The Montgomery County Historical Society conducted a series of interviews in the 1990s with local veterans to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II. These stories are of service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and WACs, in locations such as England, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Burma. Listen to these stories about prisoners of war, the Bataan death march, the battle for Iwo Jima, and more.
Interviewed 21 August 1991
James Estel Bell was born in New Richmond on November 13, 1906. He graduated from Crawfordsville High School in 1925 and was working as a retail manager when he was drafted in March 1944. Mr. Bell was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, 175th Regiment. He received the Bronze Star in 1945: "On November 26, 1944, Pvt. Bell rendered outstanding service during the enemy counter-attack against the town of ----------, Germany. Notwithstanding the intensity of enemy fire of all calibers, Pvt. Bell voluntarily carried a message to the command post, reporting the approach of hostile tanks. Pvt. Bell displayed, in this action, a standard of courage that reflects the greatest credit upon himself and the Military Service."
Interviewed 10 April 1991
Eugene Brooks was born in Illinois in 1922 but grew up in Waveland, where he went to school and played four years of varsity basketball. He was drafted and left for Camp Atterbury on August 18, 1942. He was assigned to the 96th Infantry Division. Brooks spent 196 days on Leyte, where he met actor and conscientious objector Lew Ayres, who was working as an orderly in a field hospital. As the 96th left for Okinawa on the ship LST-1055, they heard Tokyo Rose comment, "I feel sorry for those boys on LST-1055. They'll never make it to Okinawa." They did make it, but Brooks was one of only 17 men from Company I that survived the Battle of Okinawa. He was discharged from service on March 15, 1946.
Interviewed November 1990
Lawrence Brown was born near New Market on October 10, 1924 and graduated from New Market High School in 1942. After graduating, he worked at R.R. Donnelly for a year, until he was drafted in 1943. He was in the 247th combat engineers, where his official job was as a carpenter.
Interviewed 28 July 1991
William B. Clark was born in southern Indiana on March 1, 1918, and at the time of this interview was living in Waynetown. In January 1941 William joined the New Mexico National Guard and was sent to the Philippines with the 200th Coast Artillery. Clark's unit surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942 and was forced to march 80 miles on the Bataan death march. After 33 months of captivity, Clark weighed 92 lbs when he was liberated.
The second part of this interview is currently missing.
Interviewed 25 March 1991
Albert Delano was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II.
Interviewed 6 December 1999
Carl Downen was born in Sullivan, Indiana in 1916. He graduated from Purdue University, and joined the Army in March 1943. He was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and held at Stalag IV-B as a prisoner of war from December 1944 until April 1945, when he was liberated by the Russians. He was discharged from service in November 1945, and has been a Crawfordsville resident since 1953.
Interviewed 13 August 1991
William Hawley was born at Lima, Ohio, on July 21, 1916. He was a graduate of Central Normal College, Danville, Indiana, and received his Masters degree from Indiana University in 1939. He married Jane Walterhouse of Ladoga in 1942. Mr. Hawley entered the Army Air Corps on Valentine's Day, 1942, and was a communications officer in the 490th Bomb Squad, nicknamed the Burma Bridge Busters.
Interviewed 20 May 1991
William 'Woody' Morgan was born in Waveland on November 1, 1918, to Stanley and Stella Morgan. When he was through with school, he worked in the coal mines at Brazil before going to work in the hotel at Turkey Run State Park. He enlisted in the Navy on September 16, 1941, at Terre Haute. Morgan went to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and to cooks and bakers school in Connecticut. After spending some time at Floyd Bennett Field, Morgan was assigned to the destroyer USS J. William Ditter. He was in the Pacific fighting the battle of Okinawa when his ship was hit by a kamikaze pilot. After the war, Morgan witnessed an atomic bomb test.
Interviewed April 2003
Roxie Remley graduated from Darlington High School in 1937 and went on to business college in Wisconsin. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in August 1942. After graduating from officer candidate school, she was assigned to a top secret mission in Washington D.C. She then volunteered to go overseas and was stationed in England in 1944. While she was serving in London, Remley met Queen Elizabeth II. She left the service in 1945. In 1982, Remley and her commanding officer, Georgia Watson, returned to England and were granted another audience with the Queen. On seeing a photo from their first meeting in 1945, Elizabeth remarked, "I remember that hat. It was the only one I had."
Raymond E. "Bud" Swick was born December 23, 1922 in Romney. He enlisted in the Air Force on November 12, 1942 and went to radio school in Chicago, gunnery training in Florida, and flight training in Colorado. In November 1943 he arrived in Europe and was stationed near Greenwich, England. He flew nine missions over Germany. On his last mission, his plane was shot down. Swick parachuted from the plane before it exploded and was knocked unconscious went he landed in an open field in Holland. When he came to, he was surrounded by a group of Dutch men who helped him escape from the approaching Germans. Swick spent most of 1944 moving from farm to farm and town to town in Holland, aided by the underground Dutch resistance. He was liberated by the Canadians on April 13, 1945.
Interviewed 17 April 1991
Phil Ward was born March 10, 1926, and grew up in Mace, Indiana. He attended New Ross High School. Ward enlisted in the Marines two days before his eighteenth birthday. He served in Japan and fought in the battle for Iwo Jima. He was among the Marines who raised the first American flag on Mount Suribachi. He served three tours of duty in the Army after World War II. After his death in 2005, Phil Ward Boulevard in Crawfordsville was named in his honor.
Interviewed 17 June 1991
Lloyd Wells was born on a farm near Bowers in 1918, but grew up in Darlington. After graduating from Darlington High School in 1936, he went on to get his degree in agriculture from Purdue University in 1940. To help pay for his college education, Mr. Wells joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). In March 1942, he received orders to report to Fort Monroe in Virginia to join an anti-aircraft artillery unit. He was stationed in Italy with the 302nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Batallion during the war.
Dwight Williams was born August 29, 1908, at Crawfordsville. He graduated from Crawfordsville High School in 1926 and from Wabash College in 1930. Mr. Williams opened the first Sears store in Crawfordsville in 1936. He enlisted in the Navy on March 20, 1942, and served as the Chief Petty Officer aboard the ship LSM 173 during the Okinawa campaign. Dwight married Doris Carver on June 1, 1941. Doris was born October 19, 1910, and was a 1930 graduate of Crawfordsville High School. During the war, Doris worked for the Selective Service; she recalled actor Stephen Crane stopping by to notify the Selective Service of his new address in Hollywood.
Interviewed 19 March 1991
Patricia Wilson was born in Indianapolis in 1923. She joined the Army on January 9, 1943, with the WACs. After basic training she went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where she sold war bonds. In March 1944 she volunteered to go overseas. Her service took her to Australia, New Guinea, and Leyte. She was in Leyte when the war ended in 1945.
Donald Wingert was born at Whitesville on November 3, 1911. He graduated from Crawfordsville High School in 1929 and from Wabash College in 1933; he received a master's degree in business administration from Ohio State University. Mr. Wingert served in the Army Air Force and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for 51 round trips resupplying the Army Air Forces based in China.