Colorado County in World War II


Mrs. J. Y. Matthews received a letter from the War Department in Washington Wednesday stating that her son, Staff Sgt. Roy Matthews of the Army Air Corps is missing since the fall of Corregidor.

Sgt. Matthews was graduated from Weimar High School in 1936, after which he was employed at a feed company in Eagle Lake. He entered the air corps as a private and advanced to his present status. He had been station in the Philippines since before Pearl Harbor.

Weimar Mercury, June 26, 1942

Cyril F. Huvar, Jr., Was On Lexington

Cyril F. Huvar, Jr., nephew of Miss Theresa Huvar of this city and son of Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Huvar of El Campo, has been heard from after being listed as among those missing from the recent Coral Sea Battle, in which his cousin, Lt. Leon Kallina, lost his life.

Young Huvar, is a veteran of the Gilbert Isles engagement of last March and was aboard the ill-fated carrier Lexington, which went down with 200 lives in the Coral Sea encounter.

The message telling of Huvar’s safety came from the flight group chief, Lt. Commander Robt. E. Dixon, whom recent news dispatches have pictured as one of the heroic commanders in the struggle. Young Huvar is a radio man, third class, serving in a naval bomber.

Weimar Mercury, June 26, 1942

Sheridan Girl Forsakes Hollywood To Become County’s First WAAC

Lucille Moseley of Sheridan has followed her three brothers into the service of her country to become Colorado county’s first WAAC. Miss Moseley was sworn in at the Houston recruiting station last Thursday and is spending the time until she is called to report for training at Des Moines, Ia., with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Sevier at Sheridan.

Lucile, who is 25 years old, has lived in Hollywood for the past five years, during which time she has worked as a doctor’s assistance, photographer’s helper and night club dancer.

When she made up her mind to enlist in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps she found 350 girls ahead of her at the Hollywood recruiting office. Rather than wait around until her number might be called up, she decided to come home and have a try where the competition wasn’t so keen.

Almost too petite for WAAC specifications, Lucille had to eat a big meal to make the grade when she weighed in. She hopes to be placed in a photography unit, but is willing to serve wherever her superior officers feel she is need most.

Like Lucille, her three brothers are all volunteers. The youngest, Eldon, signed up with the merchant marine at Pimlic. Md., on the same day his sister enlisted in Houston. Seaman Harmon Moseley has been in the Navy four years Pvt. Theiston Moseley is station with the Cavalry at Fort Bliss.

Colorado County Citizen, November 12, 1942

Former Colorado County Citizen Now Governor of Rome

It was announced Tuesday that Major General Harry Hubbard Johnson, born in Colorado County, lately of the Gulf Oil Corporation of Houston, had been appointed military governor of liberated Rome.

General Johnson, 46, was born and reared at Eagle Lake, this county, and is a graduate of A. and M. College at College Station. He is a cousin of Jno. C. Hubbard of Weimar.

At the time General Johnson was called into service in 1940 he held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel In the national guard and commanded the 56th cavalry brigade, a Houston outfit.

First stationed at Brownsville and then at Laredo, he was promoted to the rank of a colonel in 1941. Soon afterward he was made a brigadier general.

Early in January General Johnson went overseas with his
mechanized second cavalry division, which has been activated under his command in Texas.
Since the capture of Rome and its occupation by American and British troops, some horrible tales have been released by prisoners, those held in stinking and filthy shambles of prison by the Germans. Some of those released were women. Still others were dead when their cells were opened and still others were mere frames of skin and bones, due to lack of proper food.

Weimar Mercury, June 9, 1944, page 1

Two Weimar Boys Meet In France

Two Weimar boys, serving with the U. S. Army in France, had probably the most pleasant surprise of their lives recently, when Pfc. Johnnie J. Rerich was confined to a hospital there, due to a foot infection. As he was lying there in bed he recognized Pfc. George A. Kloesel, and called out to him. George was not a patient, but was, as we understand it, “helping out” with work at the hospital.

This must have been quite a thrill for the boys who had been such pals and lifetime neighbors when living near Weimar. We all rejoice in hearing news like this, and meanwhile lie’s hope Pfc. Rerich will soon be out of that hospital. Good luck to both of you boys and a speedy return home!

