Willis Albert “Bill” Paschal – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 8, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the fourth of five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

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Bill Paschal, taken on his 90th birthday.

 

The seventh and latest Valley Township resident to be named a member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame was born September 9, 1923, the third child of Albert and Clara (Russum) Paschal in the Vincent community in Osborne County, north of Luray, Kansas. Willis Albert “Bill” Paschal was welcomed by older siblings Inez (Breeden) and Wallace. From a very young age, Bill was helping his father with chores around the farm. He helped to work the horse-drawn plows, tended to cattle and horses, and weeded gardens, among many other tasks.  At the tender age of seven Bill’s mother died, and the young boy became a very independent thinker and doer. By the age of nine he was riding his pony the seven miles to Luray and on another four miles east to spend the week at a farmer’s home, herding his cattle along the road for pennies a day.

 

Paschal Bill 8 to 9 years old
Bill at age 8 or 9 years old.

His father married Hazel Cooper a few years later. The family soon welcomed the addition of Robert and later Maurita (Cederberg). Bill’s grade school years were in the rural one-room Vincent School. He would usually ride his pony there. When it was too cold to ride, his father, Albert, would put him in an old milk wagon, point the horse towards the school, and slap the horse on the rump. This was reversed for the trip home. Bill had many cousins in the surrounding Vincent community with whom he enjoyed spending time. Because of their love of baseball, Albert and Wallace constructed a baseball field out of the corner of a pasture. The cousins enjoyed many games played on Paschal Field.

Bill attended and graduated from Luray High School with the class of 1941. During high school he participated in basketball and football (lettering multiple times), and was part of the undefeated football team of 1940. Another cherished memory was of beating Russell High School in basketball (Bob Dole was on Russell’s team). At the age of 15 Bill was one of the workers who dug out the floor (by hand) of the Hickman Theater to turn it from a theater to a gymnasium, which was used by Luray High School and is now known as the Luray Legion Hall.

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Bill at age 16 years.
Paschal Bill 1940 Luray High football team Bill is #5 in back row
Bill was #5 ( find the “x”) on the Luray High School undefeated team of 1940.
Paschal Bill at age 19 WWII
Bill was 19 years old when he entered the Army Air Corps during World War II.

After graduation Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. By the age of 19 he had become an instructor for ground and aerial gunnery (50mm machine gun) at Tyndall Field in Florida. After ten missions over northern Europe as a nose gunner on a B-24, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Austria, the day after his 21st birthday. Bill parachuted, landing in the Danube River, where he was discovered by a farmer’s dog and captured. The next eight months were spent in POW camp Stalag IV-B, in northern Germany. To combat both boredom and the extreme cold, Bill fashioned a crochet hook from a piece of wood he pulled loose from a floorboard. He would unravel the sleeves of sweaters sent by the Red Cross and, recalling how he used to watch his grandmother crochet, he invented a crochet stitch and proceeded to crochet hats and gloves for himself and other soldiers. In the last months of the war, Bill was forced to endure the hardships of three months of the “Black March”. Starvation and freezing temperatures were a constant threat. He was eventually liberated by Scottish Highlander soldiers, and proceeded to walk to Holland in order to find a ship home. Bill was honorably discharged in October 1945.

Bill returned to his parents’ home in the Vincent community, and enrolled at Kansas State University (KSU). While in college he started his farming operation, renting 160 acres in Osborne County and soon buying a farm one mile east of Luray. In order to keep farming while attending college, Bill would hitchhike from Manhattan back to Luray on the weekends. During this time he married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Johnson, on New Year’s Day 1947. After they both graduated from KSU, Bill with a degree in agricultural economics and Joyce with an education degree, they made their home in the Luray area where Bill was a successful farmer/stockman and Joyce taught school. Over the years he was featured in several farming publications for his progressive farming techniques and soil conservation efforts. Bill and Joyce were named Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker for the year 1981. Their farming operation increased to include almost 6,000 acres (including the Osborne County farm he grew up on) growing crops of wheat, milo, and alfalfa and running a cattle and hog operation.

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Bill wedded Joyce Johnson on January 1, 1947.

Bill has served his community by involving himself in area activities. During his 20s he played on the Luray community baseball team, usually as the catcher. Bill also umpired many baseball games in the area. When he was a little older, on most Friday nights he could be found working the score clock at a Luray basketball game or the chains at numerous high school football games. The stands at these football games were filled with people wearing hats bearing the orange and black of Luray High School. Bill crocheted all those hats using the crochet hook and the crochet stitch he invented while he was held prisoner in the POW camp. If there was any event in town, Bill could usually be found helping to set up for it and cleaning up afterward.

In the past Bill has served on the board of directors for Midway Co-op, served many years on the Russell County Free Fair board, the Russell County 4-H Development Fund board, and over 30 years as a 4-H club leader of the Wolf Creek Valley 4-H Club. He is a charter member of the Luray Lion’s Club (over 65 years), a member of American Legion Post 309, and of Luray United Methodist Church where he has served  on the  Board of Trustees, Administrative Board, and on the Building Committee when they built the new church in 1968. He also sang in the church choir on a weekly basis. Bill served at the first Luray Methodist Men’s Fish Fry in 1939 and served again at the 79th annual event in 2017, missing volunteering for this event only while in captivity during World War II.

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Von Rothenberger took this photo of Bill Paschal at the 79th Luray Fish Fry on March 17, 2017.
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Bill Paschal participating with the Luray American Legion as part of the firing squad during annual Memorial Day ceremonies.
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Proving that age is just a number, Bill Paschal enjoys rafting with family members in this photo from June 2016.

Bill is now retired from farming, with his son Mark taking over the farm. He and Joyce (deceased November 2012) have three children – Mark Paschal, Martha Powell, and Meredith Mense. He loves to spend time with his grandchildren – Nicole (Paschal) Webber, Dr. Caitlin Powell, Garrett Powell, Brennan Mense, and Michaela Mense. Bill is thrilled by the addition of his first great-grandson, Landyn Webber, and continues to make his home at Luray – the home of an honored member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

 

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World War II veteran recalls experiences as a German POW

Salina Journal

Friday, November 11, 2016

By Gary Demuth

LURAY — Until he was held as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II, Bill Paschal never thought the time he spent watching his grandmother crochet would come in handy.

Paschal, a nose gunner on a B-24 bomber, parachuted into the Danube River after his plane was shot down over Vienna, Austria, on Sept. 10, 1944 — the day after his 21st birthday.

Now he was in Stalag IV-B, a German POW camp in the far northern city of Stettin, Germany. During his nine months at the camp, much of it during a fiercely cold winter, Paschal and his fellow prisoners experienced frigid temperatures in uninsulated cabins with nothing but a small heating stove for warmth.

The Red Cross had supplied the prisoners with sweaters to help keep them warm, but that didn’t help their half-frozen hands and bare heads. That’s when Paschal had an idea. They would rip the sleeves off their sweaters, unravel them into strings of yarn, and Paschal would crochet them into gloves and caps.

“Me and another prisoner, Rex, a kid from Missouri, remembered watching our grandmothers crochet while we were growing up,” said Paschal, now 93. “We made some crochet needles from tree branches and fiddled around until we made gloves and caps that looked like little hunter hats with flaps.”

Paschal was happy to do this service for his fellow prisoners, crocheting nearly 50 hats and gloves during his nine months at the camp.

“It was something to do in the camp,” he said.

‘Black March’

On the eve of Veterans Day, Paschal recalled his service during World War II, where he not only flew 10 missions on a B-24 and spent months in a German POW camp but was part of a German “Black March,” where thousands of POWs marched countless miles in northern Europe to avoid the advancing American and Allied forces from the west and Russia from the east.

The Germans wanted to keep the prisoners to use as bargaining tools as the war came to an end, but the arduous march cost the lives of 6,000 of their starved and exhausted captives.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” Paschal said.

It was a situation Paschal never envisioned for himself while growing up the middle child of five on a Luray farm family. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the U.S. entered World War II, Paschal and a few of his buddies went to Kansas City to enlist in October 1942. Paschal was just 18 at the time, a recent graduate of Luray High School.

“I signed up for the Army Air Corps and went off that day because I didn’t want to have to come back later,” he said.

Paschal went through basic training at Tyndall Field, Florida, near Panama City and became an instructor for ground and aerial gunnery beginning at age 19. In 1944, he was deployed to Europe, eventually ending up at an air base in southern Italy.

Shot Down

Paschal became a nose gunner on a B-24, operating a .50 caliber machine gun and manning a gun turret. He flew 10 missions over northern Europe before the September day when his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire during a bombing raid into Austria and began spiraling into a crash dive.

“The captain held onto the controls as the plane spun around, and he jumped out just before it crashed into the Danube River,” Paschal said. “I parachuted into the river and crawled up the bank. We were being hunted by local farmers who had a police dog, and the dog found me. They turned me in.”

At home in Luray, Paschal’s sister Maurita, then just 7, remembered her parents receiving a telegram saying their son was “missing in action.”

“My brother Robert and I were walking home from school, and we saw our parents coming down the road towards us,” she said. “We knew something was wrong from the looks on their faces. They told us Bill had been shot down and they didn’t know where he was.”

It took another two months before the Paschal family was informed that Bill was in a POW camp in Germany.

“Dad would sit with his ear against the radio every night to hear the war news and find out anything he could about the POWs,” she said.

POW Life

At the stalag, or prison camp, about 26 prisoners were crammed into rooms of about 15-by-15 feet. They slept on triple-deck bunk beds and ate rutabaga, kohlrabi and boiled potatoes, with the occasional luxury of horse meat.

Cigarettes also were a luxury at the camp. Paschal, who didn’t smoke, traded the crocheted caps and gloves he had made for cigarettes, then traded the cigarettes for food to nicotine-addicted prisoners who would rather smoke than eat.

Paschal said he wasn’t the only crafty operator in the camp. There were prisoners who made radios out of wires ripped out of their insulated air uniforms. With these wires and other scrap items, they were able to fashion a crystal radio set to receive war news coming over the airwaves.

“Every night, there was a guy who would sneak around to different cabins and give us news reports of war activities,” he said. “The Germans never knew.”

After the American and Allied armies began pushing into Europe, the Germans decided to move their POWs to another stalag. They marched to different locations in northern Europe for three months in what became known as the “Black March.”

“They were losing the war, so they just started marching us in circles,” Paschal said. “We slept on the ground and were not fed well. It was constantly moving, moving.”

Liberated

Paschal estimated the march covered about 800 miles before they were liberated by Scottish Highlander troops.

“We were marching north with the Americans coming one way and the Russians coming the other,” Paschal said. “After awhile, we noticed there weren’t any guards around anymore. They knew the war was coming to an end, so they disappeared one day. We continued to march and ended up in Holland.”

After being liberated, Paschal was sent back to the U.S. He took a train to Kansas, stopping in Russell, where he was met by his father and brother Wallace.

“He weighed about 100 pounds by the time he got home,” sister Maurita said. “His eyes were so sunken, it didn’t look like him at all.”

Paschal was honorably discharged from the Army and went to college, earning a agricultural economics degree from Kansas State University. On New Year’s Day 1947, he married Joyce Johnson, his childhood sweetheart in Luray, who had worked as a secretary for the Department of the Navy in Washington, D.C.

Paschal spent his life farming in the Luray and Russell County areas. Joyce became a teacher and had three children, Mark, Martha and Meredith.

For years, Paschal didn’t talk about his war experiences and kept all of his war memorabilia in a trunk, including uniforms, his POW dog tag, a German backpack with a wooden block reading “Destination Home” and his medals, which include a POW medal and two Purple Hearts.

What people in his hometown did discover about Paschal’s war years was his crocheting ability, which led to many requests for caps and gloves.

“After I got home, everybody wanted caps and gloves,” he said. “But they had to be orange and black. Those were our school colors.”

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Paschal Bill Storytelling ad Salina Journal 2006 10 Nov

Paschal Bill Storytelling advert Salina Journal 2006 10 Nov
Two advertisements for a talk on Bill Paschal’s WWII POW experiences, from the Salina Journal newspaper of November 10, 2016.

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Luray Farm Couple Honored

Salina Journal

March 11, 1982, Page One

MANHATTAN – A Russell County farmer, who was once a prisoner of war, and his wife, who has taught school for 25 years to help make ends meet, have been named 1981 Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker for Northwest Kansas.

They are Mr. and Mrs. Bill Paschal, Luray.

Six couples will be honored March 19th at the annual Kansas Master Farmer-Master Farm Homemaker recognition banquet on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan.

The other honorees are Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Colle, Sterling; Mr. and Mrs. Dean Hamilton, Dodge City; Mr. and Mrs. William Beezley, Girard; Mr. and Mrs. Detman Gooderl, Hoyt; and Mr. and Mrs. Ewald Meier, Palmer.

Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker competition is sponsored by the KSU Cooperative Extension Service and the Kansas Association of Commerce and Industry to honor outstanding farm couples.

Nominees are submitted by county extension councils. A five-member judging panel at Kansas State selects the recipients on the basis of excellence in farming, homemaking, farm living and rural citizenship.

The Paschals, both 58, purchased their first land – 240 acres just east of Luray – in 1951. Their operation now includes 1, 600 acres (160 acres in Wyoming) and another 280 rented acres.

About 950 acres are in cultivation and the remainder are pasture.

Strong believers in diversity, the Paschals grow wheat, milo, and alfalfa, feed about 150 steers a year and run a 100-head cow herd.

“If something happens to the profitability of one enterprise, hopefully the others will carry us through,” Paschal says.

The beef cattle operation starts with the purchase of 45-pound crossbred steers in the fall. Steers are wintered on sorghum silage that includes ground grain. Cattle are moved to bromegrass pasture for the summer.

If plenty of milo is available in the fall, steers are finished on milo, ensilage alfalfa, then sold at 1,100 to 1,200 pounds in the spring. Otherwise, they are sold as 800 to 900-pound feeders in the fall.

They also had a farrow-to-finish hog operation for a number of years, but have now turned that operation over to their son, Mark.

The cropping operation is built around a wheat, milo and summer fallow rotation. Herbicide is sprayed and bladed in immediately after wheat harvest, and the land is planted to milo in the spring.

Last year, Paschal had 330 acres of wheat, 225 acres of milo cut for grain, 53 acres of forage sorghum cut for silage and 24 acres of alfalfa. About 270 acres are fallowed each year.

Soil conservation get top billing on the Paschal farm. About 600 acres of cropland have been terraced and a number of ponds have been built in pastures.

The Paschal farmstead has undergone a number of improvements over the years. An old concrete cattle shed with an open front was closed in and used as a farrowing house. A number of new structures were added, including a metal garage and shop, a pole-type building for machinery storage, a 40-by-80-foot steel building for grain and machinery storage, a hay shed and five steel grain bins.

Original wooden corrals have been replaced with steel and are served with automatic waterers. Many of the electric lines, as well as the water and natural gas lines, are underground.

The Paschals are active off the farm. They are members of the United Methodist Church in Luray where Bill has served as chairman of the church board, sung in the choir and is on the pastor-parish and pension fund committees.

Joyce has been an extension homemaker unit member for many years, and both have been 4-H community leaders for 18 years.

Bill has served as county Farm Bureau president, Farm Management Association director, county fair board president and director of the Midway Co-op board. He also served on the county extension council and has been a member of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Livestock Association. He was a charter member of the Luray Lions Club, commander of the American Legion and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Joyce is a member of the National, Kansas and Russell County Education Associations, and Delta Kappa Gamma International educational sorority.

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60th Wedding anniv Salina Journal 31 Dec 2006 Page 10
60th Wedding announcement for Bill and Joyce Paschal, from the Salina Journal newspaper of December 31, 2006.

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SOURCES: Maurita Cederberg, Luray, Kansas; Meredith Mense, Kansas City, Kansas; Mark Paschal, Luray, Kansas; Willis “Bill” Paschal, Luray, Kansas; Martha Powell, Spring Hill, Kansas; Salina Journal, March 11, 1982; Salina Journal, December 31, 2006; Salina Journal, November 11, 2016; Salina Journal, December 31, 2006.

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Harold Louis Mischler – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 7, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the third of the five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

 

Harold’s Early Years

by Shirley (Mischler) Davis, sister

HALHarold Louis Mischler was born January 9, 1946 to Louis and Elsie Mischler, at the Beloit Hospital, known now as the Mitchell County Hospital, in Beloit, Kansas. He was their younger child, having two sisters, Carolyne (Mischler) Sage and Shirley (Mischler) Davis. He grew up on a farm 12 miles southwest of Osborne, Kansas, in the Kill Creek Community. He attended the one-room, eight-grade Mayview Elementary School for eight years. The school year was in session from September 1st until April 30th. The kids in country schools only went eight months so they could help with the spring farming. He then attended Osborne High School, graduating in 1963.

While in high school, Harold played both football and basketball. He played the trombone in the school band. He was a member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and several other organizations. He started college at Kansas Wesleyan University (KWU) in Salina, Kansas, completing his freshman year. He played football while at KWU. From there, he transferred to Kansas University (KU) at Lawrence, Kansas, and graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business. Before graduation at KU, he was selected to attend Officers Candidate School and was assigned to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. Upon his graduation, June 28, 1968, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Force and assigned to Vance Air Force Base, in Enid, Oklahoma for one year of pilot training.

Harold was a member of the Kill Creek Evangelical United Brethren Church, which later became the Kill Creek United Methodist Church, and the Osborne Masonic Lodge.

All through his school years Harold was an avid reader. He would read whatever was available. When he didn’t have library books, he would read the World Book Encyclopedia. He would much rather do that than go out to do the farming and other chores that needed to be done!

As a child, Harold especially enjoyed playing with his dogs. He spent most of his summers fishing with his sister on the creek where he lived. On Sundays, his dad would take them to fish in one of the area ponds. In the fall and winter he enjoyed hunting rabbits, squirrel, pheasants, and quail.

Harold was a people person that greatly enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. He especially enjoyed children and spending time with his nieces and nephews.

In the summers while he was on break from college, Harold helped in the construction of the Glen Elder Dam and Reservoir. The summer between his junior and senior years in college, he worked in Iceland, for Icelandic Airlines, working with their cost accountants and cost analysts.

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Mischler Harold photo

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Lieutenant Mischler was awarded his United States Air Force silver pilot wings at Vance Air Force Base on August 1, 1969, and was assigned to fly a Military Airlift Command C-141 Cargo plane out of Charleston Air Force Base, Charleston, South Carolina. During this two-year period he had the rare experience of traveling extensively and visiting many distant places most people only hear about. He was promoted to First Lieutenant December 1, 1969. In February 1971 he was upgraded from Co-pilot to First Pilot or Aircraft Commander.

On June 27, 1971, he was promoted to Captain. The following August he was assigned to duty in Southeast Asia and reported to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for specialized training on the OV-10. He left San Francisco February 28, 1972, to begin his overseas duty, being sent to NKP (Nakhom Phanom) Thailand.

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Hal, as he came to be known by friends, had compassion for people and their well-being was one of his great characteristics. This was evident in his relationship to those around him during all of his experiences in life.

He made many, many close friends during his formal education and military training. He took great interest in visiting and learning of the culture and history of the people as he flew the C-141. During his tour of duty in Southeast Asia he participated with his squadron in teaching a class of Thai children. Harold volunteered for many rescue missions to help fellow pilots who were downed. His devotion to others won him many friends who loved and admired him.

