Category Archives: Texas Aggies

These young men attended A&M, some briefly, before going to war. A&M was a Land Grant College, and its Corps of Cadets was mandatory at the time. Aggies contributed thousands of fighting men in World War II. Its Corps of Cadets is still 2500 strong, and continues the great tradition of service to our country. TAB




by Todd Blomerth

Jack Storey Lipscomb was born in Lockhart, Texas on November 25, 1925. He was the son of John William Lipscomb, Sr. and Corinne Cardwell Storey Lipscomb. The two had married in 1919, when John was 28 and Corinne was 23. Jack’s family lineage encompassed many of the ranching and farming pioneers of Caldwell County and South Texas. Jack had two siblings, older brother John W. Jr. and younger sister Beulah Jean. The Lipscomb families owned and operated several cotton gins and mercantile stores in northern Caldwell County.

 John Sr. enlisted in 1917 at the beginning of America’s involvement in World War I. After being discharged from active service in early 1918, he worked in the family businesses. He also became an officer in the Texas National Guard. The Lipscomb family lived on South Main Street, and attended Lockhart’s Presbyterian Church.

In March of 1935, John Sr., by now a captain, was appointed by Texas Governor Allred as the custodial officer of the Texas National Guard Encampment near Palacios, in Matagorda County, and the Lipscomb family moved from Lockhart. Camp Hulen, as the encampment was more commonly called, served as a Guard training facility until nationalized. It then became a U.S. Army training facility until early 1944 when it was converted to prisoner of war camp for captured Germans.

Jack thrived in Palacios. He played football at every level of schooling allowed. At one point he was nicknamed the “Mighty Mite,” when he quarterbacked the grammar school team in the late 1930s. . He was quarterback of the Palacios Sharks when the team was district co-champion his junior year. He was described by one admirer as a “happy, tousle-headed, freckled faced lad.”

But Lockhart was still considered home, and the family was often in Caldwell and other counties where the large interwoven family owned land. A June 1939 Post Register story reported that Jack’s grandmother, Mrs. A.A. (Beulah Cardwell) Storey, his mother Corinne, and sister Jean traveling to the family ranch in Zavala County, to drop off Jack, older brother John, and cousin, James Storey where the boys would spend a month. The Post-Register stated that “[t]he boys are being chaperoned by Sr. Estanislau Gomez and they are expecting a great time.”  That “great time” included a lot of hard work.

            John Lipscomb Sr.’s military duties included inspecting National Guard units, including the 141st Infantry Regimental detachment in Lockhart. When Camp Hulen was nationalized in 1940, and by now a major, he transferred to Camp Bowie, where he was the base recreation officer. In 1942, Major Lipscomb transferred to Austin, where he served as coordinator of the staff of Adjutant-General J.W. Page in the Selective Service work of that office. By 1941 older brother John Jr. was attending Texas A&M, and about to be selected for the United States Naval Academy. Jack and younger sister Jean along with their mother, continued to live in Palacios so Jack could finish high school (and continue to play football).

            Jack graduated from high school in 1943 and enrolled in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. Corrine and Jean re-joined John Lipscomb, Sr. in Austin where John Sr. and Jean bought a new home in Highland Park West.

            Jack quit A&M after one year and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on February 21, 1944. He completed boot camp at Camp Elliott, California, where he was occasionally able to be meet up with his cousin John Cardwell, also a marine stationed nearby. John Cardwell would eventually serve as a machine gunner on a Dauntless dive bomber. John Cardwell’s older brother Gus served with a tank battalion and was killed in Italy in 1944. Jack sent a letter to John expressing his grief over Gus’s death.

Jack finished boot camp, qualified as an expert on the M-1 rifle and the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and was shipped to Hawaii. He then was sent to the island of Guam in the Marianas in mid-August, 1944 and was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division.  The division had just taken part in the American re-taking of the island of Guam from the Japanese. The invasion cost the Americans over 1700 dead and 6000 wounded. The 3rd Division suffered 677 deaths and over 3600 wounded. The nearly 19,000 Japanese defenders were virtually wiped out. After several months of refitting, the 3rd Division was again ready for another island landing. It would be its bloodiest.


Iwo Jima is a tiny, sulfurous blot of land in the Bonin Chain less than 600 miles from the Japanese main islands. With the Marianas in US hands in 1944, new American B-29 bombers now had bases from which to attack the Japanese homeland.  A massive bombing campaign began to take the war to Japan’s cities and industrial centers.

Iwo Jima was important to the Japanese because it lay athwart the air route from the Marianas to Tokyo, and served both as an early warning site, and an interceptor location for fighter aircraft. To the Americans, Iwo Jima’s location only 650 nautical miles from Tokyo meant it was ideally located to recover disabled or damaged B-29s returning from bombing runs over Japan. It was also close enough to allow P-51 fighters to escort the B-29s all the way to Japan. At first glance, Iwo Jima appeared to be a difficult place to defend. But the Japanese had proved masters of island fighting. The bloodbaths at Tarawa and Peleliu had taught the Americans that.

Intelligence figures estimated that at best the Japanese held the ‘dry wasteland of volcanic ash that stinks of sulfur’ (as James Bradley described it in Flags of Our Fathers) with only 12,000 troops. Hardly a small number, but 70,000 Marines seemed to be more than enough to overcome the defenders. American intelligence estimates conservatively stated that one week was all the time needed to secure Iwo Jima and its three airfields. But those intelligence estimates were wrong, and badly so. The actual number of defenders had grown to 23,000 before the island was blockaded.

The 3rd Division embarked from Guam on the USS President Adams LIPSCOMB - GEORGE COMPANY ON MOTOYAMAon February 12, 1945. It was designated as the invasion’s floating reserve. Weeks of pre-invasion ‘softening up’ of defenses proved fruitless. The 4th and 5th Divisions hitting the beaches on February 19th had so many casualties that the 3rd Division was ordered ashore on the 20th. The mayhem on the beaches wouldn’t allow its landing, so it tried again the following day. From February 21st on, Jack and his men were in continuous combat. The Americans quickly cut the island in two. But casualties soon reached epic proportions. The well trained and concealed defenders, fighting from a maze of caves, tunnels and pillboxes, supported by mine fields and interlocking fields of fire meant some units were soon down to a fraction of their original strength. By March 2nd, Jack’s battalion had less than 300 men able to fight out of the 1200 who had come ashore. It had lost every company commander and all but one company executive officer. On March 3rd, the 21st Marines took the unfinished Airfield No. 3, and were able to seize the nearby high ground northeast of the field. It was here that Jack was killed.

