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Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Local residents compile book on Coldwater Legion

By Janie Southard

Don Wellman, historian for American Legion Post 470 in Coldwater, takes a look a. . .

COLDWATER - There's a new book in town. In fact, it's about the town and the history of Coldwater American Legion Post 470.
Compiled by Coldwater residents Don Wellman (post historian) and Roselyn Post (graphics assistance), the 380-page book recently was printed.
Copies have been donated to the post and the Coldwater library.
In his forward message, Wellman writes: "This compilation of available Post 470 records, documents, pictures and related National American Legion literature plus the shared memories is dedicated to those who have created these memories in their honorable service to their god and country."
Wellman told the newspaper he worked at least three years at gathering materials for the book.
"It's about our local Legion and memories of all wars from World War I to Iraq," he said, leafing through the spiral bound book full of photos, letters and newspaper clippings.
In early pages of the book, a stern Uncle Sam, top hat, cutaway coat and all, points his finger from a 1914 Army poster claiming "I want you - at the nearest recruiting station." And according to the Coldwater newspaper, more than 2,000 Mercer County men answered their country's call. In Coldwater there were 142 registered with 77 claiming exemption.
According to the June 15, 1917, newspaper, a monthly quota of 36 volunteers for "Uncle Sam's service" were needed each month. The number obtained on that June day was 0.
Veterans of the Civil War were dwindling by the Post meeting of May 12, 1922, and only a "very few were present at the G.A.R. meeting.
"Not enough for a quorum," according to that newspaper. "After some discussion it was decided to surrender their charter and this once flourishing post is now but a memory."
The book features many and varied items related to World War II. One is a certificate of appreciation given to Elmer Dorsten and Ray Wenning when they returned to Europe in 2004 for the Battle of the Bulge 60th anniversary, sponsored b the Belgian government.
Wellman in-cluded the language of the certificate written by the students at the 7th secondary professional school in Charlerol. Portions of their letter of gratitude follows:
"Sixty years ago, when terror ... ruled a world gone made, you were just a little older than we are today. You sacrificed the most beautiful years of your boyhood, you learned the fear of fighting, you suffered from starvation and coldness, but you never failed in your mission.
"Thanks too for your brothers in arms who gave their lives for our grandparents yesterday, for our parents and for us today, maybe for our children tomorrow."
Wellman said he always enjoyed Bill Mauldin's cartoons and he secured permission from the Mauldin Estate to reprint some of the cartoons. (Mauldin was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist most famous for his common G.I.s Willie and Joe cartoons during World War II.)
In one of the dozen cartoons in the Post 470 book, some big brass officers arrive at camp in a big, fancy car. Willie comments to Joe: "Another dang mouth to feed." The pen/ink drawings always highlighted the bedraggled duo who certainly looked like they'd been through the war.
Wellman, a World War II veteran who served in topographical drafting (maps), had an opportunity while still in the Army to visit Hiroshima about one year after the atomic bomb struck.
"I didn't serve in battle, but I saw the results of bullets and bombs. At Hiroshima I saw enough to make me understand what happened there," he said.
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