Decatur County

Pvt. Willard Elston





The following articles concern Pvt. Willard Elston, son of Mrs. Kate Elston, of Davis City. It was taken from the Star-Times, St. Louis, Missouri:

Speed, one of the five miracles of this war, has joined forces with blood plasma, penicillin, sulfa drugs and modern surgery to rush recovery to the boys who are now pouring into this country by boat, train and plane as battle casualties.

It may be a general hospital at Springfield, Missouri, where the “best damned doctors in the world” - the cream of the crop form such places as Johns Hopkins, Mayo’s and Washington University – are devoting all their resources to send him back to the service or civilian life as nearly normal as possible.

Some of the wounded don’t talk much, and in a place where Purple Hearts spring up like mushrooms and Oak Leaf Clusters are quietly laid away for the duration, a reporter is reluctant to press for a story.

“Not Much to Tell”
As the writer eased up to the bedside of Pvt. Willard Elston a Davis City, Iowa, boy, the soldier remarked, “There isn’t the much to tell.” But his laconic answer packed a punch.
“I was attached to an infantry division headquarters,” he began. “As part of the infantry, I manned a 57-millimeter gun. We left England on D Day plus one (June 7). We crossed the channel in a Victory ship, a small fast boat built for invasion purposes. I don’t know what beach we approached, but when we landed we kept on going and we certainly didn’t take time out for supper. Shrapnel got me in the leg June 18. That’s all.”

Given first aid at an evacuation hospital near the front lines, Pvt. Elston was sent to England for treatment at a base hospital and later by plane to Mitchell Field, and to O’Reilly hospital here on July 16.

Elston had bridged the gap between battle line and recovery the way the army had planned it. Precision and speed we the answer. At O’Reilly he has the best orthopedic surgery, physical therapy, diet, rehabilitation, recreation and advice that the combined forces of the army, Red Cross, veterans’ organizations and service clubs can give him.

Yes, the battle casualties; casualties to be sure, for they’ve lost eyes or have badly injured arms and legs and other battle scars to carry with them.

But Brig. Gen. George B. Foster, Jr., commanding general of O’Reilly says: “We give them mercy and charity, but no pity. They don’t want it.”

Source: Leon Journal-Reporter, August 31, 1942

Source: Decatur County Women's Auxilary WWII Scrapbook; Submission by Decatur County Historical Museum, Leon IA, Sara Rose Joan LeFleur, June of 2016