August 26, 1995
Recently, one of these columns dealt with Perry's fabled Battery C, 158th Field Artillery, a component of the 45th Infantry division. Before World War II, the 45th was the state of Oklahoma's Army National Guard division. Officers and men of the 45th were mustered into federal service on Sept. 4, 1940 -- more than a year before Pearl Harbor. Consequently Noble county men and others in the "Thunderbird" division were among the first American troops committed to battle against Hitler's Nazi Wehrmacht and the less highly regarded Italian Fascist army of Benito Mussolini. They brought glory upon themselves, the state of Oklahoma and the U.S.A.
In that column, I wistfully lamented the lack of a 1940 roster of Battery C which would have enabled me to publish the names of all those heroic Perry officers and men. Now, a friend has come to the rescue. Shirley Emde of Stillwater, whose father was H. D. (Speck) Roads of Perry, has come up with the next best thing -- a list of Battery C's members in 1938. Speck Roads was a second lieutenant in Battery C in 1940. "If the guardsmen in 1940 were like they are today, most of them were in for several years, so probably the 1938 and 1940 rosters were very similar," Shirley wrote.
The information supplied by Mrs. Emde is from the 1938 "Historical Annual of the National Guard of the State of Oklahoma." It includes a group picture of Battery C and a complete list of the unit's enlisted men and commissioned officers. Also -- and this is a nice bonus -- there's a picture of the Regimental band, which was a section of the 158th's Service Company. Warrant officer Floyd R. Laird of Perry was the band director and the drum major was Staff Sergeant Bill Sharp, the Perry high school band director. The annual also has a good group picture of the band members in their Army uniforms.
Most of the names listed on Battery C's 1938 roster are very familiar, and they bring back a lot of memories about those once-young Perry men. See if you don't agree as you read them. Only a handful are still living in this immediate area. Among them are Frank Eby, Myrl McCormick and Ashley Alexander. Hope I'm not overlooking some others. Also, several of these ex-T-Birds now live in other parts of the U.S. I but they are still hale and hearty.
These were the members of Battery C, 158th Field Artillery, 45th Infantry division, as listed in the 1938 "Historical Annual of the National Guard of the State of Oklahoma:"
Commissioned officers -- Capt. Howard R. Cress; 1st Lt. Edward Quine Brengle; 2nd Lts. Harold D. Roads and Myrl A. McCormick.
Non-commissioned officers -- 1st Sgt. LeRoy Miller; Sgts. Harry L. Boggs, Harley A. DeVilbiss, Lonzo Grant; Archie M. Marshall, Lawrence Shea, Rollyn G. Smith, Weldon C. Smith and Virgil O. Walkling. Corporals Frank W Eby, Leo A. Harruff, Lee Nicewander, Verdis O. Swart, Ed M. Tucker, Leo West and Leonard Orville Winters Jr.
Privates first class -- William W. Dearborn, Delbert C. Gambill, Robert Gordon, Paul S. Hicks, Paul E. Letellier, Robert S. Munger, Louis H. Perot, Cyrus Ruff, Fred W. Schomaker, Walter W. Schomaker, Marion Shireman, Billie Smith, Loy M. Stickney, Pete A. Terronez and Vester A. Wilhelm.
Privates -- Otis P. Ballew, James W. Cain, Don C. Eby, Archie L. Fassnacht, William L. Folan, Jesse Garcia, Rex R. Gillihan, Druey J. Gillihan, Robert A. Hackett, Woodrow L. Hackett, Lawrence L. Hansen Jr., Joseph G. Hempfling, Albert M. Henderson, Frank I. Henderson, Donald H. Highfill, Lowell C. Highfill, Wayne O. Hughes, Eugene C. Jirous, Lambert S. Johnson, Millard S. Johnson, Ross A. Johnson Jr., Frank M. Jones Jr., Robert H. Kindt, Johnny McCullough, Tom Miller, Don L. Pont, William T. Rutledge and Warren V Ryan.
Members of the Band Section of Service company, 158th Field Artillery, in 1938, were:
Warrant Officer -- Floyd R. Laird.
Non-commissioned officers - Technical Sergeant Edward L. McCoy; Staff Sergeant Bill F. Sharp; Sergeants Ashley Alexander, William V Eyler, David P. Johnson and Harold Strub. Corporals George L. Butler and Wilbert G. Landrith.
Privates first class John W. Elliott, Harold Fisher, James A. Burrows, Robert R. Hartman Jr., Fred Peden Jr. and Everett S. Sharp. Privates Ross W. Anderson, Robert D. Baldwin, Hilleary M. Barrett, Claude W. Bentley, David B. Burrows, Louis L. DeNoya, Walker Gudgel, Clifford L. Haughawout, Ora Richard Hall Jr., Byron K Long, Douglas Louis, E E. McAnally, Don J. Vinson and Wendell E. Wood.
My sincere thanks to Shirley Roads Emde for furnishing this interesting information. To add to this, I'll reprint a "factual history" of Battery C from that same 1938 annual in a subsequent column.