Reflections: Lest We Forget their sacrifices


By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist



While going through past newspapers I paused at the July 26, 1945 edition, 75 years ago, of The Morrow County Independent, where there are three separate stories about Morrow County men missing or killed in action during World War II.

The war was winding down at this point so these reports were even more touching.

• Jack Scranton, 26, Yeoman First Class with the U.S. Navy, was serving on the destroyer, the Luce when it was attacked and sunk by Japanese planes when the ship was about 30 miles west of Okinawa. Scranton was in the fourth ammunition handling room when the ship was struck.

The young man entered the Navy in 1940 and served a four year term in Alaska before going to the South Pacific in late 1942. He was a graduate of Harding High School and his father was employed with HPM Mount Gilead.

• Orville Williams, Morrow County’s first World War II casualty, had been missing three years.

The Cardington resident had been missing since the ship he was on, the USS Langley, an aircraft carrier, was sunk three years earlier. He was 36 years old and had been in the Navy for 18 years.

He was a Fireman First Class when the ship. the Langley was sunk in the battle of Java Sea in February, 1942. About 700 officers and crew were transferred to the naval tanker Pecos which was later sunk on March 1, 1942. About two thirds of the crews of both ships were listed as casualties after the sinking of the Pecos.

Williams had been married in Cardington and his wife was living in California.

• Lt. Rollin Heidlebaugh, 24, a B29 pilot, whose parents lived at Steam Corners had been missing since he was on a bombing mission. The plane disappeared on May 24, 1945 while en route from its base on Tintian Island in Tokyo.

No word had been received about the plane since that date when he and his crew were all reported missing. Lt. Heidlebaugh was on his 13th mission, having made his first mission over Japan on February 8. He had been inducted into the the U S Army in 1943 and had been in the Air Corps since April, 1940. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Heidlebaugh.

I am forever grateful to men like Jack, Orville and Rollin, whose supreme sacrifice made it possible for me to live in freedom in the United States.

80 years ago: B J Gates and J. W. Shaffer, Cardington Township farmers, had sheep killed by stray dogs during July.

60 years ago: A check of all vehicular traffic on Main Street in Cardington between 6 and 7 pm on July 1, revealed a total of 575 cars and trucks that passed by a given point in that hour. Mrs. Leona Denton was the winner of the refrigerator given away by the Cardington Fire Department on July 16.

A July 28, 1960 editorial in the Morrow County Independent pointed out that U S Route 42 from Gilead Friends Church south to the Main Street bridge in Cardington and from the village’s west corporation line south to Route 746 stretches 7.7 miles of the narrowest pavement on U S Route 42 in Division 6 of the state highway department.

The editorial gives the narrow width of the pavement and its possible cause of accidents. The editor noted that even though the north-south freeway had opened, there was still heavy traffic on U.S. Route 42 which was constructed before World War I under county and state auspices, It was known earlier as State Route 55 with only minor changes made in location in 40 years, changes to correct sharp 90 degree turns.

The editorial notes that Ohio’s and the area’s growth would soon bring a return of Route 42 traffic to near the pre-freeway count and that the Ohio Highway Department should consider for the next biennium a project for the widening of U.S. Route 42 in the Cardington area.

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By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist