Author Archives: Sandy Shinn

Military History – April 2019

Military History:  Believe it or not, but even old retired guys and younger working guys run into a time, where you just don’t catch up, therefore our Military History segment is going off center.  So “April, a month of firsts” contains some facts throughout our history that helped shape our country.  Many of them way before us or our Grandparents, but these “firsts” have had an impact on our lives and how we live, if we think deep enough.  More information on any of these can be found through Wikipedia or some key words in any trusted search engine.

April, a month of First’s

“not just April Fool’s Day”

April 2, 1792 – Congress established the first U.S. Mint at Philadelphia.  David Rittenhouse, an American scientist, was appointed the first director of the mint by President George Washington. Two lots were purchased by Rittenhouse on July 18, 1792, at Seventh Street and 631 Filbert Street in Philadelphia for $4,266.67. The next day, demolition of an abandoned whiskey distillery on the property began. Foundation work began on July 31, and by September 7, the first building was ready for installation of the smelting furnace. The smelt house was the first public building erected by the United States government. A three-story brick structure facing Seventh Street was constructed a few months later. Measuring nearly 37 ft. (11 m) wide on the street, it only extended back 33 ft. (10 m). The gold and silver for the mint were contained in basement vaults. The first floor housed deposit and weighing rooms, along with the press room, where striking coins took place. Mint official offices were on the second floor, and the assay office was located on the third floor. A photograph of the Seventh Street building taken around 1908 show that by then the year 1792 and the words “Ye Olde Mint” (in quotes) had been painted onto the facade.

April 3, 1860 – In the American West, the Pony Express service began as the first rider departed St. Joseph, Missouri. For $5 an ounce, letters were delivered 2,000 miles to California within ten days. The famed Pony Express riders each rode from 75 to 100 miles before handing the letters off to the next rider. A total of 190 way stations were located about 15 miles apart. The service lasted less than two years, ending upon the completion of the overland telegraph.

April 3, 1995 – Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to preside over the Court, sitting in for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist who was out of town.

April 4, 1887 – The first woman mayor was elected in the U.S. as Susanna M. Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas   Her election was a surprise because her name had been placed on a slate of candidates as a prank by a group of men who were actually against women in politics and hoped to secure a loss that would humiliate women and discourage them from running.   Because candidates did not have to be made public before election day, Salter herself did not know she was on the ballot before the polls opened.   When, on election day itself, she agreed to accept office if elected, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union abandoned its own preferred candidate and voted for Salter en masse, helping to secure her election by a two-thirds majority.

April 6, 1896 – After a break of 1500 years, the first Olympics of the modern era was held in Athens, Greece.

April 8, 1913 – The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified requiring direct popular election of U.S. senators. Previously, they had been chosen by state legislatures.  The amendment was proposed by the 62nd Congress in 1912 and adopted in 1913 upon being ratified by three-fourths (36) of the state legislatures. It was first implemented in special elections in Maryland (November 1913) and Alabama (May 1914), then nationwide in the November 1914 election.

April 12, 1981 – The first space shuttle flight occurred with the launching of Columbia with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard. Columbia spent 54 hours in space, making 36 orbits, then landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

April 18, 1942 – The first air raid on mainland Japan during World War II occurred as General James Doolittle led a squadron of B-25 bombers taking off from the carrier Hornet to bomb Tokyo and three other cities. Damage was minimal, but the raid boosted Allied morale following years of unchecked Japanese military advances.

April 30, 1789 – George Washington became the first U.S. President as he was administered the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City.

Lester Lavern Zelle

Lester L. “Les” Zelle, 95, of Waverly, Iowa, passed away on Thursday, March 21, 2019, at the Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community in Waverly, Iowa.

Lester was born on March 29, 1923, on a farm West of Waverly, Iowa, the son of Arthur and Emma (Mueller) Zelle. Lester attended St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Waverly High School graduating in 1941. He attended Iowa State College in Ames, until his induction into the U.S. Army on January 26, 1943 and then at University of Idaho while in the service. While stationed at Camp Butner in North Carolina he met his future wife, V. Frances Gooch during WWII. Lester served in the European Theatre of Operation as a truck driver for a 105 mm Howitzer and gun crew with Patton’s Third Army. He returned to the states in 1946 and was discharged at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin on April 2nd of that year. Lester and Frances where married on May 26, 1946, at Bullock’s Methodist Church, Hester, North Carolina. The couple made their home in Waverly, Iowa, where Les continued his education at Wartburg College, graduating in 1948 with a degree in Mathematics and Physics. Following his graduation, he became employed by the Schield Bantam Company and was a project engineer, responsible for many of the design features found on the highly successful Bantam cranes and excavators. Lester retired January 1986. On October 7, 2001, Frances passed away and in 2015 Lester made his home at Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community.

Lester was an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where he served on Church Council. He was also a member of the Waverly Lions Club, American Legion and V.F.W. posts, and served for twenty years on the Bremer County Selective Service Board as a member and as chairman. Lester served twenty years on the Waverly City Council, twelve years on the Waverly Electric Utility Board, and was Mayor of Waverly from 1994 through 1997. He was also active in Waverly’s Sister City program and enjoyed several trips to Eisenach, Germany where he made long lasting friendships. In 2001, Lester and Frances were honored as Grand Marshals for the Waverly Heritage Days.

Lester is survived by three children and their spouses; Bruce Zelle and his wife, Candace (Carter) of Naperville, Illinois, Carolyn Zelle and her husband, Don Otto of Portland, Oregon, Lorraine Whitney and her husband, Dan of West Des Moines, Iowa; four grandchildren, Sarah (Zelle) Beckman, Brian Zelle, Lauren Whitney, and Daniel Whitney and his wife Danielle; three great granddaughters; Evelyn Beckman, Quinn Whitney, and Riley Whitney; and one brother, Rev. Edgar (Verona) Zelle of Waverly. Lester was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Emma; his wife, Frances; and a brother, Marvin Zelle.

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Eldon Eugene Kratchmer

Eldon Eugene Kratchmer, 88, of Waverly, Iowa, passed away on March 6, 2019, at his home with Sheba by his side.

Eldon was born on March 22, 1930, on the family farm in Butler County, Iowa, the son of Martin L. and Edna P. (Wright) Kratchmer. Eldon was baptized at the United Methodist Church in Waverly, Iowa. He attended country school at Butler #9 rural Clarksville, Iowa, and graduated in 1948 from the Waverly High School. Following his schooling he helped his parents on the farm and on January 7, 1952, he entered the U.S. Army and served during the Korean War. In June of 1952, he was wounded while serving with the 176th Armored Artillery and received the Purple Heart. He was honorably discharged on October 7, 1953 and returned to Waverly where he went to work for Carnation Dairy and also continued to farm. On March 20, 1955, Eldon was united in marriage to Joan I. Juhl at the United Methodist Church in Nashua. To this union two children were born, Keith and Kelly. The couple later divorced in 1988. Eldon farmed his entire working life and also worked at Standard Oil as a Route Salesman and was an insurance agent for 30 years with Danish Mutual Insurance Company, retiring in 2006.

Eldon was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Waverly. He was a lifetime member of the Amvets Post #79 and Farm Bureau. He had a very strong, independent German personality, and was extremely hardworking. He loved being outside and on his John Deere tractor. He took great pride in mowing his large lawn last summer, and rode in the combine while harvesting crops on his farm last fall. In his spare time, he enjoyed fishing, and woodworking, but most of all, spending time with his family, especially his grandkids.

Eldon is survived by his son, Keith E. (Rachel) Kratchmer of Clarksville, Iowa; his daughter, Kelly J. (Greg) Meyer of Sumner, Iowa; three grandchildren, Jordan (Cody) Brown, Jared (Emily) Skillen, and Jessica Skillen; two great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Margaret Kratchmer of Spooner, Wisconsin; and his canine German Shepherd companion, Sheba. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edna in 1975 and Martin in 1984; brother, Merlin; and sister, Donna (Harold) Willson.

