War Stories

Kenyon, and its people, in World War II

T he whole thing sounded pretty bad, but also sort of unreal," Henry A. Kittredge '45 recalled for a history class at the College in 1996. "Many of us went scurrying to the library in search of an atlas to find out just where Pearl Harbor was. The name was not a household word."

Of course, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval and air installations there on December 7, 1941, are now among the most familiar names and events of the twentieth century. But Kittredge was far from alone in his ignorance that day; indeed, the vast majority of ordinary Americans had never before heard of the place whose name was now on every tongue.

On that winter day in 1941, the Kenyon student body numbered 323, the largest in the College's history. By the beginning of the next term, forty men had left Kenyon for the armed services. Over the next few years, the number of regular students on campus would plummet, although they would be replaced for a time by young men enrolled in the U.S. Army Air Force Meteorology Program and the U.S. Army's specialized training programs in foreign languages and area studies (see the article on page 34).

By the time the military's pre-meteorology and other programs were withdrawn in April of 1944, the College was left with only seventy students, civilians who were either under eighteen or physically unfit for combat. The Bulletin immediately sent out a call to alumni for referrals of young men in those categories in order to help keep enrollment at a sustainable level until the end of the war.

Also in April of 1944, the faculty passed a resolution on postwar education for returning servicemen. A copy of the resolution, along with a cover letter from President Gordon Keith Chalmers, was sent to every Kenyon alumnus in the services who had not completed his course of study. The intent of those materials was not only to inform the former students of what to expect after the war but also to lure them back to the College.

T hroughout the war, and in all of its theaters of operations, Kenyon men acquitted themselves admirably, and their deeds were duly noted in the pages of the Bulletin. Among those who made especially notable contributions to the war effort as combatants was Murray "Jim" Shubin '40, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate who had also been a football star. Interested in aviation since his teens, when he had built and piloted gliders, he had been making his living as an aeronautical engineer before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Shubin was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary heroism as a fighter pilot at Guadalcanal. Leader of a flight of four P-38s, Shubin led a formation of twin-engine Lightnings in intercepting a group of about fifty Japanese fighter planes on June 16, 1943. Drawing off the enemy's rear cover of some fifteen Zeroes, he shot down two in the ensuing skirmish before finding himself alone after the other American planes retired because of damage and lack of ammunition. For the next forty-five minutes, Shubin used what the citation called "brilliant maneuvering and frugal use of ammunition" to demolish five of the Zeroes, one by one. He shattered one Zero with a single burst and then, from a steep spiral dive, scored a full deflection shot on another, destroying it. Then, "with three enemy aircraft directly to his rear, he slashed back toward one Zero, sending it downward, smoking," according to a report in the American Hebrew Honor Roll. "The two remaining Zeroes sought to escape, but Lieutenant Shubin gave chase and riddled one, causing it to dive earthward."

The citation for Shubin's Distinguished Flying Cross observes that his "coolness under fire, superior flying ability, and marks-manship in his singular accomplishment of down-ing five, probably six, enemy fighters reflect great credit on himself and the military service." Shubin was immediately recognized as America's first World War II ace in the Pacific.

"It is amazing that these boys of ours who have been raised to abhor war have been so quickly remade into warriors who can not only hold their own but excel in competition with young men who have been trained for the job almost from birth," Bob Brown observed in a letter to Shubin's parents. "Certainly democracy has nothing to fear from the outside so long as this is possible."

Shubin--who named his plane "Oriole" in honor of his then-fiancee, Oriole Coombes of Brisbane, Australia, whom he met while recuperating there from an attack of malaria--went on to shoot down an additional eleven Japanese fighters and bombers for a total of sixteen during his career in the Pacific. The last four were tallied in the Battle of Okinawa.

Following his overseas service, Shubin trained other P-38 pilots. When the war ended, he stayed on in the Air Force, serving in the Pentagon, on Okinawa, and in France and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In July of 1956, Shubin died of a heart attack at thirty-nine while on maneuvers near Lyons with the Seventy-first Bombardment Squadron, Tactical, of which he was commanding officer. He was survived by his mother and by Oriole and their four sons, Derek, James, Donald, and Van, who ranged in age from twelve to four.

A mong the many letters printed in the Bulletin during the war years, a few stand out as particularly touching. In the fall of 1944, U.S. Army Private Jack Kasai '49-- who had been interned with his family and other Japanese-Americans in Gila, Arizona, before arriving at Kenyon--wrote, "My outfit is composed all of boys like me--boys with the face of the enemy but a heart for America. Already, the Germans have felt our love for our country and for what we believe. Two regiments [of Japanese-Americans] have gone ahead of us, from Salerno, through Rome, and into southern France, and they have set a record for us to beat. . . . [We know] there can be no other place like America, where people of all nations can come together and share equally in life and its pursuits."

And there were many expressions of concern about the College's future. In the spring of 1944, Robert A. Weaver Jr. '43 wrote to suggest that alumni "rally 'round a little more" with the loss of the army programs. "Why don't you suggest that each serviceman--and civilian--alumnus give one day's pay to the Kenyon Fund? It's sort of hard to ask, I know, but all should be able to do it. I think it could add up to something."

A special "Victory Reunion" was celebrated at the College in June of 1946, marking, in the words of Bob Brown, "the end of one era and the beginning of another." With almost five hundred in attendance, it was the largest gathering of alumni on campus up to that time. Among those awarded honorary degrees at the one hundred eighteenth Commencement held during the same long weekend were Kenyon's two highest ranking combat officers, Briadier General Frank A. Allen Jr. '20 and Brigadier General Herbert T. Perrin '17, both of the U.S. Army.

In all, 984 Kenyon men served in the armed forces during World War II: 395 in the U.S. Army, 330 in the U.S. Navy, 194 in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 32 in the U.S. Marine Corps, 9 in the American Field Service, 8 in the Ohio State Guard, 7 each in post guard and civilian positions, and 2 in the U.S. Merchant Marine. By the end of the war, nearly a quarter of the alumni body had seen action. Forty-one members of the classes of 1918 through 1948 were dead of wounds received in action or as a result of service-related duties.

In the fall of 1946, the College saw its enrollment surge to more than five hundred students--many of them veterans, some of them married--on a campus designed for a maximum of four hundred. There were many challenges to be faced, from rebuilding the faculty to constructing new facilities for an expanded student body, but there was an undeniable sense of optimism in the air.

"This is a grand time to be connected with Kenyon, as a student, a teacher, an administrator, a trustee, an alumnus, or a friend," wrote Professor of Economics Paul M. Titus in the Bulletin. "This is a good time to be around to help build for the future." The College's growth in size and reputation in the years and decades to come make it clear that he was not alone in his sentiment or his commitment.

The faculty and the war effort

S everal members of the Kenyon faculty joined the armed services or volunteered to work with government agencies during World War II. Those who stayed behind in Gambier contributed in myriad other ways, from teaching in the pre-meteorology and other programs to entertaining the servicemen stationed on campus.

Among those who took up commissions were Associate Professor of English Charles M. Coffin, Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel B. Cummings, and Assistant Professor of Greek Edward C. Weist, all of whom served as lieutenants in the U.S. Navy. Instructor in Romance Languages James R. Browne, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, obeyed duty's call as a lieutenant commander in the Navy. Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds William E. Becker served as a major in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, while Instructor in Practical Aeronautics Donald M. Gretzer worked as a civilian flight instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Other civilian contributors to the war effort included John W. Black, professor of speech, who was involved in top-secret government affairs, and Wilson M. Powell, assistant professor of physics, who conducted radiation research at the University of California at Berkeley. Holbrook M. MacNeille, associate professor of mathematics worked with the Office of Scientific Research and Development in London, England, while Dean Gilbert T. Hoag served as director of training in the New York City headquarters of the Office of War Information. Richard G. Salomon, a professor of history who had fled Nazi Germany in 1937, worked on the staff of the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, D.C.

In place of the male faculty members who had been granted leaves of absence, the College hired its first female faculty members, most of them faculty spouses. They were Elizabeth (Mrs. Charles) Bumer, Nancy Cole, Muriel Barker Kahrl, and Hazel (Mrs. Paul) Palmer in mathematics, Martha (Mrs. George) Hocking in psychology, and Helen Harrington Black in speech (substituting for her husband, John Black). All were granted temporary appointments, for the duration of the war or as long as they were needed. It was understood that, as soon as practicable, Kenyon would revert to an all-male faculty following the end of hostilities.

Beyond their names, we have very little information about most of these women aside from their academic credentials, which were at least the equal of those of the men they were replacing. We know, for example, that Cole was a graduate of Vassar College with a doctorate from Radcliffe College and that Hocking was a graduate of Mills College with a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

We know a bit more about Mrs. Kahrl, who had lived in the Mount Vernon, Ohio, area for some time. A native of Barrow-in-Furness, England, Muriel Barker Kahrl was a brilliant student. She graduated in 1927 from Royal Holloway College of the University of London with a bachelor of science degree. The only member of her class to be awarded first-class honors in mathematics, Kahrl won the university's Sir John William Lubbock Memorial Prize and went on to teach as a fellow in its Department of Applied Mathematics. She moved to the United States in 1929 and married George F. Kahrl, a prominent member of the Mount Vernon community.

After the war, Kahrl returned to family life, but she taught again at Kenyon in the 1950s. She died at the age of seventy-eight on December 25, 1984.

This summer, Kahrl's grandson, Andrew W. Kahrl '01, will be working in the College's Office of Public Affairs.

Kenyon's war correspondent

O ne remarkable man, Robert B. Brown '11, deserves the lion's share of the credit for keeping the Kenyon family together during World War II. As alumni secretary of the College, he not only founded the Bulletin but also corresponded with countless Kenyon men serving as soldiers and sailors and with the families of those missing or killed in action. Brown helped to bear the enormous burden of grief that the College's sons and families would experience for their friends and loved ones.

Brown and his family came to understand that grief early on in the war. Their elder son, U.S. Army Air Corps Lieutenant Robert B. Brown Jr. '40, was killed in an air crash near San Antonio, Texas, on March 24, 1942, while serving as a test pilot with the Third Air Depot Group. For many, it would have been a blow from which they could not recover. For Bob Brown and his wife, Frances Hearne Brown, it became a source of strength.

"In such grief as yours it is difficult for friends adequately to convey to you their deep sympathy and their feeling of personal loss," Brown wrote in a typical letter to the family of a slain soldier. "But we do want you to know that his contemporaries here and all Kenyon alumni everywhere share your sorrow and `the solemn pride that must be yours in having laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.' . . . And to this message I must add the personal sympathy of Mrs. Brown and myself, who know so well what it is to suffer the loss of a beloved son in his country's service."

That was rarely the last they heard from him. Brown took a pastoral approach to his duties as alumni secretary, a position he took up-along with that of secretary of the College-in 1941 following a successful career in industry. The voluminous correspondence from his years as alumni secretary, dean of students, director of public relations, and finally vice president for development reveal a man who cared deeply about Kenyon and everyone associated with it.

Brown retired from the College in 1958, a full seventeen years after he had intended to begin his "gradual retirement" from working life. He died in 1960.

The letters, though, live on, and they offer reminders of the power of putting words to paper to comfort a friend. In response to the mother of a fallen alumnus who was in despair over the state of the country and the world in the aftermath of the war, Brown wrote the following on June 3, 1946: "The war in which our boys died settled nothing. Wars never do. They are purely negative, merely stopping evil long enough to give us another chance. If we do not make the most of the chance we have secured by the winning of this war, it will be another sad chapter in history. But I am still hoping for the best."

