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Columbus, Texas

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World War II Dead

(Adapted from Joe C. Fling, "Supreme Sacrifice: Colorado County's World War II Dead," Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, vol. 5, no. 3, September 1995, pp. 111-169)

This page provides a list of 62 persons who died while in the service of the United States military effort during World War II, whether as the result of enemy action or otherwise, and who had close ties to Colorado County. Hundreds, if not thousands, of other men from the county served in the armed forces during the war. This list is arranged in chronological order, by date of death.

Necrology

Austin, William David (sergeant, died November 17, 1941) Son of Thomas E. and Ethel (Magee) Austin. Born March 7, 1919. Killed in an automobile accident near Borden, Texas, when returning to his station at Randolph Field in San Antonio after a short furlough at his parentís home in Eagle Lake. Died of head injuries at John H. Bell Memorial Hospital in Columbus. Died twenty days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but is nonetheless considered a military war casualty of World War II.

Baker, Orville Lee (seaman second class, died January 9, 1942) Son of Oscar and Mamie (Townsend) Baker. Born in Columbus, Texas on February 24, 1920. Volunteered for the United States Navy on July 21, 1941. Died of blood poisoning when stationed in the State of Washington.

Shimek, Frank I. (corporal, died May 23, 1942) Son of Ignac Shimek. Born c. 1919. Died in Hawaii of jaundice.

Kallina, Leon Phillip (second lieutenant, died May 28, 1942) Son of Frank J. and Millie (Frnka) Kallina. Born August 23, 1918. Graduated from Eagle Lake High School in 1935. Awarded an engineering degree from the University of Texas in 1940. Served as a navigator on a heavy bomber. Mortally wounded in action over the Coral Sea. Hit by a bullet in his chest when a Japanese fighter strafed his aircraft. Died of his wound shortly thereafter in the base hospital. At the time, widely regarded as the countyís first casualty of World War II. Originally buried at Port Moresby, New Guinea, his body was returned to Colorado County in 1948.

Cook, William Raymond (died September 15, 1942) Son of George Edwin Cook. Born in 1916. Graduated from Eagle Lake High School in 1933 and the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1938. Served on the USS Colorado before the war. Later transferred to the USS Wasp. Was one of 193 men killed when Wasp was torpedoed and destroyed by two Japanese submarines.

Stapleton, William Lee (seaman first class, died October 16, 1942) Son of Ben Lee and Eunice (Hoover) Stapleton. Born in Eagle Lake, Texas, on August 29, 1922. Volunteered for the United States Navy before the outbreak of the war. Was serving at sea on the USS McFarland when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Was one of 27 crewmen killed in a Japanese air attack on McFarland off the coast of Guadalcanal. Originally buried on a nearby island. Returned to Eagle Lake for burial in 1948. Eagle Lake chapter of the Veteranís of Foreign Wars named in his honor.

Jarmon, Early Earnestine (private, died December 28, 1942) Son of George and Ida (Walker) Jarmon. Born in Glidden, Texas, in 1920. Circumstances of his death unknown, except that it is classified as a "non-battle" death.

Krejci, Frank J., Jr. (died January 15, 1943) Son of Frank J. and Tillie Krejci. Born October 6, 1919. Graduated from Weimar High School in 1937. Attended the University of Texas for two years. Married Lillian Oncken, January 2, 1943. Killed in a training accident when his aircraft crashed at Barksday Field, Louisiana.

Westmoreland, John Blasdell (lieutenant, died January 26, 1943) Son of R. Thomas and Lizzie (Blasdell) Westmoreland. Born in Eagle Lake on July 20, 1920. Graduated from Eagle Lake High School in 1937 where he was named outstanding male athlete. Attended the University of Texas. Received his wings at Lubbock Army Flying School in October 1942. Killed on a routine training flight from Patterson Field in Springfield, Ohio when his aircraft crashed and exploded near Donaldsonville, Ohio.

Hastedt, Paul Perry (died January 29, 1943) Son of Henry Andrew and Mamie Josephine (Hahn) Hastedt. Born June 5, 1912. Entered the United States Marine Corps on February 2, 1942. Killed in action by a Japanese sniper on Guadalcanal. Body returned for burial in Columbus in 1948. Columbus chapter of the Veteranís of Foreign Wars named in his honor.

