World War II Biographies

Veterans of Marshall County,
written by the students of Mr. Gary Rider,
John Marshall High School, Glen Dale, WV.


By Deanna Pettit, Matt Wood, Ron Wilson, Chris White,
Jay Strope, Angie Morgan and Matt Montes

Mr. Edward Bell, of Moundsville, is a survivor of the Bataan death march, a prison camp survivor and has an interesting story about World War II.

On April 20, 1942, the Americans gave up Marvelles. The Japanese then forced the survivors on a long and terrifying 81 mile march. Mr. Bell was one of those marchers. Escape was on the minds of many but for Mr. Bell it became a reality. While marching for approximately 5 miles, Mr. Bell then noticed a caribou hole along the road. He decided that this was his chance, he would either make it or die. Seeing the chance, he dove head first into the hole. He waited until the soldiers went by, then started on a journey back to Corregidor. He found a broken boat and a 5 gallon can and using these he paddled back to Corregidor.

Upon returning, the United States Marines arrested him. He was taken to Melinda Tunnel Prison Hospital where fortunately a friend of his saw him and informed a higher authority of the incident. Mr. Bell was put back on duty, until May 6, 1942. He was then captured for the second time. Both legs had been hit and broken; he had shrapnel in his head, and he was being left there to die. Finally, he was put on a stretcher. While lying there, the Japanese soldiers saw a ring on his finger and proceeded to jerk it off of his hand. The ring had been given to him by his mother before he left to go overseas.

Mr. Bell was kept for 5 days in Melinda Tunnel Hospital. Then he was taken to Billibid prison. 1100 Americans were there in the beginning, there are no more than 300 remaining today. Ed Bell spent 34 months in this prison, on crutches, and dwindling down to 87 pounds. All worked who were able to walk, but it was hard for Ed because he was on crutches, so he was given a stick with a pointed end, so he could pick up papers. All prisoners cleaned rice, and the good rice was given to the Japanese. He received no medical treatment while in the hands of the Japanese, but said that he was not treated extremely bad by the soldiers on duty.

The prisoners were not working between 7:30 and 5:00, and during this time they sat around and talked. When the American Authorities finally walked through the doors of Billibid prison the prisoners received cigarettes and chocolate bars. A mobile kitchen was brought into the prison so the prisoners could have good meals.

As a result of Edward Bell's captivity, and a lack of medical treatment, he lost a leg. For his bravery and military achievements he was decorated with 10 medals, 1 being the Purple Heart.


By Cindy Mason

Hugh Buzzard, a Moundsville resident, is a veteran of the 193rd General Hospital. When the draft was going on, Hugh had the number 345. President Roosevelt picked numbers from a fish bowl and the first number was 346. Hugh was so close to being drafted by Roosevelt, (number 25 in the county) that he decided to enlist. He was 24 years old at the time and was in the first group in the county to leave. They marched from the Elks Club to the railroad station. Hugh remembers all the people that stood along the route. There was one face that stood out to him. With tears in her eyes, his wife watched as he left for the service.

He was sent to two places for training before arriving at Camp Barkley, in Abilene, Texas. Barkley was a medical camp at which he spent 2 1/2 years. At Barkley he was sent to a medical administration school. The instructors here taught like school teachers. If the guys did something wrong, they were slapped on the wrist with a ruler. He was then assigned to a school detachment of Officer Candidate School. At this point he was Sergeant Major of Headquarters of that school.

Next he was moved to a University in Oxford, Mississippi. This was a two month administration course. This was the home of writer William Faulkner.

September 6th 1944, they were activated to 193rd General Hospital. Hugh was still a Sergeant Major. At that time, his wife was pregnant and due to deliver. Two days after his visit home was over his son was born. He was not able to see his son until he was 13 months old.

From Boston, the 193rd General Hospital was taken overseas on the "America", a huge luxury ship that was converted into a troop transport ship. Over 40,000 troops were transported at a time on the ship.