The family received the news of his death shortly afterward. BothLIPSCOMB - PRIEST Lockhart and Palacios were deeply affected. The Palacios Beacon ran a long tribute to Jack, written by a good friend, Claire Burton. It was re-printed in the Post-Register. The family received many letters of condolence, including several from members of the 21st Marines. Corporal P.A. Shiesler wrote: “I was not with your son at the time of his death, but a buddy of mine was, and told me that Lippy died instantly from a bullet wound. There was no suffering…. I can honestly say that he was doing more than his share when he was on Iwo. He was a good Marine.” The unit chaplain, probably numbed by the last rites given and funerals read, wrote: “You son was killed while in the heat of battle on Iwo Jima on 3 March, 1945 when he was hit in the head by an enemy bullet killing him instantly. He is buried in the 3rd Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima, Row 25, Grave 1484, Plot #6.” He went on to assure the family that after the battle was over, the entire division assembled to bestow honor on its 1,131 dead with three volleys of seven gun salutes, lowering the American flag to half-mast, and the singing of “Nearer My God to Thee.”



In 1947, the Americans began to disinter the 6800 American marines and sailors buried on Iwo. In 1949, Jack came home. On Sunday, January 16, 1949, Dr. Sam L. Joekel, pastor of Lockhart First Presbyterian Church conducted Jack’s funeral.  Superintendant Newsome of the Palacios schools was present. Casket bearers were members of Jack’s Palacios High School football team. Jack is buried in the Lockhart Cemetery.

Jack Storey Lipscomb was nineteen years old.





Edward Prove was born in Lockhart on April 15, 1919. He was the son of Hugo and Amelia (Kreuz) Prove, and lived at 813 South Brazos Street. The youngest of three children ( his two siblings were older brother Roland, and older sister Maymie Louise [McMillan]) he was described as “a real boy, good-natured, enterprising, [and] a lover of sports.” Among other activities, he was a Boy Scout, along with his best friend, Mansell Williams (who would also die in the war). Like the rest of his family, he was a member of the Presbyterian Church and was expected to attend Sunday school faithfully. He graduated from Lockhart High School in 1937 and enrolled at Texas A&M where hePROVE - THIRD BATT HQT BATTERY


was part of Headquarters Battery of the Third Battalion – Field Artillery in the Corps of Cadets. He was also a member of the Aggie Marketing and Finance Club. Upon graduation from A&M he was commissioned as Army second lieutenant in the field artillery. Edward then went to Ft. Sill where he completed his officer training.  On December 26, 1942, Edward married Miss Ruth Duvall, an Oklahoman who was five years older than him. The Post Register society page noted that some of the Prove family travelled to Ft. Sill the week of June 10, 1943 to visit with Edward and his new spouse.

African-American 155 howitzer in Action in France

900,000 African Americans served in World War II. Most were in segregated labor or transportation outfits. Eventually there would be two infantry divisions of black soldiers. Prior to that, several field artillery units were formed. One of those units, which would become the 349th Field Artillery Battalion was created in September of 1940. The 349th, upon completion of its training on various field pieces (it would eventually be provided with the 155 mm howitzer) was part of the Ft. Sill training detachment. Edward was one of its white officers. Newly formed artillery batteries were quickly being created and for over seventeen months the 349th’s men provided the needed instruction for these units. Its motto was the classic artilleryman’s response to a request for fire support: “On The Way, Sir.” By all accounts, it was a good, well-trained military unit. The battalion transferred to Camp (now Fort) Hood in July of 1944 for overseas training, and then was moved to Camp Shanks, New York. It sailed for Europe arriving at a camp in Wiltshire, England on November 11, 1944. Then it was transferred onto the mainland of Europe arriving at Camp Twenty Grand, France on February 1, 1945 where it underwent another month of training. It was attached to XIII Corps and went into combat on March 3, 1945 in Germany.

            Less than three days later, on March 6, 1945, Captain Prove was dead. According to his sister Maymie, (now a young 101 years of age) he was walking next to an American tank when he was struck by German anti-tank fire and died instantly. He was twenty-five years old.

It was not until March of 1949 that Edward’s body was returned to the United States for re-interment. McCurdy Funeral Home handled the arrangements Dr. Sam L. Joekel, pastor of Lockhart’s First Presbyterian Church officiated as Edward’s body was buried in the Lockhart Cemetery. With the flowery language of the times, the Post Register noted, “In his own native land, near scenes in which he was interested and had part during life the body of the lamented, courteous, mild mannered heroic Edward Prove sleeps, awaiting the resurrection morn.”

Edward Prove’s Headstone, Lockhart Cemetery
PROVE San Antonio Light 20 March 1945
San Antonio Light 20 March 1945


Charles Raleigh Kreuz lost both his sister, Jimmie, and his cousin Edward Prove in the war. When discussed via telephone, it became obvious that these deaths still affected him deeply, nearly sixty years later (I interviewed him in 2013). Mayme Louise McMillan, Edward’s 101 year old sister (in 2013), provided me with much information on her brother. Like Aubrey Biggs (whose story will be added later, Edward trained and commanded African-American troops. The challenges accepted by these troops, in the face of discrimination, and the challenges and conceptions (or misconceptions) of white officers and senior NCOs is something perhaps unable to be comprehended today.





(Seen here as a 1st Lieutenant and as a Lt. Colonel)


            Sadly, Marshall Arlon Langley is not listed by the Department of War of those from Caldwell County who died in World War II. He most definitely belongs with those listed from this county.

            Marshall was born in Fentress on November 21, 1913, the only son of Willie Evans Langley and Essie (Smith) Langley. He had two younger sisters, Mary Ethel and Billie (Cutcher). In 1917, Willie was tenant farming near Goforth in Hays County, according to his draft registration form. By 1920, he and his family had moved to Caldwell County, where Willie and Essie would live the rest of their lives. Marshall’s parents are buried in the Woodmen of the World Cemetery in Prairie Lea.

