December 9, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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470 Base Hq. & AB Sq.
Pendleton AAF, Ore
December 9, 1943

Dear Mohter

This is a letter of consolation to you. The war department regrets to inform you that your son
1st Lt. William A. Shepard Jr. 0570214
Was injured in the service of his country observers state that in a frenzy of patriotism, when the General yelled “shit on the jap”, he nobly pulled down his jeans and spread fourth and filth upon the yellow race untill he wore out his muzzle bore.

Seriously mother, dont worry a minute about my operation. Was one of those things. I had my choice of having it done now when there is less danger or later some 10 or 15 years. I choose now. I like to clean it up. The doctor is OK and

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I’ll probably be out before Xmas and so don’t worry.

Dont let Lois worry either. After all we have a lot of these operations any more. I didnt know it till I came in. They are nearly all successful, even the bad cases. And it pays to have it taken care of.

Ill close now. Write please
Your son
Bill

P.S. I dont have a damn thing to do but read letters so that’s the extra reason for writing.

P.P.S. I think they changed my caliber I’m not sure.

Milton Cain in the “War To End All Wars”

Thankfully, for my readers, I recently came across the information in the following post just in time for this Memorial Day. Although Milton did not die during a war, he did serve and was wounded, so I am telling his story in that respect.

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Milton Cain on the left with an unknown fellow soldier. This picture was probably taken in France and sent home to family1

Milton Cain was one of two of the youngest children of John Cain and Carrie Rosa, as he was a twin, along with his sister Mildred. Both were born in Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin in November of 1894.

When the United States officially joined with Europe in efforts to defeat the Kaiser during WWI, Milton had already been in the Wisconsin State Guard for a year and a half.  He was 22 years old when he was assigned to Company B, 150th Machine Gun Battalion, 42nd Division. Otherwise known as the ‘Rainbow Division’2, (because it consisted of National Guard units from 26 different states, along with the District of Columbia).

Milton, and his fellow soldiers, were all shipped to Camp Mills in Mineola, Long Island on September 3rd of 1917, where they waited for orders to sail to Europe. And on October 18 they boarded the Covington in Hoboken, New Jersey to begin their trip to France.

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Here is the ship’s passenger list with No. 21 being Milton.

The local papers in Oconto County did their best to keep their readers informed about the goings on during the war, as in this article which started the efforts to track the boys route during the war.1917_11_23TheFarmerHerladp1c5

The 42nd went overseas to the Western Front of Belgium and France in November 1917, one of the first divisions of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to do so. The AEF was commanded by General John Joseph Pershing. Upon arrival there the 42nd Division began intensive training with the British and French armies in learning the basics of trench warfare which had, for the past three years, dominated strategy on the Western Front, with neither side advancing much further than they had in 1914. The following year, the division took part in four major operations: the Champagne-Marne, the Aisne-Marne, the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In total, it saw 264 days of combat. While in France, the division was placed under French control for a time. [from Wikipedia entry for Rainbow Division.]

According to published accounts of the 42nd, the 150th specifically was involved in the following battles:

Luneville sector, Lorraine, France, 21 February-23 March, 1918
Baccarat sector, Lorraine, France, 31 March-21 June, 1918
Esperance-Souain sector, Champagne, France, 4 July-14 July, 1918
Champagne-Marne defensive, France, 15 July-17 July, 1918
Aisne-Marne offensive, France, 25 July-3 August, 1918
St. Mihiel offensive, France, 12 September-16 September, 1918
Essey and Pannes sector, Woevre, France, 17 September-30 September 1918
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, 12 October-31 October, 1918.
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, 5 November-10 November, 1918

When Milton was seriously injured on July 29, 1918, it is possible this happened during the Aisne-Marne offensive. But his injury did not keep him from continuing on with his company. The last battle that the 150th was involved in was the one most known to me, and probably others, that is the Battle of the Argonne Forest. It was the first  part of the final offensive of the Allied forces along the Western Front. This battle lasted 47 days and ended with Armistice on November 11, 1918.3

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Here is a cool map that shows the route of the 42nd during the war. Just follow the rainbow.