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Mischler Harold last photo 1972 c

Most of the fighting over Laos on December 23, 1972, took place in an area known as the Plain of Jars. While directing his squadron in air strikes, Harold’s plane was shot down by ground fire and he lost his life. He was 26 years old and had served 225 days in combat.

The day before Hal was shot down, he had called his cousin, Senior Master Sergeant Elmo “Mitch” Mischler, who was stationed in Laos at the same time, and they had made arrangements to spend Christmas Day together. A French chef was going to prepare their dinner for them. This would have been the day after he lost his life. Mitch accompanied Harold’s body back home to Kansas from Laos. A public memorial service for Harold was held at Osborne High School, after which he was laid to rest in the Osborne City Cemetery with full military honors.

If you are ever in Washington, D.C., be sure to find Harold Mischler’s name on the Vietnam Memorial, located at 01W 104 – a fitting and lasting tribute to the promise and sacrifice of this honored member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

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Star Pilot Volunteered For Dangerous, Secret Flights

Written by Raelean Finch

www2.ljworld.com/KU59/

May 25, 2014

It was late in 1972. President Richard Nixon was on the verge of being re-elected. He had cut troop levels in Vietnam by 70,000. Rumors of peace talks entered a pool of speculation already churning with rumors of a secret war being waged by the CIA in Laos, a “neutral” country neighboring Vietnam.

Shirley Mischler-Davis had no idea her brother Hal had just signed up to fight in it.

“We didn’t even know where he was at the time,” Mischler-Davis said of her brother’s involvement in the secret war. “One day he just sent everything home and said that as far as we were concerned, he was no longer connected with the Air Force.”

After Hal Mischler joined the Ravens, he shipped all his possessions home to his parents. Officially, he was no longer in the Air Force but one of 22 pilots fighting the CIA’s secret war in Laos.

Hal Mischler was a good pilot — one of the best. After graduating from Kansas University in 1968, he got a commission in the Air Force and commenced crisscrossing the globe flying cargo planes. In February 1972, Mischler shipped off to Thailand to pilot high-flying reconnaissance planes called OV-10’s over Vietnam as a forward air controller. He’d find enemy positions, then guide bombers in so they could drop their cargo.

Then, as Mischler’s tour was coming to an end, he made a fateful decision: to join the Ravens.

Only the best and the brightest, the craziest and the bravest Americans served in Laos during the Vietnam War. Officially assigned to the Ambassador to Laos as civilians, the Ravens were a group of elite pilots of no more than 22 men at any one time, who flew the Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs during the Southeast Asian Conflict as forward air controllers for the CIA’s covert operation in Laos. They flew in support of the Royal Laotian Army against contingents of the North Vietnamese Army that had infiltrated Laos. They went to war in blue jeans, T-shirts, and sometimes cowboy hats. It was a symbol of their disdain for the conventional, “bureaucratic” military. They were the Ravens, fighting a secret air war in the jungles of Laos, almost forgotten by everyone . . . They suffered the highest casualty rate in the Indochina war – over 30%. Their deeds were the stuff of whispered legends.

Instead of relatively safe OV-10’s, the Ravens flew low over the Laotian countryside in single engine, two-seater, Cessna-like planes. They searched for North Vietnamese positions that ground troops couldn’t see, sometimes goading well-camouflaged gunners into firing at them to reveal their locations. To guide bombers to the enemy locations they found, the Ravens would sometimes use smoke grenades, other times landmarks. Ideally, the Ravens provided pinpoint grid coordinates. Sometimes, when bombers weren’t available, the Ravens strapped high explosive bombs to their wings and dropped them on the targets themselves, an extraordinarily risky technique.

“We were 25. We were immortal,” said Jack Shaw, former Raven and longtime friend of Mischler’s.

Mischler’s reputation and rank earned him a position as a senior Raven immediately upon his entry into his program. He landed in a tough spot. The war in Laos was getting hotter, but pilots and planes were in short supply.

Lew Hatch, whom Mischler had replaced as senior Raven, said the two of them frequently flew upwards of 180 hours each month, nearly double the flying time allowed by Air Force regulation.

On December 23, 1972, Mischler and his Laotian co-pilot were shot down over Saravene, a hotly contested piece of terrain in southern Laos tenuously held by out-numbered and out-gunned Thai soldiers. It was a mission Hatch had been slated to fly. But Mischler was tired of flying training flights and yearned to get back in the fight. And it was quite a fight in Saravene.

“In that one 24-hour period, the 23rd and 24th of December [1972], we lost 40 percent of the Ravens that were in country. For years after the war — after we came back — I was really depressed over Christmas,” Hatch said. “It took me until about 10 years ago before I really got over that.

A few weeks after Mischler-Davis’ parents received her brother’s trunks packed with uniforms and Thai souvenirs that he couldn’t take with him to Laos, they received Hal Mischler’s body. Among his effects was the camera he’d taken with him to his secret mission in Laos. There was no film in it.

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McCook Gazette

McCook, Nebraska – Friday, November 21, 2008

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I read Dick Trail’s article (My Gomer, Tuesday, November 18th) with great interest.

I grew up on a farm in rural Osborne County, Kansas. In our church community was a young man named Harold Mischler; his parents and mine were neighbors and friends for many years. Harold’s mother was my third-grade teacher.

Harold was 10 years older than me. I remember him as one of the “big kids,” kind and decent but worshiped from afar, if you know what I mean. I have two older brothers, and they knew him better than I did.

Harold was one of the Ravens that Dick speaks of in his article. I will always remember getting out of school to attend his funeral when they brought his body home from Vietnam, a few short weeks before the peace treaty was signed with North Vietnam in 1973

I really didn’t know much about the Ravens until recently, when I found some information about them on the internet. I knew that Harold flew small single-engine planes, and I knew he died in Laos.

I have been to the Wall in Washington, D.C., twice to see his name. It’s very close to the last of those who lost their lives in Vietnam.

I found the following remarks posted on a website by a David Preston, a contemporary of his:

A True Hero: Hal Mischler

“Hal Mischler was my best friend. His SEA [Southeast Asia] tour commenced about 7 months after mine. He was my roommate at both OTS and in pilot training. We both attended the University of Kansas and traveled to OTS together. From those early beginnings in 1968 until his extraordinarily unfortunate death in 1972 over Saravan, Laos, Hal was my friend and one of my heroes. As a search-and-rescue airborne mission commander, I monitored some of his strike missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail as a OV-10 Forward Air Controller (FAC, Nail 81). Hal was a great pilot and FAC. His deep baritone voice came over the airways and his hearty chuckle touched everyone that knew him. Hal worked as a FAC on several aircrew rescue missions that I coordinated and his efforts contributed greatly to the success of those missions. He volunteered for the Raven FAC program during the last months of his scheduled tour in SEA. This perilous duty involved flying in support of the “secret war in Laos” and supported directly the anti-communist forces fighting in Laos. On December 23, 1972, just weeks before the peace treaty signing in Paris that ended our war against North Vietnam, Hal was shot down while piloting his small 0-1 Cessna over Saravane.”

Hence, his name is listed on the last panel of the Vietnam Wall along with the other final casualties of the war.

Submitted by Gary Shike – Oberlin, Kansas

 

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Mischler Harold military Osb Cem 13 Dec 2008
Harold Mischler’s military stone in the Osborne City Cemetery, Osborne, Kansas.

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SOURCES:  Shirley (Mischler) Davis, Salina, Kansas; Gary Shike, Oberlin, Kansas; “Covert Ops: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos” by Robert E. Parker, Jr. (Macmillan, 1997, 272 pages); Montana Standard, Butte, Montana, December 28, 1972; Osborne County Farmer, December 28, 1972; Salina Journal, August 20, 1968; http://www.fac-assoc.org/memorial/; http://www.airforce.togetherweserved.com/; www2.ljworld.com/KU59/; http://www.mccookgazette.com; http://www.VirtualWall.org Ltd.

 

 

William Hardesty Layton – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 6, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the second of the five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

In Memoriam: William Layton

Translation and adaptation of the article published by Paz Mediavilla in Babab magazine (babab.com/no00/william_layton.htm) by Von Rothenberger

William_LaytonIn November 1993 I had the opportunity to speak with the teacher William Layton in what would be his last interview. A few months later he ended his life at his home in Madrid, Spain on June 15, 1995. He was 82 years old.

During the interview Layton informed me without, of course, letting me share in his decisions on the latest efforts to keep all his affairs in order and under control. For example, Layton was finalizing details with Yale University to which he would donate his correspondence with the writer Thornton Wilder – 150 letters from 1942 to 1973 (two years before the death of Wilder). He was also was finishing writing a play, “Don Quixote of Denmark Hill”, whose protagonist is the writer John Ruskin.

And, moreover, one of the cornerstones of his life, he was teaching drama at the Theatre Lab that he founded. During that interview I was informed that he was going to start to study “Uncle Vanya.” With this work, he said, he would close a circle, since it was the work with which he got his first big break.

Because of his personality, devoid of any desire for fame, his work has not had the widespread it should have had. So this article will serve to remind all the people who are not aware of his work and the high regard that he has earned for his contribution to the development of theater in Spain, which is evident in the good work of the professionals who are his students.

William Layton was an author, actor, theater director and teacher of the best Spanish actors and directors of the moment. Fondly named are the numerous actors and directors who trained with him and are successfully performing different functions and receiving recognition on the world stage, such as Juanjo Puigcorbé, José Pedro Carrion, Chema Muñoz, Ana Belén, San Segundo, Juan Margallo, José Carlos Plaza, Nuria Garcia, Alfredo Simon, Carlos Hipolito, Enriqueta Carballeira, Juan Pastor, Amparo Pascual, Antonio Valero, Carmen Elias, Julieta Serrano, Ana Marzoa, Berta Riaza, etc. He also encouraged people who have contributed to the development of theater in this country as Vicuña or Juliá, and who continue to work for it, such as the master choreographer and stage movement, Arnold Taraborrelli.

American by birth, living in Spain since the sixties, Layton received numerous awards for his work, including Best Director of the Year (1979) by Spectator and Critic for the Radio Spain production of “Youth Radio of Spain” (1979) and the 1990 Daedalus Award. In February 1989 he received the prestigious Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts from the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos de Borbón.

A life devoted to theater predates that time. What follows is a sketch of what he told me was roughly his life and career development.

William Hardesty Layton was born on December 23, 1913 in Osborne, Osborne County, Kansas, United States. His parents were Walter and Helen Olivia (Amos) Layton. William, together with his siblings (brothers Harold and Robert and sister Helen), was raised first in Osborne and later in Salina, Kansas, where his father served as mayor, and then in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1936 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Layton William birth announcement Osborne County Farmer Thursday Dec 25 1913 Page 4
William Layton’s birth announcement in the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of Osborne, Kansas, on Page 4 of the December 25, 1913 edition of the paper.

Layton traveled to New York where he began his training as an actor and made his first works. On a trip to London with his friend, writer Thornton Wilder, he was introduced to the European theater and there starred in a production of Wilder’s play “Our Town”. He took a break during World War II, where for four years he joined the Marine Corps of the United States, enlisting on October 19, 1942, later storming the beaches at Iwo Jima, and finally being discharged on March 15, 1946. The explosion of a grenade near him produced deafness with which he lived the rest of his life.

Layton William New York Passenger lists Roll T715 1897 -1957 1946
Record of William Layton arriving back in New York City from a second trip to London in 1946. Taken from New York Passenger Lists, Roll T715, 1897 -1957, National Archives.

Returning to New York Layton resumed his work as a professor at the American Academy of Dramatic Art and at the American Theatre Wing, and was a member of both the Alfred Dixon Speech Institute and the Neighborhood Playhouse. He worked as an actor in various theater productions such as “American Way” (1939), “Mr. Big” (1941), “The Duchess of Malfi” (1946), “Command Decision” (1947), “Summer and Smoke” (1948), “The Man Who Came to Dinner” and “The Glass Menagerie”. After the war Layton could not readjust to life in America, and it was fortunate that during this time in New York Layton met Agustin Penón. This meeting changed Layton’s life, as he was introduced to the person who gave birth to his interest in Spanish culture. 

William and Agustin collaborated in performing a radio drama for the Quaker Oats cereal company which was called “Don Quaker”. For a time they toured South America, and Penón had the opportunity to share his fascination with Layton for the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. At this time Layton starred in the Brazilian television series Pancho and the Man. In 1955 Agustin Penón went to Spain and began research on Lorca and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the poet’s death. He convinced Layton to visit Granada and, from that moment, Layton began his interest in Spain to where it ended in transferring his residence to there.

Layton William with Agustin Penon
William Layton (standing) with Agustin Penon.

Upon Agustin Penon’s death in 1976 Layton received Penon’s personal archives, including all of his research regarding Federico García Lorca. Layton took this material and together with fellow writer Ian Gibson compiled the book “Agustin Penon: Diaries Lorquiana Search”, which was published in 1990.

Layton studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York in 1956. For a time he alternated his stays in Madrid and New York, until he permanently settled in Spain. In October 1960 Layton founded the Studio Theater of Madrid (TEM), where he taught along with fellow actor Miguel Narros. Layton was also present at the founding of the Independent Studio Theatre (TEI), the Little Theatre and Theatre Stable Castilian (TEC). He became known at that stage to Germán Bonin, the then-director of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts (ESSN), who invited him to work with him in Barcelona ​​at the Institute of Theatre, where he met Puigcerver Fabia, a man of great prestige in the Catalan scene. From 1968 to 1984 Layton worked as a teacher for the National Film School in both Madrid and Barcelona, Spain.

The most successful of Layton’s work in Madrid was the production of “Uncle Vanya” by Anton Chekhov with Castilian Stable Theatre Company (TEC). Also celebrated was his production of Edward Albee’s “Zoo Story,” which ran three times in his lifetime – 1963, 1971 and finally in 1991, starring José Pedro Carrion and Chema Muñoz, at the National Theatre Maria Guerrero.

In 1989, a month before receiving the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, Layton opened at the Spanish Theatre directing the play “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” It was a great success, as was his next play, “Zero transparent” by Alfonso Vallejo, an author for whom he felt a special admiration.

These plays were followed by a series of collaborations,  including “Hamlet”, “The Oresteia” and “The Merchant of Venice”, with his onetime student, José Carlos Plaza,  during the period when Layton led the National Drama Centre.

In Madrid Layton founded the William Layton Theatre Lab, where, as I said, were trained many of the best actors and directors Spain currently has. Through the success of the Lab and his many other efforts Layton is now considered to be the father of the modern Spanish theater.

In 1990 Layton published his book “Why? Trampoline Actor: A Way of Life on the Stage”. “For me, theater is experimentation, collaboration, reading, concept search,” Layton once explained. “No ‘test’ but play, experiment, try things in terms of what artistic reality is being created. I attend several times the first week to give notes to the actors, then I go less often. The best feature has to be the last.”

Let this article serve to remind the world that the teacher Layton is still alive in the memory and the work of many of us.

 

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William H. Layton Movie and Television Roles:

1961             Siempre es domingo   Spain (uncredited)

1963             Confidencias de un marido   Spain

1966             Lola, espejo oscuro  [Lola – dark mirror]   Spain

Layton William H movie photo #1
William Layton in a scene from one of his 1960s movies.

1967             Las que tienen que servir    Spain

1968             Los que tocan el piano   Spain

1969             Esa mujer   Spain

1969             La vida sigue igual  Spain

1970             La Cólera del Viento [The Wind’s Fierce; also known as Wrath of the Wind]                              Spain, Italy

Layton William H movie photo #1 movie wrath of the wind 1970 b
William Layton in a scene from the movie Wrath of the Wind (1970).

1970             Transplant   USA

1971             A Town Called Hell [A Town Called Bastard]  UK, Spain (uncredited) 

1971             Man in the Wilderness   USA

1972             La Casa sin fronteras [The House Without Frontiers] Spain

1972             Travels with My Aunt   USA (uncredited)

1973             La Campana del infierno [Bell from Hell]  Spain, France

1973             Los camioneros (TV series)   Spain

1973             Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe [The Scarlet Letter]  Germany, Spain

1974             Apuntes para una tesis doctoral    Spain

1974             Cuentos y leyendas (TV series)   Spain

1974             Los pintores del Prado (TV series)    Spain

1974             Open Season      Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA

1974             The New Spaniards      Spain                          

1975             La adúltera     Spain

1975             Los pájaros de Baden-Baden    Spain

1977             Curro Jiménez (TV series)   Spain

1977             Hasta que el matrimonio nos separe   Spain

1977             La Gioconda está triste   Spain, Italy

1977             La saga de los Rius (TV series)    Spain

1977             Las locuras de Jane    Spain

1977             Hasta que el matrimonio nos separe [We did not separate . . . to divorce] Spain

1978             Memoria    Spain

1979             El juglar y la reina (TV series)     Spain

1979             Los mitos (TV series)     Spain

1980             F.E.N.    Spain

1983             Bearn o la sala de las muñecas [Beam or a room of dolls]  Spain

1984             La conquista de Albania     Spain

1989             Autumn Rain   Spain

2008            Heaven on Earth    Canada

                     (Nominated by the Directors Guild of Canada for 2009 DGC Team Award)

 

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Mr. Layton (a conversation with Carlos Hipólito)

by Marcos Ordóñez

March 20, 2014

(Reprinted from the website: blogs.elpais.com/bulevares-perifericos/2014/03/)

I’m re-reading Why? Trampoline of the actor, the compilation of texts and theatrical exercises that William Layton published in 1990, and I realize that last December was the centenary of his birth. Professor, actor, stage director, translator and playwright, American, Kansas. He studied in New York, at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Neighborhood Playhouse, where he trained in the teachings of Stanislavsky under the tutelage of Sanford Meisner, one of the heterodox of the Actors Studio. He arrived in Spain in the mid-fifties, with the help of his friend Agustín Penón, the first great Lorca researcher. In Mérida, he was dazzled by the way of listening to the scene by Mary Carrillo, who starred in La Alameda, by Anouilh. In that festival he discovered “that the Spanish actors were capable of titanic efforts but they got bored with the continued work”. In 1959 he settled in Madrid and created the first “laboratory of actors” of this country, along with Miguel Narros and Betsy Berkley. Forty years later, several generations of actors and actresses had deepened (and even revolutionized) their way of interpreting thanks to him. In 1995, suffering from an almost absolute deafness and with mobility difficulties, Layton committed suicide so as “not to be a burden,” as he wrote in his farewell note.

I want to know more about the American teacher. So I call Carlos Hipólito, who was his disciple from a very young age. He responds with his usual passion and cordiality.

Hipolito Carlos by
Carlos Hipolito

“I love talking about Mr. Layton! There are still people who do not know how important it has been for the theater of this country. I had the great luck that I was formed when I began to take my first steps as an actor, at eighteen, that is, at the best moment and with the best educator imaginable. Starting with him was a gift. I feel privileged, and I believe that everyone who has learned from him will tell you the same thing. You know that Layton, Narros and Betsy Berkley created the TEM (Teatro Estudio de Madrid), whose first promotion was presented in 1964 with Process by the shadow of a donkey, Dürrenmatt, directed by a very young José Carlos Plaza.

