship movement of the enemy. Its planes would fly above the ocean and find the submarines and navy ships of the enemy. They could see the submarines submerged 40 feet below the surface from the airplanes. Their sea planes would spot them and then radio back to the ship and tell them where they were, who in turn radioed to the other ships so they could either avoid them or torpedo them.


There were about 50 ships assigned to a fleet and the USS St. George was assigned to the 8th fleet. In the fleet there were aircraft carriers, destroyers, a few cruisers, four battleships, and several seaplane ships. The fleet wasn’t always concentrated together.

When a Japanese pilot knew he was going to get killed he would target a US ship, dive toward it, and hit it. They did a lot of destruction when they did that and the ships had to be taken back to Guam to be repaired. The USS St. George had been hit with a suicide plane. It had a flight deck which was the part of the boat that picked up the seaplanes from the water by a crane, loaded them to the ship’s deck, and repaired them. The flight deck was completely destroyed when the suicide plan hit it. Alvin had only been in Guam for about a week when they put him on the repaired USS St. George and sent him to Iwo Jima.

Alvin was the deck hand. He would swab the decks and during the battles his duty was to be down in the ammunition room below the decks. During a battle he had to put the bombs, torpedoes, and ammunition in an elevator and send it up to the deck where it was put on the airplanes or used by the gunnery crews. He would use a two-wheeled hand truck to put the ammunition on, roll it to the elevator, and then unload it onto the elevator to send it up. His biggest concern was being hit by a torpedo because he was below the deck and didn’t know if he would be able to get out of the ammunition room because it was at the very bottom of the ship. There were about 1,200 crew assignments and the additional aviation squadron assignments (pilots, navigators, bombardiers, all the guys that went up in the airplanes) on board the USS St. George.

The USS St. George went up to Iwo Jima where its planes flew over and dropped bombs. If they saw a submarine on the surface they could try to destroy it by dropping a bomb on it while it was in the water. The USS St. George was lying off the island of Iwo Jima.

After Japan surrendered at Iwo Jima the next battle was at Formosa. It was an island off the China coast that the US had invaded. They were assigned to Formosa for that engagement. After the atomic bomb was dropped and the Japanese surrendered Alvin’s ship was still in Formosa. They were then assigned as occupation forces to go up into Kobe, Japan where they spent four or five weeks then they went down to Sasebo, Japan. Alvin spent the rest of his time in Sasebo until they were relieved to come home in July 1946.

Even after the Japanese surrendered, they had Japanese snipers on the land shooting at them while they sat out in the bay. They lost six sailors that were shot by the snipers who were aboard ship. Even more damaging than the snipers, the Japanese would leave things lying in the bay so when the airplanes came into land in the water next to the US ships they would hit a log or something and it would rip the bottoms of the airplanes open. Alvin could sit on the ship and watch the plans come in and then they would start shaking. Soon they would just sink down to their wings. The pilots were OK, they were above the wing level which would keep the planes afloat. Then the sailors would have to go out and drag the airplanes back up onto the ship deck, repair them, and then set them back in the water again. The war didn’t end after the surrender because the Japanese were still causing damage. Alvin was fortunate because he didn’t have to see the effects of the war and wasn’t in any place that caused him any harm during his military service.


Alvin played the piano and organ a little bit before he went into the Navy. So when he got on board ship he went to the Chaplin and volunteered to play the organ for religious services. So the Chaplin had him be the organist. When Christmas of 1945 came the Chaplin had a special service where he served sacrament to the sailors. Alvin didn’t partake of the sacrament that was served and the Chaplin wondered why and thought that Alvin had been sinning and wasn’t worthy of the sacrament. Alvin asked the Chaplin what authority he had to administer the sacrament. He told the Chaplin that he believed a man must be called of God to administer the sacrament by prophecy and the laying on of hands. The Chaplin told him he wanted to be a Chaplin and went to Chaplin school. Alvin told the Chaplin that Paul stated man would not take this honor unto himself save he was called of God as Aaron. Then they turned to the book of Exodus and read where Aaron was called by Moses who laid his hands on his head and that Moses was called by God. Alvin asked the Chaplin if hands were laid on his head by someone that had authority. The Chaplin said, “no.” So Alvin again asked him how he got his authority. They weren’t quite as close after that but he still got to play the organ. He often thought of that experience with the Chaplin and thought maybe he shouldn’t have acted that way.

The Chaplin would hold a service every Sunday morning. There were three other LDS sailors on ship with Alvin, one from California, one from Layton, and one from Southern Utah. They use to meet to have an LDS church service in the afternoon after the Chaplin’s regular service. They had to read the sacrament prayer from the Doctrine and Covenants because they didn’t have the card for the sacrament prayer. They would bless the sacrament and pass it between the four of them.

When the regular barber on ship had enough time that he was release and sent home Alvin worked his way to the barber shop cutting hair for the sailors. He didn’t have any experience cutting hair but his mother had cut his hair all his life so he figured if she could do it he could do it. When they got ready to go home all the sailors wanted a haircut and would give him a dollar or two in tips if he styled their hair really good and not give them the standard military haircut. He accumulated several hundred dollars in tip money. One of the crewmen knew that he was getting tip money so before they got to Pearl Harbor this man broke into his locker. Alvin exchanged all his tip money into $1 and $5 bills and put them between the pages of his Book of Mormon to store it. They fellow that broke into the locker saw the Book of Mormon and just threw it on the floor. He never did find the tip money.

When they got to Pearl Harbor the Captain had an inspection and reviewed all the sailors. They had to show up on the deck of the ship and he saw that some of the haircuts weren’t military so he ordered that every person had to have a military haircut between Pearl Harbor and San Diego. All the fellows who tipped Alvin lost their tip money and lost their hair too.

When they got to San Diego they had to de-commission the ship. Most of the crew members had enough time that they were discharged but they still had to remove all the military equipment such as the bombs, ammunition, etc. There were about 50-or 60 men left and it took Alvin and this small crew about a month to get that done. It was a big job to de-commission the ship.