            Marshall attended Prairie Lea schools, and in his senior year in 1931 was class vice-president. There were twelve graduating seniors. Marshall enrolled at Texas A&M and was a member of the Corps of Cadets. His senior year he was Planning and Training Officer on the Second Battalion, Field Artillery Staff. He also played on the varsity baseball team. He would come home for summer vacations and some holidays, although in 1933, his mother and father travelled to A&M to be with him. A&M was playing the University of Texas at Kyle Field that year. The game ended in a 10-10 tie.

            Marshall graduated from A&M and was commissioned on May 23, 1936 as an Army 2nd lieutenant. His branch was Field Artillery. He also got a job in Dallas. He went on inactive military status until November 1937. His employment took him to Beeville, where he worked with an oil company and then with Texas Power and Light. He joined E Battery, 133rd Artillery, an organic unit of the 36th “Texas” National Guard Division. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in July of 1939. The Division’s field artillery units were woefully short of equipment in the pre-War economy of the Depression, but in 1937, received new 155 mm howitzers. The 133rd’a motto “Dum Spiramus Tuebimur” (While We Breathe We Shall Defend) reflected more the hopes rather than realities of its abilities during that time.

            While working in Beeville, Marshall married a San Marcos girl, Leila Elnora Coovert, in December 1938.  He and his new wife made several visits to Caldwell County to visit his parents. They would have one child, Larry Wilson Langley, born on October 19, 1943. Larry died in in 2007. Leila died in 1999.

            The 36th Division was activated to national service on November 25, 1940. On that day he was promoted to 1st lieutenant. In February 1942, Marshall was promoted to captain.  The division training kept it at Camp Bowie through most of 1942, and his wife joined him there. He was promoted to major on July 6, 1942, and lieutenant colonel on March 5, 1943. Lt. Colonel Langley’s promotions in field artillery went along with numerous changes in the units in which he served. The massive growth of the armed forces created many changes. A portion of the 133rd became the 202nd Field Artillery, and another portion became the 961st Field Artillery. In late 1943, Marshall Langley was placed in command of the 174th Field Artillery Battalion, then training at Camp Bowie, near Brownwood.  The outfit boarded trains and left for New York on February 15, 1944. The unit loaded onto an old liner, the HMS Samaria, and sailed from New York on February 27, 1944, arriving at Liverpool, England on LANGLEY - SP 155SMarch 10.  After training all over England, including in the Marcher country near Wales, the 174th shipped to Normandy, landing on July 1, 1944.  Almost immediately, it went into action in places like Meautis, Periers, Coutances and La Haye Pesnel. The unit’s men were exposed to air attacks, mines, snipers and enemy artillery fire. It played a large role in the taking of the port of Brest, one of the nastiest urban battles on the Western Front. The 6th Armored Division’s commander had tall praise for the 174th during this action:LANGLEY - R G GROW COMMENDATION 1944

By November 1944 the 174th was attached to the 83rd Infantry Division in Luxembourg. All was well in the relatively static lines near Bech until December 16, 1944 when all hell broke loose – the Germans struck without warning into the Ardennes Forest in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. On December 18, Langley personally led a 30-man unit to help rescue an artillery battery of an infantry regiment that had been surrounded by the Germans. Along with the infantry of the 1st Infantry Division, the 174th’s artillery stopped a German secondary drive toward Verdun. All of December 1944 and January 1945 was spent in the misery of constant winter combat as the Bulge was eventually eliminated. As the Allies approached the Germans’ Siegfried Line on February 25, 1945, Lt. Col. Langley gave a written ‘pep talk’ to his men, commending them for their fortitude and prowess. It read in part:


LANGLEY Crossing_Rhine_River_18_93LANGLEY Crossing_Rhine_River_Assault_Boat_18_94

Next came the crossing of the Rhine River. While some American forces were fortunate to use the damaged Ludendorff railway bridge at Remagen, and later a floating Bailey bridge adjacent to it to make the crossing, others crossing the last major natural obstacle into the heart of Germany were forced to use assault boats. This was the case at St. Goar, where ancient castles dotted the cliffs near the statue of the mythical Lorelei. The terrain favored the defenders, and the 87th and 89th Infantry Divisions were tasked with the attack. The 174th established a firebase to support the crossing, planned for the early morning hours of March 26, 1945. The crossing was no cakewalk, as Germans riddled many of the first boats crossing the river. Early that morning, Lt. Col. Langley, along with T/4 Walter Tipton and Cpl. Russell F. Meese were on a reconnaissance when their jeep was fired on a by German 20 mm gun from the east side of the Rhine River. The 174th’s commander was killed instantly and Meese fatally wounded. Harry Snyder, writing shortly after the end of the war noted:

 Lt. Col. Langley commanded the 174th F.A. Bn. through its entire existence as a separate battalion. The comfort and safety of his men were ever uppermost in his mind….The most fitting tribute that can be paid him lives in the simple words spoken by one of the men of the Battalion, “He was a good man.”

Leila had just received a letter from her husband, dated March 19, 1945 telling her all was well.

Lt. Col. Langley was buried in the 3rd Army’s burial grounds near Stromberg, Germany. He was thirty-one years old. He had seen his son for less than four months before shipping out. As his widow and son were living in San Marcos, his death was reported in both the Post Register and the San Marcos Record. It cannot be overstated the sadness that must have been felt by the entire Langley family when their son, brother and husband was killed so close to the end of the war in Europe.

The Lockhart Post Register of April 25, 1946 report  ed that the year’s Aggie Muster, held on San Jacinto Day, April 21st, honored Marshall and ten other Aggies of Caldwell County’s ‘gold star’ men, killed in World War II.

            Mike Langley came home in 1948, and on October 15th of that year his funeral was held at the Pennington Funeral Home in San Marcos with the Reverend Troy Hickman presiding. Graveside services were conducted by the San Marcos American Legion Post. His pallbearers included Ben Campbell, Edward M. Neal, Gainer Jones, and Jack Ferguson.