Pro patria mori
Forty-one Kenyon men died in the U.S. Armed Services during World War II

I n the Church of the Holy Spirit, the College chapel, there is a plaque with the inscription Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori ("Splendid and right is it to die for one's country"), 1941-45, honoring Kenyon's World War II dead. Given by Mrs. Harry Whiting Brown in memory of her grandson, Lieutenant Robert Bowen Brown Jr., it lists the names of the forty-one men who were killed in action or who died as a direct result of service-related duties. Those names are also listed in a memorial book-compiled by Alumni Secretary Robert B. Brown Sr. '11 and hand-lettered by a calligrapher after the war (and now housed in the College's archives)-that provides a page of personal and military history for each of the men. And a number of the names are remembered in memorial prizes and scholarships that continue to be awarded to this day.

Still, it seems so little acknowledgment for such great sacrifices. We want to know more about the men who bore these names, the vast majority of them really boys in their late teens and early twenties, who were willing to give their lives for a cause.

While the information available there sometimes falls frustratingly short of providing more than the barest of sketches, the archives do offer a remarkable amount of material to help fill in the details for many of them. For every man there is a file folder, and for many there is a story to be gleaned from the materials-as diverse as application essays, letters and postcards, memorial programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings-contained therein. The reader discovers they were debate champions, team captains, valedictorians, hometown heroes. Some were husbands and fathers as well as sons and brothers. You see faces and sense personalities, and you are, once again, taken aback by the loss.

In every file, there is at least a letter or two from Alumni Secretary Brown (see the article on page 21) and one or two from a parent or sibling detailing what is known of their son's or brother's death. Most of the latter make mention of the importance of the Kenyon experience in the life of their son or brother, often adding how much he was looking forward to returning to the College after the war. In some cases, those sentiments are revealed in letters from the men themselves; one private notes that he can see Gambier's vivid autumn colors when he closes his eyes and that he dreams of coming back to campus "when this mess is cleared up." Another writes that he remembers "every tree along the path."

A few letters from comrades, forwarded to Kenyon by proud families, give glimpses of the men in action. One from Walter Lee to the mother of his best friend, Edwin V. Williams '41, might serve as a fitting epitaph for many of the dead. "Edwin was not afraid of those gruelling hardships, miserable days, and worse nights, for he had that joy of knowing that he was right-on the right side and doing the right job, the best he knew how," Lee wrote. "And even though he died, he did not fail. He gave his life helping other men to live. That was bravery far above the ordinary call of duty. It is too bad that we can't give Congressional Medals for that kind of bravery. But to me and the boys who knew him, he has received a reward much greater than any offered by any government, for he will always remain in our memories as the best soldier that we ever knew and the finest comrade we ever had. It is with pride that I can say, `He was my buddy.'"

