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.

A young “Tucker” Barton.
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.

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.


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.

“Jay” Barton in Vietnam.
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.”


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.

Jay Barton’s Distinguished Flying Cross certificate.


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.


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.


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.

Jay Barton receiving the Civil Defense Award from the State of Missouri.
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).
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
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.

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.


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.


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.

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.



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.

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.

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.

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!”

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.

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.

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.

Rvk airport ´04
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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.


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.



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.

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.

Ed Creamer in 1922.
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.

Ed in 1935 in Idaho.
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.

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.

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.]


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.

Ed as photographed at the Seattle Naval Hospital, 1945.
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.

The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Hall of Honor, with Ed’s plaque on the left.
Ed’s plaque in the Association of Avation Ordnancemen Hall of Fame.
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.

Ed Creamer’s funeral service, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida, 2012.
Carl Edward “Ed” Creamer’s tombstone, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida.
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.

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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”.

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.

John M. Galer – 2016 Inductee

(On this date, October 6, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the second member of the OCHF Class of 2016)

Farmer, soldier, teacher, pastor, politician, and businessman. John M. Galer had done it all in his long life – a useful life that has more than earned a spot in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

John M. Galer was born on March 22, 1840, near what is now Penn State University in Center County, Pennsylvania.  His father David Galer was second generation American-born and his mother Jane was fourth generation American-born. They both had German heritage and were part of what was known as the Pennsylvania Dutch community. His mother’s father and uncle had served in the Revolutionary War. John was the eldest of a family of seven children. When he was 14 years of age his parents moved to Bridgeport, Wisconsin, later moving to the Cox Creek area near the town of Littleport in Clayton County, Iowa. Here he grew to manhood and helped with the family farm.

In September 1861 John volunteered for Civil War duty and joined an all-Iowa cavalry unit. His enlistment records show that he was 5 feet 7 inches in height and weighed 140 pounds, with blue eyes, a sandy complexion, and flaxen hair.  John was made a private – later being promoted to the rank of corporal – and assigned as a bugler. That unit was the 11th Pennsylvania Independent Cavalry, the 108th Volunteers also known as “Harlan’s Light Calvary”, under authority of the Secretary of War. John was in Company A. The 11th was mainly from Pennsylvania but Company A was from Iowa, Company M was from Ohio, and parts of Companies E and F were from New York and New Jersey.

On October 14, 1861 the 11th Pennsylvania was sent to Washington, D.C. On November 17th it was sent to Annapolis, Maryland, to be transported to the Fortress Monroe Virginia area where it was assigned to Camp Hamilton. This was part of the build up for Union Army General McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. John personally witnessed the legendary sea battle between the ironclads USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac) that took place in Hampton Roads on March 8th and 9th, 1862.

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The Battle of The Monitor and the Merrimac

By John Galer [written in 1918]

In the spring of 1862, our regiment, [the] 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry, were camped on the North Shore of Hampton Roads. Company A, our company, lay within 7 or 8 rods of the water line and had an unobstructed view of the whole of Hampton Roads, We had learned through scouts and spies that the enemy were building an ironclad war vessel near Norfolk on the Elizabeth River, 12 or 15 miles south of Hampton Roads.

In the afternoon of March 8, we saw a heavy smoke coming from Norfolk and soon the Merrimac made her appearance and with her the Yorktown, Jamestown and other smaller Confederate vessels. Union vessels in the Hampton Roads consisted of the Cumberland, Congress, Minnesota, (all 84 gunships) and other smaller Union craft.

The Merrimac steamed directly toward the Cumberland and Congress near Newport News and made the attack on them. Soon nearly all the vessels in the Hampton Roads were mixed up to some extent, in the fighting, which lasted several hours. The Merrimac put the Cumberland in a sinking condition and called on the captain to surrender, but the captain answered, “No sir, we will go to the bottom first,” and they kept on fighting and firing until the muzzles of their guns were near the water.

A part of the crew swam ashore and were saved, but the greater part, among whom was a brother of Uncle Jimmie McIntire of Alton [Kansas], went down with the vessel.

