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"HERBERT W. SCHROER - PRISONER OF THE EMPEROR"

_________________
via Loren G. Flaugh
and Dennis Grant
 

 

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He might have been just another naive country kid who left home in pursuit of friendship and the road to adventure. But in Sutherland, Iowa there is a memorial for Herb Schroer on Main Street Boulevard.  It is a rock with a plaque on it, a flag pole and also a light that shines always. At the O'Brien County Court House in Primghar, Iowa there's a DD-214 with Schroer's details on it - it says that he was born at Dixon, Nebraska.  Older folk remembered Herb coming to Sutherland during the late 1930's, looking for work. The form lists lists Herb as a 'General Farm Laborer' at the time of his enlistment, 1941. 

 This is the story of why there's a memorial to a farm laborer in Main Street Blvd.

My name is Dennis Eugene Grant.  I have lived in Sutherland, Iowa for most of my adult life and though I was just a casual acquaintance of his, it's fallen to me to write an introduction to the man whose name is on that memorial.

Herb had a trucking business as I knew him.  He also sold some feed out of a building on East 2nd Street in Sutherland, Iowa.  In addition he owned a pasture east of town and a small acreage in the East Addition of Sutherland as we called it. 

In November of 1977, I bought the building Herb was in, and started a feed business.   Herb had been scaling down, having already sold the trucks. He was kind of a quiet person.  He would speak and visit but never really had a lot to say.  At some point, Herb quietly, and without folk knowing, set down with Darlene Fletcher, and she typed his personal story.  Talk was that Herb never wanted it released until his passing, and it wasn’t until he died in 1980. Then our local newspaper published it.

Herb is laid to rest in the National Cemetery at Rapid City, South Dakota.  A small squad of Sutherland veterans saw him off.   John Engelke, Paul Jensen, George Homen and Rex Martin, WWII Veterans all, attended the internment .

But those are other stories. Here's the story of Herb Schroer.

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF HERBERT W. SCHROER

 

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

 

I, Herbert W. Schroer, born June 25, 1915, joined the U.S. Army May 10, 1941, at Portland, Oregon.  I was a healthy man when I was sworn in at Vancouver Barracks, Wash.; signed up for foreign service P.I., C.A.C. Serial Number 190021098, weighed 165 lbs, was 5 ft. 8 in. tall.  We were then transported by train to San Francisco, Calif., then to Angel Island, later named Mayors Island, I understand.

Was there about three weeks, then we loaded on the transport ship, President Pierce, on June 6 and left for the P.I.  Sea-sickness was everywhere you looked the first night and the next day.  I was lucky, escaped with dizziness and funny feelings so went to bed 3rd hammock from deck in first hold below main deck.  The next day I felt fine.

 About five days later we tied up in Honolulu for overnight, also mail purposes.  It was a nice trip from then on except for sunburns, etc.

 We arrived in P.I. the night of June 23, 1941.  The next morning we went into Manila Bay, past Corregidor Island, where I was later stationed.  It took all day to unload and load on the harbor boat back to Corregidor.  It was the first day I had missed dinner for years but there were no arrangements made since we were off the ship at 10:30 AM and arrived on Corregidor at 2 PM, June 24, 1941.  No meals on Harbor Boat.

 There were 500 enlisted men on this assignment.  All unassigned to my knowledge.  There on Corregidor we were divided about equal, a third went to 59th C.A.C. [Coast Artillery Corps] , another third went to the 60th C.A.C., Anti-aircraft, and a third went to 31st Infantry in Manila.  The 59th was seaward defense.

 Sgt. Wold was my drill instructor.  Cpl. Satterlee and CPL. Kramer Drill Sergeants.  After being returned to duty, I was assigned to F Battery, 59th C.A.C.  First Lt. Snook was Battery Commander, later on Capt. Snook, a West Pointer and strict.  First Sgt. Was Golightly, a World War I Congressional rated First. Sgt.  Also tough.

 We drilled regularly.  Was on barbet Gun, 12 in. bore & 35 ft rifle barrel.  Also had infantry drill with full field pack.  On Wed. morning we took a hike around the “ROCK” as is was called.  Captain Snook was young, 30-32, 6 ft. tall or taller, and enjoyed making it rough.  We’d hike on the blacktop in the tropics for 4 or 5 hours with 10 minute break every hour until he had about a quarter of the battery left.  The rest had fallen out, which you could do.  Then we would arrive at the Barracks and stand at attention while he gave us a speech on physical fitness.  I was always sure I could stay with him walking, but I could never have made that speech afterwards.