Lucas County

 
Zaccheus Stemm

 

 

1922-1944

 

Miles Enters Town Soon After Capture

By FRANK MILES
(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the Fifth Army in Italy, (IDPA) -- I was one of the first of 3 war correspondents to enter the town of Firenzuola after it had been captured by Americans. It was from there, 5 days later earlier that nazi gunners hurled shells at a bull dozer under which T/5 Zacheus Stemm, of Lucas, Iowa, another scribe, a jeep driver, a tanks corpsman and the writer rolled for safety.

When I left I wondered what might happen to Stemm and his 3 comrades, who were in the tank when we arrived. Later I learned that they were again bombarded, so hotly they had to leave their machine and run around a mountainside to safety.

Firenzuola is now a mass of ruins. Every building in it was wrecked by the cross fire of American and nazi shells. A stretch of road over which we traveled to enter was nicknamed "mad mile" because the nazis from their new position were shelling almost every vehicle that appeared on it. We didn't know that going in but we took a different route going out.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, November 1, 1944

Under Tank in Italy, Next at Iowa Grave

Frank Miles, Des Moines public relations counsel, will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday at a funeral service near Norwood, in north Lucas county.

But a wide green Italian valley, hot under the September sun, will be more than the snow-flecked fields of Iowa.
And he will recall a tall, slow-spoken Iowa farm lad, laughing as he ducked German shell fire, talking about his Iowa home.

In September, 1944, Miles, then a war correspondent in Italy for national American Legion publications, saw a bulldozer tank stalled in the road near Firenzuola, then held by the Germans.

The Germans, seeing the movement of the crew among the trees and brush, started to shell the position. Miles and a young corporal rolled under the tank.

While they lay face down in the thick dust, Miles learned that the tank driver's name was Zaccheus Stemm and that he lived near Lucas, Ia.

Somewhat later Stemm inquired: "Do you think you can run as fast getting out as you did to get under this tank?" Miles knew he could, and the two dashed in to the brush and separated.

Miles said Thursday he always remembered the young Iowa tank driver for his coolness under fire, his sincerity and his good humor.

Upon his return Miles told the story at a Corydon meeting and said he hoped to meet Stemm again. After the meeting, Stemm's cousin told Miles the lad had been killed in action Oct. 22, 1944, just three weeks after the Iowans met in Italy.

Later, Miles met the parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Stemm. They asked Miles to speak at their son's funeral Sunday at the little Evangelical United Brethren church north of Norwood.

Source: The Des Moines Register, March 11, 1949

MILES TO SPEAK AT SOLDIER'S FUNERAL

DES MOINES--A correspondent who interviewed an Iowa GI while both took shelter from German fire under a bulldozer tank will speak at the soldier's funeral Sunday.

Frank Miles, Des Moines public relations counsel, will address funeral services for Zaccheus Stemm from near Lucas, Ia. The funeral will be held near Norwood.

Miles and Stemm met while both lay in thick dust under a tank which was being shelling by the Germans. The action took place in Italy in September, 1944. Miles was a correspondent for national American Legion publications.

The two separated a short time later. It was not until his return to the United States that Miles learned that Stemm was killed in action just three weeks after the two had met.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, March 13, 1949