Woodbury County

David "Jay" Sparks

Obituary Link


David ‘Jay’ Sparks was born 22 June 1925, in Moville, Iowa, to Francis and Bessie (need maiden name). Jay graduated from Moville in 1942. His interests include golf, reading, and all sports. His siblings are Ivan, Mildred, Gerald, Dale, Helen, Mildred, Burton, and Leone. Jay and all three brothers served in World War II. The brothers all wanted to join as they knew their brother, Gerald, was in the Navy in the Philippines. The family farmed south of Moville.

Jay volunteered. He was sent to Hawaii, on a Liberty Ship, December of 1943, where he trained with the marines.

Invaded Guam, June 1944. The only danger was mainly on the invasion. 6,000 Japanese went into the Jungle.

Jay writes, “I went to radio school at the University of Idaho, from there to a school off the coast of Seattle where, we learned how to use a Japanese typewriter. We then went to Hawaii where we intercepted Japanese coded messages. They then went to a group of naval personnel that broke the coded messages and gave them to the navy commanders.
We then went to Guam – invading the island with the marines. We set up a receiving center and copied coded messages closer to the Japanese fleet and islands controlled by the Japanese.

Then in June and July of 1945, I and several others were assigned to tracking Kamikaze pilots. We learned that they said a prayer before they started their dive on American Navy ships. When they said their prayers, that gave us a chance (breaking radio silence) to track them and locate them in relation to our ships. An interesting footnote is that they (the 19 year old Japanese pilots) screamed all the way until they either hit the water, or one of our ships and were killed. I did this up until the war ended.”

On V*Day, this is what he wrote, “At four o’clock this morning I was awakened by a series of loud, shreiking, yells some distance away. Guns were being fired all over the island. The yells were coming closer. Everyone set up in their bunks. And then a young gob ran into our hut. ‘The war is over’! The hut turned into a turmoil. Everyone seemed to be jumping up and down and yelling to the top of their voices. Gear was thrown all over the place. Bunks were overturned. Radios were going full blast telling of the details that had brought about this long awaited armistice.

A celebration was going on, the like of which I hope never to see again. Beer was brought in by the case. Everyone was sitting around talking about their future plans over a bottle of beer and between intermittent rising of emotions. At noon a large dinner was served at the mess hall, the best dinner most of us have had for more than a year. No more skimping and saving now. The war was over.

It was hard for any of us to believe that the war was over. It seemed impossible. Only yesterday, there was talk of two or three more years of war. We were all rejoicing about our superiority over the enemy when at three o’clock a messenger boy from the radio shack walked up to me and
handed me a telegram. I read the telegram slowly, then reread it. It seemed impossible. My brother’s body had been uncovered from a mass grave in the Philippines just a few days prior to the ending of the war. I couldn’t believe it. I had never before experienced the clashing of emotions. How could one by happy and sorrowful at the same time?
The hilarity and celebration didn’t die down till well after midnight. It was a long day – the longest I had yet experienced.”

“My brother, Gerald Sparks’ body was uncovered at a mass grave in the Philippines three days before the war ended and the Red Cross telegram arrived at my hut the day the war ended. He had been killed three years prior to this and was declared missing in action.”

Left Guam, November 1945, back to Hawaii, then to San Francisco. Was sent to Charleston, South Carolina where he was awarded a Unit Citation by an Admiral. Discharged, Minneapolis, May 1946.

Jay came home to Iowa. He attended and graduated from Upper Iowa University. Jay taught Math in Clutier, Klamatha County. When his father died, he came home to farm. Jay has three children, Staci Ann Gilpin, Kurt Sparks, and Stefanie Sparks.

Jay is a member of the American Legion Winks-Sparks Post No. 303 in Moville. The post added Sparks in the memory of his brother, Gerald.

Submitted by Jay Sparks.