The 193rd General Hospital consisted of 35 officers, 1 warrant officer, 82 nurses, 2 dietitians, 5 Red Cross workers, 453 enlisted men and 2 physical therapists. They spent about 6 weeks in England and Scotland before sailing to Le Harve, France.

Two days before Christmas they arrived in Paris. Their original destination was Verdun, France. It was not until New Year's Eve that they arrived at the hospital in Verdun. The hospital campus had 45 buildings and the hospital was marked with a big red cross for a safety zone. They received their patients that evening, and were also bombed that night.

The hospital received many people from the Battle of the Bulge. The Battle of the Bulge was 50 miles away. The hospital never had a shortage of supplies or medicine. A 2000 bed hospital was finally set up.

In the hospital, Hugh as a Sergeant Major, kept all the records and did reports. He never was really involved with the patients. He said the patients were really good to the nurses. The German POW's were appreciative of the American's help in the hospital and most respected the nurses. The nurses were all volunteers and were trained separately from the men.

Hugh described the concept of looting. "This was a city in Germany that was blocked off and the men would go in to this town or city and take whatever they needed or wanted. This was permitted by the government. The men got all kinds of things such as couches, chairs, lights, and anything else they could find."

In the three years, seven months, and eleven days Hugh was in the service, he traveled to many places, saw many things happening and has savored many moments. Whether good or bad, Hugh has many memories of these years.


By Cindy Mason & Matt Montes

Mrs. Betty Lee Mathews Evans, of Cameron WV, is a World War II disabled veteran. Recently at John Marshall High School she was interviewed about her experiences in World War II.

Mrs. Evans was working at Wright-Patterson Air Field. She worked in an office delivering mail marked secret or confidential to offices. At the age of 21, she decided to join the rest of the world in the war. She saw what was going on in the offices and this encouraged her to enlist. She worked near an Electronics building where experiments were conducted on radar and other electronic apparatus.

Mrs. Evans entered boot camp at Hunter College in New York. Boot camp was not very tough for her. She had to wait for a uniform, since she wore a small size and a size 4 shoe. As part of their entertainment, singer Frank Sinatra performed for her division.

After boot camp she was sent to Georgia for school. Then she entered the Naval Air Station in Dallas, Texas. At the naval base she worked in an office, filing, typing, and doing various jobs. Women trained the men to be pilots, but the women never flew the planes into combat. Two pilots from World War II were trained at the Naval Air Station. The two were Robert Taylor and James Stewart. The base never experienced any food or supply shortage.

She could always tell when guys were being sent overseas. She stated, "You could see their hurt, but they knew it was something they had to do. They joined to defend their country and now was their chance."

Mrs. Evans feels that during Vorld War II women were treated equally. Her pay at one time was either $76 or $79 a month. Now that she is a veteran, she feels women are denied equal recognition. She says today that this was the most wonderful experience of her life, but wouldn't want to do it again. But we were at war and you did what you could do to help. She is proud to have served her country.

Mrs. Evans was awarded the Victory Medal from the war. As a result of women not receiving equal recognition she is now a representative for the women's memorials in Washington, D.C. In October of 1943, Evans joined the U.S. #000045 WAVES. On July 30, 1992, the WAVES will celebrate their 50th anniversary. Happy Anniversary to Mrs. Evans and all the other women in the WAVES.


By Bill Dorsey, Chris White, Matt Wood & Randy Vogler

In March of 1944, at the age of 18, Joe Maupin was drafted into the United States Marine Corp to serve his country in World War II. Upon his arrival at Paris Island he was placed in the 4th Division. Originally he was supposed to receive radio training, but his orders changed and he was reassigned to the Replacement Battalion of the 4th Division.

On August 4, 1944, Mr. Maupin left for Maui, Hawaii. Once in Maui, Joe joined the 4th Marine Division 25 Regiment Company L, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Platoon. After a short period of training Mr. Maupin left for Saipan. While in Saipan the Marines picked up landing craft for their invasion of Iwo Jima After leaving Saipan the 4th Division went to Iwo Jima to try and secure a strategic position that later would be a key element in the invasion of Japan.

