The Dallas County heroes named on the Freedom Rock storyboard, which was installed just last week at Minburn, Iowa, are remembered here by the war each served in.
Col. James Redfield
From Redfield and Wiscotta. Col. Redfield, Commander of the Iowa 39th Infantry Regiment in the Civil War was shot in the foot. He refused to leave his position. Next he was shot in the leg and it was shattered–he still refused to leave his post. He was killed at the Battle of Allatoona Pass on October 5, 1864.
While the town of Redfield is named after him, he is buried in the Wiscotta Cemetery.
World War I
Lester E. Osborne
From Minburn. The first Dallas County man killed in action in WWI, July 16, 1918, age 34. France. He was beyond draft age, but wanted to serve his country when it went to war. He served with the 7th Infantry, 3rd Division, Company A. One of the first American soldiers sent to the front, he lost his life at Chateau Thierry. An undated newspaper article, “Hundreds Pay Tribute to First Dallas County Hero to Fall,” says that Lester Osborne “gave his life that the world might be saved from despotism, and no greater sacrifice could be made by any man.”
Three thousand people gathered at the Minburn Park to pay their respects. His military services were held by the American Legion Osborne Post #99, which was named for him, with delegations of Legionnaires from nearly every other town in the county. Lester Osborne is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Minburn.
World War II
From Perry. Mahlon Conaway was a rifleman and driver in the 36th Division, 142nd Infantry, who fought across France in World War II. He was awarded a Bronze Star, for heroic or meritorious achievement or service, with 3 Battle Stars. In 2015 he was also awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest military distinction. Interview with Iowa Veterans’ Perspective Sarah Maniscalo Robinson.
From Redfield, graduating in 1937. Joe Dew fought with the 741st Tank Battalion in World War II, risking his life to break through the Siegfried Line crossing into Germany. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic effort. During the Battle of the Bulge, he took out five German Panzers, receiving the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Joe returned to Iowa to finish college, then worked as an engineer for General Motors in Michigan. See Joe Dew: A Glorious Life by Elaine Briggs, his daughter.
Harold Archie Dunbar
De Soto High School, Class of 1942. Mr. Dunbar served as a rifleman in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II with the 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division. He was awarded a Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, a Ribbon with 2 stars, and was promoted to Sergeant on the battleground in France for meritorious achievement in ground combat against the armed enemy.
Harold Dunbar ran Dunbar Stockyards for 39 years, managed the De Soto Little League for 15 years, and showed quarter horses.
Lt. Jesse Hague
From Adel. A Bell P-400 pilot in the 5th Air Force, Lt. Jesse Hague served with the 41st and 17th Fighter Squadrons in the Pacific during World War II. In August 1942, he was shot down in New Guinea attempting to draw fire away from others when trying to escape. He was never seen again. Lt. Hague was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action against an enemy.
He is remembered on the ADM Alumni Wall of Honor.
From Adel. Roger Jorgensen served in World War II with the 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls) during WWII, in North Africa and Italy for 3 ½ years. He was awarded a Bronze Star for valor on the battlefield.
After the war, Jorgensen completed college, earning a Masters Degree in education. He taught, served as coach, sports official, and as administrator in the Adel school district for 28 years.
From Dexter, a 1936 graduated. Francis Love was P-38 pilot in the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force, in New Guinea in World War II. Lt. Love flew more than 100 missions and had was reported Missing in Action three times.The first time he spent 24 hours in shark-infested water and lived with natives a week before being rescued. After the second crash on a New Guinea beach, he was rescued by a PT-boat.
But on Bloody Tuesday, November 2, 1943, his was one one of eight bombers and nine fighter planes lost on a mission to Rabaul, New Britain. An official death date was declared after the war. Lt. Love was awarded an Air Medal, distinguished by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight, and a Purple Heart. His crash site was finally discovered in 2000. Two years later his remains were officially identified and returned to Dexter for burial.
From Waukee: Vince Meyer enlisted in the Air Force in 1942. As lead bombardier in the 385th wing of the Army Air Corps, he flew thirty B-17 missions over Germany in World War II. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters.
Following the war, Meyer taught social studies and coached at Waukee. He served as High School Principal and Athletic Director for 31 years. The 1917 school building was renamed the Vince Meyer Learning Center.
