"We dedicate these pages to the sacred memory of our noble boys who went out from us, called by their country and suffering humanity. 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' In giving their lives for us, for our institutions and ideas, they blessed humanity and brought peace to a weary world."
The War Letters collection in the Austin College Archives contains 42 letters – 41 from World War II, one from the Korean War – all given to the College by Rollin Rolfe, long-time faculty member and dean of students. Of the 41 World War II letters, all but two were written in 1945. Rolfe corresponded with students throughout the war, but apparently discarded hundreds of letter before realizing the historical value of these documents.
The letters were written from all parts of the world:
South Pacific: 11
|India: 2||France: 6|
|Japan: 2||United States: 10||Western Europe: 1|
|Far East: 2||Virgin Islands: 2||Germany: 1|
|Western Pacific: 1||England: 3|
What Rolfe wrote to soldiers is generally not known, but at times can be inferred from the soldiers’ responses. Many soldiers accepted Rolfe’s promise of a warm bath waiting for them at Luckett Hall after the war; others thanked Rolfe for sending the latest copy of the College Bulletin. A number of soldiers asked Rolfe for career advice, wondering if they should attend officer candidate school, pursue seminary after the war, or return to Austin College.
Rolfe offered to send textbooks to C.Y. Bartley ’38, who was with the 1st Marine Division in San Francisco, Calif., but Bartley wrote back, “We have very little time to read. Busy all day and it’s usually lights out as soon as the sun sets.” Bartley, like some of the other soldiers, expressed an interest in returning to campus on the G.I. Bill after the war, but wondered how they would fit in with the young student body.
[[J.G. Jack W. Nelson]]
Robert F. Nicholson (attended 1942-44) wrote from England to request a trigonometry book from Dean of Students James Moorman. He described the book, one Moorman had used in class, and then closed his letter: “England is just about as you described it to us one day in class. I’d say more, but we aren’t allowed to write anything uncomplimentary about the English.”
Rolfe wrote much about campus improvements. One soldier, whose signature was indecipherable, wrote from Holland and sent $25 to help with the completion of the administration building, which Rolfe had designed in the 1920s and the College began building but had yet to complete in 1945 due to a lack of funds, the Depression, and the war. “This is my 30th month,” the soldier wrote. “I’ve already been here so long that I’m now eligible, under the Dutch squatters rights law, for ten acres and a hog. I’ve always wanted a hog, but darned if they are going to shove ten acres of this damn country off on me.”
J.G. Jack W. Nelson ’43 wrote from PT boat duty in the Pacific about “man-trap” clams that weighed 300 pounds and could be used as bathtubs, “four feet in diameter and 11 inches deep.” He also fashioned a crank-top ice cream freezer from materials “procured” from the Japanese.
Maj. Marvin E. Lindemann (attended 1944) had commanded the 77th Flight Training Corps at Austin College in 1943 and 1944, and wrote Rolfe from somewhere in the Far East. “I’ll tell you one thing, if there’s a friend to me at your college it’s that man Moorman [James B. Moorman, dean of students] – when we got together it was stern intelligence plus brutal military force attacking problems and then, the solution of problems could be only sound and nothing more. Am still learning and working away as usual since my greatest obsession is the efficiency of my command.”
Many soldiers wrote about death. “It sure isn’t fun and you know we play for keeps in this game,” wrote T.J. Bailey ’48 from the South Pacific. Johnny G. Farmer ’46 wrote about his shock at hearing of the death of his friend and classmate George Firor. “The prices of war are high,” Farmer wrote.
Two months before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, John Farmer speculated about the impending invasion of Japan. “I am willing to miss the invasion of the [Japanese] homeland, for that operation will be quite nasty.” C.A. Winkle ’41 also would have participated in the invasion of Japan, “We had been preparing for something big when the glad tidings came,” but instead became the skipper of a post-war cargo ship in Japan.
Many letters dealt with post-war plans. As the war in Europe neared an end, Joe Brown ’38 wrote, “Listening to J. Straus’s ‘Wine, Women, and Song’ just to get in the right mood.”