 

What comes now seems like a soup of letters. I began to receive classes ten years later in the TEI (Independent Experimental Theater), which was born in 1968 as a split of the TEM, and in turn would become the TEC (Spanish Stable Theater). These classes were somewhat itinerant. They began in the TEI room, the Little Theater of Magallanes Street, which had a capacity of seventy people, but the seats could be removed and thus expanded space. From there we went to the dance studio of Karen Taft, in Libertad 15, where she also taught movement with Arnold Taraborelli, American as Layton, of Philadelphia, and tried the functions of TEI. Later Layton Laboratory was created, which started, if I remember correctly, in the Spanish test rooms and then in Carretas 14, which was when I disengaged a little, for work reasons, but whenever I could go back to continue learning.

My professional debut was in So Five Five Years, directed by Miguel Narros, in 1978. Doing two daily functions seemed to me something extraordinary. At that time they were already the TEC, with a management team formed by Narros, Jose Carlos Plaza, Layton and Taraborrelli. Narros and Plaza used to sign the montages, and Layton and Taraborrelli always collaborated in directing. They were all great, but Mr. Layton, as we all called him, was extraordinary. He was a teacher and a sower. Now anyone is called a teacher, but there are very few who are really teachers.

The first thing that caught my eye was his appearance. Very elegant, with great authority. Eyes piercing, [like a] hawk. And a grave, precious, persuasive voice. Not only did it revolutionize the art of acting in Spain, but it made us see very clearly the links, the legacies. He showed us where we were coming from. He told us that there were a number of actors who were our elders: they had never stepped into a class, but they were the best teachers we could have. And that is not usual. The usual thing is to try to erase all of the above, especially if the person who says it is a foreigner. There are many schools that despise what others do, as if they were the only possessors of theatrical truth. And he was just the opposite, a man of immense generosity, constant. He would get excited and tell us, “You have to run to see what Berta Riaza does in that role. He is doing exactly what I ask you to do.” He adored Mary Carrillo, Berta Riaza, and Gutierrez Caba.

Mr. Layton taught me what I call the “fundamental principles”, beginning with the approach to the text. It made you discover, line by line, what the character was silent. He said: “If a text is well written, you will detect not only what the character says but what he decides not to say, which is much more important, because it is what defines him and makes him really interesting. But it’s not always easy to see.”

Another day he told us: “Many actors have the tendency to want to tell the whole character, to “illustrate” it, and then the interpretation becomes redundant. Do not “explain”, nor forget that the public also thinks. They not only have to listen to you but they have to be moved: they have to think with you, and wonder what you are thinking”. It combined in an incredible way to delve into the psychology of the character with an absolute practical sense of how to handle an actor on stage.

He had the pride of one who knows he knows, but deep down he was very humble: “There are many people who say that I am the one who has brought the Method to Spain,” he said. “They are wrong, because the Method does not exist. What is the Method? It’s naming common sense. The Method does not exist because there are so many methods as actors. Each of you will find your own method through what you learn here with me, what you learn in another school and, above all, on stage. Note that two actors who have studied in the same school never work in the same way. Even the same actor, by his vital circumstances, never prepares the characters in the same way: it depends on whether he does it in the spring or in the winter, if he has had an illness or is healthy . . . there are always a thousand variables.” He always taught to relativize everything, not to put big caps on things.

There was another startling thing about Mr. Layton. He had spent many years in our country and was fluent in written Castilian, because he did a lot of translations, but he still spoke a very American Castilian, a Spanglish that was not always easy to decipher. To finish it off, a grenade left him deaf in Iwo Jima. Many people asked me: “This man, how can he teach and direct?” They did not believe me when I told them that he had a capacity for observation and listening that touched the paranormal. He listened with his eyes. He studied the placement of the body and always knew if you were in the right tone. And what he said coincided fully with what the other directors of the team had warned.

As teacher and director he had an infinite patience. When an actor did not understand something, he went to the basics to help him get to where he wanted to take him. If the actor had not done the initial work on his own, he’d done the whole process with him from the beginning. Being patient is a way of being respectful. And he knew how to lead each one in a different way: that is one of the greatest qualities of a director.

There were two eras in my relationship with him. The first was in the classes; the second, on stage. In the TEC I did The Tartar Lady, of Nieva, the Don Carlos of Schiller and Long Trip to the Night, of O’Neill. They were directing Narros or Plaza but, as I said before, Layton was always there, and helping you to break down each scene. In the second stage a friendship was formed, because in the rehearsals there are many dead times and I was fortunate to be able to talk much with him about life and the trade.

He could be laconic, very cowboy. And hard; he had been a Marine and that marked him. Respectful always, but hard. He hated the sensibility. Under that initial layer of roughness was an emotional man and close.

He taught me to value discipline, respect for work, for the stage, for the public. To never yield to the easy, to demand of you. To overcome you always, but without comparing yourself with anyone. He said: “Never try to be more than another. That is absurd, it leads nowhere. You have to compare yourself with your previous work. If you try to be better than another you are bound to fail, because there will always be someone who says that the other is better than you, and that will sink you. You do not have to compete.”

He put me on guard against the facility: “There are actors to whom everything is very simple. The director tells them something, they catch him on the fly and they act for him. That’s great, but they run the risk of believing that resolving what the director asks them is worth it. You always have to be vigilant, because the search never ends”.

After a rehearsal of Long Trip to the Night he said something that I tried to follow strictly: “Carlitos, the best job is the one that is not noticed. I hope that the public that sees you acting never thinks “what a good actor he is”. You have to try that the stage does not leave the actor, but that the public always sees the personage and that they create it to him. When they finish, if they want, they think about how good the actor is, but not during the scene. Do not go out and make a show of faculties. You never have to “show” the job. The viewer has to think “how simple it is, how easy it seems to be,” however much it has cost you. If they tell you that, you have done well. On stage we play to be others, and when you play, even if you get tired, you get tired at ease. “

Many years have passed but I still think about him. He did not give me crutches to walk on stage: he gave me legs. Thank you, Mr. Layton.

Layton William Why Trampoline Actor
The cover of a modern reprint of William Layton’s 1990 book “Why? Trampoline Actor”.

 

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In March 2017 a new book on William Layton and his work in the Spanish theater was released.

Layton William Implantation

William Layton: The Implementation of the Method in Spain

by Javier Carazo Aquilera (Editorial Fundamentos, Madrid, Spain, 2017)

The history of interpretation in Spain and, hence, the formation of actors, changed radically when in 1958 an American named William Layton decided to settle in these lands to teach a technique that until then was only known by actors and films American: the famous Method. But not the Actor’s Studio Method commanded by Lee Strasberg, but the one learned with Sanford Meisner. And with it Spanish theater resumed that modernizing current that had been cut off with the outbreak of civil war in the 1930s and the subsequent dictatorship, drowning the efforts of Cipriano de Rivas Cherif, Margarita Xirgu or Maria Teresa Leon.

From the first trip to Spain in 1955, Layton perceived the shortcomings of Spanish actors and the need for a long overdue renovation in the technique of interpretation. Beginning in 1960, with the successive founding of his own schools-theater groups, plus his teaching experience in public places and the adhesion of Miguel Narros and José Carlos Plaza, two key names in his career and in the Spanish scene, he managed to implant and develop a methodology for actors who today stand as a majority in dramatic art studies.

Among his contributions are the creation of one of the first private theater academies, the application of the Method in the stage montages and a dignification of the actor – a profession quite badly beaten in Spain. In adapting to the idiosyncrasy of the interpreter here, this teaching eventually drifted into the Layton Method – an own formula that has jumped to the dramaturgy (in the curricula, in the texts or in the scripts) and to the direction of scene, with the indispensable analysis of text and the table work. – by Editorial Fundementos.

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William Layton

Because of his limitations with language, deafness

and humility, he was a team man

Marcos Ordóñez

elpais.com/cultura/

27 April 2017

Among the great theatrical shocks of my adolescence was Edward Albee’s play Historia del zoo, in January 1974, in charge of the TEI (Independent Experimental Theater), directed by William Layton, with Antonio Llopis and José Carlos Plaza, in The Poliorama in Barcelona. I had not seen anything so intense as that, so full of truth. And Antonio Llopis seemed to me a unique actor, out of series. That is why I have fallen on the new book William Layton, the Implantation of the Method in Spain, by Javier Carazo (Editorial Fundamentos), perhaps the most complete text on the American master, and all those who by his side carried out one of the most exciting adventures of our Theater. I fear it is unknown to the younger generations.

To speak of the great Cowboy of Kansas is also to speak of the group formed by Miguel Narros, Jose Carlos Plaza, Arnold Taraborrelli, French Pillar, Paca Ojea, Begoña Valley, Francisco Vidal and a very long list of professors and interpreters who continue learning or spreading their teachings in The Layton Laboratory. Because of his limitations with Castilian, his deafness (because of a grenade in Iwo Jima) and his essential humility, Layton was, therefore, a team man. He always said: ‘I am a good director, though not very good; a regular actor and a great teacher.”

Javier Carazo’s book tells the story of “Mr. Layton”, his theatrical passion, and also shows the essence of his “fundamental principles”: how to bring truth to the stage, how to preserve the freshness of a text after a hundred or two hundred representations. In this book I have learned, for example, that the “table work” of History of the Zoo lasted two months.

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SOURCES Robert Gaylord Layton, Englewood, Colorado; International Movie Database; Wikipedia; Marcos Ordóñez, “Mr. Layton (a conversation with Carlos Hipólito)” (www.elpais.com, 2014); Marcos Ordóñez, “William Layton: Because of his limitations with language, deafness and humility, he was a team man” (www.elpais.com, 2017); http://www.babab.com; http://www.editoralfundamentos.es; http://www.laytonlaboratorio.com; http://www.prabook.com.

 

Wilda Juanita (Stockbridge) Carswell – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 5, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the first of the five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

Our next inductee has been a dynamic and effective leader since childhood and continues to be an advocate for quality of life in the community and county that she has called home for the past eight decades.

Wilda Juanita (Stockbridge) Carswell was born May 4, 1935 on the farm of her parents, Edgar & Ruth (Glodfelty) Stockbridge, in Hawkeye Township, northeast of Alton, Kansas. Their farm was the 1871 homestead of Edgar’s grandparents, Ira and Abbie Stockbridge. Wilda attended the old rock Alton Grade School and later Alton Rural High School, where she was a cheerleader and active in the school band and in school plays. Wilda served as an officer and district president of the Future Homemakers of America (FHA) and was awarded the State FHA Homemaker Degree in 1952.

 

Carswell Wilda 1936 18 months old Edar & Ruth Stockbridge parents
Wilda at age 18 months with her parents, Edgar & Ruth Stockbridge.

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“Little Wilda Stockbridge spent Wednesday at the Jamie Boland home while her mother attended community circle.” – Wilda’s first public mention, in the Grant Center social column of the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of October 13, 1938, Page 6.

Carswell Wilda 1941 1st day of school note lunchbox
Wilda and her lunchbox on her first day of school, 1941. 
Carswell Wilda 8 years old 1943
Wilda Stockbridge at age eight years old.

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“Hobbies are nice and everyone should have a hobby. Miss Wilda Stockbridge of Alton has a hobby of collecting paper napkins. They make a nice collection. She had about 125 and would be glad to receive any from friends. Remember her when you are on your vacation. Write the store, place or town on them.” – Osborne Farmer-Journal, June 26, 1947, Page 6.

*  *  *  *  *

Wilda graduated from Alton Rural High in May 1953 and on June 7, 1953, she married Deryl Carswell at the Alton First United Methodist Church. Deryl’s grandfather, John Thomas Paynter, had homesteaded in Osborne County’s Grant Township in 1894. The farm’s original sod house was replaced by a new frame house in 1900. Deryl’s parents moved here in 1919 and stayed until 1953, when they moved into Alton. Deryl and Wilda then took over the farm and raised their four children – Donita, Janel, Darwin, and Jay – there. At present Wilda’s growing family includes twelve grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Carswell Wilda senior photo 1953 AHS
Wilda’s 1953 senior high school graduation photograph. 
Carswell Wilda & Deryl wedding 1953
Wedding photo of Wilda Stockbridge and Deryl Carswell, 1953.

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Salina Journal

October 14, 1956

Elect Officers

OSBORNE – At the last Rural Life meeting, officers elected were: President, Max LaRosh; Vice-President, Wilda Carswell; Secretary, Joyce Hays; treasurer, Phyllis Lund; reporter, Don Peterson; and recreation chairman, Deryl Carswell.

The Rural Lifers will hold their annual Halloween party on October 26th at the Legion Hall in Osborne. There will be a professional square dance caller. There will be social dances also.

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In 2000 Deryl & Wilda were the recipients of the Goodyear Co-Opera­tor of the Year Award by the Osborne County Conservation District/Natural Resources Conservation Service. In 2002 they were given the Century Farm Award from the Kansas Farm Bureau in recognition of their farm being owned for over 100 years by the same family. After 50 years of farm life Deryl and Wilda retired in 2003 and moved to a new home in Alton.

Carswell Wilda & Deryl Century Farm Certificate 2002

Carswell Farm Auction Hays Daily News 18 April 2004 Pg. 31

When she was 11-12 years old Wilda became a member of the Sumner 4-H Club and remained a member for seven years. Her four children followed in her footsteps and became members in their turn. Wilda and Deryl became 4-H leaders for a short time after they were married, and over the next several years Wilda continued as either a project or community leader. Eventually she earned her 35-year 4-H leadership pin, a rare and amazing accomplishment. Wilda considers her love of working with youth to be the highlight of her 4-H leadership years. Sumner 4-H celebrated their 50-year anniversary while she was a leader. The club has received many awards and contributed much back to the community over the years and remains active in the Alton area in the present day.

The Osborne County Fair is always a highlight of the 4-H year. Wilda exhibited at the fair when she was a young 4-H member and has continued to do so every year since then. She still works the Fair annually by helping with the Open Class Culinary Department. Wilda has entered exhibits in the Kansas State Fair through the years as well, winning a ribbon for her jelly collection.

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Osborne County Farmer

July 16, 2015

Carswell named Grand Marshal of Fair Parade

The Osborne County Fair Board has named Wilda Carswell this year’s grand marshal for the 2015 parade that will take place at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 24.

Wilda, a lifelong resident of the Alton area, takes great pride in her community. She herself was a 4-Her with the Sumner 4-H Club growing up, which her four children later became members of themselves and two of her granddaughters are members of now.

Wilda has hardly missed an Osborne County Fair since it began and still helps each year with the open class entries. She is also a civic leader, having participated in numerous organizations and boards and still finds time each Wednesday morning to have coffee with the residents and staff at Progressive Care.

Most recently Wilda celebrated her 80th birth­day in early May with an open house hosted by her four children and their spouses, Donita (Rod) Shike, Janel (Alan) Burch, Darwin (Denise) and Jay (Paula) Carswell along with most of her 12 grand­children and five great grandchildren.

An avid supporter of many organizations, Wilda can also be found attend­ing many of her grandchil­dren’s activities. As this year’s grand marshal, the roles will be reversed as they show their support for her and encourage everyone to come to the Osborne County fair and parade, July 22-27.

*  *  *  *  *

For many years Wilda has been a supporter of the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service – or K-State Research and Extension for short. She was a member of the Willow Dale Extension Homemakers Unit and has served on the Osborne County Extension Council both as a director and as council president.

Since 1970 the Kansas PRIDE program, a volunteer grassroots effort to improve the quality of life in local communities, has been a partnership between the Kansas Department of Commerce, K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Masons, and private sector companies and associations which operate in Kansas. The Alton PRIDE Committee was formed in 1985 and has long been a vital part of the community. Wilda was a charter member of Alton PRIDE and in 2017 is serving her 23rd year as its president. She has also served on the State PRIDE Board of Directors.

*  *  *  *  *

Alton to Celebrate its Summer Jubilee

by Joy Leiker

Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas

August 22, 2002 – Page One

ALTON – When a group of Alton residents worked to form the community’s PRIDE organization 17 years ago, they pledged to keep their rural community alive with events and celebrations.

This weekend the group will host its annual Summer Jubilee, an event that Wilda Carswell, the organization’s president, says is an occasion for more than just those in the small Osborne County community to celebrate.

“People are pretty excited about it anymore,” she said. “We get good support from the area around us.”

Their tactics to attract regional attention apparently work, as Carswell estimates as many as 1,500 people come through the community during some point of the festivities.

For a community that numbers 117 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, welcoming a crowd more than 10 times its size definitely is a big deal, Carswell said. The Jubilee’s entertainment events are scheduled throughout the day Saturday. Each year the Jubilee is focused on a daylong theme, and this year organizers centered their attention on “Family Pride.” As a result, the local community hall will be transformed into a family pride gallery of photos and collectibles that showcase the history of families. The collection Includes mostly photos, but also items “that people are proud of,” she said. But organizers prefer to change more than just the theme of the event each year. As a result, every Jubilee includes at least one new attraction or event on the schedule “so it keeps interest going.”

This year residents submitted photos for the community’s first photography contest. Winning entries will be labeled and on display this weekend. Another new event, organized specifically for the youngest Jubilee participants, is Kiddyland, an area full of carnival games and other child-friendly events. Kiddyland will open at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the northeast corner of Alton City Park.

Pending no emergency calls, the new Eagle Med helicopter plans to land at the Alton-Osborne Junior High School football field, and the Osborne County Rural Rescue and Ambulance Services will execute a Jaws of Life demonstration.

Carswell said there are some events organizers wouldn’t dream of changing. Hundreds of visitors line Mill Street in Alton for the 10:30 a.m. parade Saturday, a regular event for the annual Jubilee. The parade – the official kickoff to the annual Jubilee – typically includes 130 entries. Although reservations for the parade don’t number 100 yet, Carswell said there are many regular participants who are notorious for showing up even without a reservation.

Immediately after the parade, Alton alumnus Ray Kurtz, a retired Kansas State University instructor, will talk about his family pride and boyhood in Osborne County. His presentation will precede the announcement of the parade’s winning entries.

This year a silent auction will replace the regular oral auction, and Carswell said organizers hope the new format not only allows more people to participate but also raises more funds for the community. All proceeds from the auction “go back into community improvement.” The silent auction features both handmade and donated items and runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Events are scheduled throughout the day. Local musicians will perform half-hour shows in the park during the afternoon, and other organizations will sponsor activities as well. The Bull City Roughriders, a local saddle club, will coordinate horse games for riders, and the Osborne County Rural Fire District sponsors a lunch stand as well as a 9 p.m. Saturday street dance.

The Bull City Opry group will present its annual entertainment at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the tennis court. This year, it’s entitled “Family Feud Weddin.” There is no charge for the event, but Carswell said the group will accept contributions.

A community church service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday under the tent in the park officially closes the celebration weekend. The Reverend Richard Taylor, a retired United Methodist minister from Topeka, will be the featured speaker during the non-denominational service. Taylor was instrumental in preserving a Woodston area barn that later was destroyed by fire caused by lightning.

While the daylong event is sponsored by the PRIDE group, Carswell said its annual success is dependent on the work of other local entities.

“We sponsor it, but there are other groups that do a lot of these things too,” she said.

A complete schedule for the Alton Summer Jubilee is available online at: skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Alton/ Jubilee2002.html.

