Some West Virginia World War II Veterans

CHAMPION, RICHARD LAWRENCE - Master Sergeant - According to his marriage record and his WWII Draft Registration Card, Richard was born on May 8, 1927 in Newell, Hancock County, West Virginia, to Arthur and Helen (Wires) Champion. He and Nancy June Heslep, both residents of Paden City, Wetzel County, West Virginia, were married at St. Paul's Church, Sistersville, Tyler County, on December 26, 1944. He served in the U.S. Navy Seabees as a Seaman, Seaman 2C, and Seaman 1C from 1945-1949. He served in the Pacific Theater. He then transferred to the U.S. Army and joined the 82nd Airborne. In 1952, he was one of the first Special Forces (Green Berets) handpicked by Col. Aaron Bank, founder of the U. S. Army Special Forces. He was then deployed to Bad Tolz, Germany with the 10th SFG. Unfortunately, in 1955, they found out he had a heart condition and he was medically discharged from the military. He died on June 25, 1961, according to a Headstone Application, and is buried at Greenlawn Park, New Martinsville, Wetzel County. - These PHOTOS are of him when he was in the 82nd, and when he was stationed in Bad Tolz with the 10th SFG. -- Submitted by Tim Blankenship; edited by Linda Fluharty.

DEEM, FREDERICK C. - Frederick C. Deem, 78, of 19th Street, Parkersburg, died November 19, 1993, at Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital after an extended illness. He was born in Wood County, a son of the late John W. and Mary Okley McHenry Deem. He retired from Union Carbide after more than 20 years of service and was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. He received the Purple Heart for wounds received in action with the 9th Army in the European Campaign. He was a member of Landmark Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon for several years and had served as choir leader for 25 years. He was an avid enthusiast of local athletics. Surviving are his wife of 53 years, Virginia Deem; one son, Danny Lee Deem of Morgantown; four grandchildren; and three sisters, Ruth E. Pearson of Parkersburg, Francis E. Summers of Little Hocking and Lena A. Rice of Belpre. He was preceded in death by one brother, Eugene W. Deem; and one sister, Beulah Hoyler. - Submitted by Robert S. Vail.

FELTON, FORREST WILLIAM - U. S. ARMY. Born 4 May 1928. Entered the service from Wetzel County, New Martinsville, West Virginia in 1945. Went to camp Addeberry, Indiana, then to Camp Plusha, New Orleans, Louisiana. From there to the South Pacific, Yokohama command. Served in 8001 transportation core; rank T/5. My serial # RA 15383545. Discharged at Seattle Washington, Nov 16, 1948. I now live at Rt #1 Box 176 U, Weirton, Hancock County, West Virginia with Thelma, my wife of 55 years. Photo: THELMA & BILL, 1947

FRAZIER, RAYMOND H. - U. S. ARMY. Born October 10, 1920. Grew up in Nitro, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Married Ethyl Miller from Ashland, Kentucky in 1942. One daughter, born 1943. Entered the Pacific campaign; traveled through New Guinea and Australia, among others. Received numerous awards including Bronze Stars. Retired from Army at rank of Staff Sergeant. - Returned to Nitro, had two more children (1957, 1959). Retired from Monsanto 1983. Died at Thomas Memorial Hospital July 8, 1988. -- Submitted by loving family member.

GIVENS, CHARLES E. "Bobby" -- Pfc. - He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August, 1942. He participated in the battle of Bougainville, where he was wounded. He was transferred to Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands where he died as a result of wounds on Jan. 25, 1944. Pfc. Givens was born in Kanawha Co, WV, December 15, 1920, the son of Julia Edith (Kelly)Todd of Big Chimney and J. S. Givens. Pfc. Givens was originally buried at Guadalcanal and his body was returned in March 1948 and re-interred in Sunset Memorial Park, South Charleston, WV. - PHOTO - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

KERLEY, WILLIAM JAMES - U.S. NAVY. Born 7 July 1927 in Berwind, WV, to Clinton and Mary Nell Kerley. Entered the Navy when he was 14 years old. His parents signed him up saying he was 17. He was stationed in Norfolk, VA, and Ft. Pierce, FL. He entered as a gunner's mate and came out a frogman with the underwater demolition team. He deactivated mines in Tokyo Harbor toward the end of WWII. He left Berwind in 1950 and worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in Aiken, SC, until 1959 when he went to law school in Atlanta and then moved his family to Houston, TX, where he died April 1, 1980. He left one daughter, Kristin Kerley, four grandchildren, and five great grandchildren whom he never knew. He is buried next to his wife, June Law, in Houston, TX.

KYLE, ALBERT JAMES - Master Sgt. - Enlisted in the Army soon, after the Pearl Harbor attack. He was captured December 10, 1944 and held by the Germans as a prisoner of war and escaped to the British lines on the eve of VE day. Following the war Sgt Kyle reenlisted and later served in the Korean War. At the time of his death he was serving as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the recruiting office in Charleston. During his 14 years of service, Master Sgt Kyle was awarded the Bronze Star, Combat Infantrymanís Badge, Purple Heart, American Theater Ribbon, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Victory Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon and the Good Conduct Ribbon with 2 Oak Leaf clusters. Master Sgt Kyle was born in Putnam County on March 15, 1911and died at Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington D.C. on March 11, 1955. He was the son of John Frank Kyle and Flora Jane Thomas. Albert left a wife, Irene Pauline Williams, and three children, Adza Jean, Aaron James and Albert J. Jr. - PHOTO - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

LAW, FRANCIS JUNE - U.S. ARMY. Born 23 August 1923 at War, WV, to Ernest Gladstone and Sarah Smith Law. June entered the Army in September 1941 and was trained as a Military Police. She was stationed at Fort Knox, KY, until the end of WWII. She returned to War, met and married William James Kerley of Berwind, and in 1950, she worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in Aiken County, SC. In 1959 they moved to Atlanta, GA and on to Houston, TX. June had one daughter, Kristin Kerley, four grandchildren, and five great grandchildren, four of whom she knew before she died 10 December 2002. She is buried next to her husband, William (Happy) Kerley, in Houston, TX.

