Wednesday, April 30, 2014 1:00 AM
The Navy Department announced and awarded a Silver Star during the middle of May 1942, seventy-two years ago, to Seaman Everett Byrant Willis, son of Mr. and Mrs. Dee Willis of Rural Route #6 in Neshoba County. The action for which Willis earned the medal occurred in early February 1942, but the Navy Department delayed the announcement because the Japanese military was unaware that American submarines operated in the Bataan and Corregidor area in the Philippine Islands.
Willis was a member of the submarine, U.S.S. Holland, assigned to deliver anti-aircraft ammunition to the defenders of Corregidor. On one of their two-night runs through Manila Bay, the Holland received an additional duty - remove the gold, silver and other assets from the vaults of the Philippine Commonwealth and banking institutions in Manila.
Under the cover of darkness, the United States submarine slipped under the Japanese defenses, removed the valuables, and delivered the Philippine property to a waiting cruiser.
Seaman Willis remembered: "We arrived at Corregidor at night and by dawn we had finished unloading our cargo of ammunition and had taken aboard a shipment of gold and silver that ran into the millions of dollars.
By that time it was too light for us to put to sea without being seen and bombed so we submerged in the bay. That night we surfaced and were guided safely through the mine field by a PT boat."
The Holland carried out the mission with such caution and secrecy that the Japanese forces were totally unaware of the event. Aboard the cruiser, the crew of that ship burned the paper currency and delivered the other parts of the treasure to the United States for safekeeping.
Shortly after the awarding of the Silver Star to Seaman Willis in June 1942, Neshoba County Sheriff W. D. Brantley, Deputies Clarence Garrison and George Hillman and City Marshall Lamar Evans drove to the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Griner in the Route #3 area of Neshoba County and arrested 29-year-old Private Clarence Hays Rushing, a soldier absent without leave.
Rushing left his unit at Camp Blanding, Florida, on October 1, 1941. Military authorities from Meridian, Mississippi, took charge of the absent soldier and returned him to his unit then stationed at Brownwood, Texas.
Before leaving, Rushing admitted his mistake and said he was glad to return to the Army and hoped that "they would make it [his punishment] as light as possible." Local authorities opined that since the soldier left before the advent of hostilities, the sentence would probably be less severe than normal.
After serving a brief period of time for his misconduct, Rushing returned to his unit, Company H, 155th Regimental Combat Team, 31st Infantry "Dixie" Division, and served admirably in the campaigns in New Guinea and the Philippine Island, 1944 to 1945.
For his western Pacific service, the five-feet-eight inch tall Private First Class Clarence Rushing earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Philippine Island Liberation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Bronze Arrowhead.
Far from the waters and soil of the Philippine Islands of Seaman Willis and Private First Class Rushing, Private First Class George Bane wrote his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bane of Rural Route #4 in Neshoba County, two letters, one from Karachi, India, and the second from Australia.
These letters described his problems and frustrations adjusting to worlds that he knew only from photographs. Bane wrote: "I arrived in India safely and that is about all. The natives around here are interesting to watch with their strange customs. I can't understand a word they say and they can't understand English.
The only way to talk to them is with your hands and various other ways. I will try to explain more in detail in my next letter about the different points of interest in their country.
I can't think of anything much to say except about my travels and you know I can't do that at this time, so my letters will be short.
One thing that has been giving me my biggest headache is trying to figure out how much a dollar is worth in pounds and shillings.
The people here on Australia sure have treated us nice.
The country and towns, or at least the ones I have visited, are very much like it is back home. I would like to tell you all about it but I will do that when I get back home."
Civil War Veterans
Riley, John H. - Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age twenty; farmer; admitted to Chimborazo Hospital #3 at Richmond, Virginia, May 3, 1862; transferred to the Camp Winder General Hospital at Richmond, May 8, 1962; Muster Roll, May-June 1862: "Absent, sick at Richmond;" hospitalized with chronic diarrhea at the General Hospital at Danville, Virginia, July 15, 1862; died at the Danville hospital, July 15, 1862; cash in possession at date of death - 30 cents; also, left one pair pants, one coat, one jacket, one pair of shoes, one pair socks, one hat, one canteen, and one knapsack; father, James Riley, filed for death benefits, January 11, 1863.
World War II Veterans
Rushing, Cornette R.- Private; enlisted January 9,1941, at Fort McClellan, Alabama, in the United States Army; age nineteen; farm hand; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations with the Army Air Corps; served also in the European Theatre of Operations as a light mortar crewman with the 910thAir Engineer Squadron, January 1944 to September 1945; participated in the Invasion of Normandy and the campaigns in Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe; awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, American Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with four bronze service stars); discharged at Fort McPherson, Georgia, September 26, 1945, demobilization; described as five feet eight and one-half inches tall, weighing 139 pounds, with brown hair and grey eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Tuesday thru Friday