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We will honor Stadium High School’s Class of 1941 on Memorial Day

Post by Kathleen Merryman / The News Tribune on May 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm with 2 Comments »
May 27, 2011 5:29 pm

Stadium High School’s Class of 1941 graduated into a world about to catch fire. Six months after they received their diplomas, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II.

Donald McClain, 88, of Lakewood, shared albums his classmates kept of news clippings about classmates serving their country.

Monday, I’ll tell his story of training and cruising the Pacific on an LSM supply ship. Wrapped in with it, we will have dispatches about other classmates.

Below, you can read a fuller account of what they did for their country.

Nov., 1942: Howard S. Simpson, 19… a student at Washington State college, who had gone to Wenatchee to aid in picking the apple crop during the labor shortage, was killed early Sunday when a car in which he was riding plunged wildly into an apple orchard.

Nov. 28, 1942: In Air Corps – Sidney J. Blechman… has enlisted as a cadet in the army air corps and gone to Santa Ana for training.

Dec. 23, 1942: Visited Parents – James S. Legg, pharmacist’s mate second class, returned Monday to San Diego following a 10-day visit here.

March 1, 1943: Tacoman’s Sons in Army, Navy – Earl R. Easterday Jr., 22, and his brother Norman (18) chose divergent courses for their service in the armed forces. Earl is in the aviation mechanics’ school. Norman…is now serving in the North Pacific area.

May 24, 1943: In Africa – Sam T. Bannakes celebrated his 19th birthday in North Africa May 22… He now serves as a radio operator.

Sept. 16, 1943: Brothers in Service – Bernard A. Friedman and Leonard M. Friedman….are in the military service of the United States (in naval V-12 training and at the Monterey presidio in California.

Nov. 29, 1943: Glider – Pfc. Arnold Hansen… is in the glider artillery and has been in the service since last March.

Dec. 2, 1943: Triple Threat to Axis. Pvt. Leonard A. “Butch” Willman is now in his third year in the army and his second overseas, and has seen action with Gen. Patton’s army. His wife, the former Irene Shafer of Puyallup, works in the Sea-Tac war bond department here. Pfc. E.W. “Squirt’ Willman…is now at Camp Haan, Calif. Before entering the army he spent 19 months in Alaska on government work. Pvt. Frank S. Willman is now with the Military Police Escort company in Florence, Ariz.

Dec. 23, 1943: War Separates Twins (Cpl. James and Cpl. John Wood, 19) – James, a draftsman in the quartermaster corps, is somewhere on the far side of the Atlantic, and John is in an engineer combat battalion at Fort Lewis.

March 26, 1944: Tacoma Flier Arrested For Stunts Over N.Y. – Three navy ferry command pilots (including Ens. Norman D. Satterthwaite) have been arrested for stunting in Wildcat fighter planes over New York yesterday, flying under East River bridges and buzzing skyscrapers.

May 8, 1944: Brothers Serving – Two Tacoma Brothers, Pfc. Bob C. Garrison, 21, and CQM Earl J. Garrison, who have not seen each other for nearly two years, missed meeting by two weeks recently when the former was home on furlough from the army and the latter on leave from the navy. Earl who has spent 22 months in the Southwest Pacific on a mine sweeper, has been in the service for three and a half years. He is now in San Francisco awaiting orders. Bob, attached to a combat engineers’ battalion now is in England. He has been in the service 14 months.

June 29, 1944: Report Tacoma Flier Missing – 1st Lt. Glenn Miller, 21… is missing in action in the European theater of war… He failed to return from an aerial photographic mission over Nazi Europe June 29.

July 24, 1944: Wins Medal- 2nd Lt. Marcus J. Woods… has been awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air medal for his “exceptionally meritorious achievement” while participating in sustained combat operations over enemy occupied Europe.

Aug. 10, 1944: Salvage Inspector – Aiding in the destruction of Hitler’s fortress Europe is Pvt. Chilton A. Bowman Jr… At an army base in England, he helps in the repair of battle damaged aircraft.

Aug. 13, 1944: Tacoman Wins honor- Marine Private Melvin. R. Hansen, 21…is shown receiving the honor badge of efficiency, one of the most coveted awards of recruit training.

Aug 21, 1944: Air Medal to Tacoman – for outstanding valor and proficiency in action in 133 combat missions over enemy territory, 1st Lt. Gordon A. Bell, pursuit pilot with his famous fighter-bomber group in the Mediterranean theater, has been awarded the Air Medal. Lt. Bell has chalked up an enviable aerial record during his eight months overseas, damaging one Focke-Wulfe 190 in the air and destroying an astounding number of enemy motor transports, rail cars and rails, communication lines, gun positions and personnel with his powerful Thunderbolt fighter-bomber.

Oct. 30, 1944: Gordon Bell, Captain and Air Medalist at 21, Killed – Gordon A. Bell, whose “outstanding valor and proficiency” as an army pilot had won him a captaincy, the Air Medal and other decorations, was killed in action in Italy on Oct. 12, according to a war department telegram to his father. He has made about 150 combat flights in the Mediterranean theater and he received the coveted Air Medal after 133 missions. Soon after that, he was made a captain.

Nov. 9. 1944; Tacoman in Water 25 Hours After Hot Fight – Lt. Jess L. Curtright was so frightened after his carrier fighter plane was damaged that he wanted to escape to the nearest cloud. Instead he dived on a Japanese cruiser, strafing all the way down from 7,000 to only 300 feet… His instruments were shot out, so he was forced to make a water landing. (He was picked up by an American ship 25 hours later.)

February 18, 1945: Bronze Star – Cpl. Clarence Hunter… has received the Bronze Star for heroic action in France, during which he helped lay down a 20-hour artillery barrage to cover an Allied advance.

Aug. 11, 1945: Accident Kills Young Officer- Flight Officer Adolph Kenneth Kutchera was fatally injured in an automobile accident near Malta, Idaho, while en route home to visit his parents.

Sept. 7, 1945: Navy Cross to Tacoman – Lt. (JG) Jess Curtright was recently awarded the Navy Cross… Lt. Curtright during his eight months overseas participated in the battles of Palau, Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, Invasion of Leyte, Lingayan, Iwo Jima and ShiShi Jima and is now training at Vero Beach, Fla., to be a night fighter.

December, 1945: Killed While in Germany – John L. Quinn…was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Germany last week while touring American camps with an army band.

Worked On Atom Bomb – Another Tacoman who kept well the secret of his part in the development of the atomic bomb is Harold Schweinler… “Now you know, from reading the newspapers, what I’ve been working on for the past 15 months,” he told his parents.

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. SPanaway1 says:

    Summer 1942, Helen Miller went to work int he Dupont powderworks…. and probably several other female classmates.

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