American Soldiers Returning Home on the Agamemnon, Hoboken, New Jersey

American soldiers heading back home after the war.

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Milton came home in 1919, unlike many of his fellow comrades in arms. He married and even became Mayor of Oconto, twice, in the 1950s. He died November 8, 1972 still living in Oconto.

Ex-Mayor Cain Died At Age 78
       Former Mayor Milton J. Cain of Oconto died Wednesday at Oconto Memorial hospital following an extensive illness.
       Mr. Cain, a popular votegetter in both Oconto and Oconto county, served as mayor for two separate terms, from 1952-1954 and from 1958-1960.
He also was an alderman (city councilman) and a supervisor on the Oconto County Board.
He was a tavern owner for many years and a member of the VFW.
Mr. Cain was born November 24, 1894 in Oconto, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Cain, He attended Oconto schools and was a lifelong resident of Oconto. He married the former Eva Bitters on October 18, 1927. A veteran of World War I, he served with the 42nd Rainbow Division.
Survivors include his wife; one daughter, Mrs. Jan (Helen) Hansen of Appleton; one son, William of Oconto; one brother, Harry of Waukesha, 7 grandsons and one great-grandchild. Three brothers and three sisters preceeded him in death.

In memory of those who gave their lives while serving their country.


Source:

  1. The Farmer Herald, vol. 21, Issue 12 1918-08-23 page 1. Milton Cain image regarding WWI soldiers. “Milton Cain, a son of Mrs. Carrie Cain with the Rainbow Division was severely wounded July 29th.” [1918]
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Infantry_Division_(United_States)
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meuse-Argonne_Offensive

Hamm shenanigans…

I don’t know what was in the water where the Hamm family grew up, but it appears to have nurtured a bad gene, (and made for a lot of WTF moments).

Case in point. Do you remember Fred Hamm’s son Arthur Albert Hamm (also my grandmother’s half-brother)? He was the diva who faked his disappearance/death in Door County in 1949 then showed up dead in Montana in 1985.

Well it appears that Arthur was a busy man in the mean time, who had developed the bad habit of taking things that weren’t his.

The above pictures show: on the left Arthur with his wife Bernice, probably when they were married, about 1943; and on the right is Arthur’s 1953 mug shot, in Montana. It appears that between his disappearance and his death, Arthur spent a lot of time committing crimes to make a living instead of legitimately working for one.

On September 27, 1953 an article appeared in the Sunday morning issue of the Montana “Billings Gazette.” Arthur A. Hamm, aged 31, had been arrested on Friday, in connection with break-ins in the area. Arthur who when arrested had the money bag in his possession, admitted to breaking into a safe at the S&W Implement Company in Columbus.

In the October 3 issue of the same paper it was reported that Arthur had three felony warrants issued for him in regards to this arrest. One for the S&W burglary, one for the Nystul Lumber Company burglary, and also for the theft of a truck from S&W. Apparently through this arrest it was learned that there was also a warrant out by the U.S. Army, and another in different county in Montana, (for the theft of a saddle from a prevous employer). He was unable to raise the $1500 bond so was still in jail pending his hearing.

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At his hearing on the 20th of October he plead guilty, so there was no trial. The court sentenced Arthur to 10 years of hard labor at the Montana State Prison. (10 years for each burglary count, and 5 years for the theft of a vehicle. He was to serve each sentence concurrently.)

Interesting facts come to light in his prison record. The most interesting being his previous dealings with the law: In 1940 he spent 10 days in jail in Fargo, North Dakota for vagrancy; problems in 1942 with the War department, and in 1952 with the Army (in Spokane Washington), no reasons were named; lastly the Columbus, Montana burglary arrest.

From this one record we can also see that Arthur moved around quite a bit, probably committing other crimes that he got away with. He had been in Kansas previous to Montana, along with Fargo, North Dakota, and Spokane, Washington. After he was released from the Montana State Prison, he worked in Park County for a number of years as a logger and ranch hand. From 1974-1980, he worked on a seismograph crew in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He then went to Livingston, Montana in 1981 and died there a few years later, single.

