"A Salute to Those
Who Have Served"
A series of World War II veteran biographies & photos published in the Allamakee Journal, 2001
The biographies were compiled and written by Maury Gallagher and have been re-published on the Allamakee co. IAGenWeb site with the written permission of Mr. Gallagher (Jan. 2017). They were transcribed & contributed by Errin Wilker for Allamakee co. IAGenWeb
Misc. additional articles of interest have been included on this page, and are credited to their source and contributor.
Becker, Henry James 'Hank' - U.S. Navy
Henry "Hank" Becker was born in Lansing, Iowa, and graduated from Immaculate Conception High School on March 2, 1943. He still is not sure whether his performance in high school had something to do with his being allowed to graduate early. He suspects that the nuns might have been glad to get rid of him.
After recruit training at Farrugut, Idaho, he was trained as a pharmacist's mate, and transferred to the U.S. Naval Base at Orote Field in Guam where the jungle was being chopped back to build a fighter plane landing strip. Enroute to Guam he spent about 46 days at Eniwetok awaiting orders to continue on to Guam. At Guam, Henry helped set up the medical facility there, and worked for a flight surgeon in the eye, ear, nose and throat clinic. He found it to be rewarding work as he would run into troops around the island who would remember he took care of them.
When Hank arrived in Guam, the island had been liberated from the Japanese. "But you didn't want to get too far off the beaten path," he said. "There were still a lot of Japanese soldiers hiding out in the jungle, and for them the war was still on. There were reports of them ambushing marines as they swam and bathed in the rivers. Naturally, they wouldn't attack unless it was just a few guys, not expecting to be ambushed." (Author's Note: The last Japanese holdout was captured in Guam in the early 1970's after hiding in the jungle for nearly thirty years.)
Hank was released from active duty on March 17, 1946. He and his wife Belva (Hosch) have two children, Bob of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and Donna Sue of Onalaska, Wisconsin.
Hartley, Peter William 'Pete' - U.S. Navy
Peter W. Hartley was born in New Albin, Iowa. After graduation from New Albin High School, he went to school at Columbia College (now Loras College) in Dubuque, Iowa, for one year. On June 17, 1940, Peter enlisted in the United States Navy.
Following boot camp at Great Lakes, he was assigned to the heavy cruiser, USS Chicago (CA-22). Through on-the-job training, he became a quartermaster, working in the ship's navigation department.
On Friday, December 5, 1941, the USS Chicago left Pearl harbor in Hawaii for training exercises with an aircraft carrier group. "On Sunday, December 7," Peter said, "I was the quartermaster of the watch on the bridge when an announcement was made over the ship's loud speaker system that 'there is an attack on Pearl Harbor and this is not a drill!' We immediately went to general quarters for the three or four days it took us to get back to Pearl Harbor.
"On the way back, we took on some fuel from an oiler," Peter continued. "While we were alongside the oiler, our signal man was communicating with the signal man on the oiler. He was telling us how bad it was at Pearl Harbor. We just couldn't believe all those battleships were sunk. When we finally entered the harbor, it made Christians out of all of us. Ship after ship was sitting at the bottom. The USS California almost had the harbor blocked at Ford Island. Planes were blown up and laying all over the place."
In early August of 1942, the USS Chicago was part of the support group landing the first troops on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Just after midnight on August 9, 1942, Japaneses ships launched a surprise attack, focusing on the combatant ships with the support group. Four heavy cruisers, the USS Quincy, USS Vicennes and the USS Astoria, and the Australian cruiser Canberra were sunk. "We had forty-five feet blown off the bow of the Chicago in the first battle of Savo Island," Peter said. "That area of water between Guadalcanal, Savo Island, and Tulagi became known as 'Ironbottom Sound' because of all the ships sunk there as the war went on. Kenneth Casey, for whom VFW Post 5603 in New Albin is named, was killed in that battle on the USS Astoria."
The Chicago underwent temporary repairs in the States. "On December 31, 1942, New Year's Eve, we headed back to sea," Peter said. "When we left that day, we left a bunch of sailors at home, AWOL."
One month later, on January 30, 1943, the USS Chicago was sunk during the Battle of Rennell Island. "We were first hit by two torpedoes launched by Japanese torpedo bombers," Peter said. "The USS Indianapolis took us under tow through the night. But the next afternoon, a big group of planes returned and we were hit by three more torpedoes, and we had to abandon ship. The USS Sands rescued us."