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Military History – March 2019

Battle of Bismarck Sea

The Battle of the Bismarck Sea (2–4 March 1943) took place in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) during World War II when aircraft of the U.S. Fifth Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) attacked a Japanese convoy carrying troops to Lae, New Guinea. Most of the task force was destroyed, and Japanese troop losses were heavy.  

The Japanese convoy was a result of a Japanese Imperial General Headquarters decision in December 1942 to reinforce their position in the South West Pacific. A plan was devised to move some 6,900 troops from Rabaul directly to Lae. The plan was understood to be risky, because Allied air power in the area was strong, but it was decided to proceed because otherwise the troops would have to be landed a considerable distance away and march through inhospitable swamp, mountain and jungle terrain without roads before reaching their destination. On 28 February 1943, the convoy – comprising eight destroyers and eight troop transports with an escort of approximately 100 fighters – set out from Simpson Harbour in Rabaul.

The Allies had detected preparations for the convoy, and naval codebreakers in Melbourne (FRUMEL) and Washington, D.C., had decrypted and translated messages indicating the convoy’s intended destination and date of arrival. The Allied Air Forces had developed new techniques they hoped would improve the chances of successful air attack on ships. They detected and shadowed the convoy, which came under sustained air attack on 2–3 March 1943. Follow-up attacks by PT boats and aircraft were made on 4 March. All eight transports and four of the escorting destroyers were sunk. Out of 6,900 troops who were badly needed in New Guinea, only about 1,200 made it to Lae. Another 2,700 were rescued by destroyers and submarines and returned to Rabaul. The Japanese made no further attempts to reinforce Lae by ship, greatly hindering their ultimately unsuccessful efforts to stop Allied offensives in New Guinea.

For more information on this topic, check out it’s page on Wikipedia.org

 

Vernon Harold Arthur

Vernon H. Arthur, 68, of Waverly, Iowa, passed away suddenly on Thursday evening, February 21, 2019 at his home, of natural causes.

Vern was born on December 15, 1950 in Oelwein, Iowa, the son of Donna (Meyer) and Earl Arthur. He grew up on the Arthur family dairy farm near Maynard, Iowa. He was confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Maynard and was active in 4-H, FFA, football, basketball and baseball. Following graduation from West Central High School, in 1969, Vern attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he received a baseball scholarship as a pitcher. Following his education, Vern began his lifelong career in the concrete construction industry. He worked for Hawkins and Kiewit in Omaha before moving to Waverly Iowa in 1989. In Waverly, Vern worked for Cedar Valley Corp., Rainbow Concrete and finally Croell Redi-Mix, where he was employed at the time of his passing.

On October 6, 1979, Vern was united in marriage to his college sweetheart, Jo Ellen TeKrony in Omaha, Nebraska. The couple was blessed with four sons.

Vern grew up in a family of dairy farmers and never lost his love for the occupation. Throughout his life he assisted, attended and was forever involved with dairy farming activities. Vern was a master of concrete and a jack of all other trades. As the master of concrete, Vern was superintendent for many major projects over the years that included airport runways, wind turbine foundations and interstate highways in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. As a jack of other trades, Vern’s talents included woodworking and landscaping for himself and any one needing advice or assistance. Vern loved coaching youth sports and watching his sons in their many sporting events. He also enjoyed spending time with his family and grandchildren.