Alvin was sent to Shoemaker, California and was discharged the 7th of September 1946. He served about a year and a half in the military. He came home on a Greyhound bus arriving on a


Wednesday and his dad had him in the bishop’s office on Sunday to send him off for a mission. He was only home for 30 days from the time he was discharged from the Navy until he went on his mission. His dad didn’t want him to get involved with a girl and not go on a mission.

He entered the Salt Lake Missionary training center and then served his LDS mission in the New England states. He spent all his time in the State of Maine so they called themselves, “Maine-i- acs.” He traveled for two summers without ‘purse or script.’ This means that they could only carry $20.00 maximum to satisfy vagrancy laws. They left their apartments and traveled in the country where they depended upon the people they met for food and lodging. The two summers he did that he only slept without a bed for four nights. It was a miracle. They left the first of June and came back the end of September each summer. Some of their beds were in a barn in the hay loft but it was shelter. The four nights he didn’t have a place to sleep he would stay under a pine tree and doze off.

One time Alvin went to the home of a man that ran a dairy farm. He was a man that was injured from his WW II military service and was suffering. Alvin had experience milking cows and working on the farm. When the man had to go to the hospital for ten days Alvin and his companion stayed in his barn, sleeping in the hay loft, and their meals were given to them. They made sure the cows were milked and also brought a crop of hay into the barn for the man. He doesn’t know if they ever became Mormons but it opened the door to a lot of their neighbors who invited Alvin and his companion into their home so they were able to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

June Elaine Norman was raised on a dairy farm out west of Lehi on the Saratoga Road south of Evansville. We called it Evansville because there were several Evans families living there. She lived about ½ mile down a lane towards the river in the 1st ward. When Alvin got home from his mission his mother was working as a cook at the Lehi Hospital and Elaine was working for Dr. Eddington running his office which was also located in the Hospital building. When Alvin would go to the hospital to pick his mother up after work, Elaine would be in the kitchen returning a drinking glass. She looked pretty good to Alvin so he asked his mother if she had a boyfriend. When he found out she didn’t Alvin asked her to go out with him. He took her to a missionary Halloween party and from there they just kept dating. Elaine was the only girl Alvin dated after he returned from his mission (he had asked her to go to the open air Latona Ballroom in American Fork during the month between his discharge from the Navy and his mission but was turned down because she already had a date). They were married June 1950.

Being in the military they gave Alvin all the “G.I. Bill of Rights” when he got home. He was able to attend school at BYU and studied accounting, finance, and banking. The G.I. Bill paid for his tuition, books, and gave him $105.00 per month to live on. He received his Bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, and banking in 1951. Elaine continued to work for Dr. Eddington until their first baby was born

After he graduated BYU he went to work as a public accountant for Smith & Smith in Provo for a few months. They were the auditors for Wasden Oldsmobile Company. Smith recommended that Alvin take the office manager job at Wasden’s so he changed jobs and went to work there. George Tribe bought Wasden out so he continued to work for George Tribe for a couple of years.


Alvin was working as the ward Clerk in the Bishopric with Rex Zimmerman and Calvin Swenson. They told him one of the officers at the State Bank of Lehi was moving to another location and there was going to be an opening there. He applied and went to work in the State Bank of Lehi in 1961 or 1962. The State Bank of Lehi was originally organized in 1890. After a few years the Mountain View Bank, Bank of Pleasant Grove, and State Bank of Lehi merged and formed the Deseret Bank. He worked for Deseret bank until he retired on December 31, 1990.

Alvin has lived in Lehi all his life. He and Elaine rented an apartment in a Lehi home on Center Street and First South. It later came up for sale so they bought it and lived there about eleven years. In 1961 they built the home they live in on 225 E 100 S in Lehi.

Alvin and Elaine are the parents of five children, two boys and three girls. Norman the oldest (he was named after the Norman family) who lives in Pleasant Grove, Kenneth living in Traverse Mountain in Northern Lehi, Linda living in Seattle whose husband (Douglas Hall) was killed in an automobile accident, Anita who lives in Pleasant Grove married to John Freeman and Lynette (who married William Nielsen) who lives two blocks south of Alvin. They are the grandparents of 25 grandchildren, most of them are married. They have Forty great-grand children with five more expected after the first of the year. The joy of family never ending.


Victor Smith Casualty of World War II

Victor Smith, son of George H. Smith Jr. and Christie Sharp, was born at Blackfoot, Idaho August 9, 1920. His family moved to Lehi, Utah when he was a small boy.

He entered service in the Air Corps on December 29, 1941. He saw service in India, China, Burma, Thailand and Andaman Island.

Victor was killed in action over the Chitgong Hills, India while returning from a bombing mission over Burma, october 30, 1943.

Eugene Strasburg Interviewed by Judy Hansen July 2015 My parents were George and Mary Taylor Strasburg. I was born March 21, 1924 in our old house in Lehi at 791 North 100 East. That house is torn down now. I was raised in Lehi. I didn’t graduate my senior year because they had me go down to that Utah Vocation School in Provo1 during my senior year in High School. After I got out of the vocational school I taught a bunch of women in the old Lehi High shop. I taught them how to plow and use the mowing machines. This was for National defense because I think they were anticipating WWII. They had a class for women. I remember some of the women were from Cedar Fort. Delbert Fugal was the shop teacher and I was instructing these women on how to adjust plows and mowing machines. I think this was under civil defense. I wrote L.B. Adamson while I was in the Navy asking why I didn’t have my high school diploma and he didn’t bother to answer. He was the Principal of the Lehi High School. I tried to enlist through the post office in Provo but they wouldn’t take me because I had run a beet knife in my knee when I was topping beets in Lehi. I used to have a scar there. So when I tried to enlist they wouldn’t take me because of my knee but then they drafted me (he laughs). I got married October 25, 1942, a year before I left for the Navy to Sara Joanne West. Ernest Webb married us civilly and then a year after that we went through the Salt Lake Temple. The day after I got out of the temple I left for the Navy. People looked at us pretty strange because we got married so young. They made us get married civilly a year before they would let us go through the temple. I was inducted October 7th, 1943. I was 19 years old. We were told we had to report at the Provo depot which was pretty close to the Provo Tabernacle. My brother Allen took me, Keith Eddington and some others down and we got on the old Orem; the old Inter-urban2. We went into Salt Lake, down at the “center,’ for an examination on an old street named Motor Avenue. They don’t call it that now but it is about 50 south, ½ block south of where the old Eagle Gate was before they moved it. I reported for duty and that is where I went for my physical and where I took my oath for the Navy. They never said a word about my knee.