The Congress kept up the fight until the Merrimac set her on fire by firing red hot shot into her and caused her to surrender, and she was burned to the water’s edge. But a few of her crew were taken prisoners as the guns from Newport News made it too hot for the enemy to venture out to take them. Most of the crew were rescued by small boats from Newport News. The smoke from the vessels and firing obscured the fighting to such an extent that we could not see all of it.

The Minnesota in the maneuvering ran aground, where she remained till in the night. The enemy vessels went back to Norfolk in the evening.

We were an anxious bunch for the reason that there were only about 5,000 of us, while only 2 or 3 miles behind us was General [John B.] Magruder with 35,000 ready to attack us as soon as the Merrimac made it safe to do so, which she expected to do on the morrow.

In the morning of the next day (March 9), the enemy vessels made their appearance, the Merrimac steaming directly toward the Minnesota and firing a challenge at long range. Just then a queer looking craft, the Monitor, which had arrived during the night and had taken position behind the Minnesota, moved out toward the Merrimac, placed a solid 11-inch shot on the side of the iron monster and waked her up to the fact that she had something different from wooden vessels to contend with, and they were soon engaged in heavy fighting to see which should prove victorious.

They kept up a very hot battle, being on the move all the time as ships in action always are, sometimes very close together, pouring the solid shot on each other’s iron sides with little or no effect. This continued till 3 or 4 p.m. when the Monitor succeeded in placing a shot in the stern of the Merrimac and put her in a leaking condition and caused her to give up the fight and start for Norfolk and never engaged in another fight.

The battle with the Merrimac is too grand for pen to describe though partly hidden by a smoke screen caused by the continuous cannonading.

On the morning of the second day, several rebel steamers decked with flags and carrying finely dressed passengers arrived expecting to see the whole Union fleet wiped off the map. When the Merrimac started to retreat, the finely-decorated steamers with the fashionably dressed sightseers went away in a hurry.

At the end of the first day, death or prison seemed certain and we felt very despondent, but when victory came on the evening of the second day, we sure had a time of great rejoicing.



 John Galer, Osborne, Kansas

Company A, 11th PA Cavalry.


P.S. – Hampton Roads is a body of water extending west from the Atlantic Ocean, nearly circular and about 14 miles across.


John Galer’s handsketch of the Hampton Roads, Virginia area, where the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac took place. North is at the bottom of the sketch. John created the sketch on his son-in-law Ray Tindal’s business stationery in 1918.

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John served in the Union Army as a volunteer in Company A, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry for nearly four years. Most of this time was spent in the Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Richmond and Petersburg Virginia areas as well as expeditions in the Camden, South Mills, Edenton, and other parts of North Carolina. He was honorably discharged in 1864 – “sent home to die”, as he said – suffering a serious relapse of measles which had taken the lives of many men in his Company.

John soon recovered and went to Clayton County, Iowa, where he taught school for ten years. Esther Gifford was one of his seventeen-year-old pupils. They were married on April 19, 1866. When she earned her teaching certificate in 1869 Esther also taught for three years until the birth of their first child.

In 1877 John and his brother-in-law, Sylvester Palmer, rode by horseback to Osborne County, Kansas, where they looked over the land and, liking what they saw, filed on two homestead claims. They then returned for their families and in late spring 1878 started the long trek to their new land in three or four covered wagons. The two families lived in tents while building their new homes. John promised his wife that their home would be of stone, as she was deathly afraid of snakes. The house was at first only sixteen by eighteen feet in size. As the family grew rooms were added, and the family also enjoyed having the first windmill in the area. John had faithfully kept diaries of his early life and Civil War experiences, but they were destroyed in a flood soon after the family’s arrival in Osborne County.

The stone farmhome that the Galer family moved into in 1878 on their homestead. This photo was taken in 1916 just prior to the home being torn down.

They built a sod schoolhouse where all community gatherings were held. John taught school for two years, without pay, until the district was organized. He became a lay-preacher and often conducted church services there when the minister could not come.

