Plymouth County

1st Lt. Aloysius Rolfes




What He Treasures Is Gold Bars He Wore In Battle

Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Rolfes have received two letters from their son, now First Lieutenant Aloysius Rolfes, who is with the infantry regiment which recently took Makin and Saipan Islands, and which has been taking other stepping stones, one by one, in the American march to Japan.

Lieut. Rolfes received his promotion unexpectedly, on Saipan. Describing how it happened, he says:

“Our company commander, a captain, wanted to surprise me. He waited until retreat formation when he had the entire company assembled in one body. Then he started to make a big speech about me. He was really comical. A kidding speech about LeMars, etc., which he always does. I couldn’t figure out what he was leading up to. Then he ended up the speech by saying the general had decided I was an important man and promoted me to first lieutenant.

When he said that you could have knocked me over with a feather. Then he said I was the highest ranking man in the Army from LeMars. (Just kidding, of course.)”

But the promotion presented a new problem for the first lieutenant. There are no Army goods store on Saipan, where he might buy the new silver bars he now has to wear. He asked members of the family here to try to buy a pair of bars for him. His gold bars, no longer regulation for him, he’s sending home. He wrote that he treasures them highly—and they are about the only thing he wants to keep, to remind him of the battles he’s been in

Like so many soldiers who have been in battle many times, he’s fed up with battlefield souvenirs. He wrote:

“I could have had oodles of souvenirs, such as Jap swords, pistols, rifles, etc. But after fighting and killing the Japs for such a long time, I dread the sight of them, and dislike taking anything from dead bodies.

I could really relate some stories. I would like to tell you the story about the time about three other boys and myself took a bunch of prisoners. I had a very close call that time, and there was also a very funny incident. EVERY DAY OF BATTLE IS A DAY OF WILD EXCITEMENT. You never know from one minute to the next what is going to happen.”

Lieut. Rolfes enclosed some copies of official pictures showing himself and his men wading ashore, in water about waist deep, to Makin Island, while huge fires from Japanese shore installations can be seen. Another picture shows a group of infantrymen, not otherwise identified, watching a burning ammunition or gasoline dump. The men are pictured in battle deployment in the jungle, with a trench mortar in the foreground, and another photo shows the American flag flying from the top of a sheltered palm tree. The beach on which Lieut. Rolfs’ men landed under enemy fire was Butaritari beach.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, September 21, 1944 (photo included)