by Todd Blomerth

Hal William Dalton was the middle son of William Ewen Dalton and Delta (Martin) Dalton. He was born on February 20, 1923 in Hays County, Texas. His older brother Wesley was six years his senior. Younger brother Robert, or Bobbie, was born in 1932. Hal’s father, Ewen, began married life as a farmer in Hays County, and then changed careers. For most of Hal’s life his father was an automobile salesman. At some time between 1930 and 1935, the family moved to Luling. Shortly before Hal entered high school the family relocated to Lockhart, living at 623 Cibolo Street.

            Hal was active in the Lockhart High School Band, and was at one time an assistant drum major. According to Harry Hilgers, during the Depression, few could afford to buy band uniforms, so cast-off University of Texas Longhorn Band uniforms were obtained, and band mothers would dye them, changing the color from orange to maroon. The band mothers would then make the trousers. Caps were also from the Longhorn Band, which were also dyed appropriately. Hal’s senior year he, along with Andy Hinton, Winifred Adams, Vera Riddle, Opal Shinn, Dorothy Nell Williams, Corbett Halsell, Branch Lipscomb, and Hollis Raymond, starred in a play at the Adams gym – “Professor, How Could You?”

Hal graduated from Lockhart High School in May of 1940 and DALTON - GREAT PIC FROM PEDAGOGenrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University). He attended for two years, and served on the Student Council. He was also a member of the Harris-Blair Literary Society. Like many others, he did not finish school, enlisting in the Army Air Forces in 1942.

Hal graduated from Bombardier School at Kirtland Airfield in Albuquerque, New Mexico, training on AT-11s and B-18As. The AT-11 was built by Beech. It was a twin-engine trainer and personnel transport that after the War became a popular business aircraft. The B-18 “Bolo” was developed in the 1930s as a medium bomber. By the onset of the War, its deficiencies were obvious – inadequate bomb load capacity and armament, and underpowered engines. It was soon relegated to anti-submarine patrols and training missions.

Hal was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant and received his bombardier’s wings. He then went overseas in May of 1944, completing thirty-three combat missions in the European Theater of Operations.

By June of 1945, the Dalton family perhaps thought it would remain intact despite others’ losses in World War II. Bobbie was too young to serve in World War II. Wesley had served with Dr. Joe Coopwood’s Medical Detachment of the 143rd Infantry Regiment, He had been wounded by artillery shrapnel in Italy, but recovered. Returning to the States, Hal was assigned as bombardier instructor at San Angelo Army Air Field. The school’s class book, “On Course!” DALTON - FROM ON COURSEshows Hal was an instructor for student Flight “E” of Class 45-15B. The war in Europe was over and he was training others to be bombardiers in the continuing fight against Japan. His assignment was a challenging but pleasant change from the high-risk operations of aerial bombardments. One thing was certain – after what he had lived through, he was not supposed to lose his life in the continental United States. But he did, and needlessly.

            Bobbie had spent part of the summer of 1945 with his big brother, Hal. Mr. and Mrs. Dalton, by now living at 4120 Tennyson Street in Houston, left Houston early on Saturday, June 30, 1945, driving to San Angelo to pick up Bobbie. Shortly after leaving, a telegram arrived at their home. Another family member saw its contents, and telephoned Wesley, now living in Lockhart. Wesley parked on the side of the highway he knew his parents would be taking to San Angelo and flagged them down as they approached. He broke the news that Hal had been killed the night before in a training accident.

            At 9:12 p.m., Central War Time, a Beechcraft Model 18 (the DALTON Beechcraft_AT-11_out_over_the_West_Texas_prairies_(00910460_103)military nomenclature was AT-11A “Kansan”), aircraft number 43-10417, took off from San Angelo Army Airfield. There were three men on board: 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Nageotte – pilot; 1st Lt. J.B. Colleps – bombardier instructor; and 1st Lt. Hal Dalton – bombardier instructor. The flight was for bombardier instructor proficiency training – in other words, Lieutenants Colleps and Dalton were maintaining that their own skill levels.