Harry M. Kellam '12 of Ethete, Wyoming, a U.S. Army major who served as a chaplain, died of a stroke brought on by a previously undetected brain tumor at the Regional Hospital, Fort Meade, Maryland, on June 3, 1945. An Episcopal missionary and rector who formed Wyoming's first black congregation and in his final position before entering the army minis tered to the Arapahoe, he left a wife and two children.
Alfred Day Jr. '18 of Cincinnati, Ohio, a captain in the U.S. Army and a member of the Military Police, died of a heart attack at the Fiftieth General Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 5, 1944. Day, who had also served in World War I, left a wife and two children.
Jenkin R. Jones '36 of Warren, Ohio, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was killed during an enemy artillery barrage on May 26, 1944, the second day of the drive from Anzio to Rome, Italy.
Robert N. Hannaford '37 of Orrville, Ohio, a seaman assigned as a storekeeper in the U.S. Navy, died of a head injury sustained at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Sanford, Florida, on June 17, 1945. He left a wife and two children.
William H. Morgan '37 of Cleveland, Ohio, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed on July 12, 1943, when the plane-an unarmed, unarmored, and unescorted troop-transport aircraft-on which he served as a navigator was shot down over enemy territory near Gela, Sicily, after successfully depositing its cargo of paratroopers.
Carl A. Weiant Jr. '37 of Newark, Ohio, an ensign in the U.S. Navy, was conducting experiments with the bathythermograph aboard a merchant ship that was torpedoed by the Germans between Bermuda and the southeastern coast of the United States on April 3, 1942. After spending twenty-two days on a raft, he died a few hours after rescue on April 25, 1942. The other five men aboard the raft, which he commanded, all survived and praised Weiant for his heroism. He left a wife. Captain of Kenyon's first Ohio Athletic Conference championship swimming team, he is remembered at the College with a first-year swimming award that carries his name.
Charles W. Wilder Jr. '38 of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was a crew member aboard a B-24 Liberator that disappeared over the North Sea on April 22, 1944. All aboard were presumed dead.
Robert G. Aho '39 of Fairport Harbor, Ohio, a captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps who served as a chief meteorologist for a bomber group, was killed when his plane was involved in a midair collision over the Mediterranean Sea on June 13, 1943. His parents received news of his death on his twenty-sixth birthday. He left a wife.
J. William Elliott '39 of Millersburg, Ohio, an ensign in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the USS Canopus, was captured by the Japanese following the capitulation of Corregidor on May 6, 1942, and interned at camps at Cabanatuan, Billibid, and Davao. He then survived the accidental sinking by the Americans of the Japanese prison ship Oryoko Maru before being beheaded, with fourteen others, in a cemetery in San Fernando Pampanga, the Philippines, while en route to a prison hospital in Manila on December 23, 1944. Elliott held a master's degree from Harvard University.
Robert Sonenfield '39 of Lakewood, Ohio, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, died in a plane crash during a severe storm near Carbon Hill, Ohio, on May 16, 1941. He was the first Kenyon alumnus to be killed during the war.
Robert B. Brown Jr. '40 of Winnetka, Illinois, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed in a plane crash near San Antonio, Texas, on March 24, 1942, while serving as a test pilot with the Third Air Depot Group. He was the son of Alumni Secretary Robert B. Brown '11.
James B. Clark '40 of Gambier, Ohio, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps who was one of the first Americans to see action over Europe, was killed when the B-17 Flying Fortress he was piloting was shot down during the bombing of the German U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France, on January 3, 1943.
Howard W. Davis Jr. '40 of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps who served as a bombardier and gunner, was killed in action on September 1, 1944, when his B-24 Liberator crashed into the Davao Gulf following a combat mission to the Matina Airdrome on Mindanao Island in the Philippines. The 1938 Ohio Athletic Conference low-board diving champion, he took part in the bombing of Tokyo, Japan, led by General Jimmie Doolittle on April 18, 1942.
Alfred S. Harris Jr. '40 of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, was caught between enemy machine-gun positions and mortally wounded while returning from a mission behind enemy lines a few miles above Manila, the Philippines, on February 4, 1945.
James T. Watson '40 of Danville, Ohio, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed when his plane was shot down by German fighters over Gerbini, Sicily, on July 9, 1943.
John O. Whitaker '40 of Wheeling, West Virginia, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed on his seventh mission when the B-17 Flying Fortress of which he was copilot was shot down by the Germans near Herbesthal, Belgium, en route to Regensburg, Germany, on August 17, 1943. His survivors included his grandfather Albert C. Whitaker of the Class of 1888 and his brothers George P. Whitaker Jr. '45 and Louis S. Whitaker '50.
John I. Albach '41 of University City, Missouri, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy who served as a communications officer, was killed when the destroyer USS Turner sank after a mysterious explosion while on convoy duty off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, on January 3, 1944. He left a wife.
LeRoy "Bud" Listug Jr. '41 of Oak Park Illinois, a captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed in a crash during a training flight near Fayetteville, North Carolina, on October 29, 1943. A rescue and salvage vessel was dedicated to his memory and launched on December 18, 1943. He left a wife.
William A. Skinner '41 of Hamilton, Ohio, a sergeant in the U.S. Army with the One Hundred Seventh Cavalry, was killed instantly when he was kicked directly over the heart by a horse during a training exercise at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, on June 13, 1941.
Edwin V. Williams '41 of Evanston, Illinois, a corporal in the U.S. Army, was among those captured by the Japanese on Bataan and forced to make the one-hundred-fifty-mile "death march" to Camp O'Donnell. He was later transferred to Cabanatuan, where he died of dysentery and malaria on July 4, 1942.