Peter saw further action on the USS Mobile (CA63), a heavy cruiser, and later on the USS Brule (APA). "On the Mobile," Peter said, "we supported many bombing raids and did bombardment for invasions. The Brule carried troops to and from the Western Pacific. I returned to the States on an LST. We did not have a navigator on board, so I did the navigating for the LST and two minesweepers that were with us."
Peter was discharged from the Navy at Great Lakes as a quartermaster chief petty officer. He is married to Dolores (Meyer), and they have three children, Patrick, Michael and Daniel.
Heiderscheit, Leonard - U.S Army
Leonard Heiderscheit of New Albin was born in Holy Cross, Iowa, and graduated from High School in Holy Cross. In June, 1941, he was drafted into the United States Army and left for Basic Training the next day as his brother Charles.
Both went to Basic Training at Camp Roberts in California. Charles was then assigned to the 7th Infantry Division and Leonard was transferred to Camp San Luis Obispo, California, and then to Fort Benning in Georgia for mechanics school. The war started while Leonard was in school in Georgia.
Upon completion of mechanics school, Leonard was assigned to the 37th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division. In early May of 1942, Leonard's unit boarded ship enroute to the Aleutian Islands. "I was on that boat for thirty-three days." he said, "and I was seasick for thirty-three days. You have never been sick until you are seasick," he added.
The 37th arrived at Dutch Harbor on June 2, 1942. "We never had a round of ammunition until we got off the boat," Leonard said. "then they gave us each three rounds." On June 3, 1942, Japanese planes bombed the island and Leonard was wounded during the bombing. A few days later, Japanese forces captured the islands of Attu and Kiska, and held them for a little over a year. During that year, the troops in the Aleutians had little to do. Boredom was a significant problem, and alcohol consumption became routine. Morale was extremely poor and the brutally cold weather was debilitating for many. "I didn't get bored," Leonard said. "I went fishing and hunting to keep myself occupied."
In August 1943, the American forces recaptured Attu. Attu became a bloody chapter in the history of World War II, virtually unknown to the general public back then, and less known today. But in that fairly isolated part of the world, in the only combat that reached the North American Continent, nearly 2,500 Japanese soldiers, and 549 Americans died. Kiska was recaptured after Japanese forces were quietly evacuated from the island before American troops arrived. Leonard's brother Charles, with the 7th Infantry Division which was brought from Fort Ord in California to take apart in the recapture of the islands, also participated in the Aleutian Campaigns. Charles was subsequently killed in action in Okinawa.
Leonard remained in the Aleutians until January of 1944 when he was transferred back to Fort Benning. "I spent the rest of the war training paratroopers there," he said. "While I was in the Army," he added, "I never got a Christmas present. My mother always sent something, but it never got to me. The first year somebody stole it. The next three were lost when the boats were sunk."
In October 1945, Leonard was discharged from the Army as a staff sergeant. In addition to various decorations and campaign medals, he was awarded the Purple Heart for the injuries sustained during the air attack on Dutch Harbor. Leonard's wife Phyllis (Imhoff) is a New Albin native. They have nine children, Mike, Richard, Mary, Julie, Mark, Terry, Chris, Tim and Patrick.
Private Leonard Heiderscheit, 22, of Holy Cross, Ia., was "slightly injured in action in Alaska on June 3," according to word received Monday by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John P. Heiderscheit of Holy Cross from the War Department. The injured soldier is one of 15 children. He has nine sisters and five brothers, all of Dubuque and vicinity. He was inducted into the Army by the Dubuque County Draft Board last June, and the last word his parents received from him was on May 21, when he was stationed at Ft. Lewis, Wash. Heiderscheit is the first known Dubuque casualty since the Japanese attacked Dutch Harbor, Alaska, a week ago. The War Department announced following the attack that "the casualities were light."
~Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, Monday, June 8, 1942 (included the photo) ~transcribed by S. Ferrall
Mauss, Fredrick J. 'Fred' - U.S. Army
Fred Mauss of New Albin began his service in the U.S. Army on May 5, 1941. "I was drafted for one year," he said. "I served 49 months, 39 of them overseas."
He was assigned to D. Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment. The 133rd Infantry Regiment was an Iowa National Guard unit activated prior to the start of WWII, and became part of the 34th Division, the "Red Bull Division," of the 5th Army.
After basic training at Camp Claiborne in Louisiana, Fred was trained as an infantry anti-tank gunner. "On December 7, 1941, we were assigned to guard some bridges in New Orleans for several weeks. They were apparently afraid of sabotage following Pear Harbor," he said.
