In Honor of Fairview WWII Veterans
There is no greater love than this: that a man would
At the beginning of December, 1941, Americans had suffered through the Great Depression for a decade. Although the growing manufacture of armaments produced some economic stabilization, unemployment was still at 10%, the average weekly wage was about $29, and the federal government seemed to be out of new ideas to improve the economy. The majority of Americans believed the Great Depression would last another 10 years.
By this time, the rest of the world was at war and daily newspapers were full of war news, but Americans wanted no part of it. Even though US Navy and merchant vessels had been attacked and sunk by German U-boats, there was still a strong and widespread sentiment that the United States should not become involved in the fighting that raged throughout Europe and the Pacific. Americans had seen their sacrifice and contribution to victory in WWI last less than a generation, and they were in no mood to become involved again. This was the world known to the students and recent graduates of Fairview High School in 1941.
On Sunday, December 7th, everything changed. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor united Americans as they had never been before. In all previous decisions to enter armed conflict, the people of the United States had been deeply divided. Not this time. It now became clear to most Americans that aggressive, totalitarian governments posed a mortal danger to our nation as well as the peace and stability of the world. It would take a total commitment by the United States to rid the world of this danger.
Among the Americans willing to make this commitment were 1600 graduates of Fairview High School. Before the war ended on August 15, 1945, fifty-one Fairview graduates would make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
We will never know the full extent of the sacrifices made by our classmates who served in WWII. We don’t know how many were wounded or injured and had to deal with the pain of their wounds for the rest of their lives. We have no list of limbs lost or disfigured bodies. We don’t know how many lives were shortened by disease or service-related injuries. Nor will we ever grasp the mental anguish of some who could never forget the horrible scenes of death and suffering they witnessed, feelings of guilt that they survived while their comrades did not, or sorrow for the lives they took. And we will never have any idea how our returning classmates struggled to forget combat and re-enter the peaceful home life they so often dreamed about.
How can we measure the pain of separation from families and loved ones? Is it possible to put a value to years lost from a career, or leaving family dependent upon your financial support, or absence from a new spouse or young children? How much does it hurt to know loved ones are worried about you every day? To think about these things makes the word “sacrifice” somehow inadequate.
Space does not permit listing all of our classmates about whose service in WWII we have a record, but below are representative examples of the sacrifices made by all:
• Sgt. Willard Marquardt, USMC, graduate of Fairview and Denison University, left his wife and teaching job to enlist in the Marine Corps. He won a Bronze Star for gallantry while leading his squad to neutralize enemy occupied caves during the battle for Peleliu in 1944. He was interviewed while recovering at home from a leg shattered by an enemy grenade; he expressed his pride in his six-month old daughter, and his hope to be a football coach when the war was over. He did survive and was Athletic Director for Dayton Public Schools in the 1960’s.
Each one of our classmates who served in WWII, no matter in what capacity, deserves a description of their contribution. None of the contributions were glamorous. They were more likely to be exhausting, lonely, boring and occasionally terrifying. Each and every one of them agreed to offer their lives to their country. They had no way of knowing what sort of danger and risk they would face before their contribution was completed. We regret we cannot tell every story here, for it is our responsibility to remember. We owe them a great debt.
The father of one of our classmates wrote the poem below while serving in Italy and sent it home to his wife who he hoped to see again one day. Its simple lines express very eloquently the thoughts and feelings that must have been in the minds of our classmates as they did the hard work to create a future most of us have enjoyed ever since.
(Please view the news articles about Fairview’s WWII Veterans that follow the poem.)
A LONELY SOLDIER
While sitting under an Olive tree,
To write to my dear wife
In a far off land.
The moon is shining brightly,
The hour is half past ten,
I am guarding a bridge
With a few of my men.
The weather is warm
And the land is flat,
The Mosquitoes are big
But our “Skat” helps that.
With planes flying overhead
And vehicles all around.
It makes me wish that I were
Back in our old home town.
I love my wife so dearly
I know she loves me too,
Our home shall be a wonderful one
When all this war is thru.
Grave days lie ahead,
The path will not be smooth,
But we are quite safe,
Until our next move.
So until this war is over
We must put our trust in God.
And hope it won’t be too long.
Until I can step on U.S. Sod.
Our travels have been far
The experiences very strange,
But I’ll still take pre-war life,
Without too much change.
My poetry is poor,
But the thoughts are true.
So until I see you once again,
May God Bless You.
Written by 1st Lt. Paul Gorrell to his wife, Faith, on April 6, 1944 somewhere in Italy.
Additional information plus more news clippings from Patricia Ring Diers
Those who contributed or facilitated information for this page:
The Diers Family
Mr. David Gates
The Gorrell Family
An anonymous 1966 FHS Alumnus who served in the U.S. Military