Parker, Maurice (technical sergeant, died February 12, 1943) Son of G. W. Parker. Born November 13, 1903. Graduated from Eagle Lake High School in 1923. Married Frances Cabaniss in 1931. Resided in Houston, Texas, 1931-1942. Enlisted in the military as an engineer, November 13, 1932. Accidentally killed, circumstances otherwise unknown. Buried in Bermuda.

Cone, Clarence Ross (died April 27, 1943) Son of Wilson Ross and Sallie L. Cone. Born in Rosenberg, Texas, August 11, 1900. Moved to Colorado County with his family in 1908. Inducted into the U. S. Army Air Corps in September 1942. Had what was recorded as his second appendectomy in Denver, Colorado, in early 1943. While recovering from surgery, slipped in the shower and sustained a fatal wound to his head.

Plagens, Robert L. (lieutenant, died May 3, 1943) Son of Adolf H. and Ruby (Horton) Plagens. Born in Weimar, Texas, August 13, 1917. Graduated from Weimar High School in 1934. Attended John Tarlton College and Texas A & M. Received a degree in chemical engineering in 1939. Volunteered for the U. S. Army Air Corps on June 9, 1941. Sent to China in 1942. Killed on a mission in Southeast Asia. Initially buried in India. Body returned to Texas in 1948. Buried in the National Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston.

Connor, Ernest Louis (seaman first class, died July 6, 1943) Son of Mathew William and Matilda (Schulenburg) Connor. Born April 21, 1920. Attended Columbus High School for two years. Joined the U. S. Navy in 1941. Assigned to the USS Helena, and killed in action when she was sunk.

Hutchins, Johnnie David (seaman first class, died September 4, 1943) Son of Johnnie Marin and Callie (Drue) Hutchins. Born at Weimar, August 4, 1922. Attended Eagle Lake schools. Volunteered for the U. S. Navy in November 1942. Served as a helmsman on board the USS LST 473. Killed in action off the coast of Lae, New Guinea. Posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, for steering his ship clear of a torpedo just before he died of the grievous wounds he had received. USS Johnnie Hutchins, U. S. Navy destroyer escort, christened May 2, 1944, in his honor. Body returned to Colorado County for burial in June 1948. Hutchins Hall at the Dallas Naval Air Station named in his honor, 1981. Plaque to his memory erected at Nimitz State Historical Park at Fredericksburg, Texas, 1989. Street in Eagle Lake named Johnnie D. Hutchins Drive, 1991. Building in Little Creek, Virginia named Hutchins Hall in his honor, 1995.

Selph, Israel Ed (sergeant, died October 1, 1943) Son of Madison and Laura (Cole) Selph. Born in Sheridan, Texas, May 6, 1909. Inducted into military service, February 28, 1941. Discharged October 1941. Recalled to active service in 1942. Suffered fatal wounds when he stepped on a land mine while attempting to remove such mines along a supply route.

Grogan, William Denzil, Jr. (died October 21, 1943) Son of William Denzil and Beulah E. (French) Grogan. Enlisted in the Canadian army before the United States entered World War II. Transferred to the U. S. Army and sent to North Africa. Wounded in action in Tunisia. Participated in the invasion and battle at Salerno, Italy, September 1943. Killed in action near the Volturno River when rushing a German machine-gun nest.

Hodde, Edward Joseph (flight instructor, died November 2, 1943) Son of Henry and Josephine Hodde. Born August 24, 1911. Graduated from Columbus High School in 1930. Served as a civilian instructor for pilots in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Killed in an accidental airplane crash.

Foster, William Newton (staff sergeant, died November 14, 1943) Son of F. R. Foster. Born near Vanderbilt in Jackson County, Texas, June 11, 1917. Moved to Colorado County in 1932. Graduated from Garwood High School in 1935. Inducted into the U. S. Army Air Corps, May 18, 1942. Shipped to North Africa in September 1943. Killed in an airplane crash near Tobruk, Libya. Returned to Colorado County for burial after the war.

Weiss, Arthur W. (private first class, died November 17, 1943) Son of Joe Weiss. Born in Sublime, Lavaca County, Texas, on August 17, 1916. Killed in action in Italy.

Stahl, John Henry (seaman second class, died November 24, 1943) Son of Lee Stahl. Attended Columbus High School, but enlisted in the military in February 1942, some four months before he was scheduled to graduate. Shipped out of Pearl Harbor on the aircraft carrier Liscome Bay, November 10, 1943. Was one of 626 crewmen killed when Liscome Bay was destroyed by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine off the coast of Makin.