1 Utah Vocational School later became Trade Tech and has since become Utah Valley University. 2 The Inter-urban was called the Orem by the local’s and was a train that ran from Provo to Salt Lake. It had a stop in Lehi. I went to Camp Peary, Virginia for my basic training. They called it Captain Ware’s hog farm3. They fed you hominy grits so much you couldn’t eat them after a while. You’d get so sick of them you’d throw them in the garbage. On our duty day we fed them to the pigs. This Captain Ware sold the pigs back to the Navy. I know Captain Ware ran some ships a ground so they broke him down to a Captain. Boot camp was a lot of drilling, saluting, and calisthenics where we had to run the obstacle course and do push-ups. I left Captain Ware’s hog farm in Camp Peary, Virginia and went to Gulfport, Mississippi for advanced training. We trained mostly in mortars, drilling, and a lot of shooting. It didn’t amount to much. We were there for two or three weeks and they shipped us to Port Hueneme, California and then on May 1, 1944 we left overseas to Hawaii. I was assigned to the 127th Seabee Battalion; Company A; platoon 5. Our troop ship was tied up in Pearl Harbor. I got my Brother Lloyd’s address who was serving in the 222nd field artillery and Warrant Officer Ham from San Gabriel, California looked Lloyd up for me. Lloyd came down to the dock. They wouldn’t let us get off but Officer Ham let me go down the gang plank and talk to my brother. I got to spend a few minutes with my brother Lloyd at Pearl Harbor. We talked about family and the good old days. Lloyd was serving in Maui and when I moved to Hawaii Lloyd moved on. I was stationed at Naval Air Station Pu’unene on Maui. At that time Moloka’i, the leper island was quarantined. Now they say you can contact there so they’ve opened it up but we were right next to the island of Moloka’i. The main airport on Maui was Kahului and it was too small. They took our battalion of Seabees and had us lengthen and widen the airstrip so they could land B-29’s there. They couldn’t get gravel so they made us widen the airstrips with ciders. I was quite inventive. I made a clothes washer out of an old barrel and a crank. You could fill it full of water, put your clothes Eugene with his clotheswasher in, and turn the crank to get the laundry done. In Maui while we were widening an airstrip the airplanes would pull a target through the air. The guys with anti-aircraft gun would shoot at that target the airplane was pulling. Once it ricocheted off the target and ended up cutting a guy’s leg off while we were working on that airstrip. Our battalion made a lot of what they called revetments. They would put airplanes in them. A revetment was a little pile of dirt. We had a little D-6 cat dozer that would push the dirt up and then they would park the airplanes between these revetments for protection. Well, they allowed us to go to the base theater to have a special interest group of LDS people; Boyd Fugal from Pleasant Grove was one of them. We came out of that group just as two airplanes came in; one on top of the other. That top propeller chopped the guy up on the bottom. We tried to get over

3 Captain J.G. Ware was raising pigs on Peary base as a private venture. there to help him out but the 50 caliber and machine gun shells were going all through the air and they wouldn’t let us get over to it. I watched that plane come in and chop that guy right up. They allowed us to use part of the facilities for the LDS servicemen. There was only four LDS guys in our unit; Dean Thornock, Francis Crandock, Melvin Lehi Smith, and me. Orville Hanco*ck from Provo was baptized on Maui at a place called ‘the thumb.’ He was buried in a strip of water and confirmed there. We all witnessed it. We would attend church with the Hawaiian’s and once they asked Melvin Smith if he would talk in Sacrament meeting. He thought he knew the language and he said the wrong thing. All those Kanakas4 really broke out laughing at him (he laughs).

LDS Servicemen The Battles of Samar and Leyte Gulf took place in October 1944. In April 1945 we got orders to move to the Philippines as part of the 7th fleet. We landed in the Leyte-Samar area the end of May. We worked on the airstrips in the Philippines on a PT5 boat repair base. We put fabricated field tanks together and a pipe-line so they could fuel map PT boats down on the beach where we were. While I was in the Philippines they had new machinery; new bulldozers, motor-graters, and everything.

