Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995 Page: 126
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
refineries around Ploesti, Rumania. Many of these missions were flown out of Libya and
Egypt. These engagements were the first actions in which U. S. troops faced Italian and
Nazi German forces.
The first known Colorado County casualty connected with the African-Italian
campaigns was Israel Ed Selph. Selph was born in Sheridan, May 6, 1909, the son of
Madison and Laura Cole Selph. He was first inducted into the service on February 28,
1941, then, probably because of his age, discharged that October. However, in 1942,
after Pearl Harbor, he was recalled to active service and was sent overseas with an
engineering unit that October.37
On October 1, 1943, Selph ignored a machine only 300 yards away to
complete a job removing mines from a vital supply route by hand. According to his
nephew, Dean Varley, Selph stepped on a mine which blew off both his legs, and died
of his grievous wounds shortly thereafter. He was posthumously awarded a Silver Star
and a Purple Heart, both of which were presented to his mother. He was survived by six
sisters, Opal Varley, Mrs. Elige Briscoe, Ann Miller, Mrs. I. E. Wiley, Mrs. Thurman
Humbird, and Mrs. G. T. Eaton; as well as two brothers, M. E. Selph and Sgt. Henry
Selph, who was then in North Africa.38
William Denzil Grogan, Jr.
Died October 21, 1943
William Denzil Grogan, Jr., was the son of William Denzil and Beulah E.
French Grogan. Grogan, unusually eager to contribute to the war effort, had volunteered
at the age of 16 and had served in the Canadian Army before the Americans entered the
war. Following his transfer into the U. S. armed forces, he was sent to Africa, where
he fought on Hill 609 in Tunisia. He apparently suffered a minor wound in North Africa,
but returned from the hospital before the campaign was over. In July 1943, his parents
received a letter from him which reported that he had "spent a week on the beach, just
loafing and soaking up the sunshine." A few months later, he participated in the invasion
and battle at Salerno, Italy, which was conducted from September 9 through 16, 1943.
After taking Salerno, General Mark Clark's U. S. Fifth Army moved north, taking Naples
on October 1. From October 12 through 15, they crossed the Volturno River, then stalled
several months along what became known as the Gustav-Cassino line. This led to the
tragic bombing of Monte Casino and the end-run amphibious assault at Anzio in January
1944. Early on the morning of October 21, 1943, Grogan was killed in action near the
Volturno River. That day, Grogan was the head scout of a rifle platoon that attacked
enemy positions in a blinding fog. When a German machine gun opened fire, Grogan
rushed the gun in an attempt to knock it out of action. He was reportedly killed just a
few feet from the gun.39
37 Colorado County Citizen, November 4, 1943; Eagle Lake Headlight, December 24, 1943.
38 Colorado County Citizen, June 29, 1944.
39 Colorado County Citizen, January 13, 1946.
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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/m1/18/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.