DALTON - CRASH FINAL DALTON - airview of crash


The AT-11A, powered with two Pratt and Whitney R-985 engines, rated at 450 horsepower each, crashed near Christoval, killing all three occupants. Several miles from the airbase it struck the arid ground at a shallow descent, bounced once, twice, and on the third strike exploded. Very little of the aircraft was left intact. The resulting investigation gave no clear explanation for what had happened. Report of Major Accident Number 45-6-29-21 noted:

The accident occurred at about the part of a bombing mission where the last bombardier is completing the 12 C Report on bombs dropped and the pilot is losing altitude for entrance into the traffic pattern at the home base. It is possible that the reflection of the bombardier’s nose light on dirty glass might have blinded the pilot enough to cause confusion and error.

      The investigators also surmised the possibility of an air lock, as the one hour and eighteen minute flight would have emptied the main fuel tank. “With possible air lock in fuel system, [and the plane descending from the practice bombing run altitude] the pilot may have placed his entire attention inside the cockpit long enough for the accident to occur.”  In other words, there was no clear explanation for the three deaths. The aircraft simply flew into the ground, plowing up mesquite and cactus, before disintegrating.

            A good friend, Lt. C.D. With accompanied Hal’s body home. Funeral services were held at Rogers-Pennington Funeral Home in San Marcos on July 2, 1945. Dean H.E. Speck, the men’s dean at SWTSTC spoke glowingly of Hal.  A letter from Reverend C.E. Bludworth, pastor at First Methodist Church at San Angelo, and former pastor at First Methodist in Lockhart, was read. Reverend Bludworth knew Hal as a boy in Lockhart, and became re-acquainted with him when Hal began attending church at Rev. Bludworth’s church in San Angelo. Pall bearers included Joe Lipscomb, C.E. Royal, Alton Williams, and Jack Hoffman.

            1st Lt. Hal Dalton did not reach his 23rd birthday.

DALTON HAL W - HEADSTONE 1945 KYLEHal Walton’s Headstone – Kyle




by Todd Blomerth

            Wilbur Otto “Sonny” Salge was born on September 30, 1923. He went by “Sonny” and was your typical small town kid. While at Lockhart High School he played football and was co-captain with Alvin Riedel of the Lions football team his senior year.  He graduated in 1942, and told his sister Dorothy (Norman) that he just wanted to get out of high school. He knew he was going into the service and didn’t make too big of a deal about his grades. His sister said he didn’t want to wait around to be drafted, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Sonny was the son of Otto and Ella (Hartung) Salge. Otto was a World War I veteran. The Salge family lived at 606 Wichita Street in Lockhart. After high school, Sonny married Mary Holman. Like so many wartime marriages, this one was interrupted almost immediately by the realities of life. He was mustered into the Marine Corps on April 16, 1943, and shipped to Camp Elliott, California for training. While there, Sonny excelled, and was the honor graduate of his platoon. Initially in the infantry, he was later made part of a mortar section.

            Sonny was assigned to Company L, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment. The Seventh was part of the First Marine Division. Shipped overseas in October of 1943, he was one of many freshly minted Marines filling the depleted ranks of “The Old Breed.” The First Marine Division had fought heroically on Guadalcanal, and then was returned to Australia to refit. It had lost thousands to death, wounds, combat exhaustion (the term used at the time for psychological issues arising from the stress of combat) and tropical diseases.  After refilling its ranks, the Division was made part of Operation Cartwheel, an Allied plan to isolate the huge Japanese garrison at Rabaul. The 3/7, as the Third Battalion of the Seventh Marines was commonly designated, was part of the First Division which landed on Cape Gloucester on the island of New Britain on December 26, 1943. In a slogging jungle campaign, the division destroyed the Japanese 51st Division. American maps identified the areas just inland from the landing areas as “damp flat.” That was optimistic at best. The place was a misery of jungle and leeches. In the words of Bernard Nalty, “…a Marine might be slogging through knee-deep mud, step into a hole, and end up, as one of them said, ‘damp up to your neck.’”SALGE NEW BRITAIN

Aogiri Ridge, Suicide Creek, and Hell’s Point became well known as places of misery and ambush – of a patrol taking ten steps and disappearing into the “Green Inferno” of seemingly impenetrable jungle. So hellish was the terrain that after four months, there was real concern that the 1st Division would no longer be a viable amphibious force, unless relieved.