As the 4th Division approached Iwo Jima, the #000045 stopped the 30 day bombing campaign of the island. Of the 3 waves of troops to land on the beaches of Iwo Jima, Mr. Maupin was in the first wave. When the first and second wave hit the beach they found almost no immediate resistance. The 3rd wave was not as lucky, they were attacked before they even hit the beach.

On the evening of the first day, Joe was hit. He was struck in the right side of the head by an unknown object. The Corpsman, field medic, did a field dress on Mr. Maupin and then sent him back out on the ship for stitches. On the 3rd day of the invasion Joe was sent back into action, because of a need for soldiers. After returning to the island and making it across the beach he was again sent back to the ship. This time, because he was considered a walking target with a white bandage on his head.

While on the ship waiting to leave, Mr. Maupin witnessed the raising of the American Flag over Iwo Jima. Then on the 8th day of the battle the ship left for Guam. After staying in Guam for a week the wounded were sent to Pearl Harbor. When his stay in the Naval Hospital was over he was reassigned to the 25th Regiment. With the 25th Regiment Mr. Maupin again trained, but now for the invasion of Japan. While in Maui waiting to leave Japan, the war ended.

In April of 1946, Joe was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corp with the distinguished Purple Heart for being wounded while serving in the line of duty.


By Carrie Dorsey, Bill Dorsey, Keely Oelschlager

On December 7, 1941, Ralph Mikasen enlisted in the United States Army. He reported for duty on New Years Eve and was shipped to Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Mikasen originally wanted to be a pilot but due to his age was assigned other duty. He did the next best thing, Ralph became an Engineer to the pilot, on a B-17. It was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that he received his Engineering training.

After he left Tulsa, Ralph was sent to Florida for flight training. They would fly across the Gulf of Mexico to get used to flying over water. When Mr. Mikasen finished that training, he went to San Francisco and picked up a new B-17, which they flew to Hawaii. In Hawaii, he attended Gunnery School.

After Hawaii, the crew went to the Christmas Islands for a stopover. Their next stop was the Fiji Islands and their home base. The crew flew to New Hebrides, and from there they would fly to the Solomon Islands and bomb the enemy. On the completion of 25 missions the crew received leave in New Zealand.

As the Engineer for the pilot, Mr. Mikasen was responsible for making sure the plane was in working condition. Ralph took good care of the plane, Calamity Jane, on which he painted the picture of the young woman. (He later had to paint a sweater on the woman, while they were on leave in New Zealand.) For repairs on the plane, the nine man crew took their plane to New Caledonia.

On their return from leave and plane repairs, Mr. Mikasen then returned to the Fiji Islands. The crew flew 25 more missions and were returned to New Zealand for leave again. In all, the crew flew over 60 to 70 missions because they had no relief for the men when they would return from their leaves it New Zealand.

In 1943, Mr. Mikasen was sent to South Dakota to Engineering School to be an instructor. He stayed in South Dakota until October, 1945, when he was discharged. During that time he and several other trainers were interviewed and photographed by one of the major magazines of the time.

Although Mr. Mikasen remembers being lost at night over enemy territory and low on fuel, his scariest experience of the war was teaching the new crews in South Dakota.


By Cindy Mason, Ron Wilson & Deanna Pettit

Mr. Harlan Roberts of Moundsville is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge. It was one of the coldest winters in years, and all these 19 year old boys had to wear were leather Jump boots, Jump pants, and a field jacket. To keep warm the men would put limbs and trees on the ground above the snow and lay very still on them.

Harlan almost lost his feet during the Battle. It was so cold that his feet were frozen. He was taken to the hospital and given 385 shots of penicillin every three hours. He was lucky and his feet were saved.