On January 14, 1942, Fred sailed from the United States headed to Northern Ireland. Arriving in Belfast, the regiment was then transferred to Londonderry for intensive training. "We hiked 26 miles or more every day," Fred said. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas that year they were transferred to a staging area near London, and on Christmas day shipped out to North Africa aboard the "Empress of Australia." "The ship zig-zagged every 8 or 9 minutes to make it difficult for German u-boats to get a bead on us," Fred said. "We landed in Africa where the beachhead was already established. From February to May 1943 we took part in combat to gain control of North Africa. Then we trained and prepared for an assault landing in Italy."
"On September 22, 1943, we landed at Salerno, Italy, and established a beachhead there. Before we liberated Rome was the worst fighting we were in. I was a squad leader in charge of an anti-tank gun. The terrain in Italy did not lend itself much to tank warfare, so I and my 10-man crew were assigned to other duties. Sometimes we served as battalion runners, and other times we served as litter bearers, picking up the wounded and evacuating them from the battlefield.
"During our push to Rome, we encountered a large monastery atop a hill in Cassino, south of Rome. We went back and forth to that point a lot of times. It was a tough strategic point held by the Germans, and it took a long time to capture it. One day they pulled us back, and the bombers, wave after wave of them, bombed the monastery. All you could see was dust. We watched the dive bombers as they peeled off, one after another, to attack. We could see the German tracer bullets as they tried to shoot the planes down. It was some time yet after that before we captured the monastery." The famous battle for Cassino was one of the toughest of the war. Over half of the soldiers in all three battalions of the 133rd Infantry Regiment were either killed or wounded during that struggle.
On May 23, 1944, the Anzio offensive began. "When we landed at Anzio, there was some artillery fire, but we were lucky and none of it hit our outfit. The Germans had one real big gun mounted on a railroad car. They didn't fire it too often, usually at night, bt I can still hear that thing. The Germans also had some diesel-powered airplanes. They had a distinctive sound to them. We finally liberated Rome. We went in there on June 4, 1944." The campaign in Italy continued for another year until it ended on May 2, 1945.
"I was home on my first leave when the war ended," Fred noted.
Having participated in the Naples, Foggia, Rome, Anzio, and Tunisian campaigns, and earning the campaign medal along with four bronze stars, Fred was discharged June 3, 1945. He and his wife Laurayne, have ten children, six sons: Robert, Edward, Victor, Frank, Dan, and Paul, and four daughters: Ellen, Rose, Joan, and Jean.
Area WWII Veteran Recalls Story of Valor
Fred Mauss, 82, of New Albin, has a lot of stories to tell, and medals to back them up. Mauss was awarded the Bronze Star four different times for four different battles. He also received the Combat Infantryman Badge. After being drafted in May of 1941, Mauss spent 49 months in the U.S. Army. After completing basic training at Camp Claiborne in Louisiana, he was shipped to Northern Ireland for combat training. "We trained with wooden guns," Mauss said. "We went on a lot of hikes, usually a couple times every week. The hikes were 26 miles, except for one that I remember well," he said. "It covered 42 miles. The men got so weak they had to use the wooden guns as a crutch to get up. Everyone had sore feet the next day." Next, Mauss was shipped to Northern Ireland. From there he went to North Africa. "I'll never forget the day I shipped out to Africa," Mauss said. "It was Christmas Day, 1941." His voyage to Africa was memorable in another way. The ship he was on collided with another inside the Straits of Gibraltar. "We almost sunk," said Mauss. His outfit was the 133rd Infantry, Company D, of the 34th Division of the 5th Army. Using 55 and 81 millimeter mortars, their objective was to take out German tanks. This was an extremely difficult assignment, as the Germans covered their tanks with 9-inch armor. In the meantime, the American tanks were being destroyed. "It was demoralizing to see our tanks burning," said Mauss. "I'll never forget the first battle I was in," he said. "I fought with the 168th Regiment and we lost an entire battalion and half of another." Mauss estimated they lost at least 800 men. But, in the final battle of Africa, the U.S. Soldiers turned things around. "We captured 50,000 Germans," he said. "We threw their guns in a pile, and it got as big as a boxcar." "I have a lot of memories," he said. "Some good, some bad."
~Allamakee Journal, November 1999 (included the photo) ~transcribed by Errin Wilker
Maust, Robert B. JR - U.S. Army
Robert B. "Bud" Maust, Jr., of New Albin enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 1944. After completing Basic Training at Camp Fannon near Tyler, Texas, he was trained as a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) man and joined the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division (known as the New York Division) in time for the siege of Okinawa.