            It was and then sent to the small island of Pavuvu, for rest and refitting.

            The First Marine Division was next tasked with the invasion of island of Peleliu, in the Palau island group. The Palau campaign had originally been planned as a side show to General Douglas MacArthur’s re-taking of the Philippine Islands. The Palaus, to the east of the Philippines were to be taken in order to protect MacArthur’s right flank. Because of the speed of the Allied advances in the Southwest Pacific, serious doubts were raised as to the necessity of attacking the Palau island group at all. Arguments were made that the islands could be isolated, neutralized and by-passed. In one of the imponderables of war, the attacks were not cancelled. The First Marine Division with its three infantry and one artillery regiment was assigned to what was assumed to be a three to five day conquest of the island of Peleliu. Despite intense and protracted naval bombardment and aerial attacks, the thousands of defenders hunkered down in caves and tunnels. What was thought to be a relatively casualty-free campaign ended up as a bloody and protracted fight that decimated the Division’s First Regiment, cost the division and the US Army’s 81st Infantry Division nearly 2000 dead and total casualties of almost 10,000. The Seventh Marines spend two bloody weeks in the Umurbrogol Pocket, a mountainous lace of sinkholes, caves and tunnels.  In scenes worthy of the worst of Dante’s “Inferno,” flamethrowers, artillery, and grenades made small progress in 110 degree heat against a hidden enemy. The battle for Peleliu raged from September 15th until late November of 1944. The 81st Infantry Division finished the fight, as the exhausted and depleted First Marine Division was pulled out on October 20th and sent back to the Russell Island of Pavuvu for re-fitting.

The Marine Corps photo department sent home a picture of Sonny and two other Marines holding a captured Japanese flag. It ran in the Lockhart Post Register. Sonny no longer had the look of an innocent young man. In just a few months, he had seen enough misery for several lifetimes.  And the worst was yet to come.

SALGE LPR 1944 PELELIUThe invasion of Okinawa in April of 1945 resulted in the bloodiest battle of the Pacific Theater. It lasted 82 days. Six divisions; four Army, and two Marine, were in the fight. Huge numbers of aircraft and naval vessels were involved. It cost the lives of 12,513 soldiers, sailors and marines, including several Caldwell County men, and the US commanding officer, General Simon Bolivar Buckner. There were over 72,000 wounded and non-combat losses for the Americans. The Japanese defenders lost over 100,000 men killed. Caught in the middle of the maelstrom, the number of Okinawan civilians killed has been estimated at well over 100,000. The ferocity of the Japanese defense of an island 350 miles from its home islands lay to rest any thought of the United States not using atomic weapons instead of attempting an invasion of the three main Japanese islands.

The initial landings on Okinawa were unopposed. Then came the kamikazes – suicide airplanes that sunk or damaged dozens of ships. On the ground, Americans split the island in two with relative ease. Some began to think things wouldn’t be so bad. They were soon disabused of that notion. The Japanese commander, Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, was a defensive genius, and he had the terrain to prove it. Retreating to mountains in the north and south of the island, the Japanese defenders made the Americans pay for every inch of land taken.  If possible to do so, torrential rains made things even worse. Bodies lay rotting in the mud. Tanks could not move. GIs’ and marines’ clothing rotted on them, as they moved from cover to cover. In the south, the 1st Marine Division attacked a line of defenses held by deadly ridgelines. Marine Colonel Joseph Alexander noted in his history of the Okinawa campaign that after a fierce fight to seize one of the ridges, “the next 1,200 yards of [the First Division’s] advance would eat up 18 days of fighting. In this case, seizing Wana Ridge would be tough, but the most formidable obstacle would be steep, twisted Wana Draw that rambled just to the south, a deadly killing ground, surrounded by towering cliffs pocked with caves, with every possible approach strewn with mines and covered by interlocking fire.” It was in this action that on May 16, 1945, PFC Sonny Salge was killed. He was twenty years old.