4 A person of Hawaiian descent. Came from the Hawaiian word meaning man. 5 Short for Patrol Torpedo boat. Bob Hope and Francis Langford entertained us in the Philippines. We had an open air theater that was just coconut logs that you would sit on and watch old movies if you were lucky. That is where they came to entertain us. After the Philippines they sent us to Japan. I know that they signed the peace treaty6 with Japan while we were on our way over there. I was assigned to go over with the heavy equipment on the 797 Rice Victory. Jerry Larson from Lehi was the 1st mate on the Rice Victory. He took and showed me around the ship. He showed me the Sperry-Gyro compass and everything. (Eugene laughs) We were even in a typhoon. It was scary as the devil. The bough of the ship would go right under water and then it would come out. We had an Oliver wagon crane on the top deck that broke loose and it would swing around. We had to tie it tight. We had to get out on the deck in the middle of this typhoon, hook up the chains, the cables, tie it down, and stop it from swinging. It was bad news. During that typhoon a road-roller broke loose down in the hull of the ship. I had to go down there. You could hear it roll back and forth, “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-boom!” When I went to get up I was the last one up. I climbed up the ladder and tried to get out but they closed the water- tight hatch and there I was at the top of that ladder during that typhoon. I was locked in there and couldn’t get out. I hollered and Warrant Officer Ham was out on deck. He heard me and opened the door and let me out of there. I was really scared. I didn’t like that. We went to Yokosuka, Japan and repaired an airstrip. Joanne was shook up about it because the Japanese peace treaty had been signed and she wanted me to come home but I went to Japan to stay with the heavy equipment. I came back the United States on the U.S.S. Prairie. On the way back to California they lowered the points down so we qualified for a discharge. I thought we were going back to the States for a repatriation leave and didn’t find out I was going home until I got to San Francisco. I served my country for 2 years and 2 months. I was discharged on the 24th of December 1945 in Shoemaker, California and rode the train home. There was a mix-up on our train. It was the Western Pacific and we stopped at Odgen. I had wired Joanne that I would meet her at the depot in Salt Lake but there was a lay-over from Ogden to Salt Lake. I didn’t want to wait so I got on the Bamberger railroad and when I got to Salt Lake nobody was there. Joanne was down at my folk’s place in Lehi. I called my friend, Harold Allred and he took me to my folk’s home in Lehi. That was the first time I’d seen Joanne after being overseas. Good Ol’ Harold hauled me down there. I was home and got to see my son Kenneth for his 2nd birthday. I felt guilty because they called me a veteran but I was never in combat. The battleships were shooting over our heads when I was in the Philippines but I was never in battle. I was working on the heavy equipment as a mechanic. They tell me not to feel guilty about it because our work helped the PT boats to get in and out safe and the airplanes land. I was in the service and did what they told me to do.

6 Surrender of Japan was announced August 15, 1945 and formally signed September 2nd. There wasn’t anything I liked about the military. They said us enlisted people were just enlisted people not Officers and gentlemen. I said, “I’m just as much a gentleman as those weird-o Officers.” They didn’t like that. Hanging a blue star mother’s service flag7 in the window was really big during WWII. Mother had one hanging in the window that had three stars. There were three of us boys in the service at the same time; Allen, Lloyd, and myself. I wonder how mother stood that? After I got home I worked for Telluride Motor Company in Provo, the Ford Dealer. Eventually I ended up with Union Pacific Railroad. I get railroad retirement through the Union Pacific. I was an official for the railroad so I get a fancy little pension from the railroad besides my retirement which is better than nothing. My oldest son Kenneth was born the day after Christmas when I was serving in Gulfport, Mississippi. I remember that. The Red Cross gave me a few days leave so I could come home to see him but it was only a few days. He is gone, he passed away July 3, 2013. My next one is Larry and he was named after his Grandfather, my father-in-law Lawrence Henson West. Now his boy, my grandson that lives with me is also named Lawrence. Then there was Nyle and my daughter Robyn. We had three boys and a girl. I’m proud to be invited as a veteran on the Honor Flight this coming October. That is something I am really looking forward to.

7 The mother’s service flag that was hung in homes had a blue star for the serviceman on a white field surrounded by a red boarder. One star represented each child from the family that was serving. A smaller gold star meant the child died while in service (not necessary killed in action). One of the most famous flags was that of the five Sullivan brothers who all perished on the U.S.S. Juneau. Earl LeGrand Thomas as interviewed by Judy Hansen May 2014

I was born November 10th 1921 in Lehi to Morris and Salvina Checketts Thomas. I’m not sure if I was born in the hospital or at home with a midwife. I was raised in what they called the Lehi Junction. It was about as far north as you could get on the south side of the low hills. It was just above 21st North by Fox ditch. I went to school in Lehi but I didn’t graduate. It was during the depression so I had to work. I went into the Provo CCC 958 camp (Civilian Conservation Corp). There was a CCC camp in Pleasant Grove and one in Provo; the CCC camps done a lot of work up in the canyons. I helped build roads in both the Spanish Fork and Payson canyons. We use to have guys that could lay those rocks and make some pretty nice things. I worked for the CCC two years. I joined in October 1938 and worked until October 1940. I was about 16 years old. I got paid $30.00 a month. The folks got $22.00 and I got to keep $8.00.

On June 14, 1941 I married Jack Colledge’s daughter Gladys. Then the war broke out in December of 1941. I was working for the Union Pacific railroad. I worked for them about two years. If you ever heard of Gandy Dancing1 that is what I done for the railroad. I use to tamp ties. They had a steel tool that I would use to tamp the rocks and dirt out of the railroad ties. Each man had to put in ten railroad ties a day. We had one foreman that always tried to make it as hard as he could. He would make us dig out by the side of the tie and then knock the tie over to pull it out. Some of the other foreman’s would just have us raise the track, pull the spikes, then we’d just have to pull the tie out with little to no digging.

My wife was seven months pregnant when Uncle Sam came and said, “I want you” so I had to be in a certain place at a certain time. I was drafted in December 1942. The way it was scheduled I was supposed to have gone December 19 but it was so close to Christmas they said I could stay until the day after Christmas. They put me on a troop train and I left for Army boot camp December 26, 1942.

1 The job of the gandy dancer refers to “track examiners” and their responsibilities were "checking ties, bolts, track, and roadbed for necessary repairs." However, most sources refer to gandy dancers as the men who did the difficult physical work of track maintenance under the direction of an overseer.


I went to Camp Roberts in California for infantry training which they called basic training. I was there for 13 weeks. After we took our training we were waiting in California to ship out. I tried to get a furlough but didn’t get it until the day we shipped out, so there really was no furlough. I’ll always remember the day we left. We went under the Golden Gate Bridge on the 11th of May 1943. I was on a Norwegian freighter that had been converted over to a troop ship. There were 2,800 people on that troop ship. It took us about 15 days to reach New Caledonia, a French island in the south pacific. We were the replacement people. In New Caledonia we had more training. Almost everyone was shipped out to the different islands where the biggest share of them got killed. They found out I had experience with the railroad so they kept me in New Caledonia from May 1943 to December 1944.