Weimar Mercury, September 15, 1944
Submitted by Judy Talkington

Sends Home Many Souvenirs

Cpl. Eddie Anders who has been serving in Italy is now reported to be somewhere in France. He has recently sent his wife, who is now living near Hallettsville, some souvenirs of those countries, including handbag, table scarf and four napkins, silk handkerchiefs, dress belt and necklace, as well as many cards, one of which shows the St. Peter’s Church in Rome.

Weimar Mercury, September 15, 1944
Submitted by Judy Talkington

Sgt. and Mrs. Julius J. Barta of North Carolina visited here last week on a 6-day furlough. Mrs. Barta remained here, where she will visit for awhile.

Weimar Mercury, September 15, 1944
Submitted by Judy Talkington

Capt. Law. Pilat Wounded In Action On German Front

Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Pilat received a telegram from the War Department Wednesday, Dec. 13, bearing the news that Capt. Lawrence Pilat, their eldest son, had been wounded “somewhere in Germany in December”. The mesage[sic] further stated that the parents would be informed of his condition at a later date.

Capt. Pilat is in a tank battalion and has been in the service for about 2 1/2 years. He has been overseas for six months. His wife resides in Monroe., La. A brother, Leonard, is in the U. S. Coast Guard, stationed in New Orleans, La.

It is the sincere hope of the entire community that Capt.Pilat’s injuries are not of a serious nature and that he may soon return home.

Weimar Mercury, December 13, 1944

Monroe Wicke Alive Is German Prisoner, Red Cross Reports

Monroe Wicke, son of Mr. and Mrs., Charles Wicke of Bernardo, is alive and is prisoner of the Germans, according to results of investigations made for the family by the American Red Cross. Monroe was reported by the War Department as missing in action in France after September 26.

The parents received a telegram from the Red Cross Monday stating that further information from the War Department would follow.

Colorado County Citizen, January 11, 1945

Mrs. Marsh Receives Purple Heart Earned By Her Husband

Mrs. Lillie H. Marsh, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louie Jasek of Columbus, has received Purple Heart and medals earned by her husband Lt. William H. Marsh Jr.

LT. Marsh was killed in action over Germany on November 2nd as a volunteer on extra mission. Having completed his 60 missions safely and ready to return back to the states he volunteered to help another crew who was minus a navigator on their last mission.

Lt. Marsh had received the Presidential Citation, four Oak Leaf clusters, the D.F.C., also the Air Medal. He was an only son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Marsh of Peterson, N. J.

Mrs. Marsh is working for the Navy in Houston and is expected to transfer to Washington, D.C. within the next month.

Colorado County Citizen, February 15, 1945

Two Negro Soldiers Receive Decorations For Bravery

Two Colorado county negro servicemen, both in the European theater of operations, have received infantryman’s honors, according to recent word received by their parents.

One is Staff Sgt. Will A. Denley, son of Clay and Virgie Denley of Columbus. His mother has received a letter from Col. James Notestein, commanding officers of the 371st Infantry in Italy, informing her that her son has been awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy.

Will has a brother, Pvt. Clay Steiner Denley, in Italy with a medical detachment but the two have not met over there. The boy’s father has worked for the town of Columbus since its incorporation and also hold jobs as janitor at the First State Bank where he has worked for 22 years and at Columbus State Bank where he has worked four years.

The other boy is Pfc. Cogs Gant. the youngest of four sons of Martha and Cogs Gant, colored residents of Alleyton.

Pvt.[sic] Gant received the Expert Infantryman’s Badge for “his superb fidelity and bravery in manning his B.A.R. while his unit was under fire. By such action he removed the means of the enemy to his unit and aided it to complete its mission,” the notification received by the boy’s parents, read.

Before entering the service, Pfc. Gant attended the colored high school in Columbus and starred in basketball and high jumping. He has a brother Pfc. Joe Gant, who has returned to this country, after service abroad.

