VANDALIA – BUTLER – As the nation pauses this Memorial Day to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country, let us remember these 16 individuals from Vandalia and Butler Township who were killed in our nation’s service:
2nd Lt Joseph C. Beal
He graduated from Officer Candidate School and became an officer in the U.S. Army at the young age of 19. He had the distinction of being the youngest commissioned officer in Patton’s 3rd Army.
Lt. Beal died in the Battle of the Bulge. For his bravery he was awarded the Bronze Star, The Purple Heart, and was recommended for the Silver Star.
Lt. Beal is buried in the Lorain American Cemetary in St. Abels, France.
Gunner’s First Mate Ambrose Beeson
He left for the Navy in 1942. Upon completion of basic training he became a member of a gun crew on a merchant vessel and made the treacherous Murmansk runs to Russia. Beeson was officially credited with downing a German aircraft during one of these runs. He was later transferred to an oil tanker, the USS Chester Valley, which made runs to and from South America.
Gunner’s First Mate Ambrose Beeson was killed in an accident as a result of heavy fog off the coast of Delaware. After a collision with another vessel, Beeson scrambled into the hold of the ship and opened oil valves so that the USS Chester Valley would not explode. This heroic act of bravery helped to save the life of his ship and all of his shipmates. This commended act of valor was featured in the magazine “Boy’s Life” soon after the war was over.
Sgt. Dean Black
He enlisted in the U.S. Army soon after our country became involved in World War II. After completing stateside training he was shipped to the Mediterranean Theatre of operations.
He was involved in at least four major landings and campaigns that included Tunisia, North Africa, the takeover of Sicily, and Southern Italy.
While making a beachhead landing on the beach of Anzio, Sgt. Black was killed by enemy artillery bombardment. Sgt. Black’s unit sustained some of the heaviest casualties of WWII.
Corporal John Buckmaster
He joined the U.S. Marines in 1981. John completed basic training at Paris Island and went from there to guided missile training school. John was trained in fighting terrorists and was soon assigned to duty in the Middle East.
He received his first Purple Heart when he was wounded as a rocket hit his bunker in Lebanon. Soon after this assault, Corporal Buckmaster was killed after a terrorist’s bomb exploded at the U.S. Marine Battalion Headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. He was awarded a second Purple Heart posthumously.
Private Dennis Davidson
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and after completing basic training he was sent to Vietnam for a tour of duty. After a successful tour of duty he was transferred back to the States and Honorably Discharged. Dennis soon re-enlisted as it was his desire to serve another tour of duty in Vietnam. During his tour he was wounded and was being evacuated via helicopter when the aircraft was shot down and he lost his life.
Sgt. James Jordan
He was drafted in 1966 into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
He was killed by sniper fire as he was serving as “point man” during a surveillance mission in Vietnam. He had served in the Army for a year and a half.
Sgt. Robert Lumm
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943. After completing basic training he went to gunnery school and performed well. He was soon assigned as a tail gunner on a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the European Theatre of Operations. Sgt. Lumm’s B-17 Flying Fortress was shot down while on a bombing run over Germany.
Flight Officer Ray Elwood Rogers
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Patterson Field in the spring of 1942. After intensive training he was commissioned as an officer in the fall of 1943. In the spring of 1944 he was transferred overseas and became a flight officer and bombardier on a Mitchell B-25 Bomber and was stationed in Italy. His B-25 aircraft was shot down May 12, 1944 during an Allied offensive to take Rome. His aircraft crashed and disappeared at sea with no one surviving.
Private David Sabec
He joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Butler High School in 1963. He went through boot camp in San Diego, California. After training he was shipped to The Philippines. He was stationed briefly in the Philippines before serving in Vietnam. Private Sabec lost his life during a major United States Offensive in Vietnam. He had served in the U.S. Marine Corps approximately one year at the time of his death.
Capt. Kay Schearer
Enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and because of his intelligence and aggressive nature he was selected for pilot training as a fighter pilot. Capt. Schearer was trained as a fighter pilot flying the famed P-38 fighter aircraft. After completing his training he received orders to report for duty at the European Theatre of War. He was stationed in England and flew many missions over Germany. He flew escort mission for bombing runs and participated in many ground strafing runs. He was shot down on January 13th, 1944 while on a strafing run in Western Germany.
Sgt. Gary Schlecht
He was a member of the United States Army. He lost his life on his second tour of Korea.
He had just competed officer training school and was selected for service in the famed Screaming Eagles.
There was an unfortunate accident involving Sgt. Schlect’s craft while he was commanding an amphibious personnel carrier. This mishap took place during the 1981 World Wide maneuvers.
His group of men were under orders to cross the Hahn River. All five men in his craft, including Sgt. Schlect were forced to evacuate. The weather was the worst of freezing conditions and the river was swift and icy.
Sgt. Schlect put his own life at risk to swim to a soldier who had no life vest. If he would have not saved this member of his crew, chances are he would have survived himself.
Sgt. Schlect died of hypothermia as did three others under his command.
Private Hillory Shifflet
He was a member of the first Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Private Shifflet was killed in action at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 24, 1864.
1st Lieutenant Larry Tootle
Lieutenant Tootle loved flying from an early age and even owned his own single engine Waco aircraft. When the U.S. became involved in WWII, Larry became a member of the U.S. Army air corps. After training, Larry was given orders to fly airplanes from assembly plants to airforce bases both in the U.S. and overseas. He later became a flight instructor and was killed while training a student pilot.
U.S. Government Worker Dorothy Van Zant
Dorothy became an employee of the U.S. Government just before the beginning of WWII. She was an employee at Patterson Field Air Force Base. As a Government employee she was transferred to an Army Air Corps installation just outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico. As the U.S. became more involved in WWII our number of air bases rapidly increased in that area. She was trained in intelligence and had a classified job in which she dealt with highly sensitive material. Dorothy was killed when her military transport crashed into the side of a mountain near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although Dorothy was not an official member of the U.S. Military, she is listed as “Killed in Action in the service of the United State Government.”
Corporal Thomas Westerman
He was a member of the first Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Corporal Westerman was seriously wounded in the Battle of Shiloh on April 7th, 1862. He died 3 months later on July 7th 1862.
Specialist 4th Class George Youngerman
He served in the infantry and completed advanced training in California. He completed his training and was shipped overseas.
He was a combat soldier in the 5th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army.
He was killed by a sniper’s bullet on April 1st 1971 as he was guarding his unit’s perimeter.
Biographies received courtesy of Bob Dadey. Dadey is a teacher of Sociology and U.S. Studies at Butler High School and the coordinator of the annual Memorial Program at Butler.