During World War II, 20 military men from Grundy County were taken prisoners of war. Three, Cpl. Lewis W. Findley, Charles M. Frame and Capt. Harold B. Wright, died while being held in Japanese prison camps. Several suffered wounds while being taken prisoners but received no medical treatment during the internment.
The surviving 17 returned to the United States, but only eight returned to Grundy County to establish civilian lives. Three immediately moved to new locations and five stayed in Trenton and Spickard. At the present time, Donald Woodard is the only Grundy County surviving POW from World War II. He resides on a farm with his wife, Letha, on Highway 65, south of Trenton.
Sgt. Chester Jason Brown graduated from Trenton High School in 1933 and from Trenton Junior College in 1936. He enlisted in the US Army in March 1941 and was stationed with the medical corps in the Philippines when Corregidor fell to the Japanese on May 7, 1942. He was liberated on Jan. 31, 1945 from the Cabanatuan prison camp on Luzon during a daring raid by American Rangers. He returned to Trenton and Married Norma Marcaline Wilson on Oct. 17, 1945. He attended the Chillicothe Business College before moving to Albany in 1946, where he was employed by Doolin Motor Co. until 1953. He had an insurance agency in Maryville for three years before purchasing a bulk oil business in Albany. Jason and Marcaline were the parents of eight sons and three daughters. Jason died on May 9, 2004 at the age of 97.
Cpl. Eugene Poe Burkeholder was born in 1919 and enlisted in the US Army in 1940. He was sent to the Philippines in 1942 and was taken prisoner when Bataan fell in May 1942. He was in a prisoner of war camp on Kyushu Island, where he worked in a coal mine 12 hours a day. He was liberated on Sept. 19, 1945 and was brought to a hospital in San Antonio, TX. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wolcott Burkeholder, had moved to Texas in 1942 and then to Carlsbad, NM. No additional information was found.
Master Sgt. Edward Dane Dennis enlisted in the US Marine Corps on Nov. 19, 1929 and was sent overseas in 1940. He was a survivor of the Bataan Death March after being taken a prisoner on April 9, 1942. He was held at Camp Nilgala near Tokyo. His weight had dropped from 157 pounds to 100 when he was liberated on Sept. 6, 1945. When he died on May 25, 1958, at the age of 52, he and his wife, Lovey, were living in Norwalk, CA. He died in the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach, CA and was returned to Trenton for burial in the Maple Grove Cemetery.
PFC Donald P. 'Pete' Findley was born in 1917 and enlisted in the US Army in 1941 before Pearl Harbor. He was stationed in the Philippines when Corregidor fell in May 1942 to the Japanese. He was taken from the Philippine Islands to Japan, where he remained until liberated on Sept. 10, 1945. His uncle and next of kin, Paul Findley, had moved to Lincoln, NE. No additional information was found.
Sgt. James Auburn Fitzpatrick was a graduate of Trenton High School and Trenton Junior College and joined the US Marine Corps on Aug. 1, 1940. He was one of the gallant little band of Marines who bravely defended Wake Island until it fell to the Japanese on Dec. 22, 1941. He returned to Trenton, married and moved his family in 1950 to Wichita, KS, where he received his master's degree at the Wichita State University and was employed as a statistical engineer for the Wichita Valley Center Flood Control Project. They were the parents of a daughter, Pamela Freeman. They moved in 1952 to Dallas, TX, where he died on April 20, 1968 at the age of 48. He is buried in the Spickard Masonic Cemetery.
Staff Sgt. Roy H. Johnson Jolly, foster son of Adolphus Henry and Gussie Sherman Jolly, was born in 1910 and attended Trenton schools. He married and joined the US Army in 1929. He completed basic training at Ft. Riley, KS in 1932. He was stationed in the Philippines when Japan took control of Bataan and Corregidor in May 1942. He was held prisoner in the Osaka prison camp until liberated on Sept. 12, 1945. He arrived in Seattle, WA on Oct. 27, 1945 and was set to Ft. Lewis, WA, Madigan Hospital Center. No additional information was found.
Sgt. Robert E. Maxson was born in 1924, attended Trenton schools and joined the US Army in September 1942. He was sent overseas in November 1944 and was in a radio communications outfit in the 106th Infantry Division of the First Army, which suffered 7,000 casualties during the Battle of the Bulge on Dec. 21, 1944. He was liberated on March 30, 1945. He returned to Trenton and in January 1946, enlisted in the US Air Force and retired in 1967 with a total of 22 years of service. On Sept. 21, 1974, he married Anna Chlodine Ray Dowding, a widow with a son, Gilbert. She died on Oct. 1, 1979. He died on May 20, 1980 at the age of 55. He is buried in Resthaven Memorial Gardens.