Eggers, Richard Lloyd (electricianís mate third class, died December 5, 1943) Son of Richard L. and Geraldine Eggers. Born near Bonus, Texas, August 13, 1923. Assigned to a submarine and stationed at San Diego, California. Fatally wounded November 1943 by the accidental discharge of a pistol carried by a crewmate who was relieving him of guard duty.

Brown, Robert W., Jr. (died December 20, 1943) Born at Sheridan, Texas. Graduated from Eagle Lake High School in 1940. Enlisted in U. S. Army Air Corps, October 14, 1940. Served as a pilot of a B-24 Liberator. Killed in action on a bombing mission over eastern Bulgaria when anti-aircraft fire either destroyed his aircraft or caused it to crash into another aircraft.

Alley, Felton Forrest (private, died February 5, 1944) Son of Joe Dan and Della (Parker) Alley. Born in Ramsey, Texas, March 7, 1924. Enlisted in the U. S. Army, June 4, 1943. Killed in action at Anzio Beach, in Italy. Returned to Colorado County for burial in 1948.

New, Almous C. (staff sergeant, died March 11, 1944) Son of Johnnie Joshua and Lalla Beatrice New. Born at Iago, Wharton County, Texas, June 29, 1922. Graduated from Crescent High School in 1939. Served as a gunner on a U. S. Army Air Corps B-24 Liberator bomber. Killed in action while participation in a raid on Toulon Harbor, in France. Returned to the United States for burial in 1948.

Jackson, Marion Dennis (private, died March 23, 1944) Son of Henderson and Sylvia (Dennis) Jackson. Born at Gay Hill, Texas, May 20, 1918. Married Marthy Winn, December 10, 1938. Served in the 701st Chemical Company. Circumstances of his death unknown, except that it is reported as a "non-battle" death. Buried in an American military cemetery in Italy, indicating that he died there. The short-lived black chapter of the American Legion in Columbus was named in his honor.

Pawelek, Frederick Eilert (died May 29, 1944) Son of Herman Eilert and Helen (Poppe) Pawelek. Born at East Bernard, Texas, June 21, 1921. Served as a gunnerís mate on a U. S. Navy ship in the Pacific. Killed in action when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Body never recovered.

Cauthen, Weldon Davis (lieutenant, died July 17, 1944) Son of Christine (Davis) Cauthen. Born February 19, 1917. Killed in action, specifics unknown.

Manofsky, Frank (private, died July 26, 1944) Son of Joseph and Annie (Muenster) Manofsky. Born April 7, 1911. Moved to Houston, 1930. Married Opal Hall, 1936. Entered the U. S. Army, December 11, 1942. Sent to the European Theater, September 1943. Killed in action in France, during the Normandy campaign.

Brasher, Preston P. (private, died September 17, 1944) Married Jewel Horn in 1942. Inducted into the U. S. Army, November 10, 1942. Sent into action with the 24th Infantry in France, August 25, 1944. Killed in action, specifics unknown.

Lanier, Norman L. (died October 13, 1944) Son of David Leslie and Ola Belle (Smith) Lanier. Born at Lissie, Texas, March 2, 1925. Moved to Garwood in 1929. Graduated from Garwood High School in 1942. Inducted into the U. S. Army June 21, 1943. Assigned to the 45th Infantry. Fought at Anzio. Killed in action in southern France.

Watson, Kearby (died October 24, 1944) Enlisted in the U. S. Army. Sent to the Philippines, October 1941. Captured by the Japanese, May 1942. Transferred with other prisoners on a transport ship, October 11, 1944. Killed, along with some 1770 other prisoners, when the transport ship was torpedoed by a United States submarine.

Vaughan, Louis Donald (aviation radioman third class, died October 26, 1944) Son of Jessie Picard Vaughan. Served in the United States Navy. Circumstances of his death unknown. Buried in Manila, the Philippines.

Herndon, Ernest August (died November 5, 1944) Son of Charles William and Ida Minnie (Meyer) Herndon. Born April 23, 1922. Attended school in Eagle Lake. Married Ida Meyer. Inducted into military service, November 20, 1942. Served with a mechanized cavalry unit. Killed in action in Luxembourg.

Meyer, Peter D. (private first class, died November 14, 1944) Son of Willie D. and Emma Meyer. Born February 19, 1919. Attended St. Joseph's School at Frelsburg. Entered the U. S. Army, March 1942. Sent to Europe, June 1944. Killed in action in France. Body returned to Colorado County for burial in 1949.

