Black Hawk County

Pvt. Joseph M. Wagner, Jr.



Wagner Killed in Africa; Seidel, Fortune Missing

One Waterloo soldier was listed as killed in action and two others were reported missing Wednesday in War Department advices to their families here.

All three were north African battle front casualties.

Killed in action Feb. 20, 1943 the War Department announced was Pvt. Joseph M. Wagner, jr., 24 son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Wagner, 1331 Sycamore street, an anti-tank division member.

Missing were Technician, Fifth Grade, Verne M. Seidel, 25, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Martin Seidel, 1711 West Third street, and Pfc. Merrill L. Fortune, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Irving W. Fortune, 303 Bratnober street.

Both Seidel and Fortune were listed as missing, Feb. 17.

The War Department disclosed no further details in any of the three telegrams it sent to the families of the men.

Private Wagner enlisted for service in December, 1940, as a member of a Waterloo national guard unit. He left with his company in February, 1941, and trained at Camp Claiborne, La., before sailing for north Ireland in January, 1942.

Then to Africa.
He was reported in north Africa with American forces Jan. 4, 1943.

Before enlistment, Wagner was employed four years by the Powers Manufacturing Company.

He was a 1934 graduate of St. John’s parochial school.

Surviving him are his parents and a brother, Charles William, at 1331 Sycamore; a brother, Corp. Stanton Wagner, now with the quartermaster corps at Miami, Fla.; and the maternal grandmother, Mrs. Jennie Quail, Maywood Addition.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, March 10, 1943 (photos of all three men included)

Parents Get Letter Postmarked on Day Wagner Died.

A memorial mass for Joseph M. Wagner, jr., 24, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Wagner, 1331 Sycamore street, who was reported killed in northern Africa, will be conducted at 9 a.m. Tuesday in St. John’s Catholic church. Rev. N. J. Lentz will officiate. A color guard from Becker-Chapman Post, No. 138, American Legion, will take part in the military rites.

Private Wagner, who was in the anti-tank division, enlisted in December, 1940. He was last home on furlough in 1941.

Could Hear Guns.
In his last communication, Private Wagner said he could “hear the rumble of guns and heavy explosions and German planes overhead.” He stated he was on his way to Mass and the soldiers were told to wear helmets, taking their rifles and ammunition belts.

Altho he had not been receiving mail regularly, Private Wagner informed his parents that he received 31 letters that day and had received 22 letters on Feb. 18.

Brother in Army.
A brother, Cpl. Stanton N. Wagner, is with the army’s aviation service supply division in Miami, Fla.

Other Survivors include the parents, a brother, Charles at home, and the maternal grandmother, Mrs. Jennie Quail, Maywood Addition.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, March 14, 1943

Soldier’s Soul Is Commended to His Maker
Taps Sound Here for Wagner, Who Fell in Africa.

The Roman Catholic church commended the soul of one of its sons to his God Tuesday morning and at the conclusion of the memorial mass, taps were sounded by a veteran of one world conflict for a boy who gave his life in another.

Thus, at St. John’s church, on a frosty March morning, were the last rites said for Joseph M. Wagner, who died for his country in north Africa, Feb. 20, 1943.

God Needed in Heart.
Rev. Fr. N. J. Lentz, officiating at the mass, said that God was with Joseph Wagner in that battle so many thousands of miles from Waterloo, and he thought it a great pity that God couldn’t have been in the minds and hearts of more men in the world.

“Jesus asks us to love thy neighbor,” said the priest. “If more did, we wouldn’t have all this misery, all these heartaches, all the gangsters and the dictators, the crime and the corruptions.”

And Father Lentz saw in a letter from a Waterloo boy in Africa to his father a great lesson.

Asks Not for Food.
The boy, 22 years old, had asked that he be sent, not tobacco nor food nor clothing, for the American forces are the best-fed, best clothed army in the world.

Instead, the boy had asked for something else. He felt the need of someone to love and guide him, and God would fill that need.

The church was filled for the mass. The parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Wagner, 1331 Sycamore street, and their other son, Charles, were there and many members of Becker-Chapman Post, American Legion, turned out to pay their respects.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, March 16, 1943