Pfc. Oscar W. Mueller ’47 wrote from France. “When this mess ends, I’m going to make one stop to pick up my wife and then by the fastest means available I’m heading for old A.C. [Austin College]. The old school means more to me now than it ever did while I had the privilege of being a student there.” Two months later Mueller wrote again to Rolfe. “Yes, I can imagine that the gum-beating session we shall have when we do get together again will outshine any previous sessions held at A.C. [Austin College], both in length and intensity.”
One soldier named Shug (or Slug) wrote from “the wrong side of the Pacific” and included a portrait he had drawn of his fiancé. “I tell you, Mr. Rolfe, she is all any man could ask for and far more than I deserve.” Shug drew portraits for “the lads” who wanted to send them home [Have copies of two of these.] and closed his letter on this note: “The world may well be the devils own replica of hell, but you just can’t kill this thing we [illegible] have locked up in our hearts. We may not play as much, nor smile as often, nor even enjoy life as we could have if we did not know some of the things we know, but we’ll be back again. Keep things right for us Mr. Rolfe.”
Even close to home, some soldiers missed life on campus. Warren B. Hunter ’48 wrote from Oklahoma: “You do not realize how much you love the place until you are away for some time. It is the type of thing that grows on a man and never wears off.”
Coffin, of Itasca, Texas, was killed during shelling at Soissons, France, a commune northwest of Paris, on July 19, 1918. Coffin was an active Philennoian Literary Society member and vice president of the Senior Club. He was buried near Soissons in a well-marked grave with full military honors.
Crim was killed during the night of October 9, 1918, about half a mile northwest of Somme-Py, France, during a shell bombardment of the front lines. He was trained at Camp Bowie before entering the fighting and is believed buried at the place of his death.
1st Lt. John Morgan Currie left Austin College to join the first officer training class at Camp Leon Springs, Texas, during his senior year and was granted his A.B. in absentia with his class. He was known in football circles as one of the best players ever to wear the Kangaroo uniform. He was at one time president of the A Association and an ex-judge of the Kangaroo Court. Currie was sent to France with the Rainbow Division, wounded several times, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre from the French government before he was killed leading his men on September 12, 1918.
In August 1919, the Alumni Monthly reported that, “Eight months after he had been reported missing in action, Battalion Sergeant Major Robert C. Drummond was reported killed in action.” A student from Brookston, Texas, Drummond trained and served at Camp Travis, Texas, until he was sent to the French front line in early August 1918, where he was either captured of killed on September 26, 1918.
Ellison, of Dallas, Texas, was a ministerial candidate who was a leader in college activities. He was elected president of the Y.M.C.A., and distinguished himself as a debate winner. Ellison was a prominent member of his class and held several offices. He returned to work on his master’s degree in English in 1917. Ellison trained at Camp Leon Springs, Texas, before being sent to France, where he was killed 50 yards from the enemy line at Berzy-le-sec, near Soissons, on July 20,1918, at the age of 24.
A victim of the epidemic of influenza sweeping the United States in 1918, Gaither died at Camp Pike, Arkansas, on October 12, 1918. Gaither attended Austin College for five years and was remembered as a leader among students. He was an able speaker and a member of the Alumni Committee.
Lee, of Sherman, Texas, was a member of the College’s preparatory school. Little is known about him or the circumstances of his death.
On May 28, 1918, Lt. Col. Robert Jayne Maxey was killed at Cantigny, France, south of Amiens. He was an Austin College cadet officer registered from Mississippi. Before his service in France, Maxey served in the Spanish-American War and three tours in the Philippines in addition to acting as an instructor at Ft. Leavenworth. He was awarded the Medal of Bravery at San Juan Hill and was with the British at Ypres. On May 28, 1918, he was paralyzed by a bullet in the neck, but refused to leave the battle until he had relayed necessary orders. He is buried in Cantigny, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the French government’s Croix de Guerre.
Meyer was killed in France on October 26, 1918, while aiding a wounded comrade in No Man’s Land. He attended Austin College for one term before returning to his father’s business in Bowie, Texas, and eventually enlisting in the armed forces. Meyer was struck by shrapnel and severely wounded on the first day of a new American assault. He died in an Army hospital at the age of 23.
Off the English coast on Oct. 11, 1918, Richardson was killed when the seaplane on which he was the radio operator crashed into the North Sea while acting as an escort for an American Special Operation. He was a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve Air Force and a prominent member of the freshman class of 1916. His body was flown home for burial in Dallas on Dec. 5, 1918. An armed escort of Austin College men marched in the funeral procession as an honor guard while aviators from Love Field flew overhead and dropped flowers on the parade.
Wager entered Austin College in 1910 and upon graduation entered the ministry whith the intention of working in foreign missions. A leading member of the Athenaeum Literary Society and the Y.M.C.A., Wager graduated from seminary before joining the 322nd Sanitary Train, 97th Division at Camp Cody, Demming, N.M., where he died of influenza on Dec. 14, 1918. He was brought home to Sherman for burial services, which were conducted by Austin College president Thomas S. Clyce at Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Wells, of Bartlett, Texas, died of pneumonia in France on Dec. 22, 1918, after acquiring a distinguished service record on the fighting front. A month before his death, Wells witnessed the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.
The 1946 Chromascope honored the following alumni who died during World War II:
Killed in action over Bremen, Germany, October 8, 1943.
Born in Sherman, September 11, 1917, Alvin Barker was the son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Barker and a brother of Cleveland, Ruby and Dorothy Barker, all Austin College students. At Austin College he lettered in football, was Vice-President of the “A” Association, member of the Men’s Council, the International Relations Club and the Sherman Club.
Inducted in July 1941, Alvin trained in California. He won his wings and commission at March Field, February 20, 1942, and was promoted to lst Lieutenant October 1, 1942. Overseas duty dated from May 29, 1943. Based in England, he was promoted to Captain on July 1, 1943, and at the time of his death he was Squadron Flight Commander and Operations Officer, 351st Bomber Squadron, 100th Bombardier Group. He was awarded the Air Medal with two clusters and DFC.
Killed in China in aircraft accident, July 7, 1945.
Norman came to Austin College as a Junior, after graduating at the College of Marshall in 1933. He was active in student affairs, especially football and basketball; and was a member of the “A” Association.
Two years principal of Gunter school, he then became instructor and athletic director at the College of Marshall.
In the war he became flight instructor at Jones Field, Bonham. Later he went to Ellington, then Randolph Field for C-47 training; then to station at Reno, Nevada; then last April to the India-China theatre, flying military cargo for the ATC. He was serving in that capacity when reported killed.
Memorial services were held in Marshall, home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.O. Barnes.
Died from heat prostration, Camp Wallace, Texas, August 18, 1943.
Jack Boggs Bidwell, the son of Reverend and Mrs. G.C. Bidwell, was born in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, June 18, 1922, and reared in Texas, graduated at Van Horn.
In Austin College, in addition to night work in a local factory, Jack was active in all phases of college. His activities included membership in Alpha Chi (National Scholarship Society), International Relations Club, Student Council, YMCA Cabinet, track and basketball teams, football manager, "A" Association and Theta Omega Tau. During his senior year he was president of his class and holder of the Stephen F. Austin Fellowship in History.
Two brothers, Robert and David Bidwell, were in College with him.
In the Army less than four months, he had been awarded the marksmanship medal and appointment to ASTP.
Killed in crash near Flagstaff, Arizona, October 3, 1941
Gladney was the son of Mr. and Mrs. M.G. Boyd of Palestine, Texas. In College, his extra-curricular activities included golf and tennis; International Relations Club, whose President he became in 1940; Men's Council; Phi Sigma Alpha; business manager of the Chromoascope. During his senior year he took flight training at the college and was secretary of "The Flying Kangaroos."
In February of 1941 Gladney enlisted in the United States Army Air Force and received his wings and commission at Stockton, California. Only a week later, a B-18 in which he was a passenger, crashed on Agassiz Peak of the San Francisco Mountain Range in California. At the time of his death he was enroute to Sherman for his marriage to his Austin College fiancee. Burial was in Palestine.