Supplies were very short and the men were hungry. They would take food packets from the dead Germans. Snow was melted for water. Each man in the squad received one sip of hot instant coffee, from the single cup of hot coffee they were allowed to make. This was all they would have. They came close to having a good meal when they butchered a beef, but the Germans took it away from them and ate it.

He was a member of the 517th Parachute Troopers during the war. He was also a member of the 82nd and llth Airborne. He served 10 years in the Airborne, then transferred to the Air Force for 22 years. He went to school for communications. After retiring from the service he worked at RCA for 15 years.

There weren't many problems with parachutes or planes in his unit. There were only two men Harlan ever saw die while Jumping, He was almost in an airplane crash when a C119 was on fire in Fort Bragg. He and the other paratroopers managed to jump out before the plane crashed and the air crew was killed.

His worst memory of the war was when the Germans would shoot at tree tops. The trees and shrapnel would come down on them. The ground was so frozen the men could not dig fox holes and they had nowhere to hide.

Harlan volunteered to be a paratrooper in the war. He jumped into combat, open fire, only once. His mother thought he was crazy, especially since it was all volunteer duties.

Harlan was honored for his volunteer duties. He received a Bronze Star, Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, and Occupation Medal in Japan. He also received five battle stars. He was awarded them in Rome-Arno, Southern France, Central Europe, Ardennes, and Rhineland. One medal he is proud to own is the Combat Infantry Badge. This is an honor you must earn by being on the front infantry line for 30 to 60 days. He is also very proud to say he was a master Parachute Jumper.

While in the service he traveled a great deal. He spent many years overseas and most of his time in Europe. Harlan spent 9 years in Europe, 3 years in Alaska, and 2 years in Japan. While in Germany the men would find people, adults and children alike, eating from garbage cans. The children would stare at the men with an expression of hunger. Tears running down the kids faces, the men would feel sorry for them and give them their meals. They finally had to put guards on duty because the men were losing too much weight. After this, kids were still found outside the camp upside down in garbage cans hunting for food.

War is not easy or fun, but it comes about all too often. We thank the men and women, like Harlan, who volunteered their services to defend the country which we all love. Harlan states that "War is Hell, no matter what kind of war it is."


By Anna Lehew, Matt Montes and Jay Strope

Mr. Sam Shaw is a resident of Moundsville and is the owner and editor of the town's newspaper, the Moundsville Echo. Mr. Shaw's knowledge and memories of World War II are both extensive and vivid.

Shaw entered the army in 1942, almost a year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was tested in Columbus and offered his choice of jobs. Wanting something "interesting", Shaw became an interceptor and receiver of Japanese- and then later German-messages. Although most of the code-breaking was done in Washington, DC, each receiver was an integral "cog in the machine". "Almost any code was vulnerable if you intercept enough messages," says Shaw. This was his job.

Shaw was first stationed in a barn full of radio receivers on a farm in Virginia. He listened in on stations transmitting from Ethiopia, Russia and India. He was part of an around-the world network of intelligence officers listening for transmissions from the enemy. Following a transfer to a station in East Africa, Shaw listened in on a German station. Each time he would find a frequency with a German conversation, the German signal would change to another radio frequency. He spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what radio frequency the German would choose next. Finally, Shaw broke the code indicating the next frequency. He switched frequencies before the German transmission and would be "sitting there waiting for him".

Particularly the Army was looking for evidence that the Germans and the Japanese were planning strategy together.

One of Mr. Shaw's fondest memories of his wartime experiences occurred in Jerusalem on V-E Day. Shaw visited with the editor of the Palestine Post, and listened to Winston Churchill give a speech celebrating the end of the conflict in Europe. Being an American soldier, Shaw and his buddies were treated as heroes on this great day of celebration.

Shaw's memories of World War II are generally happy ones. He met a remarkable range of fascinating people, saw parts of the world he may never have had a chance to visit and felt he had made a valuable contribution to the American war effort.

Submitted by T. Vernon Anderson, with the permission of Gary Rider.