Friday, November 20, 2015

Eugene “John” Manson

90 years old
Born in 1924 in Battle Creek, Iowa
Currently living in Armstrong, Iowa
U.S. Navy World War II Veteran

World War II had been raging for over two years, when Eugene Manson joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school. Following basic training and a stint at the Navy's radar school in Bremerton, Washington, Manson boarded the newly commissioned aircraft carrier USS Shipley Bay (CVE-85) as a 3rd Class Radarman. Manson, along with 860 officers and enlisted shipmates, and 28 aircraft headed to the Pacific Theater ready for battle against the Japanese forces.

“We were right there in the middle of it,” Manson remembered. The Casablanca-class escort carrier was positioned off the coast of Okinawa for the assault on the island. She remained there, except for a brief trip to Guam for repairs, between April and June 1945, while her planes flew hundreds of strikes in the Okinawa offensive. “Between May 7 and May 17 1945, our planes and pilots flew 352 combat missions,” Manson boasts.
“I was very happy during my time in the Navy, but I was in long enough and wanted out,” he said. “They should have dropped the (atomic) bomb a lot sooner.” Manson was honorably discharged from the Navy on March 11, 1946 and headed back to Iowa. “I'm very proud of the fact I was in (the war) to help us stay free.”

After playing a little baseball and basketball for Westmar College in Le Mars, IA, Manson returned to Ringstead, IA in 1946 to begin his 38 year teaching and coaching career at the old Ringsted High School. “It was a good thing I was winning ball games, or they'd kicked me out a lot sooner,” the Navy veteran joked.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Arven Fritz

Age: 89
Born in 1926 near Fairmont, MN
Now lives in Armstrong, Iowa
U.S. Army World War II Veteran

It was near the end of World War II when Arven Fritz, a 19 year old farm boy from rural Fairmont, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945 to fight for his country. He headed to Fort Knox, Ky. For basic training before shipping out to Frankfurt, Germany with the Army's 381st Military Police.

“I was a shift leader in a railroad freight yard, protecting military shipments and personnel,” Fritz remembers. He served nine months overseas as a MP before being discharged once the war was over, coming back home to Minnesota.

Once home, Fritz returned to farming for about a year before getting into the music business, selling and teaching the accordion. “ I took lessons when I was around 10 or 11 years old and played a little bit when I was in Germany,” he said. Fritz was a fixture in the Fairmont area during those post war years. He remembers teaching students the accordion in a small room at a piano store located in the Fairmont Odd Fellows Hall off Highway 15.

Fritz continues to have a positive of his time in the service. “When I was in Germany, it was all good memories,” he said. “That was a good place to be.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Delbert Petersen

Age 82
Born in 1932 in Graettinger, Iowa on the family farm
Now lives in Esterville, IA.
U.S. Army Korean War Veteran

The U.S. involvement in the Korean War was still in full swing in March of 1953 when 20 year-old Delbert Petersen was drafted and entered the U.S. Army. Following 12-weeks of basic training, the Iowa farm boy shipped out to Korea and was attached to the U.S. Air Force at Osan Air Base “K55 Airstrip” in South Korea. “As guys were being rotated out, they needed replacements,” Petersen recalls. “So I became a cook.”

The truce was signed in late July of 1953 bringing to an end the 37-month war in Korea. Petersen was sent to two weeks of CBR (chemical, biological, radiological) training in October of that year. “We got on a bus and went through Hiroshima, Japan and stood right where the (atomic) bomb dropped,” he remembers.

Last year, Petersen had the opportunity to revisit Korea along with other members of the Korea Veterans Association. It was a meaningful journey for Petersen. “You really got to see how that country had changed from the way it was during the war to what it is today.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Paul “Jed” Stebritz

Age 82
Born 1933 in Algona, Iowa
Currently lives in Armstrong, IA

Nineteen-year-old Paul “Jed” Stebritz answered the call of duty for his country in January 1953 and joined the U.S. Army. The Korean War was raging in the Pacific, but after completing basic training, Jed found himself shipping out to Austria and Germany to contribute to the war effort.

He remembers missing home and his family and friends during his time in the service, but looking back, he says he wouldn't have done anything different. The most important lesson Jed learned while in the Army “was how to be organized.”

After serving his stint, Jed was honorably discharged on January 26, 1956. But his commitment to the Armed Services didn't stop there. He continued to contribute his time as a member of Weiby-Johnson Post 5232 in Armstrong, Iowa, having served as Post Commander, among other duties. In the past he was known to put on his old Army uniform and attend the funerals of his fellow veterans that had passed. Jed still keeps in touch with his close “Army Buddy,” Dale Hixson of Waterloo, IA.

Family members helped contribute information to Jed's story.
Image and story © 2015 Joseph Kreiss Photography
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Monday, November 9, 2015

Robert Reed

Age 94
Born 1921 in Grundy Center, Iowa
Now lives in Armstrong, IA.
U.S. Army World War II Veteran

Reed entered the U.S. Army in 1942 at the age of 18 years old. What his eyes would see during his deployment to the Pacific War Theater could never have been imaged at his young age.

As a member of the Army's 32nd Infantry, he quickly earned the rank of Battalion Sgt. Major before shipping over seas. He saw action in New Guinea and the Philippines, among other small islands, and was preparing to invade Japan when Japanese General Yamashita surrendered to the the U.S. Army's 32rd Infantry on Sept. 2nd, 1945. “They saved a lot of lives because of that,” Reeds recalled.

Reed was awarded the Bronze Star by General Robert McBride Jr. and had made Master Sgt. rank before heading back stateside in 1946. He joined up with his dad to help with the family's International Harvester dealership in Ringsted, Ia, until 1980, when he had to get out due to health reasons.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ormal E. Guinn

Born in 1926 in Armstrong, Iowa
Currently living in Armstrong, IA.
U.S. Navy World War II Veteran

World War II was still raging in 1944 when 17 year-old Ormal Guinn left rural northern Iowa and volunteered for the U.S. Navy. After training, he was assigned to the USS Woodford KA 86, a large cargo ship, in the Pacific Theater. “I was on her when they commissioned her, and I helped take her out of commission 22 months later,” he states. “We went all over the Pacific, through the Panama Canal carrying everything from 5,600-tons of ammunition, to a ship filled with Kansas City beer.”

What Guinn witnessed and experienced during his military duty still affects the World War II veteran, even after all these years. The memories and emotions overtake him at times.

Read more about Ormal E. Guinn's memories of serving our country at a time of war in the up-coming “Portrait of a Veteran” Photo Project book.