Black Hawk County

Capt. Hugh "Wallace" Breakenridge


Breakenridge, Bremer
Die in Action

War department telegrams received here Monday had informed two Waterloo women that their husbands had been killed in action. Dead were Marine Capt. Hugh Wallace Breakenridge, 25, and Pfc. Lester A. Bremer, 26.

Captain Breakenridge was killed in action on Iwo Jima Feb.27 while serving as liaison officer of headquarters in the Fourth marine division, according to work received by his wife, Margaret, who resides at 422 Vermont street.

Born July 9, 1919, at Traer, Ia., son of Mr. and Mrs. William J. Breakenridge, he later lived in Emmetburg and Dinsdale, graduating from the high school in the later town in 1937.

He graduated from the animal husbandry course at Iowa State college, Ames, in 1941 and was employed as assistant cattle buyer at the Iowa Packing Co., Des Moines, until enlisting in the marine corps in May, 1942. He married Margaret Kepler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Riley Kepler, Reinbeck, on Jan. 17, 1942.

After entering service he was commissioned a second lieutenant at Quantico, Va., in September, 1942, and was stationed at New River, N. C. and Camp Pendleton, Cal., before going overseas in January, 1944, to participate in the invasion of Marshall islands. On June 22 he was wounded on Saipan, awarded the Purple Heart and spent two months convalescing at Honolulu.

Surviving besides his wife are his parents, who live at Dinsdale; two brothers, Warren, Dinsdale, and Max, St. Louis, Mo.; and one sisters, Lois, a student at Coe college, Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Monday, March 12, 1945, Page 1

Traer Officer’s Memorial Rites
Will Be Sunday

Traer, Ia. – A memorial service honoring Marine Capt. H. Wallace Breakenridge, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Breakenridge, west of Traer , who was killed in action on Iwo Jima, is to be held at the Amity rural church, 10 miles northwest of Traer, Sunday afternoon at 2:30.

The Reinbeck post of the American Legion is to participate in the service. The memorial address will be delivered by the Rev. D. Paul Chapman, of Bettendorf, Ia., an uncle of Wallace. The Rev. C. Haupt, pastor, will assist in the services.

It is hoped that Lt. George C. Strum, chaplain of the Fourth Marine division, who conducted Capt. Breakenridge’s military funeral on Iwo Jima, will be able to attend the service and speak briefly. He is now visiting at Decorah, awaiting a new assignment, and if he is not reassigned before Sunday, he plans to be at the services.

Captain Breakenridge was born at Traer, July 9, 1919, graduating from Dinsdale high school in 1937 and from Iowa State College in 1941, where he was president of Alpha Gamma Rho, national agriculture fraternity.

He married Miss Margaret Kepler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Kepler, near Reinbeck, not living in Waterloo, on Jan. 17, 1942.

He enlisted in the marines May 12, 1942, and received his training at New River, N. C., and Camp Pendleton, Cal. He left the States Jan. 12, 1944. He saw combat action in the Marshall Islands and was wounded on Saipan. He landed on Iwo Jima Feb. 19, 1945, and was killed nine days later by a machine gun sniper while leading his company in the final attack which secured the Motayama airfield.

He took over K company on D-day night after all the officers had been killed or wounded, and was himself wounded on the fourth night, but refused to be evacuated from the island.

He holds the Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal with three stars, two Purple Hearts, one with a gold star, and has been recommended by his commanding officer for the Silver Star medal. His grave is in the Fourth Marine Division cemetery on Iwo Jima.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Friday, June 22, 1945, Page 5

Silver Star Honors Dead War Hero

The silver star medal for gallantry in action Thursday was awarded posthumously by the navy to Capt. Hugh W. Breakenridge of the United States Marine corps, husband of the former Margaret Kepler, 422 Vermont street.

The presentation, on orders signed by Navy Secretary James Forrestal, was made at Dinsdale, Ia., Friday in the presence of Captain Breakenridge’s wife and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Don Breakenridge, by Capt. Jack R. Munday, Des Moines, marine representative in Iowa.

Mrs. Breakenridge, who was married to the late captain in 1941, is now a student at Coe college, Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Following is the text of the order:


“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as commanding officer of Company K, third battalion, twenty-fifth marines, Fourth Marine division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jim, Volcano islands, from 19 to 27 February, 1945.

“When all officers of a rifle company had become casualties, and the members widely scattered by merciless Japanese artillery fire, Captain Breakenridge immediately assumed command, quickly rallied the disorganized company and led his men to position where they could effectively support the advance of his leading team to high ground above the gun-studded cliffs.

“During the hours of darkness on 22 February, he personally attacked two of the enemy who had infiltrated our lines, and although himself painfully wounded, killed one and severely wounded the other.

“Refusing evacuation, he loyally remained with his company, and by his own fortitude and inspiring courage, sustained the morale of his men throughout the night.

“With the assault units sustaining heavy casualties under devastating machine gun fire from concealed Japanese positions during the attack north of Quarry No. 1 on 27 February, he personally reconnoitered the area to his front and directed artillery and mortar fire which destroyed the hostile emplacements.

“Occupying a constantly exposed position, he led his men in a continuation of the attack until mortally wounded by enemy fire.

“His valiant leadership, daring combat tactics and devotion to duty throughout this period of fierce action reflect the highest credit upon Captain Breakenridge and the United States naval service.

“He gallantly gave his life for his country.” 

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Sunday, January 12, 1947, Page 16

Burial Sunday for Traer Iwo Jima Hero

Traer, Ia. – The body of Marine Capt. Wallace Breakenridge, which was returned to the States late in March from Iwo Jima on the Army Transport Walter W. Schneck, is to be buried in Buckingham cemetery, near Traer, Sunday afternoon.

The body was to be brought from Kansas City to Reinbeck Saturday morning in charge of a marine escort and an honor guard of American Legion men from Traer and Reinbeck was to meet the train, and the body was to be brought to the States funeral home in Traer.

The brief funeral service to be held at the States funeral home at 2 p. m. Sunday will be private but all members of the American Legion have been invited to attend. The Kubik-Finch post, American Legion, Traer, will have charge of military rites at the grave.

Captain Hugh Wallace Breakenridge was born in Traer July 9, 1919, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Breakenridge, and was reared to manhood in the Emmetsburg and Dinsdale communities. He graduated from Iowa State college in 1941 with a degree of Bachelor of Science in animal husbandry.

While attending college he was president of Alpha Gamma Rho, national agriculture fraternity. Following graduation he was employed in the cattle buying department of a Des Moines packing plant.

On Jan. 17, 1942, he married Miss Margaret Kepler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Kepler, now of Waterloo.

He was killed in action Feb. 27, 1945, on the ninth day of action in the invasion of Iwo Jima while a member of the Fourth marine division.

Surviving are his parents, Mr. and Ms. W. J. Breakenridge, Dinsdale; two brothers, Warren and Max, both of Dinsdale, and a sister, Mrs. Lois Gallagher, Cedar Rapids.

Mrs. Margaret Breakenridge, his widow, was married recently to Robert Rankin, of Cedar Rapids.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Friday, April 16, 1948, Page 5