Brown A. Craig '42 of Knoxville, Tennessee, a captain in the U.S. Army, was killed in action by a sniper while leading his company against the enemy in Holland on November 4, 1944.
Robert G. Easton '42 of Bedford, Indiana, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, was killed while leading an attack on a fortified hill on Saipan in the Mariana Islands on June 25, 1944. He was a hero of the invasion of Roi-Namur on the Kwajalein Atoll, the first pre-war Japanese territory to be occupied by the Marines, in the Marshall Islands.
Charles "Hoot" Hyde Jr. '42 of Buffalo, New York, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, was killed in a plane crash near Goleta, California, on September 17, 1942, just prior to receiving orders for overseas duty. His survivors included his brother Theodore A. Hyde '44.
William R. Wright Jr. '42 of Highland Park, Illinois, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army serving as a faculty member of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, died there on March 12, 1942, when he accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun.
Andrew W. Bliven '43 of Erie, Pennsylvania, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, was lost on his thirty-second bomber mission as a gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress when his plane was shot down over the oil refinery and storage facilities at Blechhammer in the Upper Silesia region of Germany on September 13, 1944.
Walter Brown Jr. '43 of New Rochelle, New York, a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps serving as an aerobatics instructor, was killed in a midair collision at nine thousand feet near Kingsville, Texas, on July 15, 1944. His survivors included his brother George M. Brown '37.
Hal I. Grace '43 of Cleveland, Ohio, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps serving as a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator that he and his crewmates had christened "Calamity Jane," was killed in action when his plane was shot down in the South Pacific in the vicinity of the Celebes Islands in September 1943. He and his crewmates were credited with shooting down three Japanese planes on their final mission.
H. Robert Kerr '43 of Camp Perry, Ohio, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed while leading a practice mission with three other flyers over England on July 16, 1942, when his plane crashed after he lost consciousness at twenty-three thousand feet. Son of the superintendent of Camp Perry, Kerr, who left a wife, planned to complete his education at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
A. Allen McDonald '43 of Wichita, Kansas, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed in action while piloting an A-20 bomber over Europe on April 24, 1944.
Gene W. Benseman '44 of Chicago, Illinois, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, contracted rheumatic fever and spent several months in a government hospital before receiving a medical discharge. Although his heart had been severely damaged, he came back to Kenyon to complete his degree before returning to Chicago, where he died less than a month later.
Edwin B. Early '44 of Rockford, Illinois, an ensign serving as a fire-control officer in the U.S. Navy, was killed when his ship, the USS Halligan, was destroyed after striking a mine off Okinawa while giving air protection to mine sweepers on March 26, 1945.
Charles A. MacDonald III '44 of South Bend, Indiana, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed in action when his plane crashed near Fehervarcsurgo, Hungary, on February 21, 1945.
Edward P. Poynter '44 of Andover, Massachusetts, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps serving as copilot of a B-24 Liberator, was killed in a crash landing upon returning from a raid on Japanese forces near Kiska, Alaska, on July 15, 1943.
Roman T. Stelmore Jr. '45 of Chicago, Illinois, a private in the U.S. Army who served as a medical-aid man, was mortally wounded while giving aid to a wounded companion during heavy shelling near Ringeldorf, France, on February 3, 1945. He died at the Eleventh Field Hospital on February 15, 1945.
Alan B. Stewart '45 of Devon, Pennsylvania, a private in the U.S. Army, was mortally wounded while on a scouting mission behind enemy lines near Immendorf, Germany, and died four days later, December 3, 1944.
James F. Toy III '45 of Sioux City, Iowa, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was killed by German mortar fire while he and his company were defending a sector of the Bastogne area in Belgium on January 4, 1945. He left a wife and child.
E. John Cobbey '46 of Canton, Ohio, a flight officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was killed by small-arms fire in his P-51 Mustang while flying at about one hundred feet on a strafing mission near Pec, Yugoslavia, on August 13, 1944. He had earlier distinguished himself in action against the Reghin Airdrome in Romania. Cobbey's brother Theodore S. Cobbey Jr. '40 a graduate of Harvard Medical School, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at a naval hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1952 during the Korean War.
James J. Searcy III '46 of Clayton, Missouri, a private in the U.S. Army serving in the infantry, was wounded and taken prisoner by the Germans on December 21, 1944, during the Battle of the Ardennes. He died in a prisoner-of-war hospital in Freising, Germany, on February 10, 1945. Searcy's division was under the command of Brigadier General Herbert T. Perrin '17.
Thomas H. Snyder '46 of North Muskegon, Michigan, a private in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was killed in action in a skirmish with German guards while attempting to secure the only remaining bridge across the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Scherpenseel, Germany, on March 30, 1945. A few days earlier, his battalion had established a world record for building a pontoon bridge when they completed a 1,146 span across the Rhine River in just nine hours.. Snyder was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Roemer McIntyre Jr. '47 of Lakewood, Ohio, a sergeant in the U.S. Army serving with a communications unit, was killed in action in Germany on April 14, 1945.
Joseph L. Hall '48 of Glendale, Ohio, a seaman in the U.S. Navy serving as a sonar man third class, died at his battle station when his ship suffered a direct hit from a Japanese shore battery during an engagement off Balikpapan, Borneo, on June 21, 1945. The only American killed in the engagement, he was buried at sea near the Celebes Islands.

