Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What I have learned about my father

My father, Wesley Earl Loghry, was born in New Market, Page County, Iowa on either August 12 or 13, 1924. He always claimed it was the 12th of August but other records list the 13th. He was the 12th of 13 children born to Orville Ernest Loghry and Susan Myrtle Jenkins, growing up in the New Market and Hepburn areas in southwest Iowa. The 1930 U.S. Federal Census finds Wesley and his parents and siblings residing in Valley Township in Page County and by 1940 the family, consisting of Orville, Myrtle, 22-year-old Estelle and 15-year-old Wesley, was living in Hepburn. Wesley was listed as attending school, in the 8th grade. Times were tough it appears for this family. Orville, age 55, was working as a welldigger, earning $130 in 1939. Estelle was working at a brick manufacturing company as a general laborer, having earned $416 in 1939. A short two and one-half year later, on August 26, 1942, enlistment papers find Wesley living in Des Moines, residing with his brother Estelle's in-laws, the Youngs, on SE 5th Street.

I knew he served in the Navy, but I never asked and he never volunteered on where he had been and what he had done.  He began his military career at NTS Great Lakes in Illinois. This was two years after World War II began and it wasn't long, though before he is appearing on U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls for the period of 1938-1949.  He is found on the LST 383 from at least March 31, 1944 until November 20, 1944.  The LST-383 was a tank landing ship, built in Virginia and launched September 28, 1942, commissioned on October 27, 1942 with LT. Charles H.  Johnson Jr., USN, in command.  It was assigned to the Europe-Africa-Middle East Theater and participated in the following campaigns:

  • Sicilian occupation, July 9-15, 1943
  • Salarno landings, September 9-21, 1943
  • Anzio-Nettuno advanced landings, January 22 through March 1, 1944
  • Invasion of Normandy, June 6-25, 1944

I have proof that he was on the ship during the Anzio-Nettuno advanced landings and the Invasion of Normandy.  I never once heard  him mention anything about this at all.  Here is a picture I found at NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive -- USS LST-383 of the ship high and dry on the beach at Normandy, June 1944:

Here is another photo of the USS LST-383 unloading British troops at Salerno in September 1943. "Note: The troops shown emerging from the bow ramp of LST-383 are British Eighth Army men from either the 50th (Tyne Tees) or 51st (Highland) divisions. These exhausted and poorly equipped, troops were needlessly added to fresh American troops of the US Fifth Army in the assault on Salern. But, after having been deceived about their destination and purpose, nearly 200 men refulsed to  join the assault, and were arrested for disobeying orders. Within six weeks, after a trial for which their defense had no time to prepare evidence, all but one had been found guilty of mutiny, their sentences ranging from five years' penal servitude to death."

This site also shows the awards, citations and campaign ribbons my dad would have earned for this service.  I wonder what ever happened to these ribbons.  

Wesley also appears, in June 1945, in the muster roll for the LSM(R) 504.  This was a also a landing ship of medium size, called a Rocket. It was launched on April 21, 1945 and was decomissioned in May 1946. Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons for this ship were:

He was discharged from the Navy on October 6, 1945, returning to Des Moines. Shortly after his return, while riding a bus, he noticed a young woman running to catch the bus. He made the bus driver stop so the young woman could board. That young woman was my mother, Gladys Irene Thornton Hill.  Gladys was a young widow with a two-year-old daughter. By the middle of November of 1945, a few short weeks later, the two were married.  Within a year he obtained a job at Firestone Tire & Rubber, where his brother-in-law worked. He remained there until his retirement in about 1982. While at Firestone, he was known as "Bookie" because he was always collecting money for football and baseball pools.  

We lost him way too young in 1992. 

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