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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Gearing up for War

In August 1940 the United States was gearing up for war. McLean County saw a small part of those preparations at the National Guard post. Recruits poured in from all over the county and further afield as well. Announcement of enlistments for young men, and even a few nurses, appeared in the Pantagraph in 1940.

On August 12, 1940 the Pantagraph reporter, John Temple, took a photo of a small group of men leaving on the Interurban from Madison Street. Temple took each of their names and a list of the places they were bound for.

The caption stated that most of the young men were without employment, meaning their best option was life in the army -- where they could get some sort of education and receive three square meals a day. However, some of these men did not come from destitute families, and may have merely been seeking a more exciting life.

Starting on the right, the men were first the recruitment officer, Ray Seewer, and then Winston F. Adams. Winston F. Adams lived in Normal and although he could not be found in a census, we know that he and his two brothers, Don and Herb, who had already studied at ISNU, were all serving during the war. Winston expected to go to Selfridge Field, Michigan, where he would be in the air corp. He was later transferred to officer school at Miami Beach and became a 2d Lieutenant. In September 1942 he was still stateside, because he married Helen Sizemore in Normal at that time. She continued to live in Normal on School Street while Winston served. We don't know where he served, but he re-upped and in 1952 he was stationed in Greenland as a 1st Lieutenant and food service officer (Helen stayed on School Street). In 1956 he and Helen were living in Ft. Worth, TX. After that, Winston disappears from my view.

Richard M. Wallen was from Arrowsmith, a Kentucky transplant. His parents were William and Nellie Wallen and he graduated from the high school in Bellflower. Richard served in Europe during WWII, and he was called up again during the Korean conflict. After the WWII Richard began working at the Corn Belt Bank as a bookkeeper and rose through the ranks to retire as a Vice President of the bank in 1977. He was active in all the important charities in Bloomington, supporting Muscular Dystrophy fundraising, the American Cancer Society and the Home Sweet Home Mission to name just a few. He and his wife also owned the L&L Motel on Morrissey Drive for several years. He died in 1999.

Joseph W. Ryan was a resident of Bloomington, the son of Edna Vaughn Ryan. They lived with the Vaughn grandparents after Edna was widowed. Joseph was bound for Washington State, where he would train for the infantry. His draft card showed that he had just two years of high school. He served in India and China during the war and after the war, he re-enlisted. By 1948 he had returned to Bloomington, where he joined the police force. He may not have remained in Bloomington, because he disappears from view after 1948, with only a tribute to him on the anniversary of his death by his mother and sister on April 10, 1975.

William A. Maddox was the son of H.H. Maddox, an osteopath in Bloomington. He and his twin brother, Bob, attended Bloomington High School. Although Bob was not shipped out of Bloomington at the same time as Bill, they were assigned together to an anti aircraft facility in Iceland during the war. After the war, Bill re-enlisted, and later in life he worked as a policeman in Santa Clara, CA. Dr. Maddox and his wife moved to Mt. Pulaski during the war, so few reports of the activities of the brothers appeared in the newspaper.

Isaac M. Mitchell was a resident of Carlock when he entered the guard. He was being sent to Fort Sheridan to learn artillery, but he was in Ft Hancock in New York when he had an accident with a gun that injured his right hand. He dropped his gun, and as another man tried to catch it, the gun went off, shooting Isaac's first two fingers. He was discharged and returned home. He eventually worked for and retired from Caterpillar.

John D. Lorig was from Arrowsmith, where his father was a mail carrier. He was bound for quartermaster training at Scott Field, IL, but the first reports of his location stated he was at Chanute Field. In 1941 he married Margie Johnson in Bloomington. He served most of the war in the Pacific in the army air force. The tiny town of Arrowsmith sent 28 young men to the war in 1941 (before we even declared war) and all but two were in the army. John Lorig died in 1990, before his father, a WWI veteran, died.

Vola Mounce is a man about whom very little is known. He was from Kappa and expected to go to Camp Ord for his infantry training. He returned to Bloomington, where he married Pauline Washburn, and worked as an assembler at the GE plant. He died in 1994 at a Decatur hospital.

Clarence E. Zoll was from Bellflower, where his father was a butcher. He had graduated from Bellflower High School, and completed officer training. He also had a accident in 1942 in which he received a "severe head injury," but this did not interfere with his assignment to officer training. After officer training he was stationed in South Carolina. Before or after the war he married Hazel Werner. He continued living in Bloomington Normal and was a maintenance supervisor at ISU for more than thirty years. He died in Phoenix in 1991.

Walter E. Kirk was from Bellflower, the son of Frank and Alma Kirk. He served in California and married Marieta Marie Jones while stationed there. In 1945 Marieta visited Bellflower and was preparing to train as an Xray technician with the WAC. After the war Walter re-enlisted but nothing is known of his continued service. Walter remained in California and died in 1967.

Charles E. Greene was also from Bellflower, but no trace at all could be found of him or his service.

John H. Acree was from Gibson City, but was born in Kentucky. His parents were Harlan and Linda. He was bound for Camp Ord and infantry training but eventually served in an anti aircraft division in the Atlantic sector. During the war his family returned to Kentucky, and it was in Kentucky that John re-enlisted in the army. In civilian life he was a bricklayer in Texas. He died in an automobile accident in Houston, February 15, 1964.

Lloyd V. Wilmoth came from Lexington where he lived with his grandparents after his parent's divorce. He had three younger siblings who were apparently living elsewhere. Lloyd served in Africa, Sicily and Italy. He was injured and discharged from Anzio, where he was injured in early 1944. He received the Purple Heart. Lloyd lived in Michigan after the war and died there in 1997.

Warren J. Warmoth's place of residence was given as Lexington, which is where he was working as a farm hand. He was the son of Ralph Warmoth and Jennie Berg, born in Winnebago County when his mother was about 16 years old. He had two brothers and one sister when his parent's marriage dissolved around 1928. He (age 8) and his young brother (age 6) went to live at the St. Vincent Orphanage in Freeport, his youngest brother (Ralph, age 4) with grandparents in Rockford and his baby sister is not listed in any census. At some point in 1940, the three brothers were probably reunited, at ISSCS, because Ralph was also a resident of the school in 1940. Warren's father went on to create another family but Jennie Berg could not be traced. Warren attended University High School for two years while living at ISSCS and was one of 13 ISSCS men killed in action during WWII. Warren was killed in Italy on February 29, 1944, the only man of this small group to die in the war.

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