Killed in action December 21, 1944, in Belgium.
George Firor, son of Mrs. Velma F. Stevens of Tacoma, Washington, entered Austin College as a freshman in 1942. He was born in Dalhart, Texas, and was graduated from Forest Avenue High School, Dallas.
Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, George withdrew from college and enlisted in the Army. During the one semester of his freshman year he had played guard on the football team, was initiated into the Phi Sigma Alpha social fraternity, and took a leading part in all activities of the Slime Association, the organization of men of the freshman class.
His death occurred during the battle of the Belgian Bulge, and the Purple Heart and Star for gallantry were awarded posthumously and presented to his mother.
Lost in explosion at sea off the coast of Africa, January 1, 1943.
Ben Prentice Gafford, son of Mr. and Mrs. G.P. Gafford was born March 21, 1922, in Sherman. He entered Austin College in the fall of 1940. At the end of his freshman year, Ben Prentice declined a nomination to Annapolis as second alternate and entered the Merchant Marine.
After passing a competitive examination, he reported to New Orleans for 8 weeks of shore training. In his twenty months of service he completed voyages to South America, South Africa and the West Indies. At the time of his death he would have received his commission on completion of the voyage.
The Mariner's Medal was awarded posthumously.
Killed in crash near Palm Springs, California, November 13, 1941.
Elery, who was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Otto Gross of Greenville, entered Austin College in the fall of 1933. At Austin College, he was football manager and a member of the track and basketball teams. He transferred to St. Edwards, and was graduated there in 1938.
Inducted into the Air Corps February 14, 1940, he received his wings and commission at Kelly Field October 4, 1940. During the summer of 1941 he was attached to the U.S. Embassy in London acting as Military Observer for the U.S. Air Corps.
On his return to the U.S., he married Miss Ona Ard, of Greenville, on August 6, 1941.
November 13, 1941, he crashed near Palm Springs, California. Elery's body was returned to Greenville.
Killed in crash into the Pacific Ocean, April 17, 1943.
LaRue Haralson, son of Mr. and Mrs. L.G. Haralson, of Sherman, was graduated from Denison High School and entered Austin College from Schreiner Institute. In Austin College, La Rue lettered in football, was Secretary/Treasurer of the Sherman Club and held membership in "A" Association and the Phi Sigma Alpha.
He entered service November 12, 1942 and did his training at Jones Field, Bonham, and at Randolph and Kelly Fields; he received his wings and commission at Kelly, July 3, 1942. The next day he received an overseas assignment, the South Pacific.
Bombardier Squadron veteran of 50 missions, Bismarck Sea battle and an 8000-ton ship sunk at Rabaul, La Rue died in a practice maneuver, diving into the sea. His body was not recovered.
Killed on Bataan, January 17, 1942.
Clifford G. Hardwicke, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. C.G. Hardwicke of Sherman was the grandson of Professor Case, for many years professor of music and director of Austin College glee clubs and chorsues. The major part of Cliff's college work was done at Texas A&M, from which he received his degree. He attended Austin College during the summers of 1934, 1935 and 1936.
He entered active service in June, 1940. After duty at Ft. Clark, Ft. Bliss, and Ft. Riley, he saw service with the 26th Cavalry in the Philippines. He was killed in action at Moron, Bataan, P.I. January 17th, 1942. Purple Heart and Silver Star for gallantry were awarded posthumously.
Lost at sea with U.S. Submarine S-28, July 4, 1944
Harold Hester was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Hester and while in college married Evelyn Welborn, of the class of 1939. In Austin College he was a member of the band, was on the basketball and tennis teams, was president of his class during his sophomore year, and a member of the Pre-Medical Society.
He received naval training at Annapolis, beginning January 8, 1943, and asked for submarine duty. After service in the Aleutians he went to advanced submarine school at New London, Connecticut, where he received his "Dolphins." At New London, Harold took first honors in a class of 350. He was assigned to the Submarine S-28, became her executive officer, and was lost with her.
Died at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, May 25, 1943.