Lt. Colonel Marshall Langley’s Headstone- San Marcos Cemetery

San Marcos Record death notice
San Marcos Record funeral notice 1948





HALSELL from his sister CROPPED


George Allen Halsell Jr. (or “G.A.” as he went by) was the only child of George Allen Halsell, Sr. and Lula Mae (Hurst) Halsell, George Sr. was 32 years old and Lula Mae was 31 when G.A. was born in McMahan on December 7, 1923.  When he was a small child, the Halsells moved to 502 North Blanco Street, Lockhart. G.A.’s father, a carpenter by trade, was a World War One veteran, although his unit never was sent overseas. Easy going and extremely well liked, G.A. joined other boys like Fleetwood Richards, Forrest “Jack” Wilson, Herb Reed, and G.A.’s best friend George “Bubba” Chapman for Saturday morning tackle football games, played barefoot and without any pads. These same boys later joined the high school football team. G.A. graduated from the Lockhart High School in June of 1941. He then entered Texas A&M, where he turned 18 on the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After three semesters, he left school, enlisting in the Army on February 16, 1943. After basic and advanced training, G.A. (or “Tex” as he was inevitably branded) was assigned to a machine gun detachment in Company L, First Infantry Regiment, Sixth Infantry Division.

       The “Sightseeing Sixth” was initially slated for combat duty in Africa but found itself being reassigned to the Pacific. The unit sailed from California to Hawaii arriving on September 9, 1943 where it underwent tropics and jungle training. Leaving Hawaii in late January of 1944, the Sixth Infantry Division arrived at Milne Bay, New Guinea of February 7th. It then became part of General Douglas MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific force.      New Guinea is a huge island, and its location northeast of Australia athwart shipping lanes provided the Japanese with a number of bases that required neutralizing as part of the Allied advance north toward the Philippines and ultimately, Japan. The division first saw combat in June of 1944 in and around Toem-Wakde, then fought a nasty ten-day battle at Lone Tree Hill that left over 1000 enemy dead among a labyrinth of coral caves. The division then participated in MacArthur’s landings on Sansapor in New Guinea’s Vogelkop Peninsula. After re-fitting, the Sixth Division was part of the massive Allied effort against the Japanese on the Philippine island of Luzon.

HALSELL - LINGAYEN LANDING OF 6TH DIVISION            The January 9, 1945 Lingayen Bay landings were largely unopposed. However there were three main Japanese forces on the island of Luzon. One, given the name SHIMBU by its commander, contained over 30,000 crack troops.  The Sixth Division was part of a force given the task of securing the Philippines’ largest city Manila’s water supplies, held in reservoirs in mountains east of the city. Resistance stiffened immediately. The First Cavalry Division’s commanding general was killed in the fighting. In the Lingayen Bay Landings 1-45     word of one chronicler:

“To the north the 6th Infantry Division fared only slightly better. Its initial objectives were Mount Pacawagan and Mount Mataba, two strategic high points crucial to capturing the Wawa Dam. Both mountains were defended by extensive Japanese artillery and infantry positions.”

            It was in this nasty hide and sneak combat against   tunnels, foxholes and a well-hidden enemy that G.A. was killed. He was twenty years old.

        The Lockhart Post Register of April 5, 1945 sadly announced G.A.’s death. Later, a letter dated March 26, 1945 was received by the family from one of G.A.’s best friends in the Army. Responding to the Halsell’s inquiry as to what had happened to their son, Desmond (we don’t know his last name) wrote:  “I am still in a daze, and probably because of my simplicity have been unable to put into words things that I know and feel my duty to tell you.” The letter told how G.A. died in his arms:

On [February 26, 1945] after several hours of walking we came to the fort HALSELL DEATH PAGE ONEof our objective, a mountain range some 1400 feet high. After climbing within a couple hundred feet of the top our machine gun section was called to the front. When contact with the rifle men behind us was lost, George and I being the last two men, tried to contact them by shouting. After several unsuccessful attempts George stood and yelled. Just when contact was made he turned to sit down, and a sniper hit him just below the right shoulder blade, turning toward his lungs. Not being sure, I asked, ‘Are you hit?’ He said ‘In the right’, never saying shoulder. As he was less than ten feet behind me, I was soon at his side. Since it was a sniper lane we had to keep low ourselves. Within a couple of minutes Henry Vredenburg (Oregon) and a Medic whom I only know as Rigstad were also at his side. Rigstad and I dressed the wound and I washed his face and upper body, while Henry tried to help him breathe. During those moments I was closer to the Good Lord than ever before. I prayed for George for I knew he was beyond that point. As he lay there, life slowly ebbing out, I know you will be proud to know that he did not cry or complain but lay there still until the end. He was shot at around 1:18 p.m. and at 1:25 I slowly crawled away from him after folding his arms and covering his body. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I knew I had to continue on with the fellows up ahead.

He went on to tell of the closeness of their two year friendship, and plans for the future of “riding into El Paso someday. They had looked forward to seeing Manila (it had just been liberated after horrific urban battles). Desmond assured the Halsell family of G.A.’s Christian beliefs. He and Desmond had attended church services less than twenty-four hours before G.A.’s death, and G.A. had requested Charlotte Elliott’s hymn “Just As I Am” to be sung.

            Captain Frank Bair, G.A.’s commander, later wrote to the Halsells that “Company L was leading an attack on Mt. Mataba …. George was acting as first scout of the Company which was making an advance to the top of a hill. Enemy resistance was very severe and George lost his life… as a result of wounds…inflicted by enemy snipers.”  Although the intensity of the fighting had so far prevented recovering G.A’s body, Bair promised every effort would be made to do so, once the Japanese were driven from the area.HALSELL DEATH TELEGRAM TO BUBBA

George (“Bubba”) Chapman was one of G.A.’s best friends. He was in a Navy school when the family received word of G.A.’s death. Bubba’s dad immediately sent a telegram to his son    to break the news to him.

            G.A.’s body was later recovered and buried in the Philippines. In 1948, his body was disinterred and returned to the United States. On October 23, 1948, businesses in Lockhart closed so G.A.’s many friends could attend funeral services officiated by Reverend Ed. V. Horne held at the T.B. Field Funeral Home. G.A. was reburied in the Jeffrey Cemetery with full military honors. Many of his childhood friends, all veterans of the war and

now members of the American Legion, served as casket bearers, color guards, and firing squad.

            G.A.’s parents died within three weeks of each other in 1956.


