Monday, December 24, 2012 12:00 AM
Hours after the cowardly attack on Pearl Harbor, the submarine U. S. S. Holland, patrolled the waters off the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Neshoba County Seaman Everett Willis, twenty-four years of age, and described as a "good natured, intelligent, likeable chap with blue eyes and reddish brown hair and a grin that wouldn't wipe off," manned the helm of the ship and recalled that fateful morning: "I had the wheel when the captain came up to the conning tower with the news which had just been received by radio. I went below and told the men at mess, but they wouldn't believe it. I don't think they really believed it until we saw Midway Island being shelled that night after dark. Then we submerged and really got on watch."
At Fort Benning, Ga., Neshoba soldier Glen Boler immediately wrote to his wife, Mildred Walton Boler, and correctly assessed the situation.
During the late afternoon on Dec. 7, 1941, Boler penned: "It seems that Japan is sticking out their neck lots today and at the present, have attacked Hawaii twice and several islands. You know what that means. This will affect every man in the service. Darling, don't worry about me for I can live through things even though the going gets tough. I have too much to live for as long as I have you waiting for me... The outcome of things may not be so bad, but after the second attack I am afraid so and we can be in war before morning. In case of war we will be apart for a long time and communications may not be possible at all times, but you can tell yourself that I will be back when it is all over. The shooting had been going on in Hawaii about two hours before I heard it. It was a surprise to me for I thought Japan was bluffing. There is no sympathy, mercy, love or sport to war, in other words, war is Hell. Boler finished his letter with, "I expect to do my duty, though, no matter what it is or where it takes me."
As he promised, Boler survived World War II, the Korean Conflict and retired from military duty, as a captain in November 1960.
A little less than two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Neshoba Democrat reported in the Dec. 19, 1941, issue that Hershel Beasley died in action becoming the first casualty of the new war from Neshoba County.
According to the article: "The first known casualty of the present war from Neshoba County was announced in a telegram received Thursday morning by J. H. Kilgore, Chairman of the Red Cross, from the War Department, advising of the death of Hershel N. Beasley, son of Jasper C. Beasley, 212 Oak Street, Philadelphia. The telegram stated that young Beasley, a member of the air force was killed in action in the Dec. 7th Bombardment of Oahu Island in the Hawaiians. Further details were lacking at time going to press."
Weeks later, the Democrat published another article about the whereabouts of "young" Beasley.
The issue of Jan. 23, 1942, reported: "Am Alright, Hershel Beasley," was the tersely worded telegram received by Jasper Beasley.
Rumors that the Neshobian was still alive were verified by Mrs. A. N. Beasley, sister-in-law of Hershel, who writes as follows: "Hershel's father received the telegram sent on December 23rd and sent to me on the 28th so I really know it was true that Hershel was alive."
Civil War Veterans
Bates, James A. - Private; First Corporal; enlisted on April 24, 1861, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D; age twenty-six; farmer; received $50.00 re-enlistment bounty at Camp Fisher, near Dumfries, Virginia, February 7, 1862; Muster Roll, March-April 1862: "Absent, sick at Ashland;" wounded at Gaines' Mill, June 27, 1862; wounded furlough extended from August 11, 1862 to November 5, 1862; probably wounded at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; admitted to General Hospital #9 at Richmond, Virginia; transferred to Chimborazo Hospital #5 at Richmond, Virginia, July 18, 1863; probably appointed first corporal, late 1863 or early 1864; severely wounded in the mouth at Talley's Mill, May 10, 1864; received $26.00 for two month's pay as first corporal, May 30, 1864; furloughed for sixty days from Howard's Grove Hospital at Richmond, May 30, 1864; Muster Roll, July-August 1864: "Absent in Mississippi wounded furlough;" Muster Roll, November-December 1864: "Present;" hospitalized with an ulcer on the left leg at Howard's Grove Hospital at Richmond, February 25 to March 10, 1865; paroled at Burkettsville Junction, Virginia, between April 14-17, 1865.
World War II Veterans
Fields, Joseph Edward, Jr. - Aviation Cadet to First Lieutenant; enlisted on November 24, 1942, at Jackson, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age 19; payroll clerk; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at pilot training schools at Nashville, Tennessee, Maxwell Field, Alabama, June 1943, Camden, South Carolina, and Shaw Field, South Carolina, with the Army Air Corps; attended Officer's Candidate School with the 659th School Squadron at Stewart (Wings of West Point) Field, New York, Newburgh, New York, December 1943; discharged at Stewart Field, February 1944, to accept commission as a second lieutenant; re-enlisted on February 8, 1944 at Stewart Field; stationed at Salt Lake City, Utah, February 1944; served also in the European Theatre of Operations at the 2140th Base Unit and as a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot with the 701st Bombardment Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group in Germany, June 1944 to January 1945; served again in the American Theatre at The Courtland Army Air Field, Alabama, April 1945; participated in the Invasion of Normandy and the campaigns in Northern France and the Rhineland; awarded the Distinguished Unit Badge, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with three bronze service stars), Air Medal (with three oak leaf clusters) and the Distinguished Flying Cross; discharged at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, October 31, 1945, demobilization; described as five feet nine and one-half inches tall, weighing 170 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum Steven H. Stubbs, Curator 303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350
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