"When we shipped out for overseas." he said, "we were replacement troops classified as 'acting cadets.' 'Acting' meant we had the responsibilities of more serious personnel, but we never got our permanent ratings. We left from Seattle, Washington, on a troop ship for Hawaii. On landing in Hawaii, we had three weeks of amphibious training, jungle warfare, and demolition training. We departed Hawaii on two troopships accompanied by a sub chaser. The sub chaser must have located a sub, because it dropped depth chargers all around us one on occasion.
"At one point during the siege of Okinawa," Bud said, "we were trying to take Flat Top Hill, one of the many strategically situated hills on the island. All the hills were incredibly well defended. The Japanese were so well dug in that even after extraordinary artillery barrages, they didn't seem to be fazed at all. We went up that hill seven times, and seven times had to fall back. By that point, out of a company of about 175 men, we only had 33 left." When Bud's company finally made it to the top and captured the hill, there were only four men left.
"During that fighting," Bud added, "I heard an artillery observer plane, a piper cub, coming. He popped up over the hill just as our artillery fired. The artillery barrage hit him and he exploded. You could have put what was left of that plane in a bushel basket."
In a later action, Bud was in a foxhole when a mortar shell landed right behind him. His backpack was shredded by shrapnel from the shell, but he himself was unhurt. When the shell hit, his buddy and ammo bearer had been outside the foxhole, and when Bud turned to look at him, all he saw was the man's bloody rifle. Bud later learned that his friend had been wounded and though the shell had killed Bud. He crawled down the hill to get help. Bud later met him in a hospital in Hawaii.
Within moments of the mortar shell explosion, a grenade landed a few feet in front of Bud and exploded. He lost vision in both eyes. How he got off tht hill is still partly a mystery to him. He could not see, but knew he had to get down off that hill and, he guesses, gravity helped guide the way.
Bud was eventually found and evacuated from the front. He spent time in hospitals in Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii (where he regained his sight in one eye), and finally at Beaumont General Hospital in El Paso, Texas. "I was sent home on sick leave," he said. "My folks didn't find out I had been wounded until the day before I got home."
Bud should have been medically discharged after his release from the hospital, but due to a misunderstanding or clerical error, he was returned to duty. He then took part in the dismantling of a prisoner of war camp in Arkansas. He also served as a military policeman, escorting German prisoners of war as they were shipped back to the East Cost.
Bud was discharged from the Army as a PFC July 4, 1946. In addition to other awards, he earned the Purple Heart, American Theater Ribbon, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, Victory Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge. Bud is a life member of VFW Post 5981 of Lansing. He and his wife Helen have four children: Danny, Scott, Cindy and Kent.
Moore, Roy J. - U.S. Navy
Roy J. Moore was born in rural Allamakee County. He enlisted in the United States Navy in June of 1942. Although he had a physical deferment and did not need to enlist, he wanted badly to join the Navy. A finger, which was stiff as the result of an old injury, kept him from passing the physical. Doctor Ernst of New Albin did surgery on the finger multiple times over a six month period. Use of the finger was finally restored. When it came time to pay the bill, the doctor told Roy that if he was silly enough to go through what he did just so he could join the Navy, then he was silly enough not to charge for his services.
Roy went to Boot Camp at Great Lakes near Chicago, followed by gunnery school at Little Creek Amphibious Base in Norfolk, Virginia. In gunnery school, he was trained on thirty and sixty caliber machine guns, and a five-inch gun.
Upon completion of gunnery school, Roy was assigned to the U.S. Naval Armed Guard in Brooklyn, New York. The Armed Guard placed Navy gun crews on merchant vessels which were supporting the war effort. All cargo carriers and tankers were assigned gun crews. "The gun crews were supposed to keep submarines down," Roy said. "We also had anti-aircraft guns."
Roy's first trip was to England with two tankers. His next trip was to South America with a ten ship convoy in January 1943. "It took the submarines only two nights to wipe out the entire convoy," Roy said. "They attacked at midnight. You could count on that. We were sitting ducks. They torpedoed the tanker first. Then they had plenty of light to work by." Roy said that only one guy on the tanker survived. He was a member of the Armed Guard, and he had been sunk before. "He slept on the gun deck," Roy said, "and he wrapped himself in blankets. We were right at the equator and it was damned hot, but it was worth it. He never got a scratch."
When Roy's ship was sunk, he spent about an hour in the water until he found a life raft. "We were picked up in the morning," Roy said, "and taken to Paramaribo, Dutch Guinea, which today is called Suriname. At that point I was a member of the club. In the Armed Guard, you weren't a member of the club until you had been sunk at least once. We lost a lot of club members who didn't make it back."
