The goal of this memorial project is to tell the stories of the veterans who served, and particularly those who gave their lives for their country, in the Second World War. An effective means of making history “real” for those not around to live it is to make a tangible connection between the past and the present. For this project, that means telling the story of World War II through the experiences of local servicemen.
The following is a collection of stories about the service of local Riley Countians and how they contributed to the larger conflict that enveloped the globe. They are stories of individuals as well as families, and the nature of their service, ranging from the very beginning of the war until the conflict’s final days. It is important to remember, however, that the men spotlighted here are no more or less “heroic” than any other man or woman who fought and died for their country. We honor all of our veterans equally, and earnestly desire for the memory of each to be preserved for the generations to come.
There were five Crumpton brothers who served in the Second World War. Each of the boys knew it was their duty to serve once war came to America. Of the five Crumpton brothers who served, two never came back.
Frank Jake Stevenson was one of the very first U.S. casualties of World War II. Early in the morning on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Jake was posted on the mighty battleship USS Arizona.
Paul Pearson was stationed in the Philippines as a staff officer for MacArthur’s II Philippine Corps when the Japanese struck in December 1941. Outnumbered, outgunned, and far from help, the American and Filipino defenders fought courageously for months.
Richard Alonzo Jaccard was a local Kansas boy with passion for the sea and the sky. Led by this passion, “Dick” Jaccard joined the elite and glamorous ranks of the U.S. Navy’s sea pilots in the months before Pearl Harbor.
In early December 1941 Ensign Richard Glenn was stationed with the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. When the Japanese struck on December 7th, not only did Richard find himself caught at the scene of America’s first battle, he was at Ground Zero.
Jimmy joined the military when the war broke out and was awarded his pilot’s wings as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. Assigned to the 52nd Fighter Group, he was one of the only American fighter units assigned to fly the famed British Spitfire fighter plane.
On the night of June 5, 1944 First Lieutenant Ernest O. Harris and the 101st Airborne dropped into the German stronghold of occupied France.
The Ehlers boys were just local, small-town Kansans. They had no idea that their name would become synonymous with courage and sacrifice to generations of Americans.
Dale Johnson was decorated for gallantry in action on Pinamopoan, Leyte, in the Philippine Islands. On November 11, 1944 he led a group of soldiers defending American tanks from Japanese suicide bombers.
Harold Nonamaker attended the R.O.T.C. program at Kansas State College, graduating in 1932. Following his graduation Harold did not enter active duty right away.
Lieutenant Gehrt was killed in a C-47 crash during the Rhine River mission, Operation "Varsity," flying back from dropping supplies for Airborne troops inside Germany, while trying to avoid German Fighters.
In the spring of 1945 Bob and Colman found themselves on the Pacific Island of Okinawa, part of the Marine Corps’ island-hopping campaign to get closer and closer to Japan.
It was the waning days of the war and the Japanese defenders were desperate.