In October 1889 John Galer was voted in as the Osborne County Republican Party’s nominee for Osborne County Clerk in the 1890 general election. Those plans were laid aside when Zachary T. Walrond resigned his position as the Kansas House of Representatives member from Osborne County, having been appointed Attorney General for the Indian Territory. After considerable debate John Galer was appointed to fill out Walrond’s unexpired term, which ran until December 1890. John served in the House with distinction and then declined to run for re-election, choosing instead to return home to his Mount Ayr Township farm.

John Galer when he represented Osborne County in the Kansas House of Representatives, minus the beard and now sporting a moustache.

Esther Galer was only 49 years old when she died of a heart attack in November 1898.

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Mrs. John Galer Dead.

An unusually sad occurrence was the death of Mrs. John Galer of Mt. Ayr Township, on Saturday evening. Mrs. Galer, her two daughters, and two of her sons were in Alton Saturday afternoon making Christmas purchases, and providing numerous things necessary for a grand time to be had at the Pleasant Plain school house Christmas Eve.

They started homeward at about five o’clock in the evening, and when about three miles south of town, just beyond Ed. Ives’ place, Mrs. Galer was suddenly stricken by an attack of neuralgia of the heart, to which she had been subject, and fell from the wagon. She was picked up in great pain and made as comfortable as possible in the vehicle and all haste was made toward home. Mrs. Galer’s condition became rapidly worse, and she asked to be taken to the nearest house. The party drove as rapidly as possible to Clate Gregory’s and she was carried into the house, where she expired almost immediately

A most heartrending scene here presented itself. A loving mother surrounded by her beloved ones in the midst of preparation for a joyful commemoration, was called hence by Him whose birth-time she loved to honor.

The sad announcement was hurried on to the husband who awaited her coming in the home her presence had brightened for so many years.

Mrs. Galer was a refined and well educated woman, and the twenty years or her life spent in Osborne County has always been exemplary of the best that culture and a true conception of the responsibilities of life can offer. She was a member of the M. E. church and the leading spirit in the church work of that community. For the past seventeen years the infant class in Sunday school had been her especial care, and many a young man and young woman has carried with them into the world the influence of her teachings and motherly counsel.

She was born in Iowa, September 1, 1849. She leaves a husband and eight children to mourn. Her remains were laid to rest in the Pleasant Plain Cemetery on Monday. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. Dugger of Natoma. – Alton Empire, December 22, 1898, Page One.

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John, at age 59, was left alone to raise the five children still living at home after his wife’s death.

The eight children of John and Esther Galer. Front row, from left: Earl Galer; Olive (Galer) Smith; Ella (Galer) Beisner; Charles Morrell Galer. Back row, from left: John Galer, Jr.; George Galer; Esther (Galer) Peach; Clarinda (Galer) Tindal. Photo taken in 1907.

In November 1903 John moved to Alton, Kansas and went into business for the International Harvester Company in partnerships first with John Hadley and later with Charles Thomas.

John Galer’s hardware and implement store in Alton, Kansas.
Charles Thomas and John Galer in front of their store in Alton, Kansas.

“John Galer, while working in his store last Saturday, just before noon, was stricken with an attack of heart trouble, and fell unconscious, remaining so for perhaps ten minutes. He revived, however, and was about the store the rest of the day.” – Alton Empire, May 13, 1909.

John Galer in his last years with three of his children – Clarinda, Earl, and Charles.

John retired in 1910 and for the rest of his life lived with family members in Alton, Osborne, and Downs. He enjoyed always being the oldest veteran in all the area parades, and often made presentations in schools, usually being requested to retell his story of the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack. John died at the home of his son in Downs, Kansas on November 29, 1929.

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J. M. Galer Passes Away

Civil War Veteran and Early Osborne County Settler Answers Final Call

John M. Galer, well known and loved Osborne County man, passed to his reward Friday morning. Mr. Galer had been bedfast for only a few weeks previous to his death and until that time retained his faculties in a remarkable way for one of his age. He went to Kansas City a few weeks ago for an operation and since has not been able to be out much. Tuesday of last week he became decidedly worse and death came early Friday morning.