George Halsell Jr.’s Headstone Application, Jeffrey Cemetery, McMahan

Newspaper accounts of G.A.’s death






            In January of 1949, Mr. Quintus Biggs requested a military headstone for his son Aubrey for placement at the McNeil Cemetery. Like thousands of other requests, this application was verified and granted.

            Aubrey was the son of “QD” Biggs and Alberta Pauline West Biggs. He was born in the McNeil Community on July 7, 1912. He had two older brothers, Loren Dabney “Chango”, and Roy Lee.

            Aubrey graduated from Luling High School and attended Texas A&M. He was a member of Company H, Infantry. His senior year he was a Cadet 1st Lieutenant., He received a degree in petroleum engineering in 1935. He married in 1941 and lived at 212 N. Carrizo, Corpus Christi with his wife Rosalie. He entered the service at Fort Huachuca, Arizona on June 4, 1941, leaving behind a position as a petroleum engineer with Allen and Morris Drilling Company. In 1944, the Newsboy reported that Aubrey’s wife was living with her parents in Corpus Christi for the duration of the war. His parents were living in El Campo, and QD Biggs was working in Bay City.

            Aubrey assisted in activating the 92nd Infantry Division in 1942 and then participated in training in Louisiana and Arizona. Aubrey’s unit was shipped overseas on July 7, 1944. Shortly before that, he came down with appendicitis, and rather than submitting to surgery, he “lay packed in ice for six days,” according to the Luling Newsboy. “He felt that he would be letting his men down if he did not accompany them overseas.” The newspaper stated that he had been training with a “select group of soldiers as a combat team for a special mission.”

BIGGS AUBREY - 92ND INSIGNIA            Aubrey’s unit, the 370th Regiment, was part of the 92nd Division. The Division carried an American bison as its emblem, because it was a segregated African American infantry division with a heritage that traced back to the “Buffalo Soldiers.” The segregated division was commanded by white officers and was the only African American infantry division to see combat in Europe in World War II. Sadly, the division was commanded by Maj. General Edward M. Almond, a poor commander who blamed the unit’s occasional poor performance on its black soldiers. The reality was that they were good troops poorly led at times. Later, Almond, one of General MacArthur’s toadies, made similar excuses for his repeated failures in Korea during 1950-1951.

 The 370th was attached as a Regimental Combat Team to the First Armored Division and arrived at Naples, Italy in August of 1944. The remainder of the division’s units arrived in Italy in September of 1944.  The First Armored was a storied division that had fought across North Africa, Sicily, and at Anzio. As part of the IV Corps, it began a push north out of Rome that initially met little German resistance, as the Germans fell back to their strong defensive positions in what they called the Gothic Line.

            The 1st Armored Division and the 370th crossed the Arno River north of Florence as part of a huge push against the Germans still repositioning behind the Gothic Line in the Northern Italian mountains. One of the Germans’ rearguard actions held up the Division eight miles east of Lucca. It appears that Major Biggs often was required to help green officers and men in their first taste of combat. In a poignant letter to Rosalie, Captain Phil Thayer wrote of his friend’s death on October 4, 1944:

Rosalie, after we went up into the lines, Biggs was everywhere. You knew he would be; we all knew he would be – everywhere there was trouble there would be Biggs to help straighten the situation out…. He was totally fearless of his own personal safety, after going straight into situations which were extremely dangerous. He was intent only on doing his job, whatever the case might be. We all got so we would expect him to appear if the going got tough, and surely enough, there he would be….You know, and all his friends knew that he was too good a man not to be in the thick of things when the going was tough….He was on just such a mission as I have described above when he was killed. This time a company was fighting in a town. They were not only fighting, but being heavily shelled at the same time; when up to this town in a Jeep came Biggs, to see the situation and try to help out, as usual. He paid no heed to artillery, or other dangers, merely intent on getting to the scene of the trouble, and try to straighten it. When a tire of the Jeep was blown out by a shell as he entered the town, he merely dismounted and walked up to where the fighting was going on. A shell landed near him, and he was killed instantly.


            After expressing his personal grief, Captain Turner described the effect on the men of the regiment:

            But Rosalie, the men and officers, who were not his close friends, acquaintances of official nature, platoon leaders, men in the ranks of every company in the regiment – when the news came down that Major Biggs had been killed – everywhere throughout the unit, the officers and men were stunned. He was respected, admired and loved throughout his unit…

            The regimental commander, Colonel Sherman, also wrote Rosalie on October 28, 1944. Stating that “[w]riting this letter is the hardest thing I have ever undertaken,” the colonel described his subordinate’s death:

Aubrey was killed in action near Lucca, during some heavy shelling by the enemy. He was at the time up on the line with Captain Reedy’s Company, checking up on the situation for me. His death was instantaneous, and know he did not suffer. Major Blair was near when Aubrey was killed, and personally took him to the rear. Aubrey is buried in an Army cemetery near Vada.


            The family returned to Luling for a memorial service at Luling’s First Baptist Church on Sunday, October 8th. Lt. Colonel Miller Ainsworth spoke. “Elaborate preparations” were made and Virgil Reynolds, a “nationally known musician” honored the major’s memory with a selection of music. Equally impressive was also a fly-over from one of the airbases in San Antonio.

            On April 2, 1945, in a ceremony at Aloe Field, near Victoria, attended by Rosalie and his parents, Major Biggs was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions days prior to his death. A platoon encountered heavy machine gun and mortar fire on its first combat mission. Going forward, he found the unit in total disarray and took over command.

“He completed a rapid but efficient reorganization and by his vigor and enthusiasm rallied the whole platoon and got it ready to move. Major Biggs then personally led the platoon toward the enemy to the north in the face of concentrated fire by enemy machine guns, mortar and small arms. He continued to lead the platoon until it had driven the enemy off the south bank of the [censored]. Major Biggs’ courage, determination and indomitable leadership inspired the platoon to reach its objective and his heroic performance reflects the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States.”  

            In 1948, President Harry Truman ordered the complete desegregation of the military. African American troops had served in the military in all of America’s wars. It was long overdue. Aubrey’s loyalty to his troops and the leadership he showed no doubt helped pave the way for this milestone.