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Russell Stover Cousin finds History in Alton

by Jeremy Shapiro

Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas

December 8, 2002, Page 3

ALTON – The seventh cousin twice removed of Russell Stover looked right at home digging his fork into a big piece of chocolate pie. After all, Don Harless was practically family at the second annual Chocolate Festival here Saturday.

The town of 117 residents decided to throw a little bash for its most famous native son, Russell Stover. A long table full of brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge cake and chocolate muffins were among the goodies to choose from. Chocolate lovers had a hard time picking what to chose. In the end, many bought more than they intended to.

“The table was just covered with chocolate at the beginning,” said Sally Bradley, a PRIDE member helping out. “It was a sight. We didn’t have enough room.”

The festival seemed a little more official with the presence of Harless. A friend of Harless in Ness City gave him an article on the festival published in the Kansas Governor’s Journal, and they decided to make the trip. Harless, 65 wasn’t aware of the link to Stover until his wife started researching family history a few years ago. Further research revealed that he also happens to be a distant cousin of Daniel Boone.

“When you really start getting looking into the history, you realize we all are brothers, sisters and cousins,” Harless said.

Harless was given a tour of the property his kin lived in the first two years of his life. Although the house is no longer there, a sign commemorates the birthplace.

“It was nice to walk the same ground as him,” Harless said. “This is family history.”

Russell Stover was born May 6, 1888, in a sod farmhouse approximately 10 miles south of Alton. Stover’s father, John, moved to Alton from Iowa in search of fortune. He purchased some farmland in Osborne County for $1,500. Devastating drought forced John to move back to Iowa three years later.

While the Stover candy empire started in a small shop in Denver, Alton residents are proud to call their town his birthplace.

Wilda Carswell, PRIDE president, said that for many years they had the idea of creating a chocolate festival, but they never set it into motion until last year. Once the idea became a reality, the town came together to support it, Carswell said.

Many of the baked goods for sale also were entered in a cookie contest. This year 39 adults and nine kids turned in entries, hoping to win a $25 first prize.

Nadine Sigle, the Osborne County Home Economics Extension agent, and Marion Gier, a home economics teacher in Downs, had the job of judging best cookie.

Sigle and Gier took their duties seriously. They looked at the attractiveness, flavor, texture and ingredients. Gier said fresh ingredients will gain better marks. Sigle said they don’t overlook the size of the cookie either. Super rich cookies should be in smaller portions, they said.

Contestants must provide the recipe along with the cookie. Sigle and Gier carefully examined a recipe before dividing up what appeared to be oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Each took a bite and they then huddled to discuss it.

Meanwhile, about the only non-chocolate lover in the room was musician Leland Baxa. Baxa serenaded the crowd with Christmas tunes on his keyboard. When asked if he had any chocolate related music, Baxa said he was wondering what kind of music goes well with chocolate.

“Actually though, I’m not a big chocolate fan, but I know I can’t say that too loud,” he said softly, Carswell said she heard a couple of other towns holding chocolate festivals close to Valentine’s Day, but as far as she knew there wasn’t another one tied in with the Christmas season.

The Alton gift basket store was also open, with handcrafted items made by area crafters.

State Representative Dan Johnson, Republican-Hays, took the opportunity to buy a few Christmas presents. He said he was impressed with all the local talent who made the crafts and baked goods.

Russell Stover Candles of Kansas City sent 192 small boxes of chocolates in Santa tins to distribute at the festival.

“Maybe next year we can get a representative to come out,” Carswell said. “I don’t think they knew what we were doing.”

Inevitably the conversation eventually turned toward Stover himself.

Carswell said one thing she liked about Stover is he would continually try to find new products.

“Yes he was rich and famous, but he didn’t rest,” she said. “Not many people know he was the founder of Eskimo Pies. He later sold it off, but he was always looking for new products.”

*  *  *  *  *

Wilda joined the United Methodist Church when a young girl and has attended regularly ever since. In the past she has served as Sunday School teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Director of Bible School, Trustee, and President of Administrative Council. Wilda currently serves on the Pastor Parish Relations Committee, works with the annual Christmas program and the quilting group, and serves as a lay leader. She has been very involved in the United Methodist Women (UMW), having served on various committees and as treasurer, vice-president, and currently as president. Wilda served as the secretary of the Concordia District of UMW for four years and the Kansas West UMW Conference Membership, Nurture & Outreach Co-ordinator for three years. Her favorite Bible verse is I Corinthians 13:13:

There are three things that

remain – faith, hope, and love,

and the greatest of these is love.

From 1979 to 1987 Wilda served on the USD #392 School Board, serving one year as its president. After her move to Alton in 2003 Wilda was elected to the Alton City Council and served there for over ten years. In 2006 she was honored with the Homer E. Smuck Cultural Award for her lifetime of community service. A decade later Wilda was awarded the first Faye Minium Spirit Award by the Solomon Valley/Highway 24 Heritage Alliance.

Wilda has lived her entire life in the three adjoining townships of northwest Osborne County – Hawkeye, Grant, and Sumner. She is known for her cooking, canning, sewing, and yard/gardening. Wilda’s hobbies include quilting, reading, sports events, and traveling. She especially likes tour groups for travel and in her journeys has seen most of the United States. And Wilda is of course a proud supporter of her grandchildren’s many activities.

Wilda continues to give of her time, talents, and service to the Alton community and to Osborne County. In 2017 the Deryl Carswell Family was one of the 28 founders of the Osborne County Community Foundation, a vehicle for charitable giving capable of benefiting the entire county. It is our pleasure to honor her and her example with this well-deserved induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Carswell Wilda Birthday
Wilda and her family, gathered to help her celebrate a recent birthday.

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History of Alton PRIDE

(compiled by Deanna Roach, May 2017)

In 1925 a group of local Alton ladies saw the need for a city park and through their initiative volunteers came forward to clear donated lots in the center of town. Thus, the Alton City Park was born.

The successful park ladies of 1925 had their mothers to look to for inspiration, for it was the generation of women before them that formed the Alton Library Association in 1898. From their efforts, a library building was voluntarily staffed from 1900 until 1966.

In 1983, a new generation of Alton women took a look at the City Park and didn’t like what they saw: overgrown weeds and stickers, dead trees and broken down playground equipment. After nearly 60 years of wear and tear, the park was clearly showing its age.

These women formed a group and came up with what they called an “idea” to improve the park, which was carried out by volunteers. The group stayed focused on the park and before long they were encouraged by the Osborne County Home Economist to join the Kansas PRIDE Program.

In 1983 and 1984 this unofficial group of women hosted an annual community wide “play day” that took place in the newly renovated park.

In 1985 the initial group of nine women officially organized into “Alton PRIDE” and held their first annual Alton Summer Jubilee. Of those nine women, three have remained active PRIDE members, three are still involved on a part-time basis, and three have moved away. Several other women and men in the community have also been PRIDE members for many, many years.

In 1986, Alton PRIDE joined the Central Kansas Library System and created a space for books to be brought into the community on a rotational basis. The library space changed over the years until it was finally permanently housed in the Alton Community Room Annex. Since 2009, the Alton Library has had an “official” volunteer librarian, Dorothy Mitchell, who was recognized as a 2013 Kansas PRIDE Community Partner. The library is open every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. and has “regulars” that come in every week.

Alton PRIDE’s State Award Trophies:

Community of Excellence: 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

Star Awards (for special projects): 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007

[Awards listed above always came with a monetary prize. The state PRIDE program changed their awards program after 2009 and did not give out community awards until 2013.]

Community of Excellence: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Cultural Star Capital Award: 2013, 2014

Built Capital Award: PRIDE has won three of these. One is for 2012 and another trophy is undated, while the third award was earned in 2017.

*  *  *  *  *

Osborne County Farmer, January 20, 2000

Working with the System

by Sandra Trail

Deryl and Wilda Carswell can’t imagine doing anything but what they are doing – farming. Not only can Deryl not imag­ine doing anything else, he can’t imagine doing it any other place. In fact, he’s never lived any other place.

“Grandpa bought this place and built this house in 1900,” Deryl explains. “When Wilda and I got married in 1953, my folks moved to town and we moved in.

“It’s just never entered my mind to do anything else. I like the challenges and trying new things. And, you are your own decision maker – sometimes with the government.”

It’s just this cooperative attitude towards government programs that earned Carswell this year’s Goodyear Co-Opera­tor of the Year Award, which is awarded by the Osborne County Conservation District/Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Carswells have a diver­sified operation. They have livestock and feed their own grain  – wheat, corn and milo. Most of the corn they raise is irrigated, but they have put out some dryland recently.

At the same time, the Carswells have stopped raising hogs and now concentrate on cattle in their livestock opera­tion.

To help get the most out of each area of their operation, the Carswells have used a variety of programs to accom­plish beneficial conservation efforts.

In recent years, much of the work has been taken over by the Carswells’ sons, Darwin and Jay.

“That means Dad gets to help out whenever they need him,” explained Deryl.

It also means he and Wilda will get to travel a little more. They’ve taken trips in the past with Pioneer Seed groups and may do more of that now. Deryl has been a Pioneer Seed dealer for 38 years.

Deryl and Wilda have also been active in their commu­nity. Deryl currently serves on the Grant Township board and has served on the church board, Farm Bureau board and as a leader for Sumner 4-H. He never served on the Alton Fire District board, but was active in the organizational effort and is a supporter of the district.

Wilda also served 35 years as a Sumner 4-H Community Leader, has been on the Os­borne County Extension Coun­cil and served on the PRIDE board.

Both feel community ser­vice is important and hope it is an ideal they have passed on to the young people they have been around.

In addition to their sons, the Carswells have two daughters: Donita Berkley and her hus­band farm at Tescott and Janet Burch, Hays, is a CPA. They also have 11 grandchildren.

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HANDKERCHIEF QUILT CRAZE

by Carolyn Williams

September 24, 2008

“You won the door prize, Dorothy!” The other Dorothy (Dibble) exclaimed as Dorothy Mitchell’s name was drawn at the Crossroads Quitter’s Guild Quilt Show in Stockton last year. Her prize? A Free Machine Quilting on a quilt of her choice within the next year. What a gift!

Although Dorothy Mitchell was new to the Alton community, having come from Granite City, Illinois just the year before to live closer to her niece, Mary Hartzler, she was not new to quilting. She had been involved in quilting bees and helped organize shows since she retired from teaching Physical Education in the Granite City area some 30 years previous. This was a real challenge to her. When she moved to Alton she had cleaned out many unnecessary items in her home, but she had kept the handkerchiefs her mother had passed on to her, thinking to make something as a memorial to Josephine Sharleiville Mitchell, her mother.

With the help of the other Dorothy, Dorothy Dibble, from the Quilting Bee held every Monday afternoon at the Alton United Methodist Church Dorothy’s quilt came together beautifully. Dorothy M chose the fabrics, and Dorothy D sewed the handkerchiefs exactly where they would be showcased the best. Dorothy Dibble “got the bug” to make her own quilt. Quilting is not new to her either. When her husband Everett was serving in WWII, she began a quilt, getting only so far as making quilt blocks. When he returned from the service and their children began arriving, sewing garments for the family took precedence. It was only much later when Dorothy found those early quilt blocks that she decided to do something with them. However, time and temperature had made the fabric weak. When she washed them in preparation to finish the project, they fell apart!

That really peaked her interest in making her own. She too, had many handkerchiefs from her mother’s and her own drawers to choose from. Instead of using only one handkerchief per square, she used two at diagonals from each other – thus a Double Handkerchief Quilt. She exhibited that quilt at the Rooks County Fair this year.

Not to be outdone, Wilda Carswell decided to compose two quilts­ – she has two daughters! The first quilt she exhibited at the Osborne County Fair, July 22-25. She was awarded the quilt with the best use of color by the Solomon Valley Quilt Guild which meets in Downs every month. She, too, made a double handkerchief quilt since she had so many from both her “stash” and from her mother Ruth Stockbridge’s “stash” as well.

Many of her handkerchiefs came as a result of a near tragic accident. In 1943 the young mother Ruth was riding with her daughter Wilda on her boy’s bicycle when a truck hit them. Ruth was badly injured with broken bones. To comfort the young mother, many in the community sent her Get Well cards with a handkerchief enclosed. Many of those handkerchiefs found their way into the two quilts Wilda made last winter. The quilt she exhibited at the fair is now hanging in her 100-year-old mother Ruth’s room at Progressive Care in Alton. The second quilt is made with the same color sashing and backing using the remainder of the handkerchiefs from that unfortunate period in the lives of her and her mother.

When we quilt together at the Alton UMC, new and exciting ideas seem to come bouncing into our fingers and into our brains. Maybe more Handkerchief Quilts will result from that first quilting prize!

Church ladies and Quilting seem to just go together, don’t they? It’s certainly been that way in Alton for the last 60-70 years. I visited with some of the quitters lately as we worked on a quilt for Zane Alan Poor, the latest baby in the area. Doris Holloway gave me some information that seems to validate the above statement.

She told me that every church in Alton at one time or another had a ladies quilt group that met in the church basement. The former Evangelical United Brethren, previously the Congregational Church had an active group of 12 or 13. When that church merged in 1967 with the Alton Methodist Church to become the United Methodist Church of Alton, the groups continued as one, with some continuing and others going on to other ventures. The UMC ladies continue to meet and quilt as they have quilts scheduled.

The names of the quitters have changed over the years. One of the ladies, Ruth Guttery, has moved away, so Dorothy Dibble keeps us organized and quilting. Others have not continued due to health, arthritis being one of the culprits that keeps us from quilting like we’d like to; other ladies have passed on their abilities to daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters. Others have simply passed on and we remember them with little short stories about their “quilting quirks”, such as, “So-and-so always sits there, you need to sit somewhere else.” One day as I was threading a needle directly from the spool, the thread suddenly disappeared! Another person had picked up the spool to cut her length before she threaded it! We laughed and vowed to remember the “quirks.

The UMC ladies have completed some of the local PRIDE quilts. New ladies in town such as Dorothy Mitchell, a new resident, are welcomed to the quilt frame. Others join when they retire and begin their own quilting adventures. A break time about two hours into the session always brings out something new, either homemade or purchased snack with tea or coffee.

My first adventure with the Alton UMC quitters was helping to set up the first quilt I made as a wedding present for a granddaughter, whoever married first. I found out that I had not measured correctly, so had to add material to the backing to fit the top. Luckily, Ruth Guttery had come prepared for this novice with her sewing machine and iron. I was able to sew right there, press it, and help to set it up on the quilting frame. Now, I think I know a bit more as I prepare to help set in the next granddaughter’s wedding present. I say laughingly that the unmarried ones will be old maids if they wait for me to complete one for each of them!

Nowadays, the quilt guilds have begun to take over the quilting bees that the church ladies of not-so-long-ago held. Even the quilting is different! The advent of machine quilting has begun to eliminate the camaraderie of the many Monday afternoons quilting in the church basement.

Regardless, one of the missions of the church basement is always to have room for the quilt frame and the ladies who stitch the history of Alton.

*  *  *  *  *

SOURCES: Wilda Carswell, Alton, Kansas; Deanna Roach, Alton, Kansas; Carolyn Williams, Alton, Kansas; Hays Daily News, August 22, 2002; Hays Daily News, December 8, 2002; Osborne County Farmer, October 13, 1938, Page 6; Osborne County Farmer, June 26, 1947, Page 6; Osborne County Farmer, January 20, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, July 16, 2015; Salina Journal, October 14, 1956.

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Orville Leon and Betty Joy (Zweifel) Pruter – 2016 Inductees

(On this date, November 23, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fifth and last members of the OCHF Class of 2016.)

 

Our final two Osborne County Hall of Fame inductees join an exclusive club. This humble husband and wife team has the rare honor of being the 27th and 28th people to be voted into the Hall while still living. Their story reflects the often surprising amount of personal impact that each one of us has in so many ways on so many others in the course of our lives, be it through school, church, government, or community affairs; i.e., in every aspect of living in today’s world. They have been—and are—community leaders in every true sense of the phrase.

pruter-orville-high-school-graduation
Orville Pruter, senior year photograph, Natoma High School Class of 1953.

Our husband and father, Orville Leon Pruter, was born November 17, 1935 at Natoma, Osborne County, Kansas. He was the eldest son of Alvin and Yvonne (Goad) Pruter, who had two more sons, Ivan and Keith. Orville grew up on the family farm located three miles north of Natoma. He attended all of his schooling in Natoma, except his junior year of high school when he attended Miltonvale High School and Miltonvale Wesleyan College in Miltonvale, Kansas. He came back to Natoma for his senior year and graduated with the class of 1953. After graduating Orville went to work helping area farmers and working in the oil fields surrounding Natoma for several operators, including Oscar Rush, the Brown Brothers, and Bowman’s Well Service.

senior-1954
Betty Zweifel, senior year photograph, Waldo High School Class of 1955.
betty-1953-jr
Betty when a junior on the Waldo High School Girls Basketball Team.

Our wife and mother, Betty Joy Zweifel, was born on June 26th on the family farm of Robert and Bernice (Clow) Zweifel during the hot summer of 1936, four miles south of Waldo in Russell County, Kansas. She was the eldest child of the four siblings—Betty, Barbara, Peggy, and Robert Jr. Betty attended Paradise Dell rural school her first four years. When the rural school closed Betty was enrolled in 5th grade at Waldo Elementary School and completed the rest of her early education in the Waldo school system. Betty lettered all of her grade school years and all four years of high school in basketball. She was very active in all of the school activities, be it music, drama, sports, basketball, volleyball, softball and track. Betty graduated as salutatorian of the class of 1954.

Betty was also very involved in 4-H. She was a member of the clothing judging team which placed first in the state in 1950 and was 3rd in the state in clothing judging.

 

State Clothing Judging Champion

“First place in the State 4-H Clothing Judging Contest held during the Kansas State Fair was won by the above Russell county team. They are Louise Robinson, Prospectors 4-H Club; Carl Lindquist, Smoky Valley 4-H Club; and Betty Zweifel, Paradise Dell 4-H Club.

This team had a combined total of 1,020 points out of a possible 1,200. They judged six classes pertaining to clothing design and construction principals and gave reasons for their placing on two of those classes. Individual scores for the girls were given with Betty Zweifel ranking third high in the state, Carol Lindquist was fourth and Louise Robinson ranked 20th. The girls were the three highest individuals in the Russell County judging contest, making them eligible to enter the state contest.”—Natoma Independent, October 19, 1950.

 

Betty’s cherry pie won first in the state baking contest in Manhattan in 1953. She was named a member of the state’s Who’s Who in 4-H Clubs. Betty was the only member of the Paradise Dell 4-H Club to complete her 4-H work whose parents were both charter members of the club.

After high school Betty enrolled in the nursing program at Fort Hays State College the fall of 1954, and at that time she was the only girl in her family to ever go to college. But her plans changed when she met Orville Pruter in the fall of 1954. They were married on June 5, 1955, in the Amherst Evangelical United Brethren Church south of Waldo and made their home on a farm three miles north of Natoma. Orville went to work in the oil fields and also helped his Dad on the farm. They milked cows and had a flock of chickens, and on Saturday nights they could sell the cream and eggs, buy their groceries, fill the car with gas, and go to the show.

pruter-wedding-photo-1955-bw

Zweifel – Pruter Wedding Sunday

“In a double ring ceremony Sunday afternoon, June 5th at 2:00 o’clock, Miss Betty Zweifel, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Zweifel, of Waldo, was united in marriage to Orville L. Pruter, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Pruter of Natoma. The wedding took place in the Amherst Evangelical Church near Waldo with the Rev. L. W. Life of Russell officiating before an altar decorated with baskets of yellow and white gladioli and white candles.

