Cerro Gordo County

Pfc. Dwight M. Helfenstein




Dwight Helfenstein Killed
in Action in Germany, April 7

Entered Service Last August and
Went Overseas in January

Pfc. Dwight M. Helfenstein, 18, only son of Doctor and Mrs. Roy C. Helfenstein, 221 3rd N. E., was killed in action in Germany on April 7, according to a message received here from the war department Tuesday.

Pfc. Helfenstein was serving in the 8th armed infantry division of the 9th army. He left for overseas on Jan. 7, and upon arriving in the European theater first served with the 3rd army but was later transferred to the 9th. The last letter received from him was dated March 25.

Dwight was born on June 20, 1926, in Dover, Del., and came with his parents to Mason City in the fall of 1938 when his father came to be the pastor of the First Congregational church here. He was graduated from the local high school last spring and entered the service on the 17th of August. He had trained 3 ½ months in Camp Hood, Tex., before being sent overseas.

Besides his parents, he is survived by 3 sisters, Mrs. Wilson Kingsboro, teaching at Rock Rapids while her husband, a captain, is serving as a surgeon overseas; Mrs. William H. G. Warner, Hermosa Beach, Cal.; and Janice, high school student, at home.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Tuesday, April 17, 1945 (photo included)

Memorial Service at Local Church

Sunday morning at the First Congregational church, an impressive memorial service was held in connection with the regular service in honor of Dwight M. Helfenstein, who was killed in action in Germany on April 7. W. A. Westfall, chairman of the board of trustees, read the memorial rites used by the local congregation in its Gold Star Memorial services held in connection with regular services. Mrs. William Peterson, chairman of the service committee of the women’s guild, placed the gold star on the service flag.

President Samuel N. Stevens of Grinnell college was guest speaker giving a forceful discourse on “The Church-College,” the day being observed as “Church-College Sunday” by the Congregation Christian Churches of Iowa.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Monday, April 30, 1945, Page 13

Letter Tells How Son Met His Death

The Doctor Roy C. Helfenstein family has received a letter from Lt. Col. D.L. Hairston of the 8th armored division of the 9th army containing the following information associated with their son, Dwight's death in combat on April 7.

"It is with deep sympathy that I offer you our heartfelt condolence," wrote Lt. Col. Hairston, "on behalf of the officers and men of this division, upon the death of your son, Pfc. Dwight M. Helfenstein, Company C, 7th Armored infantry battalion, who was killed in action in Germany on April 7, 1945.

"We have been able to gather the following facts surrounding your son's untimely death. Dwight was a member of an advance squad in the attack upon the city of Belecke, Germany, where the entire division was fighting as part of the 9th U.S. army's drive into the vaunted Ruhr.

"The half-truck on which he was riding was knocked out of action by enemy bazooka fire and he was hit by automatic machine pistol fire, causing instant death.

"Appropriate religious services were conducted in his memory by a protestant chaplain at his grave in the U.S. military cemetery, Margraten, Holland.

"Dwight left us a memory of his outstanding courage and devotion to duty. He was recognized as an excellent soldier and well liked by the officers and men of his company. We will all miss him greatly. There is little more that I can say to console you when you have suffered such a great personal loss," concluded Lt. Col Hairston's letter.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 7, 1945

NOTE: Pvt. Helfenstein was interred at Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands.