In the last couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to visit several times with Mrs. Betty Hearnes - the former first lady of Missouri - regarding her late husband's service in the military that occurred years before he became the state's 46th governor.
Warren E. Hearnes was raised in Charleston, Missouri, and, on May 27, 1940, he and a group of boys were able to conceal the fact that they were only 16 years old when enlisting in 140th Infantry Regiment of the Missouri National Guard. The following year, after they were mobilized at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, their true age was discovered and the group of minors was discharged on April 11, 1941, to be sent back to Charleston to finish out their senior year of high school.
After graduating from high school, Hearnes went on to attend the University of Missouri for a year and a half but was then drafted into the U.S. Army on February 24, 1943 and sent to Ft. Sheridan, Illinois. Shortly after his arrival at the fort, he received a telegram notifying him of his appointment to West Point - The U.S. Military Academy.
Hearnes graduated from West Point as an infantry officer in 1946, having undergone an accelerated 3-year training program due to the nation's previous war footing. Upon graduation, Betty Hearnes noted, Lt. Hearnes "went to Ft. Benning for some more training and was then sent to Puerto Rico," where he was assigned to the 35th Infantry Division.
While in Puerto Rico in 1947, he broke his right ankle during a friendly baseball game with fellow soldiers - an injury that would never fully heal, which would lead to his discharge in 1949 and aggravate him for the rest of his life.
The late governor's story of military service is one of many that I plan on sharing in greater detail in the coming weeks. I extend my thanks and appreciation to Betty Hearnes for providing this photograph of Cadet Hearnes in his West Point uniform in addition to the many details of his military service.
The late Donald D. Pittman of Jefferson City was certainly a veteran of great military interest. Born and raised in Jefferson City, Pittman rose to the rank of major general in the United States Air Force and held such important assignments as commander of 14th Air Division at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., commander of 314th Air Division at Osan Air Base, Korea, and commander of the 24th NORAD Region.
As a pilot with more than 11,000 flying hours in 42 types of aircraft, Pitt...man remained actively engaged in military aviation developments following his retirement from active duty on October 1, 1978.
In his collection of photographs and military mementos were many photographs, such as this one released by the Office of Public Information for Lockheed Aeronautical Systems in August 1990 showing the tactical fighter YF-22 prototype under consideration by the U.S. Air Force. The YF-22 design won a contest over Northrop's YF-23 prototype and in later years, after improvements were made to the YF-22 prototype, entered production as the F-22 Raptor.
The American Red Cross grew exponentially during World War I and established a number of services to support the troops serving at home and abroad. As part of the "Home Service," the Red Cross helped provide communication between troops and their families.
The attached postcard was provided by the Red Cross and sent to the father of Thornton Petty--a soldier from Kearney, Mo., who served overseas with the American Expeditionary Forces during the war. The card was sent shortly after Petty arrived back in the United States in June 1919 informing his family that he would soon be sent to a military post (likely Jefferson Barracks) and discharged from the Army. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy P. Ämick)
On September 14, 1953 in a roadside park on Ten Mile Drive west of Jefferson City was the dedication of the area’s first Blue Star Memorial marker. Pictured here is the unveiling of the marker by Mrs. Frank Voss, left, Blue Star chairman of Hawthorn Garden Club and Mrs. Ernest Levy, president of Hawthorn Garden Club. Attendees at the event included Rex Whitton, who was then chief engineer of the Missouri State Highway Commission and Harris Rodgers, chairman of the commission.
During the construction of the Capital Mall in the late 1970s, the marker was moved to make room for expansion of the roads in the area and placed in the roadside park across from Steak ‘n Shake on Missouri Boulevard that was once home to a Spanish-American War statue; however, the marker has since been moved and placed at the entrance to Washington Park.
The late Major General Don D. Pittman--a Jefferson City, Mo., native and 1943 graduate of St. Peter's High School--took these photographs during the retirement ...of the Air Force's fleet of SR-71 Blackbirds at Beale Air Force Base, California, on January 26, 1990.
The Blackbird cadre was formed at Beale AFB in January 1965 with the first aircraft arriving the following year. In May 1973, Maj. Gen. Pittman became commander of the 14th Air Division at Beale AFB and had under his command several reconnaissance, bombardment, airborne command and control and refueling organizations, some of which were equipped with the SR-71.
For nearly 25 years, the SR-71 performed worldwide aerial reconnaissance operations and broke a number of speed and altitude records. Regardless of its performance, a dwindling defense budget combined with the high cost of maintenance eventually heralded the end of this legendary aircraft.
The Missouri National Guard has before struggled with unique political concerns due a blending of both state and federal authorities. This organization has labored to maintain its distinction as the state militia, which has led to some curious situations such as one characterized by a conflict between a former state governor and the late Colonel Edwin Batdorf during the Spanish-American War.
Born near Dayton, Ohio, on October 4, 1853, Batdorf moved to Kansas in 1871, where his father operated a hotel. Years later, the July 28, 1898 edition of the Newton Daily Republican (Newton, Kan.) reported, the young Batdorf moved to St. Louis to clerk in a hotel and “afterward engaged in the commission business …”
In addition to working full-time, Batdorf became a private with the First Regiment—a former Missouri National Guard regiment located in St. Louis—and quickly rose through the ranks to become an officer. The budding officer soon discovered, however, that military organizations were subject to funding uncertainties originating from the state capitol in Jefferson City.
“On May 23, 1887, the First Regiment was disbanded owing to the fact that the State Legislature failed to provide for its support,” notes the 1934 book “History of the Missouri National Guard.” The book adds, “In the late summer of 1887, through the efforts of Lieutenant Edwin Batdorf, a battalion was organized, which was later expanded into a regiment and became the First Regiment, National Guard of Missouri.”
After becoming colonel on June 21, 1893, Batdorf did not enjoy a peaceful tenure in uniform and his reputation was scarred by altercations with the state leadership over his vocalized concerns, the most notable relating to the formation of the Missouri National Guard Association. During the meeting that formed the association in January 1897, Adjutant General of the Missouri National Guard, Brigadier General Joseph Wickham, became the organization’s chairman. As noted in the January 3, 1897 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it was proposed that the colonels of the state’s (then) four regiments and the captains of the two artillery batteries serve as vice-presidents.
Col. Batdorf “at once took violent objection to it on the grounds that Battery A, which had only seventy members, was awarded as great a representation as the First Regiment, with its membership of 700,” the newspaper explained. Following this incident, Batdorf and many officers of the First Regiment chose to boycott the newly formed association. The expression of Batdorf’s concerns certainly did not endear him to state authorities but the arrival of a major mobilization of troops the following year would provide him yet another opportunity to distance himself from any favor with both the adjutant general and governor.
As noted in the 1939 edition of the “National Guard Historical Annual, State of Missouri,” during the Spanish-American War, Missouri was given the allotment of 5,000 volunteers as part of the president’s call for 125,000 volunteers on April 22, 1898, one day following Congress’ resolution of war with Spain. The First Regiment became one of six Missouri regiments and a light battery of artillery mobilized during the conflict. Col. Batdorf and the men of the First mustered into federal service at Jefferson Barracks on May 13, 1898 and then left their St. Louis assembly site on May 19, 1898, bound for Camp George H. Thomas at Chickamauga Park, Georgia.
Despite the rather lackluster circumstances the regiment experienced while at camp in Georgia, any privations they were forced to endure were overshadowed in the newspapers by altercations between Batdorf and Missouri Governor Lon Stephens. Appointed as an acting brigadier general during the greatest part of his Spanish-American War service, Batdorf and several officers of First Regiment quickly drew the ire of the Missouri’s governor when they refused to accept officer commissions issued from the governor.
Gov. Stephens received more unwanted news when Secretary of War Russell Alger submitted a ruling essentially nullifying the state commissions and affirming “the regiments were to remain as mustered in from the Stated Guards…,” as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 16, 1898. Months later, the First Regiment returned to St. Louis, never having left the Unites States during the brief war. It was at this time Gov. Stephens gained somewhat of a victory over Batdorf when he reorganized the regiment and excluded Batdorf from the new command structure.
Batdorf again set the newspapers abuzz when he filed suit against the governor, seeking $50,000 in damages because of a “number of interviews with Gov. Stephens printed in various newspapers of St. Louis reflecting (unfavorably) upon Col. Batdorf as an officer and a gentleman,” wrote the St. Post-Dispatch on September 21, 1899. The lawsuit was later dismissed and the colonel faded from public light until 1903, at which time Adjutant General W. T. Dameron, following the expiration of Gov. Stephens’ term, added Batdorf’s name to the honorary roll of retired officers of the Missouri National Guard.
In the years after his release from the National Guard, Batdorf’s life gained some semblance of normalcy as the married father of one son served as treasurer for the former Forest City Building Company in St. Louis. The retired colonel received further recognition in 1920, seven years prior to his death, when Adjutant General Harvey Clark issued him a special medal authorized by the Missouri Legislative Assembly for the state’s veterans of the Spanish-American War.