Mr. Galer came to Osborne County at an early day and reared his family here. He was loved by all who knew him for his jovial disposition and kindly ways and will be missed by all who knew him. He homesteaded south of Alton and for a number of years made his home in Alton. He was one of the few remaining veterans of the Civil War and was a member of the G.A.R. Funeral services were held from the Methodist Church in Osborne Sunday afternoon in charge of Reverend Leroy F. Arend, pastor of the church, and assisted by Rev. Ludwig Thomsen of the Congregational Church. The Masonic Lodge, of which the deceased was a member, had charge of the services at the grave. Masons from Alton, Downs and Osborne lodges were present and the oration was given by H. A. Meibergen, of Downs. Three of his comrades, Selah B. Farwell, Benjamin F. Hilton, and Robert R. Hays, attended the funeral. Burial was made in the Osborne Cemetery by the side of his wife who had recently been removed from the Pleasant Plain Cemetery to the Osborne Cemetery.

The following is [taken from] the obituary that was read at the funeral services:

The eldest son, Earl F., died at Lambert, Oklahoma six years ago. Those left to mourn his passing are: Mrs. L. C. Beisner, Natoma Kansas; Mr. W. E. Smith, Hays, Kansas; George G. or Skidmore, Missouri; Charles M. of Downs; John F. of Burr Oak, Kansas; Mrs. C. A. Peach of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Mrs. Ray Tindal of Osborne with whom he has made his home for the last ten years. All were present with their father during his last illness except George, who was unable to come. He also leaves 31 grand children and 13 great-grandchildren.

In 1880 he was converted and joined the Methodist Church of which he has since been an active member, transferring his membership to the Osborne M. E. Church several years ago. On 1886 Mr. Galer was ordained as a local pastor, and often filled the pulpit for other ministers when necessary.

Mr. Galer has been a Mason for over 60 years, having joined the lodge in Iowa, later transferring to the Alton lodge where he was a charter member, and at the age of 70 was conferred the honor of a life membership in that order. He was also a member of the Eastern Star and served several terms as Worthy Patron.

He was a charter member of the General Bull Post No. 106 G. A. R. at Alton, Kansas until it disbanded, after which he joined the O. M. Mitchell Post No. 69 at Osborne, Kansas.

In 1903 with his three younger children, he moved to Alton, Kansas, where he made his home until the marriage or his youngest daughter in 1910, since that time making his home with his son, Charles and daughter, Mrs. Ray Tindal.” – Alton Empire, December 5, 1929, Page One.

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 “John Galer is no more. He was one of the finest men to settle in Mount Ayr [Township] in the early days, although he was not one of the earliest settlers. Yet 1878 is considered early . . . Mr. Galer was a progressive farmer. He was always experimenting with grains and grasses, trying to find out the kind best adapted to this part of the country. We remember way back in 1900 when we were the trustee of Mount Ayr Township. Mr. Galer came to us with the idea of purchasing a road grader for the township. We studied the situation over with him and the result was we purchased the first road grader and were derided for so doing, but time has proven it was a good move. Mr. Galer was one of the first township officers, having been appointed to office when the township was organized . . . He was always held in respect by all who know him. After he left the farm he engaged in business with J. M. Hadley for a while. Mrs. Hadley sold out to Charles Thomas and the firm name was then Galer and Thomas for some time. They were in the pump and windmill business and the name of Galer and Thomas may yet be seen on many windmills . . . He is gone and the least that can be said of him is that he was a good man. We heard him say once that a man that didn’t care for children or flowers was no man at all. He was a lover of both; also, he could always be heard whistling – a sure sign of a cheerful disposition. He was a deep thinker and in an argument was always willing to believe his opponent had as much right to his way of thinking as he had, but like Henry Clay, he would rather be right than president. John Galer will be sadly missed by his many friends, but his ending at an old age is the culmination of a long and useful life.” – Charles E. Williams, 1996 Osborne County Hall of Fame inductee, in the Mount Ayr Department column of the Alton Empire newspaper, December 5, 1929, Page Four.

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SOURCES:  Chris Beisner, Surprise, Arizona; Richard Smith, Manhattan, Kansas ; “John Galer”, The People Came, Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society, Osborne Publishing Company, Osborne, Kansas (1977), page 313; Alton Empire, December 22, 1898; Alton Empire, November 12, 1903; Alton Empire, May 13, 1909; Alton Empire, December 5, 1929.