We were a Quartermaster outfit. I would drive trucks delivering things from one place to another. Once in a while we’d make a wrong move and take things to the wrong place. We would supply the Army, Navy, and different units. I also had to work on railroad repair. My duties would switch back and forth from driving trucks to working on the railroad. Our regular railroad tracks here are 56 inch gauge between the tracks but in New Caledonia they are only 39 inches.

When we shipped out the 3rd of January 1945 with a 100 ship fleet we stopped off at Finschhafen (Finch Haven) New Guinea on our way to Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines. There was a liberty ship right behind us that was struck by a Japanese Kamikaze pilot2 and it killed 45 of our soldiers on that ship. I was on a LST3 and we had mostly trucks that we were carrying into Luzon.

2 Japanese pilots that would take their aircraft and crash-dive into our warships killing themselves and whoever they could take out with them. 3 Landing Ship Tank.


It didn’t take us too long to get to Luzon. We got there about 4:30 in the afternoon. We didn’t know where we were at or what was going on. About 9:00 that night; of course it was dark, we could hear a battery of 155’s and 240’s; you know, the big guns. We didn’t know if they were coming in or going out. This was right at the start of the Battle of Luzon. It was kind-of scary there. When we first went into the island I was lucky enough to get on guard; if you can call it that. There was a lot of shooting going on. The Marines were already there as well as a lot of Japanese. The next morning they had about 80 dead Japanese soldiers stacked up. The Marines just kept killing them as they went by. I was there until September 1945; about 9 months.

They shipped us into the Philippines in September. We went through Manila up to a place they call Guimba; it’s just a little tiny place. We had to round up and get those Japanese that were literally starving to death out of there. The Japanese wouldn’t come out and they were dying. It was sad. We were railroad so our troops never did go up in there but these Japanese were brought out and put on our railroad cars and that is how we would get them out. If they could they would ship the dead soldiers back to the Japanese.

That is where I stayed until I shipped out to South Korea. I had enough points I could come home. I spent 31 months overseas. I was on the high seas around Thanksgiving time of 1945. We went up around the Aleutian Islands; that is some cold rough seas, and into Tacoma, Washington; that is where I boarded a train home. I got into Salt Lake about 2:00 in the morning, caught a bus, and came home. I got home December 19, 1945.

There were no telephones and the ones available had eight to ten homes on a party line. Not everyone was on that party line. I couldn’t call home so I just came and surprised them.

Before I had left for the service, we had been renting a little place in Draper and we tried to buy it but they wouldn’t sell it to us. When I left Gladys went and lived with her mother. Then she bought a little home and had it moved up by her mother’s place and that is where I came home to. We lived there for seven and a half years and done a lot of work to that little place. They decided they were going to build the freeway so they moved everyone out and we moved the home down here to where I live now4. At first there were just two rooms and an upstairs. The bedrooms were upstairs. Under the stairs used to be Gladys washing room. We eventually added on; two or three times since then.

When I got out of the service they had what they call 52 – 20. You could get $20.00 a week for 52 weeks so I collected that. We had one child when I was in the military; Earlene, and after I got home Gladys had a miscarriage. They had given all the men that served in the South Pacific Atabrine tablets to fight malaria and it would weaken the sperm of the men; so there were a lot of miscarriages from the guys that came home at that time. We were lucky, she only had one miscarriage. We had another girl; Susan and then two boys: Edwin and Jeff.

4 645 West State Street


Geneva was operating when I got out of the service and a lot of the guys were trying to get on there at that time. On the 23rd of August 1946 I got on at the co*ke plant at Geneva. At that time when you were assigned a certain place you couldn’t transfer. In the co*ke plant there were four batteries of ovens and 63 ovens per battery. Fifteen tons of coal went into those ovens and then they would cook for about 17 hours or something like that. On the east side of the batteries they had a big ol’ pusher or ram that would push that co*ke out into a car; then they would quench it for about two minutes; then dump it on the wharf and send that co*ke over to the blast furnace and they would use it there.

I worked in the co*ke plant for 37 years and 8 months. I retired April 30th 1983. I was only 61 and so Geneva paid $400.00 a month until I was old enough to retire on my birthday at age 62. They eventually closed the co*ke plant down. It used to be the best producing plant in the United States.

My wife passed away February 27, 2007 and I had her buried in the Lehi Cemetery. It has been hard to be alone. When I was in the military they had what they called V-mail5. Any writing we wanted to send back home would go on that v-mail. If they wanted to look in there, they did; they censored it. My mail never got censored much because I knew what I could write and what I couldn’t. But you know - my dear sweet wife – all the time I was in the service; she wrote me every day, every single day (as he says with a tear in his eye). I’d get my mail probably once every three weeks so I’d get a lot of letters. I couldn’t write to her every day (he laughs), I could only write once a week or once every ten days. There was another Earl Thomas in American Fork and our mail use to get mixed up. When I found that out I started using my initial - Earl L Thomas - to keep things on the straight and narrow.

My wife was always sending pictures; big pictures of Earlene. She always kept me informed about how Earlene was growing up. When I got home Earlene didn’t want anything to do with me. She was three and she thought I wasn’t her dad. She was set in her ways but it worked out eventually and we became compatible after a while. Anyway, I sure miss Gladys.

5 Victory mail or V-mail for short; a letter would be censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper upon arrival at its destination.


Boyd Dave Wilkin As interviewed by Judy Hansen

Boyd Dave Wilkin was born in the family home on January 11, 1930 to Reed and Rosabell (Rose) Wilkin. He had seven siblings: Genevive who died as an infant, Jerry (who served in WWII in Germany), Scott, Nile, Sonja, and John L, His father died in 1936 when he was five years old. Boyd grew up in Lehi in the LDS First ward.