Major Biggs’ Headstone – McNeil Cemetery





Jack Chamberlain was the son and oldest child of James (Jim) Chamberlain and Scottie (Royston) Chamberlain of McMahan. He was born on February 5, 1919. His younger siblings were Sarah Irene (1920-1992), James Scott (1923-1986) and Henry Lyndon (1926-1987). Jim Chamberlain ran a general store in McMahan. He would live to the age of 99 and be remembered fondly by many whose families were kept alive by Jim’s generosity during the Great Depression.

After graduating from Lockhart High School Jack became a Fightin’ Texas Aggie. He was a cadet in Headquarters Battery, Second Battalion Coast Artillery. He completed two years of study and then quit and enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet on December 30, 1940. On the date of his enlistment he stood 5’10” tall and weighed 142 pounds. His basic and primary training took place at the private contractor-run Cal Aero Flight Academy (later Chino Airport, California) and at Goodfellow Field in San Angelo.

His letters home to his mother reflected the natural progression of a young man from pre-war aviation training to a military pilot in a wartime setting. In January of 1941 he wrote from California of a cadet who failed to fasten his seat belt, and who fell out of an open cockpit trainer when it went inverted. Fortunately, the








student was wearing a parachute and survived. He mentioned rumors that ‘dodoes’ (apparently the name given new trainees) were going to be washed out at a high rate because of the lack of aircraft. Later than month, he confessed that “the instructors say that according to the law of averages we are past due for some dead cadets.” In that he was most certainly correct. He was allowed to solo with less than four hours of dual instruction. Nonetheless, he survived Basic and Primary training and received his wings on August 15, 1941 at Kelly Field in San Antonio, graduating in Class 41-F. Although he had not graduated from college, Kelly’s class album, “The Gig Sheet,” listed him as a petroleum engineer – probably based on his unfinished studies at A&M.

Jack was transferred to Wheeler Army Airfield on Oahu, Hawaii and assigned to the newly activated 73rd Pursuit Squadron, 18th Pursuit Group. The Group was part of the Hawaiian Interceptor Command. The squadron aircraft contained obsolete P-36 Hawks as well as the newer P-40. The P-40, soon to be obsolescent, was nonetheless an excellent fighter in the hands of experienced pilots such as the Flying Tigers, and British and Free French flying in North Africa. Jack thrilled at its speed and maneuverability, but he also was one of many who confessed to a healthy fear of its quirks. On November 9, 1941 he wrote, “The more I see a P-40, the more cautious I become when flying it. It has a very vicious and unorthodox spin and it comes out at its own leisure.”

In the ramp-up to World War II Jack met many college mates: “The Aggies must be everywhere, because I see someone I know everywhere I go,” he wrote in early November 1941. Like any proud Aggie, he was elated that the University of Texas had just been beaten by Baylor and hoped for the same result with A&M on Thanksgiving (alas, it was not to be). By now, everyone in the military expected war, but the tone of his letters home still did not possess any sense of urgency or alarm. In another pre-war letter, he told of enrolling in Jiu jets classes, of pistol shooting, and the expectation of aerial gunnery school “in the spring.” He purchased a car for $600.

The casual pace of the military training would change on December 7, 1941.

In a letter dated December 15, 1941 sent by Pan American ‘Clippergram’ (military rate of 6 cents per ½ ounce for first class mail) he explained to a young lady named Doris (whom he was apparently sweet on) that “[w]e were caught with our pants down the morning of Dec 7th and it will not happen again. If the [Japanese] ever come back they will get a very warm welcome. I was awakened by the first bomb that was dropped here and I can assure you that it is best not to have a hangover during a bomb attack. I lost no time in getting out of my room. When they strafed the field with machinegun fire I jumped in a ditch.  I believe I shrank to half of my normal size.”  Jack minimized the damage to Wheeler Field. All 18 of the squadron’s P-36s were destroyed on the ground.  His letter to his mother (presumably a teetotaler) of the same date makes no mention of the hangover. Neither letter described the horror of damage inflicted by sneak attack. CHAMBERLAIN - WHEELER FIELD BOMBING

With the onset of war came a new urgency. And also a request: “I need an insignia for my plane [presumably a P-40 at this stage]. It should be approx. 5 in. in diameter. As a suggestion – a mule kicking up his hind legs.”

Early 1942 was spent in training and air patrols over Hawaii. It appears to have become monotonous.

On June 1, 1942, he mentioned that his friend Mansel Williams had been promoted to first lieutenant at the same time as him (March 1, 1942). Mansel would be killed in Italy in December of 1943 while part of the 36th Division.  Jack’s pay was now $275, a princely sum when coupled with housing and food allowances of $78.  Jack sent money home to assist in Irene’s college expenses.  That month he shipped home two footlockers of civilian clothes. They were no longer needed.

Shortly after the Battle of Midway, Jack’s squadron was transported to Midway Island and on June 22, 1942 flew off the deck of the USS Saratoga for a two-month rotation on the island, relieving a battered Marine combat squadron. It then rotated back to Oahu. While on Midway, he expressed his opinion of younger brother James’ desire to join the Navy: “I’m agin it.”

Jack volunteered for a new squadron, the 6th Night Fighter CHAMBERLAIN -Douglas_P-70_in_flight__The_first_P-70_061024-F-1234P-036Squadron, in late 1942. Rumor abounded as to its ultimate assignment. And during this time, Doris found another beau. Like so many young men, he apparently received a “Dear John” letter. He inquired of Scottie if she knew what had happened.

He was killed on January 29, 1943. He had been promoted to captain a few weeks before his death. The accident report (#16268) contains little information. Oddly, it does not even identify the type of aircraft Jack piloted:


The Entirety of the Investigation

Research indicates that Jack and Sergeant Jacobson were flying a variant of the A-20 Havoc designed as a night fighter, designated P-70 Nighthawk with a two man crew. A shipment of P-70s had been received by the squadron in September of 1942. Jack and Sgt. Jacobson went up to check on an unidentified object in the waters near Pearl Harbor and lost control, crashing and exploding off Oahu. Jack is memorialized on Wall C, Tablets of the Missing, in the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on Oahu, Hawaii. He had not reached his 24th birthday.



Inscription-Tablets of the Missing

Scottie’s last letter to her son, dated January 22, 1943 was never received. It was returned to her by the War Department, marked “Killed in Action.”