Colorado County Citizen, March 1, 1945


Watsons Hear Indirectly of Son From Jap Prison Escapee

Eight from the county were present at the meeting of next of kin of Prisoners of War and civilian internees of the Houston area in the Music Hall at 810 Bagby, Houston, last Sunday. The meeting was sponsored by the Red Cross and the Army Air Forces. Those going were Mrs. Leo Steiner, Columbus representing the Colorado county chapter American Red Cross, and Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Watson and Mrs. Robert Watson, Columbus, parents and sister-in-law of Pvt. Kearby Lee Watson, prisoner of Japan; Mrs. K. L. Wallace Columbus, sister of Second Lt. Thurman R. Matthews, prisoner of Japan; Charles Wicke, Bernardo, father of Pvt. John M. Wicke, prisoner of Germany; Mrs. Josephine Vallentine[sic], Weimar, mother of First Lt. John T. Vallentine[sic], prisoner of Germany, and Tom Rutledge, Weimar, brother of T/C Delno J. Rutledge, prisoner of Germany. Following talks by repatriated and escaped prisoners of war from both Germany and Japan was a period in which relatives were invited to ask questions concerning those of their families who are captive.

Cpl. Willard E. Hall, who was with the army ground forces when Bataan surrendered, who spent 32 months as a prisoner of the Japs at Camp No. 1, Cabanatural, and at Camp No. 2, Davao, in the Philippines and who escaped when a transport in which the Japs were taking prisoners from the islands to Japan was torpedoed in September, 1944, brought word to the Watsons of their son, Kearby. Kearby has been held by the Japs since the fall of Mindanao three years ago. He told of Kearby's removal from the camp in Davao to the Japanese mainland in June, 1944, and reported that Kearby was in good health when he left the islands. Other more direct word came from Kearby about two weeks ago when a typewritten card bearing address of Philippine Islands was received by Miss Lillian Dobecka of Houston. The signature "Kearby" was also typed and the card told of his being in good health.

Colorado County Citizen, March 22, 1945

Freed Prisoner Of Germans Visits Bernardo

Bernardo, May 28--Pfc. Edbert Henneke was here recently to spend a three day pass with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Leo Henneke. He has spent 107 days in a German prison camp being captured on December 17 in Germany and being liberated on April 2.

When asked what they had to eat in the prison camp, he said that they had black bread and soup every day and sometimes they had meat.. He said, “We sure were glad when we would see the Germans drag in a horse, as we knew we would have meat one of the first days. The only thing that we had plenty of was lice. Half of the morning was spent in picking the lice off our bodies.”

When they first reached the camp, they had to sleep on the floor, and were allowed one blanket. Later they were given straw beds.

Pfc. Henneke entered the service in February, 1944, and received basic training at Camp Fannin. He was sent overseas the later part of August and landed in England. From that time until the time of his capture, he was in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

He has returned to San Antonio where he reported for further medical care before receiving his furlough.

Colorado County Citizen, May 31, 1945

Weimar Boy Dies of Wounds Received On Okinawa Battle

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Christen of Weimar have received a War Department message telling them that their son, Pfc. Daniel Christen, died on April 24 of wounds received in the battle of Okinawa.

Pfc. Christen entered the armed forces in July 1944, and had been overseas since December. A brother, Pfc. Karl O. Christen, is now in the Philippines

Colorado County Citizen, June 7, 1945

German Held Prisoner Returns to Bernardo

Having been held prisoner for four months by the Germans, Sgt. Reuben Braden of Bernardo arrived home Saturday night to spend a 60-day furlough with his wife, the former Agnes Kaiser, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Leo Braden.

Sgt. Braden was captured in the Belgium Bulge on December 30 and was liberated in May.

Entering the army in January 1942, he received his basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas. Later in the same year he ws sent to the Aleutian Islands where he remained until June 1944. After a 30-day furlough, he was sent to Camp Atterbury, Ind., from which he left for the European theatre of operations in November.

Colorado County Citizen, June 7, 1945

Pfc. Elo Ahlgrim Missing in Action Since May 21

Pfc. Elo A. Ahlgrim, only child of Mr. and Mrs. Max A. Ahlgrim of columbus, Route 1, and husband of Mrs. Janetta Ahlgrim, has been missing in action on Okinawa since May 21, according to a War Department telegram received by the family.

The letter of confirmation from Major General J. A. Ulio said, “I realize the distress caused by failure to receive more information or details, therefore, I wish to assure you that in the event additional information is received it will be transmitted to you without delay.”

Pfc. and Mrs. Ahlgrim have two children, Gloria Jean, 7, and Ronald Elo, 2.