SHAFER, ARTHUR WEAK - SGT. - Born in Kanawha County, West Virginia on Feb. 19, 1916, to Joseph Park Shafer and Flora Belle Porter. Arthur saw action in the North Africa, Tunisian and Sicilian campaigns. He participated in the invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 and was killed in action on June 23, 1944. - PHOTO - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

SHAFFER, CHARLES W. - Pvt. - He entered the Army, March 1944 and was killed in action in France on September 15, 1944. Charles was buried in Grafton National Cemetery, Grafton, WV. He was born in Roane County on June 14, 1911 to Marcellus F. Shaffer and Mary Magdeline Booth. He left a wife, Mildred Jones Shaffer, and two daughters, Barbara June and Betty Jane. - PHOTO - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

SHAFFER, ROY CLINTON - PFC. - Served with the 105th Infantry Battalion during WWII and was killed in action on July 8, 1944 during the battle of Saipan, an island located in the Northern Mariana Islands. The battle began on June 15, 1944 and lasted for 25 days before Saipan was finally claimed for the U.S. With the U.S. close to victory, the Japanese mounted one final charge that started July 7. At daybreak, a force of over 5,000 Japanese soldiers came out of a wooded area, crossed a narrow open field and hit the 105th infantry in a banzai attack. The definition of banzai is a Japanese cheer or cry of triumph. The 105th was at about two-third strength with their tanks unit, one anti-tank battalion and nine infantry companies. In total there were just over 1,100 men. The 105th was out-numbered almost five to one. They fought with pistols, rifles and bayonets, much of the time engaging in hand-to-hand combat. The 105th held their line for several hours before it broke. More than 2,300 Japanese were killed. At roll call a week later only 189 men stood to answer. - Roy Clinton Shafer was the son of Howard S. Shaffer and Mary E. Hunt and was married to Lydia Hester Walker. He might have been from Kanawha County, possibly the Clendenin area, because he is buried in Koontz Cemetery. - PHOTO - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

SHAFER, WILLIAM EARL - PFC. - Served with the 26th Marine Regiment during WWII and was killed in action during the invasion of Iwo Jima on March 4, 1945. He was born in Kanawha Co, WV on February 04, 1924, the son of Pharo E. Shafer and Tressie Stoffel. He is buried in Jarrett Cemetery, Elkview, Kanawha County. - PHOTO - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

SMITH, LAFE VERNON - Served in World War II and was badly wounded at the "Battle of the Bulge." He was from Rich Creek, Wayne County, WV and was born June 10, 1924. He traveled all over Europe serving as a "scout" under General George S. Patton and returned home with the condition known as "Shell Shock." - Submitted by

THOMAS, GERALD - Born August 22, 1919 as William C. Wise in Big Chimney, Kanawha County, WV. He died August 9, 2012 in Rockford, Winnebago County, IL. Gerald was adopted in 1923 where his named was changed from William C. Wise to Gerald Thomas. Gerald joined the US Army in 1941. He served in France, Germany, and Guam. Gerald trained in the hospital unit at Camp Grant, Rockford, IL in 1944 leaving in September. In 1949, he was part of the 22nd Army General Hospital while stationed in Guam. Gerald received the Bronze Star and served 20 years in the US Army retiring in 1963. He died August 9, 2012 at the age of 92, just 13 days shy of his 93rd birthday. - Submitted by Donna Apgar, daughter.

WELLS, LEONARD HAROLD - PVT. - Enlisted in the Army Oct. 28, 1943, and went overseas March 17, 1944. He is created with three major campaigns, one of which was the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944. He was killed in action a month later on July 12, 1944, in Saint Lo, France, while serving with Co. C, 221st Battalion Anti-Tank Division. He was born in Marmet, Kanawha County, July 10, 1923, the son of James Walter Wells and Agnes Kelley. His body was returned to his home in Marmet in May 1948 and was buried Jarrell Cemetery, Rush Creek, Kanawha County. Photo: PRIVATE LEONARD WELLS - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

WILLIAMS, GOLDEN C., JR. - Born Boone County, WV September 16, 1923; died Kanawha Co, March 01, 1991; son of Golden C. Williams Sr and Freda Peal. - During World War II, Junior served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Franks DD-554 (Destroyer). He was discharged from the Navy at Bainbridge Naval Center in March 1946 at the rank of Machinist Mate 2nd Class. Junior and his fellow crewmen participated in the following engagements: Invasion of the Gilbert Islands; provided air cover for the Tarawa landings; invasion of Kwajalein located in the Marshall Islands; reconnaissance and bombardment missions at Mussau, north of New Ireland; pre-invasion bombardment for the landing at Guam; pre-invasion strikes on Leyte Gulf and the subsequent Naval battle of Leyte Gulf between U.S. Navy and Japanese battleships; invasion of the Palaus known as Operation Stalemate; took part in strikes on the Japanese home islands on the eve of the invasion of Iwo Jima; participated in the pre-invasion of Okinawa, and participated with the USS Haggard (DD-555) in the sinking of a Japanese submarine on 16 May 1944. - Photo: GOLDEN WILLIAMS - Submitted by Mike Shaffer.

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