Mrs. Kenneth Phillips, pianist, furnished the music and accompanied Miss Jane Trible of Palco who sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Through the Years”. Taper lighters were Sharon Zweifel and Marian Clow, cousins of the bride. The bridal gown, fashioned by the bride and her mother, was of white crystalette with full length tiered skirt and portrait neckline. A crown of orange blossoms held the chapel length silk illusion veil in place and a single strand of pearls completed the bride’s ensemble She carried a white Bible and French carnations with orchid and white streamers.

Miss Marilyn Zweifel, who served her cousin as maid of honor, wore a ballerina length gown of yellow crystalette fashioned like the bride’s gown and carried a bouquet of white carnations. Ivan Pruter served his brother as best man. Ushers were Everett Pruter, Jr. and Wayne Zweifel.

For her daughter’s wedding Mrs. Zweifel chose a dress of navy crystalette with a white carnation corsage. The groom’s mother wore a navy and white nylon dress with a white carnation corsage.

A reception was held in the church basement following the ceremony. The wedding cake was served by Mrs. Jack Fink of Paradise and Mrs. Charles Shaffer of Waldo poured punch.

The bride, a graduate of Waldo High school, attended one year at Fort Hays Kansas State College. The groom graduated from Natoma Rural High school with the class of 1953 and has been engaged in farming.

After a honeymoon to the Black Hills the couple will be at home on a farm north of Natoma. For their wedding trip, Mrs. Pruter chose an ensemble of avocado green with white accessories and wore an orchid corsage.”—Natoma-Luray Independent, June 9, 1955.

 

In January 1956 Betty & Orville were blessed with a little boy. Dale was the first of five boys that were born over the next seven years—Dale, Gale, Daryl, Douglas, and Kevin. A little girl was adopted, Susan Lajoy, but she passed away in July of 1965. In between babies Betty went back to college majoring in Education. In the fall of 1957 she started teaching at the Plante School South of Plainville on a 60-hour certificate. In that time they had also moved three times before settling into living north of Codell, Kansas on Medicine Creek on the Bother place. The next few years were spent raising the family and teaching, and going to college weekends and summer. Orville was working in the oil fields and farming. The Pruters moved again in January 1959 into Natoma. In August of 1960 they moved to Plainville, Kansas and Orville went to work for Western Power & Light as a lineman and continued to farm on weekends. Betty was still going to school and teaching. In August of 1963 she graduated from Fort Hays State College with a BS in Education.

Betty and Orville have been active in their church and community all of their married life. When the five boys were growing they were in charge of the youth ministry at The Church of the Nazarene in Plainville, Kansas. Besides youth ministry, they sang in the choir, directed the choir, taught Sunday School, were church treasurers for over 30 years, served on the church board, and played the organ for services. Orville was music director and lead the music for church services.

After working for the power company for fourteen years Orville and the family moved back to the Pruter family farm three miles north of Natoma in the fall of 1974. Their oldest son graduated from the Plainville High School that spring and the other four boys enrolled in the Natoma school system. Betty was hired to teach 5-8 Language Arts in the Paradise Middle School. Orville started driving the activity bus for the Natoma schools, which he did for the next twenty years.

pruter-orville-bus-driver
Orville Pruter drove the activity bus for the Natoma school system for twenty years.
pruter-betty-teacher
Betty Pruter was a longtime teacher in the Natoma/Paradise school system.

In the spring of 1998 Betty retired from teaching after 39 years. She had taught in two rural schools, the Plante School in Rooks County and the Blue Hill School in Ellis County, the Plainville Grade School, Kindergarten in Natoma, the Zurich (Kansas) Grade School, and then 24 years in the Natoma / Paradise school system. Betty is a lifetime member of both the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) and the National Teachers Association. She is also a member of the Hays Reading Association and of the Gamma Chapter of Delta Kappa Gama for Osborne and Rooks Counties.

Both Betty and Orville were longtime leaders in the Eager Beaver 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Orville served as the chairman of the Natoma Medical Board and as a member of the Osborne County Rural Water District #1 board. He ran for District #3 Osborne County Commissioner in 1996, but was unsuccessful.

 

Orville Pruter

3rd District Commissioner

“Wanting to better represent his area of the county, Orville Pruter of Natoma is seeking to represent the third district of Osborne County as a commissioner. Pruter said another reason he was seeking the position was to work on county efficiency.

Born and raised in Natoma, Pruter said he looks forward to working with the public. He also said he prided himself in getting along with others and felt that the position of commissioner would be a challenge. Pruter added he always tries to be cooperative and do what he thinks is right.

A graduate of Natoma High School, Pruter has worked in the oil fields as well as for a utility company in Plainville. Moving back to Natoma in 1974, Pruter has farmed continuously since 1955. He also operated a motor grader for the county and currently drives an activity bus for the Natoma school district, something he has done since 1975.

Pruter and his wife, Betty, are the parents of live sons. He is a member of the Plainville Church of the Nazarene and the Natoma Medical Board.

When asked what he felt was the biggest issue facing the county, Pruter replied the economy was definitely the biggest issue and said that he realized something needed to be done to help the situation.

If county valuation continues to drop, Pruter said he would look at advocating higher taxes as well as cutting budgets and programs He felt reviewing both would be necessary to determine a solution, realizing a certain amount of money is needed to maintain county efficiency.

Pruter said the current landfill situation is also another problem facing the county today.

Feeling qualified to serve as Third District County Commissioner, Pruter said that his area of the county needed more representation and he felt he was in a position to do so.

Pruter described himself as honest, caring and concerned, and that he had ‘feelings for people.’”—Osborne County Farmer, October 31, 1996.

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Orville Pruter ran for the District 3 Osborne County Commissioner position in 1996. 

In the summer of 2000 Betty followed Orville’s lead and ran for Osborne County Commissioner  in District #3.

 

Voters head to the polls Tuesday

Write-in candidate seeks spot on general election ballot

“The only announced write-in candidate to date is Betty Pruter, who has announced her candidacy for County Commissioner, Third District. Pruter hopes to receive enough votes as a write-in to become the Republican candidate for third district commissioner.

Pruter decided to run because she feels incumbent Jack Applegate, Democrat, needs some opposition and because she would like to see someone from Natoma on the board.

‘Sometimes, it feels like Natoma, because we are at the opposite corner of the county, is left out,’ said Pruter. ‘I know, though, that the district extends across the south and on the west to include Alton. I’d want to represent all the people in the district and will listen to all my constituents and do my best to represent everyone.’

Pruter is in favor of better roads and equal law enforcement in parts of the county. Specifically, she would like to see a deputy stationed in Natoma. The current deputy that serves that part of the county lives north of Luray.

She also feels that the health and extension departments need to be expanded. ‘I know that costs money, but ‘where there is a will, there’s a way.’

Pruter is not In favor of cutting the budget, but does think the funds might be better allocated.

“We need to study the budget and find a different way of using our resources.” she said. “I also think women have a different way of looking at things and maybe we need a women’s viewpoint to find the answers to some of these problems.”

Pruter is adamant about the need to pay closer attention to government mandates. She doesn’t think the county can afford to ignore them or lag in coming into compliance.

“Most of the time, they are for the benefit and safety of the public,” she said. “Sometimes it’s good to be on the ground floor, rather than waiting.”

Pruter was born and raised south of Waldo and has lived in the Natoma area most of her married life. She is a retired school teacher who still substitutes and is an active farm partner with her husband, Orville.

She is the mother of five boys and has 14 grandchildren. One son is an educator in Holcomb, Kansas, another runs the At Risk program in Syracuse, Kansas, another teaches Tae Kwan Do in Blue Springs, Missouri; one has just returned to the area to farm; and the fifth is employed by the county.”—Osborne County Farmer, July 27, 2000.

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Betty earned the right to be on the county ballet in November 2000 as a write-in candidate. And she won! In doing so Betty became only the second woman to ever be elected an Osborne County Commissioner. She set another record by being the first woman to ever complete a four-year term as Commissioner, and broke the glass ceiling in 2004 when she was re-elected to a second term—the only woman to achieve this in the 132 years of Osborne County history up to that time.

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Betty Pruter (second from left) was one of the seven duly elected Osborne County officials to take the oath of office in January 2001.

As commissioner Betty was instrumental in getting the official 911 directional signage for roads in rural Osborne County and served on numerous regional committees and boards. She was the county delegate to the Northwest Kansas Planning and Development Commission at Hill City, Kansas, and to the Solomon Valley Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council. The RC&D is a unique program led by local volunteer councils and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The purpose of an RC&D is to address local concerns and to promote conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources; improve the general level of economic activity; and enhance the environment and standard of living in all communities in the council’s designated region. Betty was a founding member of the Solomon Valley RC&D Council in 2002 and worked tirelessly to help the organization receive authorization with the Natural Recourses Conservation Services (NRCS).

Betty attended the Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. in February, 2003. She served on the Solomon Valley RC&D Council as Vice-President and was a voting Council member representing the Osborne County Advisory Committee. Her leadership was proven valuable on several RC&D projects, including the Regional Geographic information System (GIS) meeting, Natoma Grade School Playground Renovation, Osborne County Courthouse Celebration, Farm With the Family Workshop and Osborne County Career Fairs. Both Betty and Orville represented the RC&D at many local, regional, and state events. Betty was inducted into the Solomon Valley RC&D Hall Of Fame on February 10, 2009.

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Gary Doane and Orville Pruter getting the beans ready for the public feast at the Osborne County Courthouse Centennial Celebration in the fall of 2007.

“It was a privilege for me to work with Betty while we served together as Osborne County Commissioners. I enjoyed getting acquainted with Orville at that time as well. They have a special place in their hearts for preserving the traditions and historical values of our county, and passing along a great heritage to the next generation. Betty and Orville have served Osborne County and their community in many capacities. They have been and continue to be true servant leaders where God has placed them. Congratulations, Betty and Orville, on your election to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.”—Gary Doane, Osborne County Commissioner, 2004-2008.

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The Osborne County Commission in session in the Osborne County Courthouse, Osborne, Kansas in June 2007. From left to right: Bryan Byrd, Osborne; Gary Doane, Downs; and Betty Pruter, Natoma.

Both Betty and Orville have been members of the Natoma Community Center committee and helped with many Kansas Day annual programs—often baking bread and churning butter, among other activities. In 1990 Betty began working with the Osborne County Literacy Center. In 2002 she was appointed to the Osborne County Advisory Board and in 2003 she served on the board for the Osborne County Coalition. Beginning in 2004 Betty served on the board of directors for Osborne County Growth and Preservation, Inc. and in 2005 on the board for the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation.

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Betty and Orville Pruter worked the Osborne County information booth at a number of Kansas Sampler Festivals over the years.

From 2000 to 2010 Orville and Betty were active members of Osborne County Tourism, Inc. and the Northwest Kansas Tourism Council. They became members of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and attended the annual Kansas Sampler Festivals held across the state, helping to set up and man the Osborne County booth. While at the Sampler Festival they handed out brochures and informed people about the many things to see and do in Osborne County and what a great place it is to live. In 2006 Betty received a Special Service Award for recognition of her longterm efforts to promote tourism to the region.

 

Kansas Bankers Association Conservation Award Winners

Windbreak Awards

Orville and Betty Pruter

Gale and Teresa Pruter

“The first 2004 windbreak award is to be presented to Orville and Betty Pruter and Gale and Teresa Pruter around the farmstead, near Natoma, that is occupied by Gale, Teresa and family. The windbreak is made up of four rows of trees. The inside row contains 196 lilacs, the two inside rows have 245 eastern red cedars, and the outside deciduous row is made up of 65 hackberry [trees].

They also installed 4,000 feet of weed barrier fabric. This windbreak was planted in 1995 and now protects the area around the farmstead and machine shed. Cost share assistance was received by the Pruters through the State Water Resources Cost-share Program.

The Pruters have done an excellent job of maintaining the windbreak and have had a good survival rate of the trees.”—Downs News and Times, January 13, 2005.

In 2009 Betty and Orville were honored by receiving a Century Farm Award for the Pruter family farm located north of Natoma, recognizing their longterm family commitment to farming there for one hundred years. That same year they moved back to live on the farm and are the third generation to do so. The farm’s big barn is notable in itself, as it replaced an earlier barn destroyed by a tornado on May 21, 1918. This new barn was built with the innovative “no-sag roof” concept invented by local architect and fellow Osborne County Hall of Famer Louis Beisner and is an outstanding example of Beisner’s ground-breaking architectural style.

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Two photos of Orville Pruter at work on the Pruter farm, utilizing old and new equipment to earn a living amid the ever-changing farming trends. Above can be seen the historic Pruter Barn in the background. The barn was built in 1918 and is a rare early example of the “no-sag” roof concept, in which the roof is held up by interlocking braces along the inside of the roof rather than by vertical columns down the middle of the hay loft. This architectural breakthrough is now a basic component in all large building architecture everywhere.

In 2011 Betty Pruter and Linda Sharits started working on creating a library for the city of Natoma. With the help many volunteers the library has grown to be the meeting place for the community, and in 2016 it officially became the Natoma Public Library under the administration of the city. Betty and Orville are also active in the Heritage Seekers Organization, a all-volunteer community group that was given the Polhman building in Natoma by the Polhman family (also Osborne County Hall of Famers) and in which they have established the Pohlman Heritage Museum.

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Orville Pruter (second from left) rides on one of the many floats that the Natoma Heritage Seekers organization has entered in the annual Natoma Labor Day Parade over the years. 

On May 29, 2005, Betty and Orville celebrated their golden anniversary of marriage. They remain active in the community and region. They are in charge of the government food commodity program, and both are on the board of the Northwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging. Betty is the clerk of Round Mound Township and is a member of the Silver Haired Legislature, representing Osborne County. They keep busy with community activities, volunteering at the library and museum, and helping their son care for the family farm.

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Betty Pruter demonstrates making homemade bread.
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In January 2016 Betty Pruter helped the kids at Natoma Grade School learn how to make butter and homemade bread. 
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The Orville and Betty Pruter family.

It is our pleasure to welcome such worthy additions into the Osborne County Hall of Fame. Betty and Orville Pruter, enjoy the parade of acclamations. You have earned them.

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County Wide Objectives Chosen

“The Osborne County Chairperson of Osborne County Growth and Preservation, Inc., Betty Pruter, is inviting all interested citizens of Osborne County to a meeting on Friday, June 11, in the Osborne Carnegie Library at 7:30PM to choose two county objectives be accomplished between July and December 2004. At this meeting the two objectives that were to be completed between January and June will also be evaluated.

At this meeting the Osborne County Strategic Plan will be reviewed and revised as needed. We welcome new ideas and cordially invite all citizens interested in the common good of Osborne County to attend this meeting. ‘We in 2003’ has proven that we can make good things happen.

Help us fulfill the ‘More in 2004’ motto by becoming an active participant with us in these endeavors.”—Osborne County Farmer, June 10, 2004.

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Kansas Blue Hills Foundation Comes to County

“Something new has come to Osborne County! Five people have united their hearts and their talents to create the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation. Their mission is to secure the Future of Osborne County for those who live here, for those who are planning to return, and for those who are making Osborne County their new home. It is doable! It can be done!

The Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, county-wide organization authorized by the IRS to receive tax deductible contributions from individuals, families, businesses, corporations and other foundations. Three of the five foundation organizers attended Dr. Don Udell’s three-day Foundation Workshop and all five attended his nine-day Grant Writing Workshop.

The foundation’s founding five board members believe that there is a pool of human resources in Osborne County which can be shaped into a dynamic force that will reverse the economic and cultural downturn experienced in these past decades. The Foundation will be the vehicle to train and empower local leaders, establish permanent endowment that will endure forever, and generate and achieve a new vision or progress and prosperity for Osborne County.

Over the past twenty years there has been a significant outmigration from rural America to the metropolitan areas of the country. During these same years rural Kansas, Osborne County has seen (1) a massive transfer or wealth out of the county, (2) dramatic cuts in programs funded by the Federal and State governments, and (3) growing percentage or the population becoming sixty-five years of age or older.

These are sobering realities, and unfortunately many residents have come to believe that the county’s decline in population, jobs, economic opportunity, and quality of life is irreversible. This pessimism is destructive to the county in general and to the residents individually. It is our conviction that the people of this county can find the hope, energy, courage and the resources required to reverse this damaging attitude.

Now is not the time to be passive! We must awaken the same pioneering spirit that permitted our ancestors to overcome the obstacles they faced when they settled this county.

The Kansas Blue Hills Foundation governing board members are dedicated to improving the communities in which they live. The board members are: Carolyn Williams, Alton, who is very active in the Bohemian Cultural Center and restaurant enterprise and a former school teacher; Frances Meyers, Downs, who is an IRS agent and eBay entrepreneur; Betty Pruter, Natoma, who is a partner on the family farm, former teacher and currently serves as a County Commissioner; Laura McClure, Osborne, who is a former State Representative, worked as Economic Development Director for the City of Osborne, and is the President of the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation; Dr. Joe Hubbard, the member at-large, is a former Arizona State Director of the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and for twenty years owned/managed a private 501 (c)(3) counseling organization.

Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is currently requesting contributions from individuals, businesses, and other foundations to make securing the future a reality in Osborne County. The Foundation Board is embarking on a three year Capital Campaign Drive. The goal is to raise three million five hundred thousand dollars in the next three yean. Three million will be used to establish a permanent endowment fund for Osborne County, and the remainder will be used as seed money in the foundation’s nine Fields of Interest as well as for administrative costs.

Over the next ten years, billions of dollars will transfer out of Osborne County due to (1) the death of residents whose relatives live outside of the county, (2) businesses closing with no successor, and (3) the out-migration of our youth. A major reason for establishing a County-Wide Endowment Fund is to retain some of this wealth within Osborne County. Donors will have the opportunity to give to this endowment fund through estate planning, memorials, and gifts. Contributions to the foundation are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

As this endowment fund grows, the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation will distribute the earnings in the form of grants to qualified applicants living in or serving Osborne County. Grants will be made in the Foundation’s nine Fields of Interest which are: (1) Community Development, (2) Economic Development, (3) Rural Development. (4) Arts and Culture, (5) Education, (6) Environment, (7) Health, (8) Recreation, and (9) Religion. These Fields of Interest provide donors with a wide variety of program-areas they may wish to sustain.

The mission of the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is: ‘To be an innovative leader in supporting and promoting activities in Osborne County, that foster economic, social and spiritual growth by empowering individuals, businesses, organizations and government entities.’

We invite you to participate with us in this challenging and rewarding endeavor.”—by Laura McClure, Downs News and Times, March 24, 2005.