George Soumas – Iowa’s Most Decorated World War II Hero
From Perry. George Soumas came to America from Greece as a four-year-old with his parents. He became Iowa’s most decorated World War II hero. Capt. Soumas was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 14th Tank Battalion, 9th Armored Division in action against enemy forces on March 7, 1945, in successfully taking the Remagen Bridge across the Rhine River to allow Allied Forces to cross the River and enter Germany. George Soumas was also awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Soumas served as Attorney for Perry, as County Attorney, and three terms as Mayor of Perry. Highway 141 between Perry and Granger has been named for him, as well as a room in Perry’s Pattee Hotel.
From Adams Township. Dennis Dorman, a veteran of two tours of duty in the Korean War, fought with the 7th Infantry Division in the Battle of Inchon, which led to the liberation of Seoul. He is also a survivor of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where his Army unit took heavy losses–only 348 survived out of 3,790 soldiers.
Mr. Dorman was awarded Six Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He is the recipient of the service dog named Simon from the Puppy Jake Foundation.
From DeSoto, Class of 1949. Korean War. PFC Wayne Martens served with the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Company I. He was killed in action on Old Baldy in North Korea in 1952, and awarded an Army Commendation Medal–given for distinguished by heroism, outstanding achievement or meritorious service in the Korean War, and a Purple Heart.
PFC Martens is remembered on the ADM Alumni Wall of Honor.
From Adel, 1947 Graduate. Served in Korea: Company G, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Never recovered. Purple Heart, also other awards from the Korean government.
Remembered on the Walls of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii, and on the ADM Alumni Wall of Honor.
From Minburn. Stephen York served in Vietnam as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, Company B. His company set a brigade record for being in the field longer without returning to base–38 days. They’d been pinned down nearly two hours when York covered five other GIs until they could escape over a bank.
PFC York was awarded a Silver Star for gallantry in action against an enemy. Out of 137 GIs who were sent to Vietnam from Ft. Campbell, KY, only 39 originals survived.
Joshua M. Davis
From Perry, 2009 Graduate. Josh Davis joined the US Marine Corps right out of high school. He was killed defending his fellow troops in an attack in Afghanistan. He was awarded a Purple Heart and other medals. The Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas showed up at his funeral, but the family was shielded by the Patriot Guard Riders.
Corporal Joshua Davis is buried at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery. He was honored on the eighth anniversary of his loss.
Harold E. Reed
From Adel, Class of 1970. Graduate of the Air Force Academy, 1974. National Guard career, Cheyenne, Wyoming, retiring as Chief of Staff, Wyoming Air National Guard, a Brigadier General. Afghanistan. As a Master Navigator, he served in the 2003 invasion as Operations Group Commander, 1st Coalition Wing, Ganci Air Base, Kyrgyzstan.
Harold Reed was warded an Air Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight, a Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, an Air Force Commendation Medal, and others.
WOW and what country did George Soumas come from at 4? Greece? Italy?
Such handsome men and so many stories.
Yes, Greece! Guess I should add that. Thanks, Deb.
Great post. So many people are so wrapped up in themselves, and just breeze through life, with no thought to that old man or that old woman sitting near them, living down the street, or crossing the street in front of them, and what that person’s life story might have been. So many people have amazing stories if we could only take the time to listen.
I don’t ride anymore, but I was a Patriot Guard Rider for several years. Rode in many welcome home rides and attended several veteran’s funerals in the East Tennessee area over past years.
I must admit I have felt the bug again, but it is getting too dangerous with all these people texting while driving.
My husband has already become one of those white-haired Vietnam vets. The Des Moines Register will run my Veterans Day essay either that day or the Sunday before. It encourages people to visit one of Iowa’s Freedom Rocks, which is a good place for people to run into veterans, a lot of them on motorcycles. (My husband didn’t get his sold–yet. Makes me nervous. Bless you for your efforts as a Patriot Guard Rider.)
So many beautiful souls who served with honor!
I’m still learning about more. So thankful they’re being remembered.
You’re doing a great service to these men, their families, and our country by making sure that their heroism and sacrifice are never forgotten by the people who benefited from it.
Bless you, Liz. My book about the family, Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II, should be available on Amazon in a month or so. After starting it maybe 25 years ago! The manuscript is getting the 55 photos and captions tucked into it this week. Starting to feel real. Just cannot let this family be forgotten. Delbert was the only one of the brothers to have children. Most live on the west coast.
Amazing tribute <3
Yes, amazing on so many levels. I’m so thankful to feel well enough to revel in these well-timed rememberings.