Scottie’s Last Letter To Her Son


CONNOLLY MACK LPR PHOTO 10-45 #2                                        JAMES EDWARD “MACK” CONNOLLY JR.
Page One of the Post Register of May 8, 1945 announced boldly, WAR IN EUROPE ENDS; VE DAY SOLEMN DAY IN LOCKHART. In part this was because information had just been received that Lt. Mack Connolly, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Connolly Sr., had been killed in Germany.
“The effect of the news on Lockhart people was depressing in the extreme. It was passed from one to another in whispers or low tones. Another son, one of the flowers of Lockhart manhood, gives his life in the cause of Freedom just as the day of Liberty is dawning over the world.”
Mack was the son of James Edward Sr. and Jessie Mary (McMillan) Connolly. He was the older brother by eight years to Dr. J. Tom Connolly. The family lived at 617 S. Brazos in Lockhart. He was born on May 15, 1924. Mack’s circle of friends included Herbert (Herb) Reid Jr., Fleetwood Richards, and Forrest (Jack) Wilson. All played football on the high school team. In the words of Jack Wilson, “Mack was the best guy in the world.” He recalled Mack’s mother would feed some of the team steaks every Friday night, Mack and his friends adored her. Mack graduated from Lockhart High School in 1942, and enrolled at Texas A&M. Leaving school to enlist, he later became an officer.
In late July 1944 while home on leave, he attended a Business Men’s Club luncheon where the topic of post-war use of government built tanks for stock water was discussed. The newspaper’s playful report of the lunch noted that “Lt. Mac[k] Connolly was called on to state what he wanted. He replied that at present he was just trying to learn enough to be able to get back when the war was over.”
Mack married Mariellyn (“Dink”) Andrews on September 23, 1944 at Fort Sill Oklahoma. The Connolly family and Mack’s bride-to-be traveled together from Texas so that all could attend the wedding.
CONNOLLY 33rd_Armor_Regiment_(insignia) At some point Mack was assigned to Company I, 33rd Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Armored Division. The 33rd Cavalry’s unit nickname was “Men of War.” It was richly deserved. Described as part of the “massive tank battering ram which made the 3rd Armored Division famous,” its M4 Sherman tanks had a splendid combat record. However, the M4 Sherman also had a reputation as a crew killer, because of its tendency to explode if taking a direct hit. Its nickname was the “Ronson” (a cigarette lighter that was guaranteed to “light up the first time”).

Mack was one of the many replacement officers and men inserted as the attrition of constant CONNOLLY - 33RD M4 SHERMAN WW2combat across Europe served as a meat grinder on Allied forces pushing the Germans back into the Fatherland. The unit had fought across France’s hedgerows reaching Belgium in September 1944. The Division was part of the northern ‘neck’ that held, then closed on the Germans during the winter Battle of the Bulge. It swept into Cologne in March of 1945 and then crossed the Saale River speeding toward the agreed meet-up point with the Russians on the Elbe River. On April 11, 1945 it freed the survivors of the horrific concentration camp of Dora-Mittlebau.
As the war wound down, and with Germany’s surrender clearly in sight, many families were tortured by the possibility that a loved one would be killed with the war practically over. Certainly the Connolly family and Mack’s bride must have feared that.
On the Western Front, German soldiers were surrendering by the thousands. Many were fleeing the Russian advance on the Eastern Front, seeking to escape the tender mercies the expected retribution exacted by the Soviet Union would offer, either by summary execution or slow death in the Gulag. The Wehrmacht, the German regular army, was crumbling, as its manpower and command structure ebbed away – regular army soldiers knew to expect humane treatment as prisoners of the French, British or Americans. The only units still offering any real resistance to the western Allies were SS units, and Hitler Youth – both imbued with a fanaticism that transcended the reality of Germany’s impending defeat. Many of these units had panzerfausts – shoulder mounted single shot anti-armor weapons that were very effective.
The 33rd’s final action was an intense battle to take the German city of Dessau. Mack was killed in that battle on April 14, 1945. Notice of his death came four days before VE Day. In October 1945, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Armed Forces’ third highest award for valor. His wife accepted the award on Mack’s behalf in a solemn ceremony at Camp Swift. The citation reads as follows:

Lt. Connolly was leading his platoon of tanks in the vicinity of Dessau, Germany, when the tank in front of his was hit and disabled by bazooka fire. Although he was without infantry support and he was in the face of well emplaced bazooka teams, he went forward with total disregard for his safety in order to enable the crew of the disabled vehicle to withdraw. His tank was also hit and he was killed. Lt. Connolly’s courage and devotion to duty reflect the highest of credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States.

Mack died one month before his 21st birthday.

Mack’s body was eventually returned home. Final rites were held at his parents’ home at 617 S. Blanco on February 2, 1949. Pallbearers were his boyhood frineds, Jack Wilson, Fleetwood Richards, Herb Reid, Newton (Doc) Wilson, Jesse Burditt, Tom Burditt, and George (Bubba) Chapman. After the reciting of the 23rd Psalm, he was buried in the Lockhart Cemetery.
Dink later married Herb Reid, Mack’s boyhood friend. She passed away in 2002.





by Todd Blomerth

Gus Calhoun Cardwell went by the nickname “Boots” most of his life. He was the son of Augustus Withers Cardwell and Betty Matthews Caldwell. Betty had been a journalist, working for two San Antonio newspapers, and the society editor for the Forth Worth Record, prior to marrying Augustus (“Gus”) in 1916. Gus was a cattleman. The entire Cardwell family was active in the Presbyterian Church

Boots was born on September 16, 1919. He grew up on Trinity Street, and was next door neighbor to the Kreuz family, whose daughter Jimmie would enlist in World War II as a WAAC. During the summers he would work on one of the Withers’ ranches in South Texas. After graduating from Lockhart High School in 1937 he attended Texas A&M for two and ½ years. Boots was Caldwell County draftee number 395, and was ordered to report for induction on March 18, 1941, according to the Lockhart Post Register. In all likelihood he could have stayed at A&M and gotten a commission. Instead, Boots enlisted in the Army, and after basic training was assigned to the 755th Tank Battalion. The battalion had both light and medium tanks, and Boots was in C Company, which was assigned the “Sherman” medium tank. After training at Camp Bowie in Texas and Ft. Knox, Kentucky, the unit was sent to Indio, California for desert training. The unit was then shipped to North Africa, and then to Italy where it entered combat in December of 1943.

