Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995 Page: 125
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Supreme Sacrifice: Colorado County's World War /I Dead
the trans-Himalayan supply route. Despite having earned his wings in 1941, initially he
worked repairing planes. Later, he was assigned to an airplane ferrying crew, and
eventually, as a navigator. Before he was killed on a mission on May 3, 1943, he would
earn the Air Medal for over 100 hours of meritorious service in medium bombardment
Plagens was survived by his parents; a brother, PFC Raymond Plagens; and
a sister, Louise Plagens. Initially, he was buried in a cemetery in India. In 1948, his body
was returned to the United States on the same transport that carried 2024 other World
War II dead, including Leon Kallina, with whom Plagens had trained. Plagens was buried
in the National Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston.35
Seaman 1st Class Ernest Louis Connor
April 21, 1920 - July 6, 1943
After Guadalcanal was secure, the United States began climbing up the
Solomons ladder to New Guinea. On June 30 and July 2, 1943, American troops landed
on Rendova and New Georgia Islands, which precipitated a major increase in the Japa-
nese navy's attempts to resupply their island garrisons. The so-called "Tokyo Express"
made almost nightly runs to the islands. When the U. S. fleet arose to challenge them,
costly conflicts ensued. On July 4, 5, and 6, in the Battle of Kula Gulf, the U. S. lost the
cruiser U. S. S. Helena and two destroyers, while the Japanese lost three ships of their
own. Ernest Louis Connor was involved in this fighting.
Ernest Louis Connor, known to friends and family as "E. L.," grew up in the
Columbus area. His parents, Mathew William and Matilda Schulenburg Connor, and
brother, Earl Matthew Connor, called "Pete," who died in 1991, are all buried in Odd
Fellows Rest Cemetery in Columbus. His mother lived in Glidden during the war. Connor
attended Columbus High School for two years, and joined the navy in 1941. He went
down with the Helena. He was initially listed as missing in action, and for some time his
family refused to give up hope that he might have survived. However, the War
Department finally notified the Connors that their son was presumed dead. He was not
on the War Department's original list of Colorado County dead, but is included on the
Veterans Commission addendum.36
Sgt. Israel Ed Selph
May 6, 1909 - October 1, 1943
Operation Torch, which put American troops into North Africa late in 1942,
led step by step to fighting in Tunisia, the invasions of Sicily and Italy in 1943, and
bombing missions against the Balkan nations, including the massive oil fields and
34 Colorado County Birth Records, vol. 5, p. 1; Weimar Mercury, May 7, 1943, May 14, 1943, June
4, 1943, June 25, 1943; Colorado County Citizen, May 13, 1948.
35 Weimar Mercury, June 4, 1943; Colorado County Citizen, May 13, 1948.
36 Houston Chronicle, July 16, 1943; Colorado County Citizen, July 29, 1943; C. G. Morris and
Hugh B. Cave, "I Saw the Helena Go Down," Saturday Evening Post, January 22, 1944. Additional information
was provided by Connor's sister-in-law, Martha Connor.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995, periodical, September 1995; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151395/m1/17/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.