Osceola County

Earl M. Kessler




Earl M. Kessler, chief machinist’s mate, U. S. Navy, grandson of Mrs. Minnie Suler and Mrs. Oakland, was a recent visitor at Sibley and gave the Sibley Gazette-Tribune some of the high lights of his experiences while in the service, as follows:

Home on 30-day leave after spending 27 months with the U. S. Navy, Chief Machinist’s Mate, Earl M. Kessler, arrived in New York, July 28, 1944. He will visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Kessler, of Indianapolis, Ind., and at Mobridge, S. Dak., with his wife. He has been transferred here for a new assignment and has been recommended for a commission as an Engineer’s Officer.

After enlisting in the U. S. Navy, Earl was first sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. From there he was sent to Maryland and was then assigned to a crew of an L.S.T. Ship. His ship was sent to New York and was loaded with supplies, March 19, 1942, going by way of Bermuda, arriving in Oran, North Africa, April 13, 1943.

He and his shipmates participated in the Tunisian battle in North Africa, where they were stationed until after the Italian campaign.

On July 10, he took part in the invasion of Sicily and made several shuttle trips from North Africa to Sicily, hauling troops, supplies and materials. On September 11, they started the invasion of Italy at Salerno. Their ship was the first one to land on the beach to unload their supplies and troops for invasion.

From Italy they went to Gibraltar for a 10-day lay over where he was permitted to take a tour through the Rock and to see all its fortifications. They then went on up to England, arriving there about December 10. Here they were sent for a brief rest period in preparation for the invasion of France. Their ship was sealed for 40 days, with no one being allowed to come aboard or leave the ship.

Some time, during the day of June 5, they started to rendezvous and formed a large convoy and started across the English Channel to the French coast. By day break on D-Day they were landing troops on the beach along the French coast on that momentous morning of June 6.

Nine trips were made across the channel by Kessler and his crew as they hauled troops and supplies up until July 6. Kessler then left his ship in Southern England and went by train to Scotland, where he went aboard the U. S. S. Erickson, an Army transport. It took them 11 days to cross the North Atlantic to New York City.

Speaking of the horrors of war, Kessler said that he had witnessed the effect of the German robot bomb from within a block’s distance in London. He saw eight and nine year old children crying and searching frantically for their parents, after one of these “buzz-bombs” had struck a home in London. He stood by as police removed the victims from ruins of their homes.

Although he was overseas for 19 months and took part in most of the major battles, Kessler chanced to meet but one Sibley boy in his travels. This was Donald Asmus, first class officer and carpenter’s mate in the U. S. Navy, whom he met in the Mediterranean. At one time he was within only five miles of several Sibley men, including Lieut. Harold Koopman, Vernon Johnson, and Cpl. Erwin Polmateer, but failed to meet them.

His ship has hauled any number of German prisoners from France over to England. Kessler says that the general opinion of most of the Germans was that the Germans were losing the war.

Source: Rock Valley Bee, August 25, 1944

Research Notes:

U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs Death File
Name: Earl N. Kessler
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 26 Jan 1906
Death Date: 16 Jan 1985
Branch: NAVY
Enlistment Date: 26 May 1942
Release Date: 10 Jan 1946
Bonus Application Date: 07 May 1949
Bonus Application Place: Sibley, Iowa