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Tag Archive | "Killed in action"

We remember your sacrifice

By Judy Reed

Over the years, we’ve done stories on a few different men from our area that were killed in action. This Memorial Day, we highlight four more men, of whom little is known, but who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

David Warren Wheeler WWI

The tombstone of David Warren Wheeler, who died in World War I (1918) while enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

There was one sentence in the Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJong, that said an early casualty of WWI was a DW Wheeler, son of D. and Zoe Wheeler. No other info was listed. So we did some digging and turned up various birth, death, and military records.

DW Wheeler was a David Warren Wheeler, born in Nelson Township to Ephriam Wales and Zoe Pearl (Carpenter) Wheeler, who were married Feb. 4, 1897. David was born March 21, 1899. In the 1900 census, the three of them still lived in Nelson Township. Sometime in the next few years, they moved to Bangor in VanBuren County. Another child was born in 1902 (Marion, a daughter) and another boy in 1906, Harry Fredric, who only lived two days. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, though in 1910, they were still residing in Bangor. At some point they returned to Cedar Springs, because a veteran record for David Warren Wheeler in 1918 showed he was from Cedar Springs, Kent County, Mich.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Detroit, on July 22, 1918. He was shown as an apprentice seaman in the United States Naval Reserve Force. David served just under three months when he died at the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, Illinois on October 2, 1918, at the age of 19. The cause is listed as influenza.

His parents, Ephriam (Ephraim in some records) and Zoe, show they were divorced four years later, in 1922. Ephriam died three years later at age 50 in 1925 and Zoe lived to age 85. She died in 1961. All are buried in Elmwood Cemetery. David Warren’s gravestone appears to show he died in 1916 instead of 1918.

T/Sgt. John C. Stevens WWII

The tombstone of T/Sgt. John C. Stevens, who died during World War II.

According to information shared with us from the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, Sgt. John C. Stevens was a radio operator on B-17 bombers flying out of England with the Army Air Force. He was listed as MIA when his plane did not return from a mission over Merseburg, a critical German oil supply depot of the German forces on Aug. 24, 1944. His remains were returned to the U.S. five years later. He has a tombstone in Elmwood Cemetery. His tombstone shows he was born in 1923, making him 21 when he died.

Pfc. Thomas Kemp died in Vietnam.

Pfc. Thomas William Kemp Vietnam

Thomas William Kemp was born on November 18, 1948 to Donald and Dorothy Kemp of Rockford. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1967. He served as a rifleman in the first squadron, of the first platoon of Charley Company, 1st battalion, 26th Marine regiment. He was part of a CAP. CAPs (Combined Action Platoons) were units where Marines would, live, train, and patrol with local Vietnamese PF’s (Popular Forces) in their villages. A squad of Marines would be assigned to villages that had a high enemy presence, to instill the fighting spirit in the local PFs so they can protect their families and fellow citizens against their enemy.

On May 30, 1968, while on A patrol in Thua Thien Province, an AP (Anti-Personnel) mine was detonated and two Marines were killed. PFC Kemp was one of the casualties; he was killed in action by multiple fragmentation wounds from the hostile explosive device. He was age 19, and had been there only since late December. He is buried in Blythefield Memory Gardens.

Sp4. Terry Allen Frechette died in Vietnam.

SP/4 Terry Allen Frechette Vietnam

Terry Allen Frechette, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Willard Frechette, was 21 years old when he was killed in action in Vietnam on Friday, July 16, 1968, according to his obituary. A rifleman with Company D, 2nd battalion, 16th infantry regiment, 1st infantry division, he was in Vietnam for six months. He received the Silver Star for gallantry by saving his commanding officer from injury from a booby trap. He was also awarded the bronze star and a purple heart. He was survived by his parents, and nine sisters and brothers. He is buried in Plainfield Cemetery.

Many thanks to Sharon Jett and the Cedar Springs Historical Museum for their information and help with this story. Other sources of information included Findagrave.com, West Michigan Genealogical Society, and Ancestry.com.

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