World War II stories written by veterans and their families include accounts of action in the Pacific, Europe and Africa, the Merchant Marine and Home Front support activities. Second generation Isami Tsubota and his family, uprooted from their Maryhill farm during the war and then displaced by the waters behind The Dalles Dam, established businesses in Biggs Junction. Sherman County exceeded per capita support in bond drives. See their stories in Sherman County: For The Record: Carlson, Coats, Conlee, Benson, Boynton, Eslinger, Fraser, French, Harvey, Henrichs, Kaseberg, Macnab, Melzer, McClure, McCoy, McDermid, OMeara, Sayrs, Stark, Thomas, Tsubota, Virtue, von Borstel, Young and Ziegler. Please visit the Sherman County Historical Museums exhibit, Patriotism: Pride and Anguish.
World War II – Camp Rufus
By Sherry Woods Kaseberg
On December 22, 1944, the Sherman County Journal reported that about 1,000 men of the 1687 Combat Engineers Battalion, the 558 Heavy Pontoon Engineers and the 1490 Engineer Maintenance Company were encamped west of Rufus along the Columbia River highway.
Tents were set up and trucks, jeeps, tanks and pontoon bridging sections arrived for testing upriver from Rufus and the nearby Deschutes River.
The community opened the grange hall, school, church and homes. The Red Cross chapter asked residents to provide cookies, newspapers, magazines and books, and urged families to invite soldiers to their homes. The Journal reported on cookie deliveries and paper, blood and war bond drives. Local resident, Curtis A. Tom, was camp instructor for first aid and water safety.
The camp population grew to 2,500 men.
On April 13, the Journal reported the soldiers’ departure leaving the site bare with sand and dust blowing in the wind.
Significantly, on April 20, the Journal reported the connection between the army engineers stationed at Rufus experimenting with pontoon bridges and the proposed bridging of the Rhine River with specifications for the pontoons at the Kaiser yards in Portland. However, their expertise was not needed because the key Rhine bridge was saved.
Fast forward to 2012 when the WWII Veterans Historic Highway Committee, under the leadership of Dick Tobiason, installed WORLD WAR II VETERANS HISTORIC HIGHWAY signs along US 97 and SR 126. These honor World War II troops and trainers who prepared for battle at former training sites in central Oregon communities: Camp Rufus (sign at Biggs), Madras Army Airfield, Redmond Army Airfield, Civilian Pilot Training at Bend and Prineville, Camp Abbot at Sunriver, and Marine Barracks and Naval Air Station at Klamath Falls. All military service branches were involved and these airfields are still in use as civilian airfields.
Kaseberg, Sherry. Camp Rufus. Sherman County: For The Record, vol. 7, no. 1, 1989, Sherman County Historical Society, Moro, Ore.
_____, _____. Rufus Story Becomes Army Legend. Sherman County: For The Record, vol. 9, no. 2, 1991.
Tobiason, Dick. World War II Veterans Historic Highway. Sherman County: For The Record, vol. 31, no. 2, 2013.
- Sherman County Journal 1944
- Arden “Ardie” Jordan, Rufus, Oregon 1989
- Harland and Adeline McDonald, Rufus, Oregon 1989
- Delos Williams, Salem, Oregon 1989
- Catherine (Richelderfer) Bish, Wasco, Oregon 1989.
World War II 1941-1945 – Official List: Sherman County Casualties
|Donald R. Burnet||T Sgt Army Air Corps 2 years, stationed Mississippi, died September 1, 1943 plane accident; casualty DNB; son of Edith Burnet, brother of Mrs. W.C. Schilling and Charles Burnet of Moro; wife Ruth, step-daughter Bonnie; military funeral Moro, Oregon. ~ Sherman County Journal, September 3 & 10, 1943|
|R.K. Christianson||Enlisted Portland, Oregon April 23, 1942, Army|
|Wyman John French||Son of Giles & Lela (Barnum) French, born near Grass Valley September 30, 1922, brother of Jane and Patty; enlisted Eugene, Oregon, Army Pvt. 1st Class, 58th Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored Division, machine gunner, KIA February 27, 1945, buried American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands; Purple Heart. ~ Sherman County Journal, March 16, 1945|
|Donald J. Howell||Born 1919 Washington, enlisted Fort Lewis, Washington, Army Medical Administrative Corps|
|George J. Kerr||Cpl. Army Air Force, KIA|
|William G. Macnab||1st Lt. U.S. Air Force, pilot, buried American Cemetery, Netherlands.|
|Romie Ortega||Pvt. Army Air Force, casualty DOW|