Boyd had a friend that joined the service so he decided he want to be in the military too. He tried to join in 1946 but he was only 16 years old and they wouldn’t take him. He had to wait until after his birthday when he was 17. He didn’t have a birth certificate when he joined and had to use his church blessing certificate as proof of birth. When he finally got in the Army January 1947 he went to Fort Douglas, Utah. This was during the end of WWII. From Fort Douglas they shipped him to Fort Ord, California where he completed his basic training. Basic training for Boyd was in the winter time and it was cold. It wasn’t the kind of cold here in Utah but a damp cold.

While Boyd was in basic training there was only about a ½ dozen men that made expert rifleman. He was one of them. In fact, they gave him a carton of cigarettes for making this achievement. After he made expert rifleman they were shooting one day and he had his fingers in his ears. His commanding officer yells down at him, “Soldier, get those fingers out of your ears it’s not going to hurt you.” Boyd yells back, “Oh bullsh*t.” He had to scrub the supply room floor and didn’t get any liberties. He thought for sure the Army would use that expertise and ship him overseas. Fortunately for him they didn’t. After he completed basic training they sent him off to Beaumont General Hospital in El Paso, Texas. He started out there as a second cook helping in the kitchen. This assignment really surprised him. They wanted him to go to the cook and baker school.

Boyd, being the follower that he was, again had a friend that was working as a neuropsychiatric technician so he decided he wanted to do that too. It intrigued him so see how military service had affected the men. There was no competition for the assignment so they allowed him in the medical corp. They sent him to a school to learn the duties of that job where he received a diploma.

Boyd would pick troops up that were coming back from overseas and take them to the hospital. Some they would have to physically help because of severe injuries. A small percentage of men would have such severe battle fatigue (stress) they would have to put them in strait-jackets because they were so violent.

It was while he was serving as a neuropsychiatric technician that he witnessed his first autopsy. The military had their own morgue and they would do their own autopsy’s at Beaumont hospital.


They had a first sergeant that was in the Para-troopers that had been shot 38 times when he was coming down. They had him in ready to perform his autopsy and he woke up. This man really developed a bad attitude and wouldn’t listen to anybody. He didn’t seem to care about anything and he ended up leaving as a private.

He also witnessed his first skin graft. They were going to graft some skin onto a man’s nose and this man had to go around with his hand taped up to his nose for a very long time while the skin grew to the place it was needed. The hand would have to be held there for months. That is how they would do skin grafts in the late 1940’s. Everything was so primitive back then.

Corporal Boyd Wilkins served in the Army for 18 months. He was honorably discharge 18 June 1948. He received $300.00 muster out pay. When he returned home Governor Herbert B Maw from the State of Utah wrote him a letter welcoming him back. This letter was dated July 16, 1948. He got a year’s exemption from paying Utah State taxes after he was discharged with 18 months service. He also got $20.00 a week for 52 weeks to look for a job. They all called this the 52-20 Club.

He decided his military service was over so he needed a career. He attended the Salt Lake Barber College. He would hitchhike from Lehi to Salt Lake so he could attend. He got his barber license.

Lehi had a National Guard artillery unit but when WWII started they took that unit to war. When Boyd came home they wanted to start the National Guard up again in Lehi. They came and got some of the returned veterans to join the new Lehi National Guard Combat Engineers 1467. Sherwin Allred was the first Sergeant and Maurice Dahl worked for them full time. Boyd joined as a platoon sergeant. They had Lt. Clooney and Captain Howard Robinson also in the unit.

In the National Guard he went to school in Fort Belvoir, Virginia and on 7 December 1951 certified as a Tractor-Scraper Operator which meant he was a heavy equipment operator. He came home and was honorably discharged 4th February 1952. He served in the guard for two years.

Again, Boyd had a friend, Trustin Beck that was ex-marine who said lets go back into the service so they both went and joined the Navy in May 1954. They didn’t have to go through boot camp because they had already been in the service. They sent his friend to the Hawaiian Islands. They gave Boyd seaman status which was like a Corporal and while in San Diego, California they put him aboard the USS Brinkley Bass DD887, a destroyer. Because he had barber license they made him the barber of the ship. He was on the ship for three years. He was assigned to man the 5 stage gun mount as his general quarters station if they ever became under attack but his primary job was barber. While on the USS Brinkley Bass he went all over. He went to the Philippines a dozen times, Hong Kong seven times, Manila Bay where he got to see all the sunken ships from WWII, Australia, and all over the pacific. When he went to Hiroshima the atomic bomb had been dropped ten years before and all that was still left was a huge cement dome of a building there. When he was in Kobe, Japan he saw the monument of the biggest battle ship that the Japanese were going to build. They had brought it from Sasabo to Kobe to

2 put the guns on it and the US sank it right there before they finished getting the guns on it. Boyd had open gangway which meant he could get on and off the ship whenever he wanted. There was Cinderella liberty which meant they had to be back by 12:00 whenever they got off ship. Boyd received a cruise book of the USS Brinkley Bass of ’54 which was like a yearbook of the ship.

The United States was allies with Kaohsiung and a lot of the mission for the USS Brinkley Bass was patrolling Kaohsiung Straight protecting them from China1. They were able to maintain peace and they all received the China Service Medal. Boyd also received the Naval Occupation Service Medal, and good conduct medals for both the Navy and Army.

Being on sea so much often got pretty boring so they had to do things to make their own fun. When he went to Australia they had to cross the International Date Line. The shellbacks (Officers) did an initiation for all the polliwogs (enlisted men). Boyd, being the barber, they took his clippers and just cut the front half of his hair all off and left the back. They also gave everyone a royal bath where they set a tarp up filled with water and they all had to jump in. They had rotten eggs busted in their mouths which they would just gag on. Then salt water was poured in their mouths to wash the eggs down. They also saved the garbage for four days, tunneled a canvas, then filled the canvas up with all the garbage and made everyone crawl through it. Fun times in the Navy.

