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Texas Historical Commission

Texas Historical Commission

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Published by CAP History Library
Historians
Historians

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: CAP History Library on Aug 23, 2011
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04/28/2015

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TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSIONSeptember/October 2005Preservation News
THE
MEDALLION
THE
MEDALLION
WORLD WAR II SPECIAL EDITION
FROM HEROIC ACTIONS IN OVERSEAS BATTLES TO EVERYDAY SUPPORTTHROUGH HOME FRONT ACTIVITIES, TEXANS WEATHERED WORLD WAR II WITHBRAVERY, DETERMINATION, SPIRIT AND RESOLVE.
 
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TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION
W
 World War II was a global event that insome way affected every family in every  American community. Transformationsbrought about by the war — on bothmilitary and home fronts — also foreverchanged the character of Texas. Thepeople and communities of the state,shocked by world events into a com-pletely new way of life, did not returnto their pre-war existence, but instead were catapulted into a new era follow-ing the war. Nothing was the sameafter monumental events on the worldstage brought the war home to every community in Texas.Through its special Texas in World War II initiative, the Texas HistoricalCommission (THC) will commemoratenot only Sept. 2, 2005, the 60thanniversary of the end of the war (V+60),but also is developing plans to recog-nize and interpret the people andplaces significant in the history of  World War II within our borders.“During the war, Texans cametogether for a specific cause,” said THCCommissioner Shirley Caldwell, “andnow is the time to come together againto preserve the sites and stories of thatimportant era in our history. Membersof the World War II generation experi-enced a time unlike any other, and we need to act now to capture thosememories to ensure a lasting legacy forcurrent and future generations.”Still reeling from the devastationand hardships of the Great Depression,Texas was largely an agrarian state atthe outbreak of World War II. Few families owned automobiles, telephonesor even radios; the majority of women worked in the home or on family farms;only about 40 percent of the populationhad a high school education;and ethnicminorities, most notably Hispanics and African Americans, continued to sufferthe injustices of segregation. With theUnited States’ entry into the war inDecember 1941, the wheels were set inmotion, and drastic changes camequickly to the Lone Star State.One hundred seventy-five majormilitary installations in Texas were eitherbuilt or enlarged for the war. In addi-tion to the Texans who served both athome and overseas, nearly 1.5 million
 WITH A SHARED SENSEOF PURPOSE, ALL SEGMENTS OF THEPOPULATION — MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN —PARTICIPATED ININDIVIDUAL ANDORGANIZED EFFORTS TOHELP WIN THE WAR.
★ ★ ★ ★
From Battlefieldsto Backyard GardenSFrom Battlefieldsto Backyard Gardens
TEXAS DURING WORLD WAR II
Children and a helpful donkey,at left, lend a hand to the war effort by collecting scrap metal.Rosie the Riveter, below, inspired women to do their part in support of the war.
   I   N   S   T   I   T   U   T   E   O   F   T   E   X   A   N   C   U   L   T   U   R   E   S
 
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TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION
service men and women trained or werestationed at Texas military installationsbetween 1941 and 1945.In more than 70 counties aroundthe state, the government established65 Army airfields, 35 Army posts, ninenaval installations and eventually morethan 70 prisoner of war camps thatheld mostly German, but also someItalian prisoners. In addition, the U.S.Department of Justice operated threealien detention camps in Texas — inKenedy, Seagoville and Crystal City — which housed citizens of Japanese,German and Italian ethnicity from theU.S. as well as from South and Central America.More than 750,000 Texans servedin uniform during the war. AlthoughTexas represented about five percent of the country’s population at that time,Texans accounted for more than sevenpercent of military personnel.Many famous World War II military personalities were either from Texas orhad strong Texas connections. Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D.Eisenhower and Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Chester W. Nimitz were bothborn in Texas. Gen. Douglas MacArthurattended a military high school inSan Antonio. Col. Oveta Culp Hobby,commander of the Women’s Army Corps, hailed from Bell County.The war’s most decorated soldier, Audie Murphy, grew up in Hunt County,and Gen. Claire Chennault, commanderof the famous Flying Tigers, was fromCommerce, also in Hunt County.Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder, a native of Eden and mayor of Brady after the war,commanded the Army’s Second RangerBattalion and led his “Rudder’s Rangers”in the D-Day invasion at Pointe du Hoc,famously scaling 100-foot cliffs underheavy fire to destroy German gunbatteries.Countless other Texans, perhapslesser known but no less significant,made major contributions to the wareffort. Waco native Doris (Dorie) Miller,an African American mess attendant inthe U.S. Navy, performed heroically during the attack on Pearl Harbor andearned the Navy Cross. Leonard Roy Harmon, a native of Cuero, also a messattendant in the Navy, died while help-ing rescue injured shipmates during the1942 Battle of Guadalcanal and wasposthumously awarded the Navy Cross.The destroyer escort
USS Harmon,
christened by Harmon’s mother andlaunched in 1943, was the first U.S. warship named for an African American. José Mendoza Lopez, who died earlierthis year in San Antonio, was one of five Hispanic Texans who earned theMedal of Honor during World War II.Texas was home to the legendary  Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who trained at Avenger Field inSweetwater. The WASP flew more than60 million miles performing suchduties as towing targets for live gunnery practice, ferrying military planes to airbases throughout the U.S., and test-flying new or damaged aircraft. Thirty-eight WASP lost their lives in service tothe war effort, and the survivors, officially classified as civilian rather than military personnel, had to wait until speciallegislation was passed in 1977 to receiveproper recognition and veteran benefits.But the military history of Texasin World War II is only part of thestory. Located throughout the state arereminders of the impact on the lives of those who supported the war effort onthe home front. Nearly a half-millioncivilians, many who relocated to Texas, worked in war-related industries, andmanufacturing in the state increasedfour-fold from 1940 to 1945.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
– Continued on page 4 
Texas troops played a pivotal role in attaining victory in World War II.Dalhart Army Air Field, 1942 

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