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SOURCES:  Betty & Orville Pruter, Natoma, Kansas; Gary Doane, Downs, Kansas; Laura McClure, Osborne, Kansas; Della Richmond, Natoma, Kansas; Von Rothenberger, Lucas, Kansas; Carolyn Schultz, Lucas, Kansas; Natoma Independent, October 19, 1950; Natoma-Luray Independent, June 9, 1955; Natoma-Luray Independent, July 7, 1955; Natoma-Luray Independent, October 17, 1957; Natoma-Luray Independent, January 8, 1959; Natoma-Luray Independent, August 4, 1960; Osborne County Farmer, April 28, 1988; Osborne County Farmer, October 31, 1996; Osborne County Farmer, July 27, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, August 10, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, November 16, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, January 11, 2001; Osborne County Farmer, March 13, 2003; Osborne County Farmer, June 10, 2004; Osborne County Farmer, January 13, 2005; Downs News and Times, January 13, 2005; Downs News and Times, March 24, 2005; Osborne County Farmer, May 26, 2005; Downs News and Times, March 7, 2006; Osborne County Farmer; March 5, 2009; Osborne County Farmer, June 11, 2009.

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G. J. Barton – 2016 Inductee

(On this date, October 21, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fourth member of the OCHF Class of 2016.)

Part One

“Tucker” Barton – The Early Years

by Mary Ellen (Barton) Titus, sister

 G. J. Barton was born November 21, 1936 in Lucas, Kansas, just two blocks from the Garden of Eden and 22 miles from Paradise – Kansas, that is. Herb Barton, Tucker’s father, was at a high school football game when his wife went in to labor. A neighbor, Mr. Tucker, went to get Herb and quickly drove him home. When the little red-headed boy was born he was nicknamed Tucker in honor of Mr. Tucker. He would use that nickname in his youth. His parents formally named him G. J. Barton – just the initials only – after his grandfather, George Joshua Barton.

When Tucker was about three years old the family moved from Lucas to Osborne, Kansas. There his parents operated Barton Wholesale, a fruit and vegetable warehouse, and his father had a trucking company which brought fresh fruits and vegetables from Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.

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A young “Tucker” Barton.
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Tucker Barton played on the local American Legion baseball team in Osborne, Kansas.

Tucker was Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn all rolled into one. He had bright red hair, lots of freckles, and a mischievous smile that would light up any dark spot. Everyone in Osborne was his friend. He was always curious about everything, which more than once got him into some kind of minor difficulty. Tucker was a good student without any effort when something caught his interest, involved in sports and school plays and clubs. He was a member of the Osborne Methodist Church and very active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship.

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Tucker Barton, #31 on the Osborne High School football team.

Tucker graduated from Osborne High School in the spring of 1954 and worked for his father until the spring of 1955. He worked at the warehouse and as a second driver on his father’s trucks.

At the very end of May 1955 Tucker and his friend Everett Waugh were involved in a terrible accident near Pryor, Oklahoma. They had stopped for a four-way stop and then started across the highway. An oil truck came from their right and hit them. A terrible explosion ensued and the driver and his son in the oil truck died. Tucker and Everett both were injured and terribly burnt. They both spent many months in and out of St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma undergoing plastic surgery.

In the fall of 1956 Tucker went to school at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas. Tucker was a serious cook and lived with a house full of boys in Hays and did most of the cooking. His mother, Mary Ellen, was a wonderful cook and he had learned much about cooking from her.

While he was at Fort Hays State Tucker took a test to enter the army as a helicopter mechanic. In spite of the condition of his hands, as a result of the accident in Oklahoma, he passed the test, enlisted in the army and went to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training. [An aside: During World War I, Herb Barton drove Colonel Leonard Wood around in a motorcycle side car at Fort Riley.]

After basic training the man now usually called “Jay” went to Fort Rucker in Alabama for helicopter mechanic training. He spent time based in Hawaii, and then went back to Fort Rucker to become a helicopter pilot.

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Part Two

“Jay” Barton – The Adult Years

by Kathy Barton, wife

Jay completed helicopter flight school, and from age 21 to age 41 Jay served in the army as an aviator, eventually attaining the high rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4.

To circumvent Air Force objections about armed aircraft, the Army’s first unit of armed helicopters in Vietnam with a misleading name: The Utility Tactical Transport (UTT) Company. Activated in Okinawa on July 25, 1962 were operating in Vietnam by mid-summer 1962. Jay got his orders for Vietnam soon after flight school and served the first of his two tours of Vietnam in 1962-1963 in the U.S. Army’s UTT unit. His call sign while in Vietnam was Playboy.

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“Jay” Barton in Vietnam.
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Jay Barton poses with his helicopter during his first tour of duty in Vietnam. Jay’s call signal during this time was “Playboy”, the emblem of which can be seen on the ‘copter next to his right hand.

On January 2, 1963, Jay performed in such an extraordinary manner under fire while flying a combat mission that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded only for extraordinary heroism and achievement above and beyond the call of duty. Jay was specifically cited “for heroism while participating in aerial flight.”

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Osborne County Farmer, July 11, 1963, Page One:

Flying Cross to G. J. Barton

George (Tucker) Barton, Warrant Officer serving with the United States Army at Saigon, Vietnam, was awarded on June 22 the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic action on January 2, 1963.

The citation was given “for heroism while participating in aerial flight.” Brigadier General Joe Stillwell, Jr., presented the award at the Tan Son Nhut Airport, Saigon.

Colonel Robert H. Shell gave the following as reason for the award:

“Warrant Officer Barton distinguished himself by heroism while participating in a heliborne operation on January 2, 1963. Warrant Officer Barton was the copilot of a UH-1 helicopter providing armed helicopter escort for troop carrying CH-21 helicopters engaged in an aerial assault near Ap Bac, Vietnam.

“As Warrant Officer Barton’s aircraft approached the landing zone intense ground fire from fortified Viet Cong positions was received. Two CH-2l’s were forced down in the landing zone and were unable to proceed.

“With full knowledge of the mounting dangers, Warrant Officer Barton made a firing pass on positions to provide covering fire for the downed crews. Warrant Officer Barton’s craft sustained a hit that struck the machine gun ammunition boxes and caused them to burst into flames. All though one UH-1 had already been shot down, Warrant Officer Barton, with professional calm, continued his firing passes while the burning ammunition was being jettisoned.

“Throughout the day he continued his escort mission and completed several medical evacuations while under insurgent fire. Warrant Officer Barton’s devotion to duty and courage under fire reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”

Barton is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Herb Barton, Osbome. He is a 1954 graduate of Osborne High School. He attended Fort Hays State College before entering the service January 26, 1957.

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Jay Barton’s Distinguished Flying Cross certificate.

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When his tour in Vietnam was completed in the fall of 1963, Jay was then assigned to the Kansas City Air Defense Command, which was headquartered at the Olathe Naval Air Station, Olathe, Kansas.

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Osborne County Farmer, November 26, 1964, Page 3:

Tucker Barton Receives Fifth Oak Leaf Cluster For Combat

Army Chief Warrant Officer G. J. Barton. 27, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herb B. Barton, 11 Hall Street, Daleville, Alabama, received the fifth Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal during ceremonies at the Olathe Naval Air Station, September 17. An Oak Leaf Cluster is given for each additional award of the medal after the initial presentation.

Barton received the award for his meritorious achievement while engaged in aerial combat support of ground forces of the Republic of Vietnam during his recent assignment in Vietnam.

He served in Vietnam from December 19, 1962, until November 10, 1963. Currently he is serving as a helicopter pilot with the 55th Artillery s Fifth Missile Battalion at the Olathe Naval Air Station.  Barton entered the Army in February of 1957.

To receive the honor a soldier must participate in at least 25 combat missions. Barton participated in 162 missions to win the fifth cluster.  He and his parents are former residents of Osborne.

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While stationed at Olathe Jay met Kathy Treat, a medical social worker at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. They were married on June 19, 1965. Less than two years later Jay received orders for a second tour in Vietnam. After transitioning to the Chinook helicopter, he headed back to the combat zone.

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Jay Barton receiving the Civil Defense Award from the State of Missouri.
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Jay Barton plotting a flight plan, April 1966.

Jay served in the 196th Assault Support Helicopter Company (ASHC) in 1967-1968. After a short training period, the 196th deployed to Camp Lane in the Republic of South Vietnam in January 1967. Jay’s call sign for this second Vietnam tour was Flipper 53. It was on January 19, 1968 that Jay once again demonstrated himself as a hero and was awarded a second Distinguished Flying Cross.

Official notice for Jay Barton's second Distinguished Flying Cross.
Official notice for Jay Barton’s second Distinguished Flying Cross (click to enlarge).
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Portait photograph of Jay Barton in his military uniform.

When Jay’s second Vietnam tour was over he returned to the United States and was again assigned to the Kansas City Air Defense Command for a short time, before being reassigned to the Dayton/Cincinnati Air Defense Command. It was in Ohio that on April 21, 1969, a daughter, Karen Suzanne Barton, was born. Before her first birthday the family headed to Fort Eustis, Virginia for Jay to attend the Aircraft Maintenance School to become an Aircraft Maintenance Officer. The next move was to Fort Stewart, Georgia for stage 1 of fixed wing school, and then on to Fort Rucker, Alabama for stage 2. Upon completion of fixed wing school, Jay was assigned to the flight detachment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he was the maintenance officer and flew fixed wing aircraft.

While stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Jay was chosen to be one of two pilots to ferry a twin engine military plane all the way from the Beech airplane factory in Wichita, Kansas to Ankara, Turkey, a then-unheard of flight in a small aircraft at the time. He and his co-pilot, CW2 P. R. Lefebvre, wrote an article about their trip that was published in the July 1972 edition of the Army Aviation Digest. There were some very tense moments such as loss of radio contact, temporary loss of engine power, and various weather-related issues that could have dumped them in the icy water among the icebergs.

[The story of Jay and Lefebvre’s “ferry flight” can be found reprinted in full at the end of this biography.]

By the time Karen was two years old she had lived in five states, and then in January 1973 the family was on the move again, this time for Jay to attend the Warrant Officer Advanced Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Finally in late summer of 1973 they settled in Aurora, Colorado, where Jay was assigned to Readiness Region VIII Flight Detachment. There he flew out of Denver’s Stapleton International Airport until his retirement on May 31, 1978, having flown approximately 970 successful missions flown in his 20-year military career.

Besides the two Distinguished Flying Cross medals mentioned above, Jay was also awarded the following commendations:

  • Air Medal (with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters)
  • Master Aviation Badge
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal with Silver Service Star
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • Vietnam Cross
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The Barton family  – Kathy, Jay, and Karen.

Jay rarely talked about his military career and achievements after his retirement from the Army. The Bartons remained in Colorado and Jay worked for several years as a district manager for a mobile home-moving company. When the company downsized and eliminated his job, he decided he didn’t want to work for someone else anymore, so Jay went into partnership with a retired marine who was repairing lawn mowers and other small engines in a tiny shop in Aurora. They soon moved to a larger building, hired another mechanic, and began selling lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws and other power tools. After some time, Jay bought out his partner’s share of the business. The business continued growing, but in 1992 he was forced to sell it due to health problems. He had been on oxygen for one year by then.

Jay’s new challenge was finding purpose with his health limitations. He was on oxygen full time and no longer had energy for much of anything. Then his doctor urged him to start walking. He only went one block and back home the first time, but because he was determined, he kept increasing the distance until he could walk two miles. Soon after, he learned of a study being conducted at National Jewish Hospital for patients with emphysema and thus began a long association with National Jewish. Long after the study was concluded, he continued to go there every day to exercise, and gave credit to exercise for living so long while impaired. Nineteen years on oxygen is a very long time.

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Jay Barton in 1979 at one of his favorite pastimes – cooking!

Jay had a great sense of humor; he loved history and politics, doing crosswords, watching football and playing cards. His favorite TV show was Jeopardy, and he knew 99% of the answers. He was a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and enjoyed working in the kitchen, cooking and baking, and his wonderful desserts and peanut brittle became legendary among his friends and family. Jay won prizes for his pies at the church picnics, won first place in more than one chili cook-off, and won the hearts of many people for his nut brittle. One Christmas Jay estimated that he had made 70 pounds of nut brittle to give away.

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Jay Barton’s Famous Nut Brittle Recipe

2 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup 3/4 cup water

2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups mixed nuts/peanuts (roasted & salted)

Mix sugar, syrup, and water in heavy 4-quart pot. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, turn heat down to medium high (on our stove I use #7 setting). Cook at this setting for about 13 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. At this time you should be able to spin a thread with the liquid (candy thermometer will be at about 270 degrees).

Turn the heat down to medium low (I use # 4 on our stove) and stir the nuts into the liquid. Cook at this setting for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice (use a regular table knife to clean off the spoon or the candy will stick to it).

At the end of 5 minutes stir in the butter and baking soda. The candy should fluff up. Pour immediately onto a cookie sheet with sides and allow to cool. After candy cools break it up into small pieces.

Yield about 2 1/2 pounds.

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At some point after his retirement, Kathy decided that since Jay liked to cook more than she did, and had more time, it only made sense that he should be the one to prepare the evening meal. He agreed, and did so until his health issues made it too difficult.

Jay was an overcomer. He overcame a near-fatal accident, two tours in Vietnam, and the loss of breath brought on by emphysema. He persevered through these trials and more in his life, but he came to realize in his latter years that he needed and wanted help from his Heavenly Father so he committed himself to Jesus. Jay faithfully attended church and Bible study at the Harvest Fellowship Church in Brighton, Colorado for as long as he was able.

G. J. Barton passed away on December 23, 2010 in Aurora, Colorado. A military service was held on January 3, 2011 at the Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, where he was buried with honors.

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Closeup of text on the military tombstone for G. J. Barton, Fort Logan National Cemetery.

It is with the utmost respect that we honor G. J. Barton, a military veteran of distinction, as he takes his rightful place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

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FERRY FLIGHT

CW3 G. J. Barton

CW2 P. R. Lefebvre

(First published in the U.S. Army Aviation Digest, July 1972, ppgs. 24-29)

[NOTE: The T-42A Cochise was a military version of the Beechcraft Baron 95-B55 for use by the United States Army as an instrument training aircraft. The Army Aviation School took delivery of 65 aircraft, while a further five were bought for delivery to the Turkish Army.]

HOW DID WE feel about a “once in a career” flight to Turkey? We were indeed excited and impressed, but apprehensive. The apprehension came from realizing the largest body of water ever crossed by either of us was Possum Kingdom Lake. Now we would be flying one of two brand new T-42s across hundreds of miles of open ocean. The other T-42 was to be flown by Captain John Tykowski and WOl Robert Wimpy.

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Both T-42s shown on the ground at the Beech Factory Airport in Wichita, Kansas, as the crews planned their flights from Kansas to Turkey.

Many questions had to be answered and much interservice coordination arranged, for the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group (USAF), Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, was to handle the flight routing, navigational briefings and flight following.

The first question was, how do we get to Ankara? Were we to use the southern route – South America across to Africa? Or were we to use the northern route – Labrador to Lajes in the Azores? Or finally the Arctic – Greenland to Iceland, then to England? The answer to this was provided by the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group. We were to start our trip from Langley and proceed as follows: Loring Air Force Base, Maine; Goose Bay Air Force Base, Labrador; Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland; Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland; Lossiemouth, Scotland; Weisbaden Air Force Base, Germany; Naples, Italy; and finally Ankara, Turkey.

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Map showing the flight plan from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to Ankara, Turkey.

Several other questions also needed to be answered. For example, how were the aircraft equipped for an extended overwater flight to include fuel range, radio gear, survival equipment, etc.? Most of the answers were provided by the Beech Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft had internal auxiliary fuel cells with 120-gallon capacities. This provided a 10-hour plus fuel endurance. Radio equipment on each aircraft consisted of dual VHF navigation receivers, dual VHF communication radios, 64-code transponder, ADF receiver and a 10-channel preset high frequency (HF) radio. At that time all looked well, with the exception of survival equipment. All major questions were answered and any further information or guidance required would come from the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group in Virginia.

Armed with the knowledge provided by Beech Aircraft and the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group, we kissed the little woman, threw the white scarf over the shoulder and proceeded to Wichita, Kansas, to pick up our aircraft from Beech.

At Wichita we received a thorough briefing on the internal auxiliary fuel system. In addition, we were informed of an overgross condition of 700 pounds. When fully serviced the aircraft center of gravity was on the aft limits. A test flight/currency ride followed and then we were off to Langley Air Force Base and a briefing for the next two legs to Loring Air Force Base and Goose Bay Air Force Base. We picked up our survival gear, overwater and arctic equipment, then attended the briefing. We were informed that our 10-channel preset HF radio would not net with the flight following facilities to be used.

A search of the supply system with the help of the U. S. Army Aviation Systems Command (AVSCOM) at St. Louis, Missouri, indicated the earliest we could possibly receive any new crystals would be three weeks. However, we were fortunate enough to locate a company that would provide us with the proper crystals in two days and arrangements were made to purchase them.

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Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia. Photograph (c) copyright 2007 Dean Heald.

The men of the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group at Langley were very helpful in helping to clear up other problems and getting us on our way. However, they gave us a feeling that we wouldn’t make it to Turkey. Everywhere we went they would shake their heads and say, “A two engine airplane on a four engine ocean!”

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Loring Air Force Base near Limestone, Maine, now closed. Photograph (c) copyright 2006 Ray Burly.

The trip to Loring Air Force Base was uneventful because we were still in the States and VOR navigation was excellent. Weather kept us in Maine an extra day, then we went on to Goose Bay Air Force Base. This flight was routine except for the fact while at the minimum enroute altitude (MEA) we were not in radio contact with anyone nor could we pick up the navigational facilities. Back to pilotage. While enroute we were VFR under the cloud deck and we saw some of the most beautiful countryside either of us had ever encountered. We flew over a mountainous area that hosted thousands of lakes with no visible habitation. The one single most impressive thing was the visibility. The only restriction was our own eyesight.

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Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay, Newfoundland.

At Goose Bay we were met by a 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group representative. The next morning we received our briefing on the next two legs of our flight. These would take us across the North Atlantic to Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland, and then on to Keflavik, Iceland. The flight to Sondre Stromfjord would require five hours with 600 miles of our trip over water – very cold water, for this was iceberg country. We were more apprehensive about the successful completion of our mission than at any other time. Things looked even worse when we were informed our high frequency radios could not be fixed to net with the North Atlantic flight-following service, however, we might be able to pick up New York Airways on its secondary frequency.

During our briefing at Goose Bay we were told we could pick up Kook Island radio beacon at Char. (Char is an oceanic reporting point approximately 100 miles off the coast of Labrador.) The straight line distance between Char and Kook Island is 500 miles. We were somewhat concerned about the navigational portion of the briefing at Goose Bay; after all, who ever heard of picking up an NDB [non-directional beacon] at that distance?

Once again we were ready for liftoff. The weather was forecast to be clear at our altitude. Our alternate Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, was forecast clear, so we took off. About 45 minutes prior to Char, you guessed it – we went IFR [instrument flight rules (IFR) is one of two sets of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations; the other is visual flight rules (VFR)]. We arrived at Char on time and turned toward our next checkpoint. At Char we tuned in Kook Island beacon not really believing we would pick it up. Much to our surprise Kook Island came in loud and clear at a range of 500 miles.

We were then assured of making it: our ADF [automatic direction finder] was tuned, our clock was in working order and our mag compass full of fluid. But then our internal auxiliary fuel system started to leak inside the cockpit. Shortly after finding the leak our high frequency started to smoke and it burned up. With the fuel fumes we weren’t about to try the radio again because we thought the lack of air circulation caused the high frequency to overheat. We had radio contact with the other aircraft so all was well.