Schobel, Gilbert (marine machinist first class, died November 28, 1944) Son of John and Lillian (Kallus) Schobel. Born July 18, 1915. Entered the U. S. Navy, December 1942. While home on leave to attend his fatherís funeral, complained of symptoms of appendicitis. Died at John F. Bell Memorial Hospital in Columbus of complications from surgery

Gage, Lawrence (private, died January 1, 1945) Son of Ben and Dora (Webster) Gage. Born November 7, 1914. Married Bernice Clayborne. When stationed at Deming Air Field in New Mexico, was furloughed to his home in Columbus to attend the birth of his child on December 30, 1944. Killed by a passing automobile while walking along the highway east of Weimar.

Estlinbaum, Fred E. (sergeant, died January 10, 1945) Entered U. S. Army Air Corps, June 5, 1943. Served as radio operator on a Boeing B-17 bomber. Killed on a mission over Germany when his aircraft was hit by flak.

Otting, Laurin R. (second lieutenant, died January 14, 1945) Son of Gus Otting. Moved to Weimar in 1939. Graduated from Weimar High School in 1942. Attended the University of Texas. Entered the U. S. Army Air Corps, March 1943. Commissioned second lieutenant, June 27, 1944. Arrived in England, December 1944. Served as pilot of a Boeing B-17 bomber. Shot down over Luxembourg on a mission to bomb Cologne, Germany.

Fojtik, Emil (private, died February 10, 1945) Son of Alois and Annie (Voitle) Fojtik. Born January 19, 1921. Killed in Germany, particulars otherwise unknown.

Hodde, Arthur (died February 19, 1945) Son of Edward and Ida (Hoffman) Hodde. Born November 3, 1916. Attended Eagle Lake schools. Entered the U. S. Army, August 12, 1942. Sent to Europe, January 1945. Killed in action near Fraulaurtern, Germany. Body returned to Eagle Lake in 1950.

Runk, Harold W. (sergeant, died March 4, 1945) Son of Jack M. and Mamie Ethel (Smith) Runk. Born September 13, 1921. Attended Columbus schools. Entered the U. S. Army in 1942. Served in the 29th Infantry Division. Killed by an accidental gunshot wound at Bardenburg, Germany. Body returned to Columbus in 1949.

Evoritt, Jerrald P. (flight officer, died March 13, 1945) Son of Clifford E. and Marjorie (Wood) Evoritt. Graduated from Eagle Lake High School in 1940. Attended the University of Texas for two and one-half years. Volunteered for the U. S. Army Air Corps, January 31, 1943. After being trained in the Air Corps. Served as pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter. Shot down three German aircraft. Killed in action when his fighter was hit by anti-aircraft fire near Hiebroon, Germany.

Breithaupt, Reinhardt H. (private, died March 23, 1945) Son of William and Frieda (Wienken) Breithaupt. Born in Weimar, May 3, 1913. Entered the U. S. Army February 27, 1942. Sent to Europe December 1943. Served in a signal battalion. Killed in action in Germany.

Shimek, Robert (sergeant, died April 3, 1945) Son of John and Betty Shimek. Born in Rosenberg, Texas, September 3, 1925. Graduated from Garwood High School. Entered the U. S. Army, December 14, 1943. Sent to Europe, November 1944. Killed in action when a German soldier threw a hand grenade in the midst of a patrol Shimek was leading.

Klesel, Albert R. (died April 10, 1945) Son of Willie A. and Martha Klesel. Born December 3, 1922. Married Alice Shumbera, April 18, 1944. Entered the U. S. Army, April 27, 1944. Sent to Europe as a rifleman with the 317th Infantry, October 1944. Killed in action by gunfire from the German lines near Erfurt. Body returned to Colorado County in 1949.

Huepers, George Reinhard (private first class, died April 19, 1945) Son of Peter E. and Louise B. (Schneider) Huepers. Born September 13, 1922. Entered the U. S. Army, November 23, 1942. Sent to the Pacific Theater, September 1943. Mortally wounded in action on Okinawa, April 14, 1945.

Christen, Daniel Paul (died April 24, 1945) Son of Frank and Francis (Laake) Christen. Born February 26, 1921. Enlisted in the U. S. Army, July 1, 1944. Sent to the Pacific Theater, December 1944. Mortally wounded in action on Okinawa, April 21, 1945.