One time they were out to sea when there was a typhoon just off Japan. They won’t let you stay in port because the waves would wash the ship onto shore. They were outrunning this typhoon and they split a seam in the ship. They has to shore it up enough to get it back for repairs. Boyd was cutting this skipper’s (Captain) hair and he told the Captain he sure thought they were a goner then and that they were going to sink. The Captain told him, ‘As long as I am the Skipper to this ship it will never sink.” Boyd laughed to himself and thought, “Wow, who does he think he is.”

He was on maneuvers another time and someone got the wrong maneuver and so they got so close to another ship that it scraped the paint right off the ship Boyd was on. It sure took a lot of paint off.

They told him he had been on ship too long and that he needed shore duty. They told him there was a catch to it; he would have to extend a year to get shore duty. He had signed up in the Navy for four years and he had to extend a year to get his shore duty. They ask him where he wanted to go. With the extensive knowledge he had from traveling he came up with three options, his first choice was Japan, 2nd choice the Philippine Islands, and 3rd choice was the Hawaiian Islands. Well they gave him the Hawaiian Islands. He was there for 18 months and he ran the Navy Exchange on Barnam airforce base. The Exchange had a barber shop and he cut hair in the mornings then in the afternoons they would open the Navy Exchange store. While he was in Hawaii he met a girl, Salada (Sally) Kapualani Ana and married her. She automatically became a citizen of the United States when she married Boyd in 1957. They lived in Kekaha, Kauai and had two children Kalani and Haleakia. These boys were born in the Hawaiian Territory before it became a State.

1 The USS Brinkley Bass was eventually sold to Sweden for training and then they ended up scuttling (sinking) it.


After his shore duty was over they put him back aboard ship – a Tortuga. This ship was a landing ship dock. They could open the back of the ship and dry dock a destroyer or another ship while on the ocean and work it over for repairs. While on the Tortuga he continued to cut hair.

When his time in the military was up he went home and received the same $300.00 muster out pay. He was honorably discharged 5 May 1959. After his service in the Navy the State didn’t give him any tax credits or anything like they did when he got out of the Army; even after five years’ service. He sent his wife money and she brought their family to Lehi where they lived. Boyd’s mother and sister met her at the airport because she wasn’t familiar with Utah.

Boyd and Sally continued to expand their family and two more children were born; Kaipo and Rosanna. Boyd built a split level home in Lehi on 2nd west on ground he had there. Then he built another home at 9358 S 9200 N in Lehi. Boyd and Sally where married 19 years then Sally passed away at age 38 with heart problems in 1975. This left Boyd a widow at a very young age raising four children alone.

He was working two jobs. He rented and ran the barber shop on State Street in Lehi at night – the one ol’ Rowley Goodwin had his barber shop in next to the movie house. He also worked at the State Training School in American Fork (later changed to the Utah State Developmental Center). He actually worked at the Training school twice. He was the barber there in 1963 then quit and went to work at Hercules in their Fire Department for 10 years. After he quit Hercules he went back to the State Training School in 1973 where he went back to the barber shop but was eventually moved to maintenance and became the Head of Maintenance Department. He retired from there 20 years later.

He met Carol Morrison (who had been raised in Michigan) while working at the Utah State Developmental Center in American Fork 6 months after Sally passed away and married her June 6th 1978. Carol had four children that were all about the same age as Boyd’s children. At one time there were six teenagers living in the Wilkin home at the same time. There were five boys and three girls.

Boyd had a farm with pigs, sheep, and cows. His boys would help on the farm which they continue to do. He got an award from the Governor of the State of Utah congratulating him for his decision to continue to farm the family acreage that has been farmed for 100 years. There were only about 35 farms in the whole state that have existed that long. Boyd has 16 acres.

Even after retirement Boyd really had a hard time getting the military to quit asking him to cut hair. During the 2002 Winter Olympics they ask him to go to Camp Williams and cut hair. He has stayed in Lehi all his life and is a very respected citizen.


Gene L. Wilson Casualty of World War II

Gene L. Wilson, son of Carlton and Irene R. Wilson, was born in Ogden, Utah January 21, 1918. His family moved to Lehi when he was a small boy.

He married Elva Wilson of Randolph. They had one little son, Gene C. Wilson, whom his father never saw.

Gene enlisted in the Army June 3, 1942, and left for overseas, landing in Africa, April 1942, and going from there to Italy where he was killed in action December 15, 1943.

Alva Ralph Wing as interviewed by Judy Hansen

Alva Ralph Wing is the son of Alva H and Dorthy Udine Sabey Wing. He was born July 2, 1925 in the Lehi Mortuary because his father was the Funeral Director in town. He was the oldest child with four younger sisters Ila, Joyce, Lois, and Rita. He attended school in Lehi where he graduated. The April before he graduated he had enough credits so he didn’t have to attend school. He went with his cousin Dale Russon to embalming college in Los Angeles, California where he also worked at Pierce Brothers Mortuary in Santa Monica. He came back in June 1943 to attend his High School graduation. It is fun to note that while he was in California he went to Sears and Roebuck and bought his girl back home an engagement ring. She never knew he bought it until after the war.

Because he had received medical background training during embalming school on 25 February 1944 Ralph was drafted in the Army Medical Corp at Fort Douglas. They sent him to Camp Barkley Texas for basic training. Ralph was with a lot of men that was from Georgia and Alabama. There were a lot of drinkers and smokers in the group. Ralph had played football in High School and after practice they would have them all run around the track a couple of times. Ralph wasn’t the fastest or the slowest but in basic training he could beat everyone by ten or twelve yards every time with no trouble at all. He attributes this to the fact he kept the word of wisdom.