"Little Hig" will be remembered as a student at Austin College in the summer of 1931 and as backfield coach in 1923 when Pete Cawthon was head coach of the Kangaroos; and head baseball coach in 1924. He was married to Miss Elizabeth Tuck of Sherman. They had one son, Bobby.
His college work was done at A&M where he had a brilliant football and baseball career; after which he was much sought after as a coach and league player. The past several years he had been a staff member in the Athletic Department at SMU and director of the men's dormitory.
Roswell entered the navy in the summer of 1943 as a Lieut. (jg) and died at Quonset Point, Rhode Island following an opreation.
Killed over Germany, November 5, 1944.
Shepherd Litsey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Litsey of Sherman, was a special student at Austin College just prior to his enlistment. He entered service October 17, 1942, as a photo-technician and trained at the Hondo, Texas, Navigation School, photographic section.
He went overseas April 12, 1944, and served as combat aerial photographer with the 34th Bombardier Squadron, based in England.
On September 26, 1944, he was wounded by flak over Bremen, Germany. On November 5, 1944 his plane failed to return from a 2500 plane raid over Frankfurt, Karlsruhe and Ludwigshafen. He had the air medal with two clusters, Presidential Group citation and two Purple Hearts.
Shep was a brother of Captain Richard Litsey, USAAF, Austin College Class of 1943.
Died February 15, 1943, at Ream Field, California, as a result of a crash near San Diego.
Gordon Duggan McDaniel, son of Mr. and Mrs. B. McDaniel, was born and reared in Denison. He entered Austin College in 1933, for the pre-law course; was active in student affairs, and became assistant editor of the Kangaroo. After two years he went to Texas University where he took his law degree in 1938. After graduation he was associated with the law firm of Campbell, Myer and Eastham, of Houston, Texas.
He was sworn into the Naval Reserve January 1, 1942, received his wings and commission at Corpus Christi in November, 1942, thence went to Miami for training as pilot of Navy Torpedo Planes. He then was sent to the West Coast where death occurred. Burial was in Denison.
Died in New Guinea, October 19, 1944.
Guy Matlock was the son of Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Matlock of Sherman and a brother of Dorothy, Doris and George Matlock, all graduates of Austin College. Guy spent two years at Austin College, was active in student affairs and took a leading part in the Sherman Club.
At the time he entered service he was a petroleum engineer in New York. He trained at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma. Overseas, he was attached to the 60thGeneral Hospital in which organization he was serving at the time of his death. Memorial services were held by his chaplain at 1800, Sunday, October 22, 1944.
As a token of their esteem for Guy, his associates on the hospital staff raised a memorial fund of $580 which they sent his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Matlock plan to use the money to establish a student loan fund in memory of Guy.
Killed in action March 3, 1945, in Germany.
Edward Lee Matthews entered service in June of 1942. He attended OCS at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where he was commissioned in September, 1942. In this country, he was stationed at Camp Barkley until June, 1944, when he went overseas as a member of the 3rdArmored Division. He was promoted to 1stLieutenant after the battle at St. Lo, Normandy, and was killed in action leading a reconnaissance troop of 32nd Armored Regiment in Germany.
Edward was the son of Mr. and Mrs. A.N. Matthews, of Sherman. While in College he was active in the Stroller’s Club. In addition to his parents, he is survived by this wife and a small daughter. His wife is the former Miss Locile Rogers, a former Austin College student.
Died in service, November 12, 1943.
Douglas H. Mebane entered Austin College from Alvin, Texas , in 1907. He took the pre-medical course and was graduated with the BA Degree in 1911. He held offices, including the Presidency in the Athenaeum Literary Society, the YMCA, his class, which was organized in his senior year. He played football and basketball and was on the track team; was high sheriff of the Kangaroo Court.
He took his M.D. degree at the University Medical School, Galveston, in 1916. Dr. Mebane then went into the U.S. Army, and served 25 years, including tours in Hawaii, the Philippines, and the largest hospitals in the service. At the time of his death, he was Chief of the Medical Service.