Vern is survived by his wife, Jo, four sons, Aaron (Danielle) of Charleston, West Virginia, Andrew (Kristen) of Conroe, Texas, Austin of Naples, Florida and Alex (Rachel) of Baytown, Texas; nine grandchildren, Gavin, Houston, Rowen, Peytin, Greyson, Colton, Hannah, Logan and Aubree; four sisters, Lois Eggerth of Cherokee, Iowa, Betty (Ernie) Cox of Prescott, Arizona, Joyce Geistkemper of Fayette, Iowa and Eleanor (Jim) Miner Hageman of Calmar, Iowa; three brothers, Rodney (Becky) Arthur of Loveland, Colorado, Myron (Janet) Arthur of Oelwein, Iowa and Jerry (Florida) Arthur of Norwalk, Iowa; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jo’s parents; one sister, Eileen Arthur; and two brothers, Gene and Bernard; three brothers-in-law, Robert Eggerth, Jim Geistkemper and Brooks Miner; and one niece, Marcia Wilhelmi.

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Military History – February 2019


The earliest military action to be revered with a Medal of Honor award is performed by Colonel Bernard J.D. Irwin, an assistant army surgeon serving in the first major U.S.-Apache conflict. Near Apache Pass, in southeastern Arizona, Irwin, an Irish-born doctor, volunteered to go to the rescue of Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom, who was trapped with 60 men of the U.S. Seventh Infantry by the Chiricahua Apaches. Irwin and 14 men, initially without horses, began the 100-mile trek to Bascom’s forces riding on mules. After fighting and capturing Apaches along the way and recovering stolen horses and cattle, they reached Bascom’s forces on February 14 and proved instrumental in breaking the siege.

The first U.S.-Apache conflict had begun several days before, when Cochise, the Chiricahua Apache chief, kidnapped three white men to exchange for his brother and two nephews held by the U.S. Army on false charges of stealing cattle and kidnapping a child. When the exchange was refused, Cochise killed the white men, and the army responded by killing his relatives, setting off the first of the Apache wars.

Although Irwin’s bravery in this conflict was the earliest Medal of Honor action, the award itself was not created until 1862, and it was not until January 21, 1894, that Irwin received the nation’s highest military honor.

*Article courtesy of History.com

Donald George Dietz

Donald G. Dietz, 86, of Waverly, Iowa passed away on Thursday, January 10, 2019 at the Waverly Health Center in Waverly.

Donald George Dietz was born on May 26, 1932, the son of Lewis Lyle and Mildred Lucille (White) Dietz in Plainfield, Iowa. He attended school in the Plainfield area. On February 15, 1953, he was united in marriage to Marjorie Ann Hirsch at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Nashua, Iowa. He entered the Army on June 5, 1953, serving during the Korean Conflict until his discharge on April 27, 1955. Don worked for the City of Waverly for 40 years and following his retirement he worked at Croell Redi-Mix for 10 years. He also had numerous other jobs including hauling milk and helping farmers.

He was a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Waverly, Amvets, VFW and the American Legion. He enjoyed doing woodworking, collecting Case tractors, watching “Old time Westerns, going to Antique Acres, but most especially spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Survivors are his wife, Marjorie Dietz of Waverly, Iowa; four sons, Steve (Julie) Dietz of Shell Rock, Iowa, Doug (Janet) Dietz of Clarksville, Iowa, Greg (Mary) Dietz of Clarksville, Iowa and Mike Dietz of Shell Rock, Iowa; three daughters, Sandy Dietz of Waverly, Iowa, Lisa Hess (Jim Wessels) of Clarksville, Iowa and Susan (Dave) Suhr of Oran, Iowa; 8 grandchildren; 15 great grandchildren; brother, Merlin (Janice) Dietz of Plainfield, Iowa; two sisters, Marge Reeves of Nashua, Iowa and Sally Vowell of Charles City, Iowa and sister-in-law, Sandy Dietz. He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Richard and Leon “Buzz” Dietz, brother and sister in infancy and brother-in-law, Richard Reeves.

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Military History – January 2019

Military History – January 2019

Operation Thunderbolt, also known in China as the Defensive Battle of the Han River Southern Bank was a US offensive during the Korean War.

It represented the first offensive under the new commanding officer of the 8th US Army, General Matthew Ridgway. It started less than three weeks after the Chinese Third Phase Campaign had forced UN forces south of Seoul.

