Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:00 AM
In January of 1944, local merchant Jerome Herman Kasdan traveled to Camp Shelby, south of Hattiesburg, Miss., for a screening test to determine if he was physically fit for military duty.
After the health authorities found him to be in excellent health, Kasdan returned to Philadelphia and announced that he would close his retail establishment, located on the southeast corner of the city's court square, to answer the call to enter the armed forces.
Expecting an early induction, Kasdan advertised a "Closing Out Sale" in the Jan. 14, 1944, edition of The Neshoba Democrat.
All merchandise during the brief sale would be reduced by five to 20 percent.
During his absence, Mrs. Kasdan and daughter Anne Lynn planned to reside with her father in Avon, N.J.
Jerome Kasdan also noted that he has every intention in returning and reopening his business after the Victory is won and again "take his place as one of the city's leading citizens."
All former customers and other were urged in the paid advertisement to visit his store and share in the bargains available.
During the same period of the "Closing Out Sale" of Kasdan's mercantile store, Army Air Corps Captain Otho Delman Dickinson, learned that his older brother, Corporal Marvin Marion Dickinson, was stationed with his field artillery unit near the country of Iran, over 1,000 miles from his air base in Northern Africa.
Since it has been over two years since the brothers from the Dixon Community had seen one another, the flying Dickinson decided to find his brother.
When Otho Dickinson arrived in the area where his brother was supposed to be stationed, he found that his brother's artillery unit was also in Northern Africa.
Upon his return, the Air Corps officer, after a week of "intensive Searching," located Marvin Dickinson.
Much to the surprise of both servicemen, several other Neshoba County natives also were found there or nearby.
Within a short period of time, the Mississippi brothers held a big "powwow" at the advanced base in Northern Africa.
Joining the Dickinsons were brothers James Ersell Myatt and Clyde Henry Myatt of Philadelphia, along with Corporal Thomas Callahan, Staff Sergeant John Hawkins and Johnny Gillis.
Other friends from neighboring counties also attended the reunion and swapped war stories, but these tales were a "poor second" to the stories from and about home.
In Neshoba County, a war story of the happiest kind occurred in the third week of January 1944.
After weeks of worry about the fate of her son, who earlier had been reported as missing in action by the War Department, Mrs. L. P. Withers received a letter from Sergeant Hoyt Withers written from a German prison of war camp.
Not withstanding the rumors of his capture, Mrs. Withers, after reading the message, exclaimed that she was "the happiest mother in Philadelphia."
The Air Corps aerial gunner's epistle stated: "Dearest Mother: I know this is a happy surprise for you, because I know you are terribly worried about me. Mother, I am doing fine and am getting good treatment.
"I was very lucky. I did not get wounded except a little on my left leg but it will be okay in a couple of more days, so please do not worry about me.
"Mother, please tell all my friends that I am OK, and give little Ann a great big kiss for me. I know she is worried, too.
"Mom, I know that all of our prayers were answered and God has really been great to me, for which I am thankful.
"I don't know how the mail is coming in, but I can write two letters and four post cards a month, so I write to you as often as possible."
Wither's last sentence simply said, "Give my love to all and keep praying."
Civil War Veterans
Cook, Columbus Martin* -- Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D; age twenty; farmer; Muster Roll, May-June 1862: "Present;" killed at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; buried by his brother, William Buford Cook, on the western slope of Cemetery Ridge, July 3 or July 4, 1863; death claimed filed by his father, Michael Cook, May 9, 1864; described as five feet six inches tall, dark complexion, dark eyes and black hair.
World War II Veterans
Cook, Annie Ruth* -- Second Lieutenant to Captain; enlisted on Aug. 1, 1941, at LaGarde General Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States Army; age twenty-three; instructor of nursing; nick-named "Cookie;" served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at the LaGarde General Hospital with the Women's Army Corps, March 1943; served also in the European Theatre of Operations as an operating room nurse with the 64th General Hospital, September 1943 to October 1945; stationed in Ferryville, Tunisia, September 1943, and at Naples, Italy, May 1944; participated in the campaigns in Northern Africa, Rome-Arno and Northern Apennines, Italy; awarded the American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal; discharged at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, December 27, 1946; described as five feet six and half inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes.
*Civil War Veteran Columbus Martin Cook was the great-uncle of World War II Veteran Annie Ruth Cook.
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.
Monday thru Friday