November 20, 2015

Here She Comes!

In Memory of Glo

Gloria Jean Johnson Krause

I am standing upon the seashore 

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze 
and starts for the blue ocean. 

She is an object of beauty and strength. 

I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud 
just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: 

"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight.  That is all. 

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side
 and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. 

And just at the moment when someone at my side says: 

"There, she is gone!" 

There are other eyes watching her coming, 
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: 

"Here she comes!"

~Henry Van Dyke

Godspeed, my old friend.  I'll see you later.

Photograph of Gloria and Pot was taken by Sheila Sharp Mason.

October 26, 2015

Military Monday - O. G. Wynn, Jr.

Ota Gilbert "O. G." Wynn, Jr. was born on June 12, 1918 in Prescott, Nevada County, Arkansas.  He was the second of four children born to the marriage of Ota Gilbert "O. G." Wynn, Sr. and Kate Ward.  The Wynn family moved to Louisiana in the early 1920s and eventually made Sicily Island their home.  

O. G. Wynn, Jr. married Lillian Jeanette Young of Jonesville in December of 1942.  A son, James Howard, was born to this marriage.

Mr. O. G. and Mrs. Lillian were two of the most respected people in Sicily Island.  Both were faithful members of the First United Methodist Church.  Many people remember Mrs. Lillian as the Home Economics teacher at Sicily Island High School where she taught her students proper etiquette, meal preparations and the basics of sewing.

Mr. O. G. was a draftsman for the civil engineering firm of Jordan, Kaiser and Sessions in Natchez, Mississippi and earlier for Peck Lumber Company in Sicily Island.

Words such as courteous, well spoken, respectful, unassuming and polite repeatedly came to mind as I contemplated how best to describe Mr. O. G. as I and others remembered him.  

As I began to research and learn more about his life it soon became apparent that what I and many others knew about this man was only half of the story.  

World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 show Private O. G. Wynn enlisting in the United States Army on March 16, 1942.

He served in the following Army Airborne Divisions during the Second World War:

17th Airborne Division - Golden Talon / Thunder from Heaven
82nd Airborne Division - All American
101st Airborne Division - Screaming Eagle

101st Airborne

17th Airborne
82nd Airborne

He earned service stars for the following campaigns during World War II:
  • Rhineland Campaign:  Operation Market Garden - 9/15/1944 - 5/21/1945
  • Ardennes Campaign:  The Battle of the Bulge - 12/16/1944 - 1/25/1945
  • Central Europe Campaign - 3/22/1945 - 5/11/1945
  • Spearhead for Airborne Rhine Crossing:  Operation Varsity - 3/24/1945 

As part of the Spearhead for Airborne Rhine Crossing, Master Sergeant Wynn crossed the Rhine River in a glider as part of Operation Varsity.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery under direct enemy fire.

Glider Troops after landing near Wesel, Germany

The following excerpt is from the January 17, 2007 edition of the Catahoula News Booster and was written by Howard Wynn about his father's memories of Operation Varsity: 
A five hundred mile column of C-47 airplanes left France on March 24, 1945, carrying the American 17th Airborne Division and the British 6th Airborne Division.  This entourage of 3,100 aircraft escorted by 1,000 fighter planes began the invasion of the German heartland across the Rhine River.
Wynn's glider, designated number 3 in its group, was a motorless craft every bit as large as the airplane that towed it.  Glider number 3 landed just after noon in a field a few miles north of Wesel, Germany, a town about the size of Monroe.  
Wesel had been bombed out and the German soldiers had left the town to position themselves in the country side.  Some of them were hiding in a farmhouse by a railroad track near the edge of the field. 
Master Sergeant Wynn saw them firing at him and his fellow soldiers and directed small arms fire at the doors and windows of the house.  That fire cowered the Germans while the Americans ran down a narrow trail and found cover behind the railroad embankment.   
The German army retreated and the American command assigned Master Sergeant Wynn the occupation of Gartrop Castle, near the town of Huenxe, which was about the size of Natchez and only a few miles from Wesel.