A letter home

O n January 3, 1945-"a very beautiful day over here, clear and blue after a two-inch snowfall last night"-Private Roman T. Stelmore Jr. '45 wrote a letter, excerpted here, from "somewhere in France" to his family in Chicago, Illinois.

"Actual fear among the soldiers is not as great as you might believe. When you spend ten, fifteen, twenty consecutive days on the front lines, and every day some get wounded, you say, `It's not possible to go a year without getting it.' But then you talk to some old timer from another unit who has fought from North Africa through Sicily to Italy and France and hope springs up in a corner of your mind and ekes out a passage to your consciousness. That's when the average G.I. says to himself, `I'm sure gonna miss my buddies when I'm the only one left.' When the captain picks ten men for an important patrol and tells them possibly one will return, each looks at the others and thinks, `Gee, but they're swell guys. I hope they're not all killed.' That, I guess, is what makes Americans good fighters: they have such extreme optimism.

"My appreciation for the Air Corps runs very deep, but when places like Fort Driant are taken, they have to be taken by the infantry. Fort Driant received direct hits from five-hundred and thousand pound bombs, but German prisoners later said the barrage merely aroused their curiosity. The bombs didn't even crack the ten feet of cement on top of eight inches of cold rolled steel. When I remind you that the infantry took Fort Driant, you will realize why I love the doughfeet as the `fightingest men this side of hell.' It took sixty-seven days and a lot of casualties to take Fort Driant, but they did it. They continue advancing-shooting, running, crawling, laughing, sobbing, cracking, dying-as they take objectives, dig in, repulse counterattacks, advance again to dig in and hold and then advance again, wondering `How far?' `How long?' `How much?' and, above all, `Why?'

"But when you hold a buddy in your arms and watch his life mingle with the dirt in large red drops, knowing his flame is flickering and no amount of work will keep it burning, there is nothing on God's green earth that could answer your query, `Why?'"

A month later, Stelmore was mortally wounded near Ringeldorf, France, while giving aid to a fellow soldier.

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