Thunderbolt was preceded by Operation Wolfhound, a reconnaissance in force by the 27th Infantry Regiment ‘Wolfhounds’ that began on 15 January 1951.[7] At this time the Chinese forces in the central sector were still in possession of Wonju and a full assault could not be made until this sector was under US control. Thunderbolt itself began on the 25 January, when troops of I and IX Corps advanced from the western sector of the front northwards towards Seoul.[7]

This attack was heavily supported by artillery and air support, in accordance with Ridgway’s policy of attrition[7] by superior firepower against a numerically superior foe. By 9 February, the offensive had reached the Han river with the rest of the Chinese defenders retreating to the north of Han River by the end of February.[7]

X Corps, once again part of the 8th Army, held the central sector[8] and moved forward as Operation Roundup on 5 February. Responding to the UN advances, Chinese forces under Peng Dehuai then counter-attacked as the Fourth Phase Campaign, achieving initial successes at the Battle of Hoengsong.[7]

Chinese forces were later held off at the Battle of Chipyong-ni and the Third Battle of Wonju. The concentration of firepower and reliance on close air support in the face of large numbers of light infantry employed here[7] would later become an influence on US doctrine during Vietnam.

Thunderbolt was followed almost immediately by the second UN counter-offensive, Operation Killer.

*For more on this subject see the full article for Operation Killer at Wikipedia.org.

Paul D. Hogue


Paul D. Hogue, 77 of Allison, Iowa and formerly of Waverly, Iowa, died on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Paul was born on July 26, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, the son of Paul Dean Hogue Sr. and Irma (Johnson) Hogue. He graduated from Compton High School in 1959 and entered the United States Air Force in 1961. He was stationed in Waverly at the Air Force base and was honorably discharged in 1964. Following his discharge, Paul was united in marriage to Rosemary Briner which later ended in divorce. He worked for Northwestern Bell (now Century Link) for over 40 years, retiring in 2007. Paul was united in marriage to Brenda Lee (Koll) Nichols on December 9, 2002 in Nashua, Iowa.

In his younger years, Paul discovered his passion for cars and enjoyed rebuilding engines. He spent many enjoyable weekends drag racing at the Cedar Falls Raceway and following NASCAR. Paul developed a lifelong interest for music and was knowledgeable in rebuilding stereos, radios and T.V’s. He was a longtime member of the Waverly AMVETS, where he also used to DJ.

Paul is survived by his wife, Brenda Hogue of Waverly; a daughter, Kelly M. Hogue of Marshall, Michigan; a son, Ryan P. Hogue of Waverly; Brenda’s children, Brian (Sherry) Nichols of La Crosse, Wisconsin; Kent (Jennifer) Nichols of Shell Rock; Gary (Jeana) Nichols of Greene; Kirk (Yin) Nichols of Wellsburg and Michelle Jones of Waverly; three grandchildren, Dakota Schneider, Elijah Swenson, and Trenton Hogue; eleven step grandchildren, Luke Nichols, Samantha Nichols, Andrew Nichols, Anthony Nichols, Hannah Nichols, Tyler Nichols, Evan Jones and Mckenna, Spencer, Alexandria and Menah Morgan; two step great grandchildren, Mason Nichols and Wyatt Kramer; brothers-in-law, Tom Siladi of California and Randall (Debbie) Koll of Citrus Heights, CA; and sisters-in-law, Beverly (Jim) Ryan of Santa Nella, CA and Vivian (Salam) Koll of Elk Grove, CA and several nieces and nephews all of California. He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters, Joyce Siladi and Beverly Albers.

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Military History – December 2018

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States’ entry into World War II. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

Japan intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions they planned in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Over the next seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (18:18 UTC). The base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft (including fighters, level and dive bombers, and torpedo bombers) in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. All but the USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, dry dock, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section), were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed. One Japanese sailor, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured.

The surprise attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan, and several days later, on December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. The U.S. responded with a declaration of war against Germany and Italy. Domestic support for non-interventionism, which had been fading since the Fall of France in 1940, disappeared..

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