Operation Varsity Footage of Airborne Assault across the Rhine near Wesel, Germany:
(Glider Troops at the 3:23 mark)

O. G. Wynn was discharged from the Army as a Sergeant Major of the 101st Airborne Division.  In 1992, he published "A Soldier of the Post" in which he recorded his experiences during World War II.

Ota Gilbert "O. G." Wynn, Jr. died on June 30, 2012.  He is buried alongside his wife in the Jena Cemetery in Jena, LaSalle Parish, Louisiana.

Courteous, well spoken, respectful, unassuming and polite.  Yes, he was all of these things.   He was also courageous, valiant, loyal and brave.  

He was a soldier.

National WWII Museum
USAF [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Special thanks to Howard Wynn for allowing me to share his father's photograph and his father's memories of Operation Varsity.

A separate post is planned to continue the story of Master Sergeant Wynn's time at Gartrop Castle and the search which began in 2006 to find the castle and uncover the mystery of an old photograph.

October 21, 2015

Wedding Wednesday - Henslee and Fairbanks

Joyce Marie Henslee Fairbanks

The above photograph appeared in the March 4 edition of the Monroe Morning World along with an announcement of the January 1, 1951 marriage of Joyce Marie Henslee and John Henry Fairbanks.

Joyce Marie Henslee was born to the marriage of Thomas Lester Henslee and Eva Marie Cruse.  John Henry Fairbanks was the son of Dr. Russell Usher Fairbanks and Sallie Knight.

John and Joyce Fairbanks made their home in Concordia Parish where they raised two sons and one daughter.  

John Henry Fairbanks passed away on August 19, 1985.  He is buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery in Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

October 17, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Annie Thurman

Monroe News Star - 9/4/1953

Annie Guyton

Born on April 2, 1897

Daughter of
Isaac and Martha Guyton

Wife of
Rastus Lee Thurman

Mother to
Ray Leon, Marion Dinah, Ventris Rechiel "Billy", Edsel Girard "Dinky", Freida,
Floy Newton "Tony", Mason "Sam", Lloyd Dennis "Boots", 
Cecil Mahlon "Edge" and Fay "T-Model"

Died on September 1, 1953
Buried in the Welcome Home Cemetery
Grayson, Caldwell Parish, Louisiana

Tombstone photograph was taken by FindAGrave member, Karen Klemm Pinckard.

Sports Center Saturday - Memories of Homecomings Past

Sicily Island High School Homecoming Court - 1975

Homecoming ceremonies were held yesterday at Sicily Island High School.  Memories of past homecomings prompted the posting of this particular one from forty years ago.

This photograph of the 1975 Homecoming Court appeared in the Catahoula News Booster.  Seated at the top is Queen Denise Simmons with Todd Guice (football bearer) and Nikki Roberts (crown bearer) on each side.  On the second row are (LtoR) Florida Jackson, Jessie Johnson, Carol Bowman and Dawn Seal.  On the bottom row are (LtoR) Deborah Edmonds, Rebecca Douglas, Rutha Harber, Rhonda Williamson and Helen Henry.

The selection of Homecoming Courts at Sicily Island High School was unique to the school itself.  I was never aware of any other school whose process resembled ours.  Other schools held elections where the queen and her court were selected by popular vote from the student body.  At Sicily Island, the captain of the football team was always a senior.  He had the honor of selecting the queen from the student body while the remaining senior players chose the queen's court.

In 1975, the captain of the football team was Steve Robinson.  Below is a photograph of him with his queen, Denise Simmons.

Queen Denise Simmons and Captain Steve Robinson

For those who may be interested in taking a walk down memory lane to earlier years, old home movies from Homecoming parades as far back as the 1950s can be found at Roots from the Bayou's YouTube page.