After boot camp he was sent to Fort Francis E Warren surgical hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming for medical training. He was there about a month where he helped during surgeries. He was transferred to Fitz Simmons General Hospital just outside of Denver Colorado where he again worked as a technician assisting with surgeries for a couple more months.

After his medical training was complete he got leave and came home before they sent him back down to Camp Barkley Texas. In Texas they put him on a troop train and he went to Boston, Massachusetts. The train was like cattle cars and they hung hammocks from one side to the other all in a row. That is where he bunked for three days.

He shipped out of Boston Harbor on a huge carrier the USS Westpoint. It took six days to cross the Atlantic where they landed in Liverpool. They got on a train and went down to South Hampton and on the 13th of July 1944 they crossed the English Channel. They got on a landing craft, climbed down on ropes and ladders and landed on Utah Beach head (Normandy, France). This was six weeks after D-Day and there was still a lot of destruction there. All the US troops and their allies went across and forced the German’s back.


In the army you had your sleeping bag in your haversack – you would wear it on your back. There is half a tent in each haversack so you have to share with somebody. One side of the tent had buttonholes and the other side had the openings that would clip onto it to make your 2 man tent. Ralph ended up sleeping alone because the fellow he was supposed to share the tent with went to get some wood, chopped into a hedge, hit a booby trap, and was killed. Ralph slept on just his half of the canvas – well he didn’t sleep, he just prayed most of the night. There were a lot of land mines, booby traps, and still occasional snipers who weren’t supposed to be there.

There were German ‘Buzz Bombs’ (a rocket the Germans had) the Germans would shoot across the channel into England. They called them buzz bombs because you could hear them buzz as they flew over. They weren’t too accurate so a lot of them would end up in the channel. The channel was about 25 miles across.1

Ralph was assigned to the 40th General Hospital just outside of Paris. He worked with a surgical team. The team was comprised of a couple doctors, about five nurses, and six-eight technicians. They would operate together all the time. They had to do a lot of amputations. Ralph would hand the doctors the instruments and sometimes he had to give the patient the anesthesia.

They worked about eighteen hours a day and Ralph was getting run down. He got assigned to take an ambulance full of German prisoners into Saint-Lazare train station in Paris so they could send them further back. There were three men in charge of one ambulance. The cots were stacked four high on each side to hold the eight prisoners they had. Two men were up front and the other man in the back with the prisoners. After they put the prisoners on the train at Saint- Lazare, the other men wanted to go into the USO and have coffee and donuts. Ralph was tired and didn’t want to stay. He wanted to get back to the hospital as soon as he could. They drove about 100 yards to the big main gate leaving the Saint-Lazare Station. It had big wide double doors that would swing open after the middle opened up so the big trucks could go through. As soon as they reached this gate a big German plane came flying up the Seine River real low so it wasn’t detected by radar and it bombed the station. Ralph could feel the ambulance rock back and forth from the concussion of the bomb. It killed several people in the canteen. If Ralph and his group would have stayed they probably would have been killed.

Ralph would attend the LDS church services whenever he could in Paris. There were about forty who attended church and not many of them were military men. One time at church he met Jay Nile Washburn who was one of his teachers back at Lehi High. During the war Mr. Washburn was in the Red Cross. He would take Ralph out to dinner in Paris after church.

1 In 1994 they opened a tunnel now that goes under the English Channel.


The Army would issue everyone two cartons of cigarettes a week. Ralph didn’t smoke so he would sell his on the black market. He would get $20 a cartoon. He was able to send quite a bit of money home. Once he spent a lot of his money on a picture. He went to a photographer in Paris that had a camera set up in a ½ circle. The camera would shoot pictures all the way around resulting with the face of the portrait moving when the observer moved. This was quite an expensive photo costing about $60.00. He sent one home to his mother and one home to his girl.

It was April fool’s day in 1945 and Ralph got sick. At first they thought it was pneumonia but later they diagnosed it as tuberculosis. He was sick when the war ended. The TB The 3-D picture Ralph drained him of all his energy. He was really weak and slept a paid $60 for lot. There were two theories for treatment; one was to send you to a warm climate and the other was to send you to a cold climate. He was in France nine months then they sent him to the US Army Bruns General Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was there for ten months. They put a needle in his side and pushed air into the space between the lung and the wall so the lung wouldn’t expand as much. They figured the TB lesion on his lung would heal faster if the lung wasn’t moving in and out. They moved him where he spent another month at the Whipple general hospital and tuberculosis sanatorium in Prescott.

Ralph was honorably discharge Dec 23, 1945 from Technician Fifth grade detachment medical department 40th General Hospital. He served two years. He received a WWII Victory Medal, Good Conduct Ribbon, and Eamet Ribbon.2 Ralph admits he would like to forget most of his service experience. Some of the cities in France that were bombed by the US and bombed by the German’s were pretty much destroyed. He remembers one city that was just rubble. His team performed a too many amputations. One amputee was from Springville, Utah and his mother thanked Ralph several times over the years for caring for her son.

All during the war Ralph was writing back and forth to his girl Willa Fay Hadfield. She was attending BYU and working at Geneva Steel. When Ralph returned home from the war he continued his relationship with her and they married in June 1946. They have four children: Lenard (1951-2002 married to Julia Holmes), Ronald (1952-1971 – Thomas S Monson came and spoke at his funeral), Kathryn (married to Robin Klein), and Joanne (married to Robert Jensen).

In 1984 – 1985 Ralph and Willa served a mission for the LDS church in London England to work in the visitor center at Hyde Park, but was shortly moved to the office. They enjoyed their mission in England.

Ralph and Willa raised their family in Lehi and he continued in the family business all of this life at Wing Mortuary. They lived for quite a few years in the mortuary until they retired and moved into a new home they built at 190 North 400 East.

2 European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal is medal to recognize those military service members who had performed military duty in the European Theater.


Lehi Veterans of World War II 1941-1945 (2024)
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