Samuel Eugene Chatfield – 2016 Inductee


(On this date, October 4, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the first member of the OCHF Class of 2016.)

Samuel Eugene Chatfield image

A community leader in his home county for decades, Samuel Eugene Chatfield then became one of the first homesteaders of Osborne County, Kansas. There he was soon called upon to help organize and establish the first county government. 145 years later his contributions to the county’s founding are being rewarded with an induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.


Samuel was the tenth of eleventh children born to Joseph and Polly (Payne) Chatfield. He was born May 7, 1818, in Waterbury, New Haven County, Connecticut. There young Samuel grew up well versed in hard work, having learned the trades of the barber and carpentry, as well as studying to be a medical doctor, though he never earned his medical degree.

On October 20, 1838 Samuel married Amanda Merriman, with whom he had a son, Joseph, in 1850. Amanda died from childbirth. Later that year Samuel moved to Bronson in Branch County, Michigan. In the nearby town of St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan, he married his second wife, Charlotte Lindley, on July 4, 1851.  They would be the parents of four children: Samuel Jr.; Julia; John; and William.  Nearly twenty years later Samuel made the decision to leave in search of a home for the family. He moved to Kansas in the latter half of 1870, settling on a 153-acre homestead in northern Osborne County. His family remained behind when he set out west, and it would be nearly fifteen years before two of his children came west to join him. His wife Charlotte stayed in Michigan and obtained a divorce.

When Samuel settled on a homestead in the northeast quarter of Section 6, Township 6 South, Range 12 West, he was one of the first one hundred settlers in Osborne County. At this time the county had not yet politically organized – the boundaries having been surveyed and defined just three years prior – and therefore was legally attached to neighboring Mitchell County as “Manning Township”. But as more and more settlers poured into the newly-settled region over the next year they soon desired their own government, and on June 2, 1871 a great meeting was held at (1996 Osborne County Hall of Famer) Calvin Reasoner’s general store in the town of Arlington. At this meeting the first set of preferred county officials was agreed upon and forwarded to the governor for approval, along with a petition to officially organize Osborne County.


The homestead record of Samuel Chatfield for his Osborne County claim, dated March 1, 1879.

Over the previous year Samuel’s skills as a carpenter, frontier doctor, and natural leader had shown him to be a notable asset to the region, and also being the first and only professional barber in the county did not hurt. His stock among his fellow men was such that at the Arlington meeting he was chosen to be one of the first county commissioners, along with (1996 Osborne County Hall of Famer) Frank Stafford and Charles Cunningham. This appointment was confirmed by the Governor of Kansas in September 1871, who designated the three as “special commissioners” to govern the county until the first official county commissioners could be elected in the November 1871 general election and take their places in January 1872. Samuel was designated chairman of the board of special commissioners.

One of the first duties of the special commissioners was to divide the county into townships that in turn would be grouped into three commissioner districts. Samuel designated the township that included his homestead Bethany Township, and the township to its east he named Ross Township. These two townships comprised the First Commissioner District. In 1872 the western portion of Bethany Township organized itself into a new township, Lawrence, so designated by Samuel and included in the First District.

At the time there was a prolonged fight being waged to determine which town would be declared the permanent county seat. To bolster their claim the town government of Osborne City offered the special commissioners their choice of any block within the city limits, to be given to the county upon which to build the county courthouse and other buildings. On November 22, 1871, commissioner board chairman Samuel Chatfield selected the square on West Penn Street (today’s Main Street) still being used for the county’s purposes.

Also at the time of the Arlington meeting a local government was being organized on Samuel Chatfield’s own farm. The Bethany Post Office was established just to the south of his farm on June 2, 1871, and the southeast portion of his farm became part of the community of Bethany, also established at this time. In 1872 Samuel stepped down as a special commissioner. He proved up his homestead claim and continued to work as a barber and carpenter, even taking on building construction as a line of work.