His widow, Mrs. Mebane, lives with her mother, Mrs. C.C. West, in Eldorado, Texas. A son, Douglas, Jr., is in military school in San Antonio.
Killed in action August 18, 1943.
Martin volunteered for Navy service December 13, 1942, and eight months later met his death in action in Alaskan waters. He had trained at San Diego and had participated in the battles of Attu and Kiska. His unit was awarded the Presidential Citation.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Nicholas, Martin was born in Pueblo, Colorado, March 11, 1923, lived later in Denison, Texas and was graduated from Sherman High School. He entered Austin College as a freshman in the fall of 1941 and withdrew from College to enter the Navy. He was active in the Sherman Club and the YMCA.
His body is interred in Alaska.
Killed in crash of passenger plane, February 23, 1945
Edwin was the son of Mr. and Mrs. O.J. Read of Augusta, Texas. Two brother, one of whom is Ray Weldon Read, Austin College class of 1940, are in the Navy.
Chief Read had spent only his freshman year at Austin College when he entered the Navy in 1937. He served in convoy duty in the North Atlantic, rescue duty in the North Atlantic, duty in Iceland, and in Trinidad, BWI. He was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal with designation for combat duty, European-East African Medal Battle Stars; and the North American Theatre Medal.
At the time of his death, Chief Read was on leave form his destroyer, “Frank Knox,” a passenger on the American Lines “Mercury,” which crashed in Virginia. He was buried in Augusta, Texas.
Killed in action over Regensburg, August 17, 1943.
Normanwas a son of Mr. and Mrs. N.H. Smith of Waco. During his four years, “Pinky” was active in class, dramatic and musical organizations, assistant to the Librarian three years, Associate Editor of the Kangaroo, an officer of the Assistants Club.
Prior to the war, he held positions with the Texas Textile Mills in Waco and Dallas. His wedding to Miss Dorothy May Tuthill took place July 13, 1942, in Sebring, Florida.
Overseas, Pinky was radioman and gunner on a Flying Fortress. His plane was in a shuttle raid from England to Africa when over Regensburg, an enemy shell exploded in the radio compartment.
The Purple Heart and Air Medal were awarded posthumously.
A son, Norman Tuthill Smith, was born five months after his father’s death.
Lost in mid-Atlantic following action of USS Borie with enemy submarines.
Richard E. St.John, son of Mr. and Mrs. D.H. St. John, Royse City, transferred to Austin College from Texas Tech in 1933. He lettered in football and basketball, was President of the “A” Association, Vice-President of the International Relations Club and member of the “Y” Cabinet.
In 1936 “Al” was assistant coach, took his MA , then he coached at Kilgore.
On December 12, 1941, Al enlisted in the Navy. He was appointed a Midshipman August 7, 1942, and on October 21 commissioned Ensign in the USNR. On January 11, 1943 he was transferred to the USS Borie for duty. He was lost rescuing companions on loss of the Borie to submarines.
He was awarded the Purple Heart, and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Killed in action in Eastern France, November 15, 1944.
Jodie was the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Sory who now live in Dallas. After graduation from Sherman High School, he entered Austin College where he completed a year’s work before joining the Army. While in college he was President of his Class, a member of Phi Sigma Alpha, and voted “Favorite Freshman” for the year.
His basic training was received at Ft. Lewis, Washington, and later training at Camp Phillips, Kansas. He held 1st class gunner’s medal for carbine, rifle, and machine gun. Overseas Jodie served with Co. G, 114th Infantry, 44th Division, was killed in action with the 7th Army. Purple Heart was awarded posthumously. Memorial services were conducted at St. Mary’s Church, Sherman.
Lt. Henry Sory, ’44, is Jodie’s brother.
James Edwin Baldwin '36
Leonard Alton Page (attended 1937-38)
William Green Reynolds (attended1943-44)
Billy Deweese Steward (attended 1940-42)
James Edwin Wood (attended 1943-44)
©2018 Abell Library Center | Austin College, 900 N. Grand Avenue, Sherman, TX 75090-4400 | Phone: (903) 813-2236
Please direct comments or questions about this website to Andrew Smith.