Freedom is paid with a high price. That price is
the death of a comrade. Most of the time it is on the battlefield, sometimes it
is in preparation for war; an accident during training. Below are the stories of
2 Trailblazers: one killed in an accident, the other on the field of battle.
SSgt Robert Oldham
by Dale Bowlin
Ceremony Honors 70th Division
Training Victim from 1943
For 61 years the remains of 23 year old SSgt
Robert Jesse Oldham lay in an unmarked grave in the Crystal Lake Cemetery in
Corvallis, Oregon. Thanks to Judy Juntuman and others interested in preserving
the history of Benton County, his burial site now has a standard military
marker. Judy organized a Veterans’ Day Ceremony involving Benton County and
Corvallis officials along with 70th representatives to properly
dedicate the headstone. Sgt Oldham’s grandniece, Treva Lowery of Medford,
Oregon, was present and received the American Flag presented by the Commander of
the Corvallis American Legion Post 11 that also provided the Honor Guard.
Robert Jesse Oldham, born in Blanket, Texas,
joined the Calvary in 1938 and was assigned to HQ/2ndBn/274th
Regiment, 70th Infantry Division cadre at Camp Adair in 1943. On a
rainy October 22, 1943, while on the way to pick up a guard detail in the
foothills of the Cascade Range, the truck Oldham was driving slid off the muddy
road and over an embankment. Robert was killed while the lieutenant riding with
him survived with a broken leg. The family lacked money for a gravestone and was
not aware that the VA would provide such. Therefore his grave was without a
marker for many years.
Those attending the Veterans’ Day ceremony
included Past President of the 70th Infantry Division Association,
Dale Bowlin, his wife, Phyllis, Vernon Staley, Med/274, William Scott, CSM/70th
RSC, retired, and CSM Sans Gilmore, 70th RRC. Both Gilmore and Bowlin
spoke during the ceremony. Staley remembered that the men from Headquarters
Company ate in the same mess hall as his 274th Medical group. Preach
Horton, C/274 of Comanche, Texas and just twelve miles from Oldham’s birthplace
in Blanket, reports that the Oldham family is well know in that region. If any
Blazer has information about the October ’43 accident the family would
appreciate hearing from them.
As the sun was setting on a cool, crisp
November 11th in Corvallis, Treva expressed her family’s thanks to
those who contributed to the honor her uncle had just received – an honor long
Warren Fukalek, F/276,
KIA Mar 5, 1945
Larry Fukalek, son of Warren,
sent me telegrams and letters concerning the death of his father. The Western
Union Telegram, notifying the family, is available for viewing on the right.
two letters available for viewing are from Warren's good friend and fellow
soldier, Sammy Ferrante. In these letters, he attempts to explain to Warren's
widow the events leading to Warren's death. The loss of a dear friend is clearly
evident in these letters.
On the left: Sammy Ferrante,
Warren's friend and author of the 2 letters.