Miculka, Clarence J. (corporal, died April 24, 1945) Son of Charles Miculka. Born near the Colorado/Wharton County line, June 30, 1916. Entered military service, 1942. Served as a gunner in the 441 Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. Killed in action near Dillingen, Germany when his battery was strafed by German aircraft. Buried at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston.

Pavlik, Leroy Joe (private, died May 1, 1945) Son of Ernest and Carolyn (Miska) Pavlik. Born near Weimar, February 19, 1923. Served in 1st Marine Division. Killed on Okinawa, circumstances unknown.

Bubolz, Edward H., Jr. (sergeant, died May 7, 1945) Son of Edward H. and Edna L. (Radtke) Bubolz. Served as ball-turret gunner on a Boeing B-17 bomber. Killed while attempting to escape his aircraft, which accidentally caught fire, over the North Sea.

Eggers, Glenn E. (died May 8, 1945) Son of William Thomas and Mamie Anderson (Waddell) Eggers. Born January 18, 1920. Attended Eagle Lake schools. Moved to Houston before the war. Entered the U. S. Army, August 15, 1940. Sent to the Pacific Theater, July 1944. Killed in action in China.

Brune, Adolph Charles (staff sergeant, died May 14, 1945) Son of Edward and Emily (Trojan) Brune. Born July 14, 1921. Attended Borden School. Inducted into the U. S. Army, July 27, 1942. Served in the 77th Infantry in the Philippines and on Guam. Killed in action on Okinawa.

Ahlgrim, Elo August Wilhelm (private first class, died May 21, 1945) Son of Max and Hattie (Mehrens) Ahlgrim. Born April 14, 1919. Married Janetta Schmidt. Killed in action on Okinawa, after having crawled to the top of a hill, observed a number of enemy soldiers, called in mortar fire, and fired on the enemy with his automatic weapon. Awarded bronze star for actions on Okinawa.

Niemeyer, Ervin W. (private first class, died May 22, 1945) Born August 25, 1915. Married Marie Henneke. Served in the U. S. Army Air Corps. Stationed at Foster Field in Victoria, Texas. Killed in a training accident, when his aircraft caught fire on take off and crashed.

Kubenka, Bernard (died May 26, 1945) Son of Emil W. and Louise (Janecka) Kubenka. Born January 25, 1924. Attended Wildwood School near Weimar. Enlisted in the U. S. Army, August 2, 1944. Sent to Pacific Theater with the 96th Infantry Division, January 1, 1945. Killed in action on Okinawa.

Harris, James Boyd, Jr. (seaman first class, died May 27, 1945) Son of James Boyd and Alice (Woolridge) Harris. Born in Eagle Lake, January 18, 1927. Enlisted in the U. S. Navy. Shipped out of Pearl Harbor onboard the USS Braine, 1944. Killed in action when the Braine was struck by two kamikazes near Okinawa.

Yanez, Jesse P. (died June 5, 1945) Son of Cayetano and Natividad Yanez. Served in the U. S. Army Air Corps as a tail gunner on a Boeing B-17 bomber. Killed when his aircraft, having been severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire on a mission over Pioppi, Italy, crashed while attempting to return to base.

Henry, John Paul (died June 8, 1945) Son of John Davis and Cutie Ellen (Vordick) Henry. Born in El Campo, Texas, October 21, 1921. Attended Weimar schools. Enlisted in U. S. Army, September 27, 1942. Served in 132nd Infantry Division. Killed in action on Cebu Island. Body returned to Colorado County in 1948.

Shirley, James Gerald (radio operator, died August 13, 1945) Son of Edward H. and Zora (James) Shirley. Born in Jacksonville, Texas, December 24, 1924. Moved to Eagle Lake, 1937. Graduated from Eagle Lake High School, 1941. Served as radio operator for a U. S. Navy aircraft based on the carrier USS Shangri La. Drowned when, after experiencing engine trouble on a return trip to the carrier after a mission over Japan, the pilot set the aircraft down in the ocean

Muehr, Arthur (died March 23, 1946) Son of Rudolph and Annie (Ripper) Muehr. Born March 2, 1926. Died at the Veteranís Administration Hospital in Waco, Texas, particulars unknown.

Wooldridge, J. Dick (sergeant, died July 16, 1946) Son of Thomas James and Mattie Emma (Dick) Wooldridge. Born at Oakland, Texas, November 21, 1907. Enlisted in the U. S. Army, October 10, 1940. Served in 474th Infantry. Died at a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, reportedly due to injuries sustained during the war.