His prison record, found at Ancestry.com, does not state when he was released. So I don’t know if he served his full term.  There is an interesting history regarding the prison, and if he served his full 10 years, then he was there during three riots in the late 1950s. You can read about them at Wikipedia. The prison is now known as the Old Prison Museum in Deer Lodge, Montana.

 

November 21, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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470 Base H.Q. and Air Base Squadron
Pendleton Army Air Field, Oregon
November 21, 1943

Dear Mother & Father:

Arrived here safely, after much delay. Waited at Patterson Field for three days. Met some fliers I knew and had a ride home, but at the last minute the flight was cancelled and I had to come via airlines I was kicked off at Cheyenne and Boise and came in on the train, just making it.

As you have probably noticed, I have been transferred to another organization. You can address all mail to the above address until further notice.

It was nice to get home and probably will be the last time for a while at least. Although it will take me three monthes to pay  you and Lois back.

Ill send you the money for Lois’ ring in two weeks. Get it wrapped and give it to her on Xmas eve for me. Ill send a note to put in with it. I can pay you back Jan & Feb.

Same old place out here. The weather ifs foggy. Im just waiting now. Ill write later.

Your son
Bill

October 17, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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October 17, 1943

Dear Mom & Pop:

Business as usual. We have a lot of weather now. Its hot and sultry one minute and the next it’s almost snowing. It is snowing in the passes now.

Didnt get to go deer hunting but I will get to go pheasant hunting. I would like to get home but I dont know, because it is getting tough now to get away.

Ill be home one of these days and pester the life out of all of you so dont worry. My thoughts are that we will have Germany beat in another year. Lets all

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hope so.

How are you all? How is Lois getting along? I wrote to Lydia last week. To Carl too. I have written him several times since his last letter. I guess he hasnt received mine. Well Ill stop blotting/beating? my brains out. Write

Love
Bill

September 19, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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301 Service Squadron
Pendleton AAF Oregon
September 19, 1943

Dear Mom and Pop:

Ill bet that you are having a good time. I only wish that I could be with you all. It wont be to long now. We should lick Hitler in another year, then beat the socks off Tojo. That makes two years., 1945.

I probably wont be around long. You know all soldiers have to go, sooner or later, and I have been here a year and one-half now.

When I go I want you to kind of keep an eye on my family for me. Make Lois take care of herself. Im makin out another alootment to her, so she will be getting enough to live

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on. The goverment will send her 1 war bond each month and my insurance is paid automatically (my goverment insurance) I have $10,000 insurance. Lois has a power of attorney for me. Im making a will, what for I dont know, but its there just the same. All my personal affairs are in order.

Im sending a trunk home. In the trunk there will be some clothes and missceellaneous items. Lois can store them till I get back.

Please dont tell people about this. I guess best friends, mothers, fathers and sweethearts have sank as many ships as the enemy, because they let something slip. Its hard not to talk, but someone may tell someone and so on until (offensive image drawn) hears. That old promise “never to tell a soul” has cost and is costing right now, soldiers lives. I know I can trust you all. Ill write soon

Your son
Bill

September 11, 1943 William Shepard to parents…

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301 Service Squadron
Pendleton Army Air Field, Oregon
September 11, 1943

Dear Mom & Pop:

Day off today so I have time to write. It was hot here yesterday, altho I think it was just Indian Summer. It will cool down and the snow will fly soon, And can it get cold out here!

How is the fishing now? How is the cabin? You know, next year I hope to go up with you all. The war cant last forever.

Im going down town and wrassel with a steak this afternoon, that is, if I can find one. When I get home Im going to have a few bulls around the house just like people have dogs, then when I want a steak we’ll just amputate one.

How is your arm coming along? Sorry to hear about the accident. How is dad? Slip me a letter if you have tie. Love

Your Son
Bill