“The Cawker City Sentinel says that Cawker City has voted bonds for $5,000 to build a school house. On Saturday last the contract was let to Mr. Samuel Chatfield, of the town of Bethany, contractor and builder. The house is to be of magnesian limestone, put up in the most substantial manner, and provided with the latest improved school furniture. Work is to commence immediately, and the house will be completed by the first of August.” – Atchison Daily Champion newspaper, 19 March 1872, Page 5.

Over the next few years Samuel opened a wagon shop in Bethany and frequently visited his family in New York. In 1879 the Union Pacific Railroad built a line through the area that bypassed Bethany on the north. To secure a railroad depot at that site Samuel Chatfield and Philander Judson laid out the new townsite of Portis, which included the eastern half of Chatfield’s land and the western half of Judson’s farm. The plat of the new town was finalized and dated October 11, 1879.

Samuel Chatfield continued to prosper, even being named Bethany Township Justice of the Peace on August 16, 1883. In the 1880 federal census he was listed as being married to a Miriam (also called Marion) Chatfield and living in Portis, Kansas. In March 1887 Miriam obtained a divorce from Samuel, who certainly did not let the grass grow under his shoes; that same year Samuel was back in Bronson, Michigan, where on July 3rd he married Mrs. Margret (Masters) Johnson, joined the Baptist Church, and largely settled down.  While there he could not quite escape the public eye, though for a rather unusual reason:

     “Samuel Chatfield, of Bronson, Michigan, has in his possession one of the first copper coins ever made in the United States. On one side are thirteen links representing the thirteen States of the Union; the words, ‘United States’, and on a small ring, ‘We are one.’ On the other side are the words ‘Engio,’ ‘1777,’ a ‘rising sun,’ and ‘Mind your own business.’” – Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, Rochester, New York, October 3, 1888, Page 5.

In July 1903 Samuel, now a widow, moved back to Portis and lived his remaining years with his daughter Julia and her family.



“Three old timers of Osborne County who had not met in 38 years accidently ran up against each other in front of Garrett’s store at Portis last week. On May 9, 1871 Robert Addams, father of George Addams of this city, was lying sick at his homestead. He had been ill about three weeks and needed a shave very badly. His son George, then a boy of 12, was with him, and during the day (which was a Sunday) Z. T. Walrond and Sam Chatfield, pioneer settlers of the county, dropped in. Chatfield was a barber and had his tools with him, so the three got the elder Adams up and shaved him.

“Robert Addams died in 1875, and his son George and Chatfield and Walrond never happened to be together again until 38 years afterwards, at Portis last week. Chatfield moved to Wisconsin and only lately removed back to Portis. Walrond moved to Oklahoma and is now commissioner of Indian affairs at Muskogee. He is here now to visit his sister, Mrs. Hutcherson, of Portis. Another curious feature of the meeting of three old friends was the fact that it occurred on Mr. Chatfield’s 90th birthday. Chatfield was the first doctor and first barber in Osborne County. He named the three townships of Ross, Bethany, and Lawrence, the first being named for Senator Edmund G. Ross. These three townships then comprised the first commissioner district. Mrs. Lindley, a sister of Mr. Chatfield, had charge of the first post office in the county. It was at the old town of Bethany, now called Portis. The meeting of these three old settlers was entirely by accident and was much enjoyed by each of them. The conversation naturally took a retrospective turn and each vividly recalled their last meeting at the bedside of Robert Addams 38 years ago.” – Portis Independent, May 16, 1908, Page One.

Samuel Eugene Chatfield passed away at his daughter’s home in Portis on October 25, 1910, aged 92 years, 4 months and 18 days.  His final resting place is still a mystery, though it is thought that he lies in an unmarked grave in the Garrett Cemetery in Smith County, Kansas.

SOURCES: Steve Richardson, Cawker City, Kansas; https://ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/74598306/person/42451916375/facts; U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; The Essentials of the of the Early History of Osborne County, Kansas, unpublished manuscript, compiled by Von Rothenberger (2011); Cawker City Historical Society, Cawker City, Kansas; Atchison Daily Champion, March 19, 1872; Downs Times, August 5, 1880; Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, October 3, 1888; Osborne County News, July 3, 1903 & November 3, 1910; Osborne County Farmer, July 19, 1906; Portis Independent, May 16, 1908.