Colorado County Citizen, July 19, 1945

Purple Heart Is Awarded Werland

First Sergeant Arthur P. Werland of Columbus, Texas, has been awarded the Purple Heart Medal, oldest American military decoration, by Major General J. L. Bradley, commanding the 96th Division.

A Light Machine Gun Section Loader in the 381st Infantry Regiment, Sergeant Werland was wounded in action on Okinawa on April First, 1945. He is now fully recovered and back with his unit.

His Mother, Mrs. Otto Werland, lives at Route 1, Box 130, Columbus, Texas. He was formerly employed as a hammer smith at the Reed Roller Bit Co., Houston, Texas.

Colorado County Citizen, December 6, 1945
Transcribed by Tammy Blandino

Major Allen is Convalescing At Army Hospital

Major Thomas O. Allen, returned last month from the European Theater, is convalescing from an operation at Brookes General hospital in San Antonio. He will be there 21 days.

Mrs. Allen is with him and their son Tommie is staying at their Columbus home with his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Earle Smith of Houston.

Colorado County Citizen, December 6, 1945
Transcribed by Tammy Blandino

Clyde Rau Is Promoted To Full Lieutenant

Clyde Rau, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Rau, has been promoted from Naval Lieutenant, junior grade, to lieutenant, senior grade. He has recently been transferred from Rhode Island to the naval air base at Livermore, Calif. where he is head of the public works department. His wife is the former Jessie Mae Harry of Garwood.

Lt. Rau has been in the navy three years. He spent over a year in the Pacific, based at Saipan, Tinian and in the Hawaiian Islands.

Colorado County Citizen, December 13, 1945
Transcribed by Tammy Blandino

Frances Krause Leaves WAC Service

Miss Francis[sic] Krause has returned to Columbus after having received her honorable discharge as sergeant in the Woman’s Auxiliary Corps. Following her release from service of almost two years she spend two weeks in Savannah, Ga., on vacation.

She was accompanied here by a friend, Miss Tommie Thompson of Thomston, Ga.

Colorado County Citizen, July 11, 1946


Bodies of Lt. Leon J. Kallina of Garwood and of Lt. Robert L. Plagens of Weimar are being returned for burial in the county for which they gave their lives, according to an army announcement last week.

They are among the 2024 World War II dead being returned from Honolulu aboard the army transport, Cardinal O’Connell. Arrival of the vessel will be announced to the next of kin.

Lt. Kallina was the first Colorado county soldier to be killed in action during the recent war. He was the son of Frank J. Kallina of Garwood.

Lt. Plagens is listed as the son of A. H. Plagens of Weimar. both were members of the army airforce.

Colorado County Citizen, May 1948

Fling presents program on WWII deaths

Joe C. Fling, attorney and pastor of Living Hope Church in Eagle Lake, presented a program on the Colorado County men who were killed in World War II.

The commemorative service was presented in the church, which had been decorated with red, white and blue bunting and photos of some 50 of the war dead.

Fling has spent three years researching the soldiers, including reading back issues of newspapers and interviewing scores of the the dead men’s relatives. The results of his work, “Supreme Sacrifice: Colorado County’s World War II Dead,” appeared in the September issue of “Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal.”

Guest for the evening included Gloria Leopold of Columbus, whose father Elo Ahlgrim was killed on Okinawa and received the Bronze Star; Jewel Briscoe, whose husband Preston Brasher was killed in Germany; and Marion Winzenreid, Elizabeth Schmidt and Debbie Lewis, whose brother and uncle Johnnie David Hutchins was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor when he was killed in action in Lae, New Guinea.

Other special guests were Hume Baker and Wanda Webb, whose brother and uncle Orville Baker died of bloodpoisoning in California; Rose Martinez and Jesse Yanez, whose brother and uncle Jesse Yanez, a B-27 tail gunner was shot down over Italy; and Lynne Powers, whose brother Gerald Shirley died the last day of the war when his bomber ditched in the sea off Japan.

Each survivor of a war casualty was pinned with a red, white and blue ribbon and received a program listing the names and dates of death of over 70 war casualties.

“I especially wish to thank Tom Reed, Rollin Baker, Gloria McCain and Cherrie McCain for their invaluable assistance with the presentation.” Fling said.

Following the presentation, refreshments were served and wartime recollections traded.

Colorado County Citizen, January 17, 1996, page 12
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