Cardwell's Tank Crew With Nazi Flag - North Africa
Cardwell’s Tank Crew With Nazi Flag – North Africa
Cardwell Tank Crew - 1943
Cardwell Tank Crew – 1943

The Italian campaign had bogged down by the winter of 1943. Mountainous terrain provided the German defenders excellent positions, and the Allied command, divided between the British led Eighth Army and the American led Fifth Army never achieved anything near the cohesiveness and strategic insight to deal with the situation.  By December Allied soldiers were stuck in an array of never ending mountains where brooding peaks held large numbers of well-trained German defenders. Mignano Gap, Rotondo, Sammucro, San Pietro and Cassino became hated names signifying unremitting misery and danger.  Assigned to the 45th Infantry Division, the 755th was in the thankless role of trying to advance tanks against well concealed and defended positions sown with land mines. Defending in a series of lines with names like Winter, Bernhardt and Gustav, the attrition rate among the Allies was horrific. As noted by Rick

Boots in Tanker Gear - Italy - 1944
Boots in Tanker Gear – Italy – 1944
Boots and His Buddy Beyer
Boots and His Buddy Beyer

Atkinson in The Day of Battle, “To cross the seven-mile stretch and pierce the Bernhardt Line had taken the Fifth Army six weeks, at a cost of sixteen thousand casualties.” In January of 1944, the battalion was assigned as support to French Moroccan and Algerian infantry in the French Expeditionary Force. Breaching German defenses entailed bloody fighting and many repulses.  Near Leucio, the after-action report for May 20, 1944 states, “The attack finally got started at 1800 under most adverse conditions. The sun and wind was [sic] against us and the enemy threw in a terrific barrage of artillery. The sun, smoke and dusk made the visibility almost nil. The infantry suffered heavy casualties. The attack withdrew at darkness.” The 755th Tank Battalion took heavy casualties as well.

Light ("Lee") Tank and Medium ("Sherman") Tank - Italy
Light (“Lee”) Tank and Medium (“Sherman”) Tank – Italy

The summary of May’s action contains a litany of complaints about the need for better radio communications, troop coordination, and reconnaissance against hidden anti-tank weapons. But the main complaint reflected what was endemic with all combat units in Italy – the need for better trained replacements, “[T]he trained men lost in combat cannot be replaced, [and] this situation lowers the combat efficiency of the Battalion to a very great extent.”

Despite all this, Boots’ letter home of June 5, 1944 sounded cheerful, as he wrote he was “on the road to Rome.” He told his mom and dad that he was “still doing fine,” that his unit had gotten another campaign ribbon, and that “I hope I don’t get any more.” The next day, General Mark Clark’s 5th Army entered Rome.  Boots wrote younger brother John, congratulating him on his promotion, on June 11, 1944.

Letter To John Cardwell
Letter To John Cardwell
Boots' Letter Home 6-5-1944 (Page 1)
Boots’ Letter Home 6-5-1944 (Page 1)
Boots' Letter Home 6-5-1944 (Page 2)
Boots’ Letter Home 6-5-1944 (Page 2)

Any expectation of a weakening of the German will to fight after the loss of Rome ended quickly.  Pushing northeast, the battalion was hit with intense artillery, anti-tank, and sniper fire.  On June 16, 1944 the battalion’s report states in impersonal military language: “Company C supporting 3 RTA advancing toward CASTAGNAIO… from the South met stiff resistance from artillery and anti-tank fire and lost one tank and two crew members by anti-tank fire vicinity A133715.”

One of the crew members was Boots. His friend from Fentress, Adolphus Beyer, saw him die. “We were advancing toward a German held position,” he wrote in an August, 1944 letter to Boots’ dad, “when Gus’s tank was hit, killing instantly Gus and another and wounding three others. At the time I was outside my tank because it had just thrown a track and from our position could easily see what was going on as his tank was only about two hundred yard’s [sic] to our left.”

Beyers Letter to the Family - page 2 - April 1945

Beyer's Letter to Family - page 3 - August 1944
Beyer’s Letter to Family – page 3 – August 1944



Tank Battalion After Action Report - Detailing the Mountainous Territory
Tank Battalion After Action Report – Detailing the Mountainous Territory
After Action Report 16 June 1944 Noting Boots' Death
After Action Report 16 June 1944 Noting Boots’ Death

Beyer praised his friend as “a leader of men and had plenty of guts. I say guts because that is what he had. Prior to this he had had one tank knocked from under him and although shaken up a bit went on in performance of his duties. “

Boots never received the last letter sent him.  A “V-mail” missive from a relative in Cotulla, Elfred Wither Dobie, dated June 12th, spoke of the normality that Boots and the rest of those combat yearned for: “We are at the ranch this summer and everything looks fine and just waiting for you boys to come home.” CARDWELL BOOTS LETTER FROM ELFRED DOBIE 4 DAYS BEFORE DEATH

John’s death hit many people hard outside the family. One of his best buddies was Jack Lipscomb. Jack wrote a letter of condolence to the family upon hearing of Boots’ death. Jack would die on Iwo Jima nine months later.

Marine Pvt Jack Lipscomb's Condolence Letter To The Family (Jack would be killed on Iwo Jima
Marine Pvt Jack Lipscomb’s Condolence Letter To The Family (Jack would be killed on Iwo Jima

Boots’ remains were buried “in a nice little cemetery in Italy,” according to Beyer.  In January of 1950 his remains and those of Pvt. James Brundish, the other trooper killed in the tank, were

Beyers Letter to the Family – page 1 – April 1945

reinterred in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky in a single grave. Boots’ dad Gus Cardwell, sister Betty, younger brother John (who had served in US Marine Squadron VMSB 245 as a Dauntless dive bomber radioman and gunner), along with John’s wife Dolores, attended the ceremony.

Boots Cardwell and James Brundish Joint Headstone
Boots Cardwell and James Brundish Joint Headstone
1997 Letter From John Cardwell Regarding His Brother's Death
1997 Letter From John Cardwell Regarding His Brother’s Death