Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995 Page: 111
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Supreme Sacrifice: Colorado County's World War II Dead
by Joe C. Fling
If you have ever been to the Colorado County courthouse in Columbus, you
probably have seen it. On the outside west wall of the courthouse, mounted beside the
door, is a bronze tablet dedicated to the memory of 51 men from Colorado County who
lost their lives during the Second World War. The John Everett Chapter of the Daughters
of the American Revolution placed the tablet there in impressive ceremonies in 1946.
The DAR began with a published list from the War Department that contained
the names of 33 men from the county who lost their lives in the war. The list distinguished
between those killed in action (KIA), those who died of wounds (DOW), those who were
classified as missing (M) and those whose deaths were not battle related, including those
who died in training and those who died of illnesses at home and overseas (DNB). Under
the leadership of Helen Wooten, the DAR then put out an appeal for names that might
have been omitted from the government list. Eventually the list grew to 45. After the
plaque was cast, more names were submitted, and a small addendum plate was affixed
below the main plaque. Five of the six individuals named on the second plaque were from
The dedication ceremony for the plaque was held on October 30, 1946. En-
tertainment was provided by the Garwood High School band, which played patriotic
songs. Dottie Lehrer presented the plaque at the program, saying, "May you who view
this tablet be ever mindful of the price of peace." Congressman Joseph Jefferson Mans-
field, a Columbus resident who represented Colorado County in the U. S. Congress
throughout World War II, accepted the plaque from the DAR on behalf of the county.
Mansfield remarked, "We cannot bring back these men, but we can take this means of
perpetuating their memory.'"2
Ever since I was a young boy, as I walked up those steps to the courthouse,
I have seen the names-Norman L. Lanier, Leon Phillip Kallina, William N. Foster-names
that jumped out at me from the tablet because they were from my hometown of Gar-
wood. As I grew older I recognized more names: Shimek, Hastedt, Alley, and Yanez and,
more recently, Christen, Brasher, Hodde, and Kubenka. There were other names that I
had never encountered elsewhere, such as Plagens, Otting, and Ahlgrim. And I continued
to hear stories of others who were not on the plaque: Johnnie Hutchins, Robert W.
Brown, Jr., and Everitt Wright among others. As I got older, I came to look on the tablet
as the key to 51 stories that cried out to be told. When, in 1993, Lawrence Shimek sat
in my office to probate the last will and testament of his aunt, Betty Shimek, I became
aware that Mrs. Shimek's only child, Robert, had died in the war and was on our
courthouse plaque, and I knew that it was time to tell his story and the stories of the other
fifty men. At this, the fiftieth anniversary of the close of World War II, this is my effort
to tell those stories.
1 Colorado County Citizen, May 23, 1946.Since 1946, the Veterans Commission has added nine
names to its fist. The list of these nine additional names is referred to herein as the Veterans Commission
2 Colorado County Citizen, October 14, 1946, October 31, 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/m1/3/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.