About 200 miles out of Char the layers started to break up and we would break out only to see buildups in front of us. But there was no turning back now. We secured all the loose gear and readied the aircraft for turbulence penetration.

All this was in vain for the clouds were as smooth as glass – not a bump.

We continued our flight, reporting our position to our friends in the other aircraft via VHF and they relayed our position to New York Airways. We broke out of the clouds about 100 to 200 miles off the coast of Greenland and we could see the island.

Visibility was so clear we took a visual wingtip bearing and this further assured our position. We also were very interested in the icebergs we saw floating below; they looked quite large even though we were cruising at 11,000 feet. They reminded us of the 1 hour and 30 minute survival period should we be forced down in the water.

Suddenly we got an urgent call from the other aircraft that it lost both engines, was still AI and was going in. There was a USAF Duckbutt on strip alert at Goose Bay but its flight time to our position would have exceeded the survivability time.

We tried unsuccessfully to establish some sort of radio contact. After about 3 minutes they called to tell us they got both engines back and were continuing with the flight. By this time we were beyond the point of no return. It was quite a scare and unexplainable. A check of the internal auxiliary fuel system to see if the fuel had been turned off revealed it hadn’t. When it was switched back on it worked fine.

The rest of the flight was uneventful except for the approach and landing at Sondre Stromfjord Air Base which was unusual in several ways. VFR minimums at Sondre Stromfjord are 4000-3, due to the fact that the terrain around the airfield elevation is 165 feet with peaks from 2,000 to 8,000 feet surrounding it on two sides. The icecap which is 2,000 to 9,000 feet was on the third side.

The view of the surrounding area from the airfield is spectacular. You can stand on the parking ramp, look to the east and see the icecap of the world; a fjord to the west with a water temperature of 32 degrees; and looking in all directions see nothing but treeless, barren rock cliffs. For you fishermen the fjord at Sondre Stromfjord is a fisherman’s paradise where a 10-pound Arctic char is a baby and is thrown back.

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Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland.

The next day it was off to Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland . . . mostly a routine flight. While flying over the icecap our single engine zero climb altitude was 1,000 feet below ground level – and that would be some heavy flying if we lost an engine.

We had to cross 300 miles of solid ice with only two very small radar sites where humans could be found; one was in our flight path and the other was 100 miles to the south. After takeoff we climbed to 13,000 feet and proceeded to Iceland. On climbout the heater became inoperative. At 13,000 feet the outside air temperature (OAT) was minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit – and for a 5-hour flight that is cold!

Two events remain outstanding in our minds. First, the visibility – you could actually see the curvature of the earth with no obstructions and no haze. Just fantastic! The second was an optical illusion that one encounters when dealing strictly with one color; depth perception is nil. We saw nothing but pure white. Even though we at times were 4,000 feet above the icecap, it would appear that we were contour flying.

We arrived at Big Gun ADF on the eastern coast of Greenland and proceeded on course. Thirty minutes out of Iceland we encountered a strange icing condition. We entered a light fleecy cloud and exited less than five seconds later and the whole airplane was covered with clear ice . . . not just the leading edges but the whole airplane, every square inch.

Our descent was uneventful but the landing was of great concern in both our minds. Flying at 13,000 feet with an OAT of minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit and no heater for almost 5 hours, your feet become ineffective except for them being a shoetree. Luckily the wind was down the runway and a crosswind landing was not necessary at Keflavik.

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Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland.

Due to bad weather in England our takeoff for Lossiemouth, Scotland, was delayed six days. On climbout we again noted fuel fumes in the cockpit, only this time it was worse . . . almost nauseating . . . so we returned to the airfield. Our companions were 30 minutes ahead of us and elected to continue.

We waited two more days in Iceland and conferred with the Beech Aircraft Corporation and AVSCOM about our problem. There was no explanation.

During our 8-day stay we had a chance to really see Iceland. The name “Iceland” implies a wasteland, barren and ice-coated, but we found the island extremely green and beautiful. The people are friendly and – believe it or not – the average temperature at Keflavik is higher than Chicago’s.

When the weather improved we took off. All went well until we were halfway to Scotland. We had a dual instantaneous engine failure, no cough, no sputter, no fuel pressure drop – just immediate silence.

Knowing all the serious problems we were having with the internal auxiliary system, the only thing we could think of was to get off that system. We hit the boost pumps and switched to the aircraft’s main tanks. Both engines started without a problem, although I can’t say the same for my heart . . . and that poor seat cushion was never seen again. The rest of the flight was good IFR time and a GCA [ground-controlled approach] was made into Lossiemouth to 100 feet scattered, 200 feet overcast and one mile visibility conditions.

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Royal Air Force Base Lossiemouth, Lossiemouth, Scotland.

The Scottish countryside is a beautiful place. The rolling hills were covered with foliage as if made of velvet, and imaginary leprechauns were popping up from behind every rock, tree and underpass. It was truly a paradise.

The next day began as usual with a weather briefing and it was forecast, according to the Royal British Navy, as a “cup of tea” along our routing to Weisbaden. All went as briefed until we were halfway across the English Channel. Instead of the stable status and fair conditions forecast, we ran into a line of heavy thunderstorms. We were told to turn eastward for a vector through the line. We did and were vectored into a fairly large cell which gave us several bad moments. The rest of the flight to Weisbaden was a series of dodging thunderstorms that weren’t supposed to be there. Our arrival at Weisbaden surprised the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group representatives for they couldn’t believe we took off with such bad enroute weather.

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The former Wiesbaden Army Air Field, now called Clay Kaserne, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Because of the serious problems encountered with the internal auxiliary fuel tanks, we had the system defueled and scheduled additional fuel stops in Pisa, Italy, and Athens, Greece. We received our final flight briefing at Weisbaden for the trip into Turkey and the additional diplomatic clearances needed for our extra stops.

The flight to Naples was routine and impressive since neither of us had ever seen the Alps. Roughly we followed the eastern French border to St. Tropez, then to Corsica and finally into Pisa. Throughout our flight in France we were never out of sight of an airfield. While on approach to Pisa there was quite a bit of neck stretching to see the leaning tower, however, the duties of landing the aircraft came first. The job of refueling was accomplished with hand signals because neither us nor the Italians could speak the other’s language. This language barrier presented an additional problem in reading back our IFR clearance.

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Pisa International Airport Galileo Galilei, Pisa, Italy.

When all of this was behind us, we departed for Naples only to arrive there with thoughts that Mt. Vesuvius had erupted; the visibility was terrible! After an exciting night in “Old Napoli” we caught a cab for the airfield and unexpectedly experienced 45 minutes of bumper-to-bumper cars at 60 miles an hour. Goodbye to Naples!

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Naples, Italy, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background.

Our flight path followed the coast of Italy southward to the toe of the boot then across to Athens. The major portion of this leg was routine until the sky filled with thunderstorms. After our experience over Amsterdam we decided to go VFR underneath. The last 100 miles from Araxas to Athens was low level along the water to our destination. Ah – beautiful Athens . . . it left us a little older, wiser and poorer when we departed for Ankara, our final leg.

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The former Hellenikon Air Force Base, now Ellinikon International Airport, Athens, Greece.

All things went well until we arrived at the Turkish coast at Izmir; we went IFR and at the same time the whole world stopped talking to us. The next words spoken to us were from Ankara approach control. After a successful approach and landing we were met by a representative from the Joint U. S. Military Mission for Aid to Turkey plus a swarm of Turkish customs officials. We landed at Esenboga Airport and the final flight was to the Turkish Army Flight Training Center.

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Ensenboga international Airport, Ankara, Turkey.

Well, that’s the end of our story. We left R21054 in the hands of the Turkish government. In all we spent 49 hours and 50 minutes in the air from Kansas to Turkey. We met some fine people and saw some beautiful countryside. Our last look at that proud bird was over our shoulders; she indeed was beautiful, but her appearance was somewhat marred by the fact that we spent many uncomfortable hours getting her to Turkey. Still, the trip home was nice as we sat back and relaxed on a 747 while someone else worried about getting us across all that water.

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SOURCES:  Kathy Barton, Brighton, Colorado; Mary Ellen Titus, Manhattan, Kansas; “Ferry Flight”, with P. R. Lefebvre, U.S. Army Aviation Digest, July 1972, pages 24-29; Salina Journal, July 23, 1963, Page 9; Osborne County Farmer, November 26, 1964, Page 3; Kansas City Times, January 7, 1965, Page 24; Kansas City Times, June 19, 1965, Page 30.

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Carl Edward Creamer – 2016 Inductee

(On this date, October 11, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the third member of the OCHF Class of 2016)

Carl Edward “Ed” Creamer was a decorated World War II prisoner-of-war and is already a member of two Halls of Fame. Now this Osborne County native son is accorded the utmost respect by his birthplace with an induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Ed was born in Portis, Osborne County, Kansas on January 26, 1921, to Forrest Herman Creamer and Lola (Warner) Creamer. His father Forrest was a World War I veteran, a member of Company G, 139th U.S. Infantry, 35th Division.

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Forrest and Lola Creamer, 1919.

Forrest was captured during the Battle of the Argonne Forest on September 29, 1918, and remained a prisoner-of-war in Germany until his release in April 1919. He died of pneumonia on March 12, 1921 when Ed was just a few weeks old. Ed and his older half-sister, Zada, were placed with relatives. When Ed was six years old, he went to live with his grandparents, William and Blanche Creamer, who lived on a farm three miles east of Portis.

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Ed Creamer in 1922.
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Ed and his class at the Portis (Kansas) Grade School, date unknown. 

Ed grew up in the Portis area and attended the Portis Grade School. He liked to fish and hunt and was a pretty good athlete. It ran in the family; he spent a lot of time with his uncles, Lawrence and Clifton, and Lawrence Creamer was a gifted athlete. He once had a basketball scholarship to the University of Kansas that was lost due to a knee injury, but went on to play with the “Portis Dynamos”, a legendary local barnstorming semi-pro team.

When Ed was thirteen years old his mother Lola married David Hatch and the family, together again, moved to Filer, Idaho. Ed graduated from Filer Rural High School in 1939.

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Ed in 1935 in Idaho.
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Ed’s high school diploma from Filer High School, Idaho, in 1939.

He joined the U.S. Navy on September 3, 1940, in Twin Falls, Idaho, and first went to the AFEES in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then to Boot Camp and Ordnance “A” School in San Diego, California, after which he had the rank of Apprentice Seaman, S 2/c, S1/c.

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Ed in the U.S. Navy, 1940.

On March 3, 1941, Ed was ordered to VP-41 (Patrol Squadron) at Seattle, Washington, and then sent as part of the PBY-4 Beaching “Boot” crew for a short deployment to Sitka, Alaska, with the rank of Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Petty Officer (AOM3). In June 1941 Ed was deployed with VP-41 at Kodiak, Alaska, and then on Kodiak Island December 7th, 1941. On May 24, 1942, VP-41 received their first Catalina PBY-5A amphibious flying boat and moved their operations to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands.

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Ed was assigned to this Catalina PBY-5A amphibious flying boat at Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

On June 2nd Ed was assigned to a VP-41 flight crew. The next day, June 3rd, the VP-41 PBY-5A went on patrol, and was shot down by Japanese fighters. Ed was one of the three survivors of the nine-man crew. He was able to stay afloat in the Bering Sea for four hours before he was picked up by the Japanese cruiser Takao and taken as prisoner-of-war to Ofuna, Japan.

[Ed’s years as a prisoner-of-war, told in his own words, will appear at the end of this biography.]

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After three years as a Japanese prisoner-of-war Ed entered the naval hospital in Oakland, California in September 1945 and then the U.S. Naval Hospital at Seattle, Washington, for rehabilitation.

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Ed as photographed at the Seattle Naval Hospital, 1945.
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ED shown here on leave back in Filer, Idaho in 1945.

The following month Ed was received a Presidential Appointment to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (AOC). In March 1946 he transferred to the Naval Air Station at Sand Point, Seattle, Washington, as both the Base Medical Administrative Assistant and as Ordnance Chief in Charge of Pistol, Rifle, Machine Gun, Skeet Ranges and Magazines.

In October 1948 Ed was assigned to Fleet Composite Squadron Five and transferred to the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field, California, as Special Weapons Chief in charge of all ABC, including crew training, records and ABC handling equipment. He was also designated the ABC Defense Chief.  Three years later Ed received orders to join Heavy Attack Training Unit One at Norfolk, Virginia, as Chief of Ordnance in charge of records in Special Weapons and ABC Handling Equipment, including all inventory, maintenance and repair.

The following year, in 1952, Ed was assigned to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 51 at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Sanford, Florida. In March 1953 he received a temporary Presidential Appointment to the rank of Gunner, Warrant Officer Pay Grade One and transferred to the U.S.S. Cabot CVL 28 at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard as Aircraft Ordnance and Training Officer. This temporary duty and rank ended in mid-1954 and Ed then transferred to Fleet Composite Squadron 62 at Jacksonville, Florida, as Leading Chief and Training.

Over the final six years of his active naval career Ed served with Attack Squadron 106 at the Naval Air Station at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, as Ordnance Chief, and then with the U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Barin Field in Foley, Alabama, as Ordnance Chief and CPO Club Manager. His final assignment was with Attack Squadron 196 at the Moffett Field Naval Air Station at Sunnyvale, California with FFT Attack Squadron 152, at the Naval Air Station at Alameda, California.

Ed’s first marriage was to Mary Lou _____, with whom he had a daughter, Tona. In 1955 he met and married Jeanette Heuring, and adopted her three children, Richard, Barbara, and Roger. Both Richard and Roger went on to their own naval careers, each attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer, the same as their father.

On July 1, 1960, Chief Petty Officer Ed Creamer was transferred to Fleet Reserve and retired from the U.S. Navy after twenty years of service. He lived the rest of his life at Jacksonville, Florida. Ed was a life-member of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association and the American Legion, and was a frequent guest speaker at Jacksonville, Florida area military bases’ POW-MIA remembrances. He attended the PatWing 4 and VP-41 final squadron reunion in 1999, where he met and shook the hand of the Japanese Zero pilot that shot him and the crew of his PBY-5A from the sky on June 3rd, 1942.

There have been three books written about his capture and interment in Japan:

  1. We Stole to Live – Joseph Rust Brown
  2. War Comes to Alaska, The Dutch Harbor Attack – Norman Rouke
  3. The Thousand-Mile War, WWII in the Aleutians – Brian Garfield

 

In 2011 Ed was one of the first six inductees into the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Hall of Honor for his actions prior to and after his capture. In 2012 he was inducted into the Association of Aviation Ordnancemen Hall of Fame.

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The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Hall of Honor, with Ed’s plaque on the left.
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Ed’s plaque in the Association of Avation Ordnancemen Hall of Fame.
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David Hatch and Ed Creamer showing off the mess of fish they caught, 1960.

Throughout his life, Ed was an avid sportsman, golfer and bowler, and never met a stranger, just friends he hadn’t yet met. Carl Edward Creamer passed away August 23, 2012 in Jacksonville. He was laid to rest in the Jacksonville National Cemetery with full military honors for his dedication and commitment in serving The United States of America.

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Ed Creamer’s funeral service, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida, 2012.
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Carl Edward “Ed” Creamer’s tombstone, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida.
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In 2013 Ed’s family donated several items of his to the National Prisoner of War Museum at the Andersonville National Historical Site in Andersonville, Georgia.

*  *  *  *  *

 

My Days as a POW in a Japanese Prison Camp

by Carl E. (Ed) Creamer

I reported for duty at Dutch Harbor, Alaska on May 28, 1942. Less than a month later – June 2nd – we were attacked by Japanese fighter planes. On the same day, I was aboard a Navy PBY aircraft on my way to another assignment, when we were attacked by the Japanese planes. The pilot made a crash landing in the Bering Sea. Soon I found myself in a life raft watching the plane sink into the water. After floating for about four hours I was picked up by a Japanese cruiser. In a few days I arrived in Japan and was taken to a prison camp named Ofuna.

The following three years were interesting but no less rough. They were made interesting by the American pilots routine bombing that kept us on our toes at all times. Their aim was so good we were bombed out of five different camps. I became what might be called a “traveling prisoner-of-war”.

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Photograph of Ed Creamer taken during his internment as a Japanese prisoner-of-war.

On September 16, 1942, it was my turn to leave Ofuna. The group I was in included five Americans, two Englishmen and two Canadians. The Japanese took us to the Yokohama baseball stadium. That same day 200 Englishmen arrived from Hong Kong. Americans from Kiska, Alaska were also there. (Kiska was one of the two islands at the end of the Aleutian chain that was later invaded by the Japanese. The other was Attu.) Americans who survived the Bataan Death March also came. Eventually about 250 men called the ball stadium home. Not long after, five civilians from Wake came after Japan had captured that Island. They were in very poor condition.

We worked in many different places while at the stadium. We worked as stevedores unloading salt from the barges while others worked in the Yokohama shipyard. I preferred working in the peanut oil factory. We all soon learned how good peanut oil was on rice. The peanut oil that followed me back to our prison home after work was enjoyed by the other prisoners. It was one of the more healthy foods available to us. Eating peanuts all day helped me stay healthy. Five civilian prisoners had beri-beri and a lot of the peanut oil was used to help them. Overall the stadium was not a bad place to be, if you could call a POW prison good.

In February 1943, the Japanese moved 38 men to Camp 5. I was among the 38 selected. In this group were 11Americans and we stayed together for the rest of our confinement. (Their names are listed at the end of this story.) The remaining 27 were English. Some of the Englishmen died during the next 2 1/2 years we were imprisoned. All of the Americans survived. It took us over an hour to walk to this new camp. When we arrived, we found that it was a Canadian camp. They had been captured at Singapore and brought to Japan to work in the shipyard. The walk to work took us an hour. We got along well but during the winter months the snow was knee deep keeping us wet all the time.

The Japanese office-in-charge was a baseball fan and always wanted to play ball, always yelling for the Americans to come out and play ball with him. During the baseball games, the guards didn’t bother us very much. When we had trouble with them, we would let the Japanese officer-in-charge know and he soon had them down on their knees.

There was much sickness during our stay here, most of it was pneumonia.  About 104 Canadians died that year. During all the sickness the Canadians were unable to work, but our 38 men worked through it except for one American who contacted pneumonia. He later recovered and was back to work in a couple of weeks. I was the only American to come down with yellow jaundice along with three Canadians. Two of them died. The other Canadian and I were lucky; we lived to tell about it.  Through all the sickness and bad weather we were subjected to at Camp 5, we still had our original 38 men.

In April, 1944 we moved again after surviving almost two years in three different prison camps. The original 38 of us left Camp 5 for Camp 11, known as the Shibawa Camp. It was built and maintained by the Shibiwa Engineering Works. We still had about an hour to walk to work. In September 1944, 99 Javanese Dutch from the island of Java arrived and on October 2nd we greeted 50 Australians, and two more Dutchmen. I do not remember where the Australians were when they were captured.