Staff Sgt. Howard McCarty was born in Trenton in 1911. He married Marian Abernathy on Sept. 22, 1940 and joined the US Army in March 1942, serving with a headquarters company in communications. He was a member of the infantry division which took the force of the Rundstedt breakthrough in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge on Dec. 21, 1944. He was taken a prisoner and was liberated on April 22, 1945 by the Russians from a German camp. He returned to Trenton where he, Marian and their son, Edward, were owners and operators of McCarty's Market from 1948 to 1976. Howard died on Aug. 21, 1986 at the age of 74. He is buried at Resthaven Memorial Gardens.
Cpl. Vernon Lee McGuire graduated from Trenton High School in 1939 and enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on Oct. 2, 1942. He was a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry, which dropped into Normandy on D-Day and was captured by the Germans on June 5, 1944. He was liberated by the Russian Army in February 1945. He returned to the US and married Geraldine Hollingsworth of Jacksonville, FL on May 3, 1945. They had two daughters and one son. He died on April 14, 1989 at the age of 68 in Jacksonville. He was a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army. He is buried in the Florida National Cemetery in Bushwell, FL.
Staff Sgt. Rex DeVoe Merrell graduated from Trenton High School and was inducted into the US Army Air Corps in 1943. He was a gunner on a B-24 Bomber in the Italian Theater of War when his plane was shot down on July 8, 1944. He was liberated from a camp at Halle, Germany on May 4, 1945 by American troops. He returned to Trenton and married Wanda Donzetta Warner. They moved to Kansas City in 1951 and were the parents of two sons and two daughters. He died on May 9, 1996 at the age of 73. He is buried in the Capel Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, KS.
Capt. Robert G. Ragan was born in 1918 and attended the Spickard schools. The family moved in 1925 to Kansas City, where his father died in 1935. Robert enlisted in the US Marine Corps in September 1939 and was stationed in the Philippines during the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese on May 6, 1942. On May 10, 1943, 400 American prisoners were taken to a prisoner of war hospital at camp at Yodogava at Osaka, Japan. The first winter, Robert's feet were frozen and all his toes were amputated. He was liberated on Sept. 15, 1945 and arrived in San Francisco, CA on Oct. 1, 1945. No other information was found.
Lt. Dale P. VanBrunt was born in Trenton in 1916 and attended grade school here. His family moved to Moline, IL in 1941 after Dale enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. He was stationed somewhere in England and was a bombardier on a Flying Fortess, "Mehibtabel the Second." He was reported missing in action following a mission over Germany on Aug. 18, 1943. He was liberated on May 18, 1945. No other additional information was available.
Col. Lee Carl Vance was born on a farm east of Trenton in the Rural Dale area. He enlisted in the US Army in 1916 and served in the Mexican War and WW I. He was an instructor in military science with the University of Georgia in Athens. He was married and was in command of the 20th Cavalry at the time of the fall of Bataan on May 1, 1942. He was liberated in August 1945. No other information was available.
Capt. Marmie R. Watts was born in 1909 in Trenton and attended Trenton schools. He was employed at Hill's Grocery and later at Still's Grocery before moving to Kansas City. His parents both died in Kansas City in 1936. Marmie married, enlisted in the US Army in November 1942 and was sent overseas in November 1944. He was taken prisoner in Germany on Dec. 15, 1944. He was liberated six months later. He died in 1995 in Marceline, MO.
Staff Sgt. Ronald R. Wilson was born in 1921 near Spickard and attended rural schools. On Jan. 17, 1942, he married Mary Cathern Obermeyer of Princeton. He was inducted into service in July 1944 and was serving with Patton's Army in Germany when reported missing in action on March 3, 1945. After being a prisoner for 27 days, he was released from captivity by the advancing American Army. He also served in the Korean Conflict from Sept. 27, 1950 to May 3, 1951. He and Mary were the parents of four sons and two daughters. He died Oct. 8, 1990 at the age of 69 and is buried in the Spickard Masonic Cemetery.
Lt. Donald Clark Woodard was born in 1923 and graduated in 1941 from Trenton High School. He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and was based in England when reported missing in action after the first big raid on Bernsburg on July 7, 1944. He was a bombadier on one of the huge bombers flying over "Fortress Europe." He was interned in a prisoner of war camp for British and American commissioned officers approximately 125 miles north of Berlin. The camp was liberated on May 1, 1945 by Allied troops. Donald returned to Trenton and married Letha Ann Mack on July 22, 1945. They lived in Iowa, where Donald attended and graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, IA. They returned to their farm and are parents of two sons.
Staff Sgt. James T. Yeater entered the Army Air Corps in May 1942 and went overseas a year later. He was wounded in action and spent from July 20 to Aug. 8, 1943 in the hospital recovering from his wounds. He was waist gunner on a Flying Fortress when reported missing after a raid over Dunkirk, Germany on April 24, 1944. He was liberated on May 4, 1945. He returned to Trenton and married Betty Browning on June 29, 1949. They were the parents of a daughter, Marsha. He was associated with his father in the Yeater Drug Store until Jan. 1, 1961, when the family moved to Chillicothe and James was manager of the dining room at the Chillicothe Country Club until his death on May 15, 1963 at the age of 44. He was buried in the Roselawn Cemetery.
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