Roy saw a lot of the world, from South America to the Mediterranean Sea. "Most of it was as interesting as the dickens," he said. "Off Normandy we had air raids, but they really weren't that interested in us. They were after the ammo dumps ashore. When we took a load of cargo over to support the invasion of Sicily, we carried high-test aviation fuel and bombs. The cargo was stacked in the holds with a layer of bombs, then a layer of fifty-gallon drums of gas, and then a layer of bombs, etc. I don't know who planned that load, but it was a nervous ship! If anything at all happened it would have been just a tremendous hole in the water."
"In Sicily, the children were potbellied from hunger and malnutrition. I watched as they grabbed small fish out of a fisherman's basket as he unloaded his catch. They just ate them raw, right on the spot. You have to be pretty hungry to do that!"
"The Armed Guard wasn't very good at duty at the start of the war, but got to be rather cushy toward the end (?fewer submarines). Early on they had physical restrictions for assignment to the Armed Guard. You had to be a certain height and weight. When they figured out that they didn't have enough sailors who met the guidelines, they forgot about the restrictions and emptied out the brigs. We had quite a colorful crew on most ships, as did the civilian crews. I knew a number of merchant seamen who were let out of prison to join the merchant ship crews. They weren't bad guys once you got to know them, but they could play a little rough."
Armed Guard crews changed every time the ship returned to New York. "I had it a lot better than most," Roy said. "When we got back off a ship, we had four days before we went to sea again on another ship. I could generally get two days at home each time in."
Roy was discharged in November 1945. "The Navy was good to me," he said. "I saw a lot of things, and I have always been grateful that I got to do that." Today Roy lives in New Albin. He has six children, Sara, Bill, Tammy, Lee, John and Maria.
Mulholland, Raymond 'Ray' - U.S. Army
Raymond Mulholland was born in Lansing, Iowa. In November 1942, he enlisted in the United States Army and went to Basic Training at Camp Maxey in Texas. Following Basic Training, he complete four weeks of paratrooper jump school at Fort Benning in Georgia, and had additional training at Camp McCall in North Carolina.
The 101st Airborne Division had been activated August 15, 1942, at Camp Claiborne in Louisiana. In September 1943, the division traveled to England where they trained hard for months, until the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. On that day, D-Day, in the early morning hours under cover of darkness, the 101st parachuted into France in advance of the invasion on the beaches. They landed near Utah Beach, with the mission of preventing German reinforcements from reaching that site. After nearly a month of tough, the 101st was withdrawn to England to train for future missions. It was during this training period that Raymond joined the division after arriving in Glasgow, Scotland on the Queen Elizabeth. Trained as an anti-tank gunner, he served mostly as a forward observer, calling in artillery fire positions on the front lines.
After a mission in Holland which Raymond missed because of an injury incurred in training, the division was sent to France where Raymond rejoined his unit, the 377th Field Artillery Battalion. He was in Reims, France when the division was recalled into action to meet the German counterattack, now referred to as the Battle of the Bulge.
To counter the German offensive, the 101st was quickly deployed to Bastongne, Belgium, a city vital to the success of the German war effort. By the 22nd of December 1944, Bastongne was completely surrounded by a numerically superior German force comprised of three German divisions. It was on that day that a German general demanded that American forces surrender. His ultimatum threatened annihilation of the Americans. The ultimatum was responded to by Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe when he answered with his now famous one word reply, "Nuts!" The Americans held out until the 4th Armored Division broke through to Bastongne on December 26, 1944.
Heavy fighting in the area continued into January, and it was in early January that Raymond earned a Bronze Star for his heroic actions under fire. He was serving as a forward observer, calling in artillery on German forces within yards of his location. When the battery for his radio failed, according to the citation in part, "PFC Mulholland, under intense enemy fire from tanks, mortars and machine guns, crawled over one hundred yards of fire swept terrain to install new batteries so that vital communications could be maintained, ensuring that artillery fire could be delivered accurately. His courage and devotion to duty exemplified the highest standards of military service." He later made the same trip again when his radio microphone failed.
Following the end of the war in Europe, the 101st moved to France to prepare for the invasion of Japan. Two weeks later, Japan surrendered, and on November 30, 1945, the division was disbanded.
Raymond returned to the United States on January 6, 1946. His wife, Hannah (Breeser), passed away in 1997. They had three children, Patsy, Arlis and Dennis. Four of Raymond's brothers, all now deceased, also served in the military, three in the Army and one in the Navy.
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