We started getting interpreters in the camp. They were sent back to Japan from America when the war began. Our first one had been a senior at UCLA and was one of their top wrestlers. He was cruel to us and we were glad when he left.  Our next was a Mr. Tuda. He was an older man and a very good opera singer. He had lived in the states for many years and was to be married to a girl who was a senior at Ohio State. He was a very well educated person. I talked to him about his stay in Florida before being sent back to Japan. We got along very well during the rest of my time. We eventually established a friendship although under adverse conditions.

During my stay at Camp 11 the sergeant who was second in command chose me to be his cook and housekeeper. His name was Uno. I got along very well with him and ate all the time I was cooking if I didn’t get caught. I also helped out the men who needed more food when I could. I didn’t have to walk every day to the plant and back so it helped me stay healthy. I thank Sgt. Uno not only for myself but also for many of the men who did not know some of the things he did for them.  He was not a saint, but things might have been worse had it not been for him.

Mr. Tuda once said to me, “Creamer, if you think you are watched, you should see how I am being followed.  They also watch my mother’s house where I stay, night and day”. We became friends and talked a lot when we were not in crowded quarters. Tuda came in the mornings and the first thing he would say was “Creamer, let’s go down to the restaurant for coffee and donuts. I sure do miss my morning coffee”. This man saved me a lot of grief and helped me keep many of the prisoners out of trouble.  During this time we met a young boy about 10 years old.  He worked at the Shibawa Engineering Works. He said, “Yank, when are we going back to the United States? These people here don’t even speak English”. He had been born in New York. I learned by meeting this boy [that] the Japanese even detained people who were not prisoners and had no business being there.

On November 21, 1944 we received 564 Red Cross packages for 181 men. By this time we had lost 10 men. The 38 men we started out with were still alive. Later, we received one Red Cross package for two men.

We had Christmas off and were issued a Red Cross package. You quickly realize how wonderful it is when you are in a place where things like that are not common day occurrences. I enjoyed that Christmas more than the other two.

It wasn’t long before we started seeing planes. The American planes did bomb runs some distance from us and we were not affected. One night just before we dozed off, we heard a lone plane flying. It sounded as if it would fly right over our camp. Then we heard a bomb begin to scream. We dove under our blankets to keep glass from cutting us if the bomb didn’t kill us. The bomb hit about 30 feet beyond our hut and blew out every window in that building.  We all jumped up to see who was dead, but no one was hurt. One person had a few scratches. He was in the benjo (toilet) when the bomb hit and it blew him out through the door. We knew it was an American plane by the sound of its engine. We were beginning to see more and more planes as the days went by. We would be outside our barracks in the daytime and see American planes on bombing raids. Many times both day and night the Japanese guards would fix their bayonets and charge at us as if they were going to kill us.  They might have, but we never waited long enough to find out. Often, we saw many of the allied planes shot down and a few men parachute out who were captured and became prisoners. We saw engines burn off planes and scream to the ground. We also saw a plane fly over us and take pictures. We could almost reach up and touch it.

One afternoon the sirens started their mournful sound to tell us of in-coming planes. About half a dozen fighter planes started strafing an anti aircraft gun site located a block from our camp. The slugs were whining all around us. We were in our small bomb shelter which would not keep any bombs from blowing us up but did keep us from being hit by 50-caliber slugs. They kept strafing for about 20 minutes then left. I do not know whether they got rid of the gun or not. The Japanese were very mad at us after this attack. Bullets hitting concrete gives you an eerie feeling, in fact it scares the hell out of you. We found a few 50 caliber slugs in our compound after the raid was over. We had not been bombed up to now, but our peaceful living was coming to an end. We were destined to be traveling fast and far for the next few months.

That night everyone and everything was peaceful. We had no thought of being the bulls-eye for the burning of many acres of Tokyo and Yokohama. Around 11p.m, the sirens sounded the alert. Alert means planes are in the area, or over Japan. The red alert had not sounded. We were supposed to get up, put on our clothes and be ready to fight fires or leave the area. Fighting fires with a mop and a bucket does not work, especially when planes are dropping tons of fire bombs. The bombs were exploding north of us and seemed quite some distance. We felt we would not be bothered, so we didn’t finish dressing and sat talking about it when we realized the Yanks were dropping bombs in a circle. It seemed we were about the center of that circle. They were dropping fire bombs. Crates of them broke up as they fell. When the bombs came out of the crates, they would scream on the way down. It scared the Japanese as bad as we POWs. You really want a fox hole to get in and cover up fast. About a mile from our camp was a tire factory.  A load of bombs was dropped there to start a fire and every time it died down a little, another load was dropped to start the fire again.

By this time we had put on our clothes and were on the parade grounds with buckets and mops waiting to put out fires if the buildings started to burn. I never got a chance to use the fire equipment because the bombs began to drop all around us. As minutes went by, the noose was tightening.  Our Japanese guards were starting to worry. They were bombing within a few blocks of the camp when the guards herded us out of the camp and down the road at a run. We did not even have time to get our clothes and left without blankets or anything. They headed us to a swamp about a half-mile away, the only place where bombs were not falling. When we were a block away, a plane load of bombs hit the camp right where we had been standing. It was raining by this time and we had no blankets or heavy clothes to keep us warm.

We huddled together and tried to keep warm. It was about midnight. The planes did not leave until 5:30 A.M. We settled down and slept a couple of hours, and when the sun came up, the Japanese had us on the march. We headed out around 8 a.m. We marched through the burned out area where every house and busine.ss was burned to the ground. We walked about one-and-a-half hours and came to Camp 5, the Canadian camp, again. All day we were very careful what we did and how we acted. The Japanese were mad about the bombing raid; maybe hurt would be the right word. The Yanks had leveled Tokyo. Later on in the day, they finally got around to giving us something to eat.

We stayed at this camp a couple of weeks getting clothes and blankets replaced. Some of the men had been taken by truck to the old camp to pick up what could be used again. Not much was worth bringing back. All of our clothes and blankets were gone and all of the Red Cross packages had been burned.

In a couple of weeks, we were on the march again. Our new camp was deep in the heart of Shibawa Engineering Works about three quarters of a mile from the front gate. Shibawa had put a fence around a building I will call the barracks. There was building right on the canal for a bathhouse and toilet. The cook house was one building by itself. Then about 20 or 30 feet from there was our barracks. On the south side of our building was the canal which ran from Tokyo Bay to Yokohama shipyard. On the west side was part of the shipyard docking. On the east was Tokyo Bay. North, between all the buildings, was the exit out of the factory. So to leave the camp in case of an air raid, our only way out was three quarters of a mile north to the gate, one-and-a-half  miles west between gas tanks on the north and truck factory, shipyard and other factories on the south. That brought us to open area. To the north of us were 15 to 20 storage tanks. We were really surrounded.

The Japanese got us settled down and we started back to work doing what we had been doing before. This was around June, 1945. The barracks were divided so the guards had the east half and we had the west. The American and English lived by the partition at the center of the building. Next the Javanese, then at the west end, the Australians. By this time we had lost many men through sickness and transfers. Most of our losses were the Javanese. We were down to 130 people from our original 191.

Life went on, working, sleeping and watching planes across the canal bombing the hell out of the peanut oil factory. We had not been bothered yet. We held many safety drills, all of them at night. The Japanese would rout us out of bed, muster us on the parade grounds then march us about two miles until we were completely out of the industrial area to an open space. Then we would muster to see that everyone made it there. We would be there for an hour or so then march back to the camp. We would get back to bed about 3 a.m. This happened three or four times.

On July 3rd, we had eaten, showered, and were waiting for lights out and talking about home and other things when an Englishman made a statement that later turned out to be true.  He said, “We are going to get the hell bombed out of us tomorrow.” Conversations stopped and someone asked him why did he think that and he said, “Tomorrow is the 4th of July, Independence Day for you Yanks, and they will level this place.”

Lights went out about 9 p.m., and I believe most of us were asleep. Around 11 p.m. the siren sounded the alert. When this happens, we were to put on our clothes and muster on the parade ground and be ready to leave the area. That was why we had all those safety drills. We had just started to put on our clothes when the siren changed to red alert, meaning the planes were coming in to bomb. We jumped under our blankets so the shattered glass would not cut us. We heard the first plane diving on us then heard them pull up, then the bomb screaming. We knew we were done. As it happened, the first bomb hit in the canal, the next in the compound, and the next two hit the buildings in the factory. No one was hurt by the first plane. We started putting our clothes on again. Most of the men were dressed by the time the second plane started its dive. We dove back under the blankets. We heard those bombs screaming and some yelled “This is it, goodbye.” That bomb hit the building right where the Australians were quartered. About a fourth of the west end of the building was blown apart.

Under this building was a reservoir about half full of water. I believe more people would have been killed except the space between the water and floor took part of the shock. As it was, at least 20 Australians were killed. Some of the Javanese Dutch were also killed. This had taken place in about 10 minutes with two planes bombing us. When the bomb hit the building all the prisoners who were able to walk or crawl headed for the only door left.  As I hit that door with about 20 others, another plane was in a dive. Everyone yelled to “hit the deck.” All the people who were outside hit the deck as a bomb exploded in the compound.  A piece of that bomb went over our heads and cut one man’s legs off between the knee and the thigh. That same piece of bomb fragment tore a hole in a small building about the size of a wash tub.

When the plane had gone we jumped up and waited to see what was next, and then we took the wounded man inside. He did not live very long. We had an American doctor in our camp. He had been the doctor for General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines. He was a captain in the Army. He and some of the boys tried to do what they could for the wounded while the planes kept bombing. We were doing this in the dark, searching for people scattered all over the compound, in the water, under the roof and many other places. Some of the crew was marched out of the area and stayed until the planes had gone. The bombing continued until 5 am.

That raid lasted about six hours. Not all of these planes came over our camp. They were bombing about one-and-a-half miles in width from east to west and about two miles north. Planes were bombing from the south using the canal as a land mark.  We were fortunate not to have lost the entire POW camp.

The Yanks were not bombing us, but the buildings about 100 yards beyond us. We just happened to be in the way. As the planes were coming in, we were trying to save as many men as we could. Each time a plane dived on us, we would hit the deck until the metal and dirt quit flying, and then go back to work. We had found 32 men and took them back to the barracks. By noon, 12 of these men were dead. So with the 20 Australians we lost when the bomb hit, our total loss was 32 people. Australians and Javanese were the casualties.

When it was light outside, we counted the bomb holes inside our fenced in area and found 20 holes large enough to bury a one-and-a-half ton truck. That does not count the ones that hit the canal. About 25 to 30 runs had come in directly over our barracks that night. The Yanks lowered the boom on the shipyard, Shibawa, the truck company and a couple of other companies. North of us, many of the tanks had been destroyed. Also, around those tanks was a POW camp; 29 Americans were killed there during the raid. We did not learn there was a camp there until after the raid. Our 11 Americans, and a doctor we picked up along the way, were still alive.

We stayed in this camp about three or four days to account for all the prisoners. When all the dead were identified, the Japanese made us take them across the canal to the Yokohama side and cremate them. I did not make the trip. That was one job I could do without.

Now the traveling prisoner is ready for a new camp; always heading for a new camp site. If it wasn’t for being a prisoner, I could have been on a camping trip. We didn’t have to march this time. I believe Shibawa provided the trucks to take us to our new camp. It was quite a distance from Shibawa and in an area that had not been bombed. The site was a residential area surrounded by small hills on the south.

A large cave was in one of the hills. The camp had two barracks, one on the north side for us and one on the south side for the guard quarters. It also had a cookhouse, bathhouse and toilet. There was a large parade ground between the two barracks. We were a long distance from any industrial area so we didn’t have much to do. It was first time in three years we had that much time to ourselves.

One day, a Japanese told us about many people getting killed by two huge bombs. He said that the American people were very bad to kill so many people. We finally got one of the Japanese newspapers and found that two atomic bombs had been dropped.

The Japanese did not mistreat us at this time, but we knew something was in the air. One morning we got up and went outside for exercise; the weather was overcast at about 1000 feet. It was as if a blanket had been thrown over us. There was no sunshine whatsoever. A little later we heard many aircraft overhead. We had no idea whose planes they were or why they were in the area. Since there was no bombing and we were not sure what to think. The next day was again overcast. We could not see the planes, but they were up there, really buzzing around. No bombs, no guns, and it was very disturbing not knowing what was going on. We were wondering if we were going to be blown out of another camp when the overcast lifted. We kept quiet and careful about our actions. Maybe that helped because this became our last camp.

About 11 a.m. we were called out for muster. The Japanese were all in their dress uniforms and swords. Some of the guards were putting a table and table cloth with a radio in the parade grounds. After muster we were marched to the cave. One guard stayed with us standing outside. While we were waiting to see what was going to happen, one of the Javanese Dutch said that the Japanese were getting ready to surrender. When the radio started blaring, all the Japanese came to attention.  Every time something was said, they would salute and bow. Finally, the speech was over. We were told to come out of the cave. We went down to the parade ground to wait and hear what had been said over the radio. The officer-in-charge told us how good the Japanese had treated us during our stay and that now the war was over and we should be friends. Then he told us that all the guns had been removed from the camp. The weapons in camp would be swords and bayonets for our own safety.

That is when our doctor took over the camp. The Japanese gave us paint and brushes to paint PW on the roofs of our buildings to identify that we were prisoners of war and not to bomb us. While we were painting PW, we got the idea to send the pilots a message requesting coffee, sugar and cream. The next day our sign was answered. These items were already coming in by the time we got out of bed. There must have been a daylight launch from the carriers. The fighter pilots had put the items in the cockpit. Coming low and slow, they flipped the plane upside down and here came coffee for breakfast! This went on for almost two days. We finally had to mark out coffee, cream and sugar. The compound was getting full of these items which had broken when hitting the ground, but we drank coffee all day and night. It sure was good!

Later torpedo bombers started coming in with sea bags stuffed with food, candy, newspapers, notes, clothes, smokes and whatever they could get their hands on. Each plane had four sea bags in the bomb bay. They just kept coming all day long. Then the big birds started dropping food and clothing on chutes. These landed all over the hills. For two days we hauled packages, parcels and boxes. It looked like we were a supply depot. We had enough shoes to outfit an army. We stuffed ourselves. We made donuts and everything we could think of. We made pancakes with sugar syrup. For us it was like Thanksgiving.

Then came the day we had waited for so many days and nights. We were going home or at least we were going out to the ships in Tokyo Bay. We all cleaned up with a shave and a shower, got our gear tied up that we were taking with us and mustered in the compound.  We were waiting for the Japanese bus to pick us up and take us to the docks. The bus was late and while standing waiting we talked about home and other things.

Soon a large plane marked with a red cross appeared overhead. This plane was flying toward the south, wiggling its wings in salute, and kept on going. It was such a pretty sight to see our planes without worrying if one of the bombs would be yours. The pilot circled the plane back north of us and headed back south directly to our camp. No one had any idea what would happen in the next few minutes. Those 90 plus men standing and watching came about as close to losing their lives as we did when bombs were dropped.

All at once the bomb bay doors opened and what looked like a house was a large platform with food and clothes. The plane was low and directly above us. The parachutes snatched boxes of canned goods and clothing off the platform. The chutes tore loose from the platform of canned goods which had six or seven boxes on each. We were stunned; no one could move. There was no place to run and hide. It was too late to try for the gate into the hills. All the Japanese were in their office when about six cases of canned peas went through the roof in to the office where they were having tea.  All of us were running around bumping into each other, dodging cartons or whatever came down. The Japanese officers came out of their building like scared rats, yelling and asking what was going on. They got out in the compound just in time to see the finish of the drop. Only one person was hurt.  A Red Cross medical kit hit a Javanese Dutch on the wrist and broke it. While all this was going on, one of our boys made the statement “Hell, the Yanks couldn’t kill us all with bombs so they tried it with Red Cross supplies. We fooled them.  We are still among the living!”

The bus finally arrived.  We didn’t pick up the material that was dropped. We did take the medical kit. The doctor wrapped up the injured man’s broken arm. We arrived at the docks and what a sight to see! All those American ships anchored in Tokyo Bay. There were many landing craft at the docks. We were standing waiting for someone to tell us what to do when we heard a voice say, “Get in the damn boats, what do you need, a special invitation?” When I got in the barge I asked one of the sailors who that was doing the yelling. He said “Aw, that was only Bull Halsey.” I said “OK, let him yell.” I was not about to say anything about my favorite sea-going sailor.

On the hospital ship we encountered rough waters. One time we would be looking at the deck and next we would be looking at the keel. It reminded me of being in the Bering Sea when the Japanese cruiser picked us up. Finally they lowered the stretchers down and one at a time and we were finally aboard the ship, and started to change clothes. They wanted to burn ours because of the bugs.  We stayed on the hospital ship overnight.  We slept on the top deck out under the stars and with a full belly. This is where 12 Americans who had been through a lot of tough days and nights parted company.

MacArthur and Bull Halsey got into an argument about taking the prisoners out of the camps before the armistice was signed on the battleship Missouri.  Finally, Halsey told MacArthur to do as he damned well pleased with his Army and Air Force and the Navy would take care of everyone else. And that is just what happened. The next day I was sent with some of the others who were fit to travel – ones who did not need hospitalization. We were taken to an airfield in Japan and put on a plane for the United States and home. The pilot asked if we would like to see Tokyo and Yokohama from the air. We agreed that we needed to see what was left of the area we had been bombed out of so many times. What a bare black looking place. Then we talked the pilot into flying over Mount Fuji.

I arrived at the naval hospital in Oakland, California on September 10th.  I went to Seattle Naval Hospital next and stayed there until February 1946. I returned to duty at Seattle Naval Air Station. I met many of the men who had been in Squadron VP-41.  I stayed in the Navy until I retired in 1960 then I said goodbye. Twenty years was enough for me . . . or so I thought.  Many times since then I would have been very happy to go back.

I always assumed that the Canadians or English were the hardiest people, but three years in confinement taught me the Americans were far superior.

Eleven Americans left the Stadium Camp in February 1943, and were together until August 1945 when we went our separate ways to return to our families.

Eight men survived the Bataan Death March:

  • Charles L.V. Barlow               SGT PVT        Lenox, Tennessee
  • Robert M. Juarez                     PVT                 Saticoy, California
  • Bryon Woods                          PVT                 Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • John Pimperal                          PVT                 Chicago, Illinois
  • Hilton S. Elmore                     PVT                 Glenwood, Oregon
  • Eugene Odor                           PVT                 Newport, Kentucky
  • Fred Thompson                       CPL                 Deming, New Mexico
  • Walter Higgs                           CPL                 Rome,  Georgia

 

Two men survived the invasion of Kiska, Alaska:

  • Walter Winfrey                       2nd Class Aero           Staten Island, New York
  • Mike Palmer                            1st Class Seaman        Prineville, Oregon

 

I survived a plane crash in the Bering Sea, Alaska:

Carl E. Creamer                      3rd Class AOM           Filer, Idaho

 

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SOURCES: Jeanette Creamer, Jacksonville, Florida; Richard Creamer, Milton, Florida; Roger Creamer, Green Cove Springs, Florida; Barbara Weedman, Jacksonville, Florida; Aviation Ordnance Hall of Fame, http://www.aaoweb.org/AAO/Hallfame/; Maritime Patrol Association Hall of Honor, http://www.maritimepatrolassociation.org/hallofhonor/; Osborne County Farmer, March 21, 1921; Florida Times-Union, August 26, 2012.