Sonny’s body was eventually returned to the United States, but not to Texas. He is buried in Section M, Site 371, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, located in the Punchbowl in Hawaii.


 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Sonny’s sister, Dorothy Norman—an energetic 92-years-of-age in 2013—visited with me and provided Sonny’s photo, as well as stories of her brother and his childhood in Lockhart. Tommy Holland (d. 2016) also provided some background on Sonny. Muster rolls were used to track his location after assignment to the 7th Marines. “Cape Gloucester: The Green Inferno,” by Bernard C. Nalty (www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-C-Gloucester/) gave insight into that hellhole.  The picture of Sonny’s headstone was provided by Fred Weber.



by Todd Blomerth

Soledad Garcia, at the age of fourteen, crossed into the United States on February 14, 1914 at Eagle Pass, Texas. Undoubtedly, she and her family were one of many fleeing the uncertainty and barbarity of the Mexican Revolution.  She eventually married David R. Serrato who was born in Mendoza, Texas in 1900. David and Soledad lived in Maxwell, Texas for a part of their lives, where David worked for local farmers. At some point the Serratos moved with their family to 716 E. Live Oak, in Lockhart.  Samuel was born on February 16, 1924, the third of seven children. His siblings included Abraham, Beatrice (Soto), Estella (Alfanador), Lucy, Rudy, and David (“Big Dave”).

Soledad and David Sr. also raised Genaro Ybarra, who they treated as a son. The Serrato family were members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Samuel had some elementary school education, possibly at Navarro School. He was working as a Western Union messenger prior to entering the Army on March 11, 1943.

 Samuel was one of hundreds of thousands of Americans of Hispanic descent who served in the armed forces during World War II. We know that approximately 53,000 Puerto Ricans served. Because Hispanics were not segregated like African Americans, and with the exception of Puerto Ricans, no good figures exist as to their true numbers, although estimates range from 250,000 to 500,000. Many National Guard units from the Southwest (including many companies with the 36th “Texas” Infantry Division) consisted largely of Mexican Americans.

Baby Raul’s death certificate

Samuel was married to Natividad Romero Garcia. Their only child, Raul Jose Serrato was born on April 2, 1944, but died on January 22, 1945 in the San Marcos Hospital with what was diagnosed as entero-colitis. Samuel would outlive his only child by less than three weeks. In all probability, Samuel never saw his son, as he was overseas in the Pacific when the Raul Jose was born.

SERRATO - 37TH idAfter basic and advanced infantry training, Samuel was assigned to Company I, 129th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division. The division, originally a National Guard entity, saw combat in the Pacific Theater. Although his regiment was part of the 37th Infantry Division, in at least two different actions it was detached and assigned to the 33rd Infantry Division and the 40th Infantry Division. Samuel received his baptism of fire in the Bougainville Campaign. The 37th Infantry Division landed on Bougainville Island on November 13, 1943 along with the 3rd Marine Division. Bougainville is a huge island, and there was no intention of trying to drive the estimated 25,000 Japanese troops off it. Instead, the Americans established a large beachhead at Princess Augusta Bay, building airfields and supply points inside it. With its anchorage and air facilities, protection could be provided for forces used in the SERRATO - BOUGAINVILLE PERIMETERretaking of the Philippines. Once the Japanese defenders realized that the Americans would not try to seek them out in the island’s trackless jungles, they were forced to attack the American perimeter. After a series of small clashes, the Japanese hit the American perimeter in a series of battles in and around what became known as Hill 700 and Koromokina River between March 8 and March 23, 1944. Although the Japanese were repulsed with horrific losses, the 37th Infantry Division suffered greatly as well. The November 9, 1944 edition of the Lockhart Post Register proudly announced that Samuel received his Combat Infantryman’s BadSERRATO - ICONIC PIC ON BOUGAINVILLEge for combat on the island of Bougainville.

