By Hillary Delaney
During World War II, the Boone County Recorder began a series called “With Our Boys in Service.” The paper printed letters from soldiers sent wither to their families, or directly to the paper, with updates on their lives in service. In return, the editor sent copies of the Recorder to active-duty servicemen upon request. Letters were printed with some regularity, especially during 1943, when the war was in full swing and so many local boys were in uniform.
James E. Rogers was stationed at Fort Ord in Salinas, California, awaiting orders to ship out in November, 1943. He wrote, “They took us on a little hike this morning and we went to the coast. It isn’t but five miles. Some of the boys had never seen the ocean- guess they thought it would be a good idea if they saw it.” He asked the editor tell everyone back home “hello” and thanked him for the copies of the local paper; “I sure do enjoy reading it.” Sadly, Corporal Rogers was killed in the battle of Okinawa, June 10, 1945.
While stationed in North Africa, R. J. Ryle had already experienced enemy attack. He describes being “dive-bombed, strafed and shot at with artillery, and no matter which it is, you immediately hunt cover, or get two hands full of Mother Earth and get flatter on the ground than you ever have in your life.” Just following his dramatic description of cheating death, Ryle changed the subject,inquiring about news from home: “Has Dewey got a baseball team this year?”
Another Boone County boy, Edgar “Jack” Clore, was also stationed in North Africa. His letter home, penned on July 4th, 1943, begins with news of his washing laundry in the nearby creek. He then alludes to the holiday, ironically musing that there may be a nearby celebration, because there are “plenty of fireworks” near where he is stationed. Clore, who returned home to Boone County after the war, shared his observations of war-torn North Africa in verse, enclosed in the Independence day letter. He prefaced his work, modestly pointing out, “I am not a poet; I just like to write:”
It’s the blood of the brave and the true, of three nations who battled together, with banners of red, white and blue.
As they marched o’er the sands of Tunisia, to the hills where the enemy lay, they remembered their General’s orders- “The pass must be taken today.”
Some thought of their homes and mothers, some thought of their sweethearts so far, And some as they plodded and stumbled, were softly whispering a prayer.
Forward they went into the battle, with faces unsmiling and stern. They knew as they charged up the hillside, that many would never return.
There’s blood on the sands of Tunisia; it’s their gift to the freedom they love. May their names live in glory forever, and their souls rest in Heaven above.
- Pvt. E.C. Clore