|Carl F. Peetz||Son of Otto and Margaret Peetz, born Moro, Oregon, April 12, 1920, U of O graduate, volunteered for enlisted reserves, called up summer 1943, officer’s school at Fort Benning, Georgia; Staff Sgt., KIA age 24, March 7, 1945 Germany. ~ Sherman County Journal, March 23 and June 1, 1945|
|Carsten A. von Borstel||Son of Amandus, brother of Fred, Phil, Helen & Mary, born Kent, Oregon December 3, 1924; inducted January 12, 1944, KIA Italy. ~ Sherman County Journal, November 10, 1944|
|Chester Donovan Watkins||Son of W.D. Watkins, born near Wasco, Oregon April 8, 1914, brother of Vinton and Arthur in the service and Leo near Wasco; married Danajean McMillan December 14, 1941; Army, KIA Germany. ~ Sherman County Journal, May 11, 1945|
|Earl C. Williams||1935 Rufus High School graduate, 1939 U of O graduate, stationed Fort Ord & Fort Lewis, 1st Lt. & Capt., transferred to Manila April 1940; KIA January 20, 1942 Philippines. ~ Sherman County Journal, Feb. 13 1942|
|Prentice E. Yeomans.||Lt. Col. Army Air Force, KIA|
|Sherman County Connections: WW II Casualties not on the official Sherman County list.|
|Ernest Perrin||Brother of Mrs. Max Brown, son of Charles Perrin of Redmond, Oregon; KIA aboard ship in the Pacific. ~ Sherman County Journal, September 20, 1942|
|Donald Barnes||Formerly of Sherman County, killed in the service 1943. ~ Sherman County Journal, July 16, 1943|
|Earl Dutton||Son of Harley Dutton, born Idaho, brother of Captain Harold Dutton and Mrs. James Dunn; 1st Lt. died plane crash South Pacific February 8, 1944. ~ Sherman County Journal, February 18, 1944|
|Harlow Parkins||KIA Italian front April 8, 1944. ~ Sherman County Journal, April 28, 1944|
|Kenneth Emmett Barnett||Son of George Thomas Barnett, born March 17, 1920 Grass Valley, brother of Ethel and Margaret; married Anita Dunlap June 27, 1941 Grass Valley, Oregon; pharmacist’s mate 2nd class U.S. Naval Reserve, died September 18, 1944 heat exhaustion in the South Pacific. ~ Sherman County Journal, September 29, 1944|
|Leonard Winnett||Son of Ira Winnett of The Dalles, nephew of Mrs. Howard Spencer, KIA Palau, South Pacific. ~ Sherman County Journal, December 29, 1944|
|Verne/Verle J. Baker||Son of Mrs. L.M. Baker formerly of Grass Valley, brother of sister Cleo and brother Frank, born February 6, 1923, grandson of Mr. & Mrs. I.D. Pike, Grass Valley; inducted June 1940 Fort Lewis, Staff Sgt. Signal Corps, shipped out to Australia June 1941, New Guinea campaign, KIA Leyte. ~ Sherman County Journal, January 12 & 19, 1945|
World War II stories
Sherman County: For The Record
Stories and Records by Local Authors 1983-2015
Autobiography of Giles French by Giles L. French [several parts]
Camp Rufus, WWII by Sherry Kaseberg
Camp Rufus, Army Legend
#11-1, Spring 1993
WW II Military Experiences by Paul A. Fraser
#11-2 Fall 1993
Tsubota Family, Japan & Oregon by Isami Tsubota
World War II Memories by Lloyd Henrichs
WWII Military Experiences by Malcolm McDermid
WWII Air Force Experiences by Bob Boynton
WWII Army Experiences by Glenn Virtue
WWII Seabees Experiences by Stuart Macnab
WWII Navy Experiences by Byron O. Swede Stark
WWII Navy Experiences by Clarence A. Young
WWII Pacific Experiences by Tom Macnab & Helen Kelly Macnab
WW II Home Front Memories by Nell Coats Melzer
WWII Home Front Memories by Dorothy Brown Benson
WWII Letters: Don & Jacque von Borstel
WWII Navy Nurse Corps by Owietus Neal McDermid
WWII Navy Adventures by Dan Kaseberg
WWII Navy Life of Marcus & Eilene Eslinger
WWII Leyte and Back by Chet Coats
WWII Letters Frank Sayrs by Mary von Borstel Sayrs
Thomas Fraser, USAF by Thomas H. Fraser
WWII Air Force by Howard Conlee
WW II, Africa & Europe by Phil OMeara
WWII William G. Macnabs B-17 Collision Over the North Sea by Teresa K. Flatley
WWII Gordon O. Fraser by Richard Fraser
WW II Stories: Conlee, Boynton, OMeara, Fraser, Morrow, McCoy, von Borstel, Kaseberg, McClure, Macnab
WW II B-17 Collision by Teresa Flatley
Dewey Thomas WWII Military Reflections Part One by Dewey Thomas with Reine Thomas
WWII Navy Experiences by Charles F. Decker
Dewey Thomas WWII Military Reflections Part Two by Dewey Thomas with Reine Thomas
Rev. Roy Harvey and Captain Joe Harvey by Joe Harvey
WWII Merchant Marine Experiences of Ted Carlson by Susan R. Smith
World War II Veterans Historic Highway by Dick Tobiason
Fort Lewis, New Guinea, Philippines & Japan by Robert Ziegler
Surely God would not have created Such a being as man, with an Ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality. ~ Abraham Lincoln