            After the repulse of the Japanese, the 37th Division was pulled out of the line and began training for a landing on the Philippine island of Luzon. The American re-conquest of Luzon began with largely un-opposed landings at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945.  The U.S. Sixth Army swept down toward the capital of Manila with 175,000 men. A second landing of troops, both airborne and amphibious, moved toward the capital city from the southwest. The overall Japanese Army commander, General Yamashita, did not want to contest the city, and ordered the military there to leave the city open. Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi and his naval forces ignored the order. A bloodbath ensured. Literally thousands of innocent Filipinos were slaughtered by the enraged Japanese. Some Japanese accounts refer to it as gyakusatsu, or massacre. The atrocities beggar the imagination. Rape, murder, torture, and destruction of an entire city occurred because of the refusal to acknowledge the inevitable defeat, and the hatred for another race. Noted historian William Manchester, in his seminal book on General Douglas MacArthur writes that “[h]ospitals were set on fire after their patients were strapped to their beds. The corpses of males were mutilated, females of all ages were raped before they were slain, and babies’ eyeballs were gouged out and smeared on walls like jelly.” It is a fact to this day not acknowledged in Japan.

Those not outright murdered were often killed by American artillery and air strikes. There were an estimated 100,000 civilian deaths.

In securing Manila, the only urban fighting in the Pacific, 80% of the city was destroyed by artillery and naval gunfire. By all accounts, the battle was horrific, rivaling some of the fighting seen between Germans and Russians on the Eastern Front. It was also a cautionary tale of what could be expected fighting in built up areas. The Japanese naval forces were largely untrained in this type of fighting, had no artillery or armor, and no reinforcements. Yet they were disciplined and intent on making the Americans pay for every inch taken. Every block was fortified, and hand to hand, room to room fighting went on for weeks. Despite being vastly outnumbered, defenders held the advantage.

Feb. 13, 1945: Two Yank Infantrymen of the hard fighting 37th American division, climb through some Japanese barbed wire during street fighting in Manila in the Philippines. (AP Photo)

M3 Sherman tank enters the Intramuros

The 129th Infantry Regiment freed 1,330 U.S. and Allied prisoner of war and civilian internees from the Old Bilibid Prison on February 4, then crossed the Pasig River despite its destroyed bridges on February 8, and attacked Provisor Island, where the city’s electrical generation plant was located. In the words of Thomas Huber, “The 129th Infantry Regiment approached the island in engineer assault boats, then conducted a cat and mouse struggle with Japanese for control of the buildings, fighting with machine guns and rifles among the structures and heavy equipment.” After securing Provisor, the 129th attacked Manila’s New Police Station, another strongpoint. In the words of Robert Ross Smith, in his sequential history, “Triumph in the Philippines,” describes the area:

The New Police Station, two stories of reinforced concrete and a large basement, featured inside and outside bunkers, in both of which machine gunners and riflemen holed up. The 129th Infantry, which had previously seen action at Bougainville and against the Kembu Group, and which subsequently had a rough time against the Shobu Group in northern Luzon, later characterized the combined collection of obstacles in the New Police Station area as the most formidable the regiment encountered during the war.

The March 15, 1945 Lockhart Post Register reported that Pfc. Samuel Serrato had been reported killed in Manila, Philippines on February 14, 1945. He was killed in the taking the New Post Office and the complex of buildings around it. He was one of over 1000 GIs killed in the fight for Manila.

In 1949 Samuel’s body was returned home. Last rites were given at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on March 6. With American Legion Post 41 performing full military honors, burial was in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery.  At the request of the family, a military headstone marks Samuel’s grave.



REFERENCE NOTES:  Ross Smith’s Triumph in the Philippines (US Army Center of Military History, 1963) and Battle of Manila Online’s website, www.battleofmanila.org were used extensively to capture the brutality of the Japanese defenders, and the difficulty of rooting out entrenched urban defenders. Thomas Huber’s “The Battle of Manila” (an essay within the website) was also used. Samuel’s Combat Infantryman’s Badge was reported as having been earned during the fight for HIll 129 on Bougainville Island. This probably is an error; I believe the fight was for Hill 700. See www.historynet.com/battle-of-bougainville-37th-infantry-battle-for-hill-700.htm. Sadly, I was never able to find a photograph of Samuel.




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.