Col. Batdorf passed away on January 14, 1927, when 73 years old, at Westgate Hotel in St. Louis and was laid to rest in his native state of Ohio. Though much of his embattled service with the National Guard has been forgotten, the words of another Missouri governor 20 years following Batdorf’s death stressed the importance of preserving the state’s military legacy, however controversial.
In a letter to the 49th Annual National Encampment of the United Spanish War Veterans in 1947, Gov. Phil Donnelly stated, “We revere the memory of the men who volunteered in Missouri Regiments in the Spanish-American War …,” adding, “(and) I am sure the pages of history will record your services, and the campaigns in which you engaged …”
Jeremy P. Ämick is a military historian and author of the upcoming Arcadia Publishing release “Missouri at War.”
The issuance of General Order 135 during the Civil War was the beginning stages of a concentrated effort by the Union Army to recruit men for the United States Colored Troops (USCT). This order, which compensated slave owners up to $300 for each slave they enlisted, not only provided soldiers for the Union, but also resulted in the freedom and education of many who had previously lived in bondage. Once many of these former slaves turned combat-hardened soldiers tasted the empowerment of an education while serving in uniform, they often dedicated the rest of their lives to teaching others, leading to the establishment of fine institutions such as Lincoln University.
John Jeffreys, according to his death certificate, was born in Virginia on March 31, 1844, and began his journey toward freedom while living as a slave in Missouri. According to “Descriptive Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri, 1863-1865,” accessible through the Missouri State Archives, the young slave was enlisted in the Union army by his owner, Arthur Paine of Boone County, on December 2, 1863 in Jefferson City.
Assigned to the 1st Colored Missouri Infantry, Jeffreys and other black recruits traveled to Benton Barracks—a training site established in St. Louis in 1861 by General John C. Fremont. (Benton Barracks was located on the present day site of Fairground Park.) Their battles for equality were only beginning, even within the military forces they were enlisted to support, as the soldiers contended with a lack of proper food, poor sanitary conditions and a shortage of adequate clothing. Historical records indicate that as many as one-third of the black soldiers enlisted had died at the post from various undiagnosed diseases.
Attached to the “District of St. Louis, Mo., to January 1864,” as noted in Volume 1 of the Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, the regiment was later ordered to Port Hudson, La., where they were redesignated the 62nd Colored Infantry on March 11, 1864. Despite many prejudices the men of the regiment were forced to overcome, they proved their mettle in training and so impressed Brigadier General Daniel Ullman that he wrote of the men on July 30, 1864, “This regiment is the best under my command …”
Expectations for learning soon became a reality within the 62nd through persuasions such as General Order No. 31 dated July 3, 1864. In the order, Lt. Col. David Branson stated, “All non-Commissioned officers of this command who shall fail to learn to read by or before the 1st day of January 1865 will be reduced to the ranks and their places filled by persons who can read.”
Weeks later, while the regiment was stationed at Brazos Santiago, Texas, an order was issued that, although intended to stop gambling among the soldiers of the regiment, was added to a handful of previous orders—all of which would later inspire the founding of an educational institution in Jefferson City. In her book “Busy Hands: Images of the Family in the Northern Civil War Effort,” author Patricia Richard explains that “literacy was used as a punishment for gambling” and any offenders “were placed standing in some prominent position in the camp with book in hand, and required then and there to learn a considerable lesson in reading and spelling.”
As their service in the war progressed, Jeffreys and the 62nd participated in notable military engagements including the Battle of Palmito Ranch (Texas) on May 12-13, 1865, which has the distinction as the last battle fought in the Civil War and was considered a Confederate victory, resulting in 118 Union casualties. After the war’s end, the men of the 62nd remained in Texas until March 1866, during which Jeffreys and fellow soldiers of both the 62nd and 65th USCT donated money to raise funds for what would later become Lincoln University.
Having attained the rank of sergeant major—the highest enlisted rank and evidence of his performance of duty—Jeffreys was discharged on March 31, 1866, as noted on muster rolls from the Missouri State Archives.
Though it is uncertain as to any specific role Jeffreys played in the founding of Lincoln University other than donations to help establish the institution, newspaper records note he embarked upon a personal vocation of helping to educate black citizens of Mid-Missouri as early as the 1870s.
“The colored school was provided for by the election of J.O. Jeffreys, the most successful teacher that has yet had charge of that school,” stated an article in the July 5, 1877 edition of the Rolla Herald. The ensuing years saw the veteran continue to leverage the education he received while in the service when, in 1879, he was “unanimously elected as principal of the colored school (in Rolla).” The same year he married Minerva Marr and the couple raised two sons and a daughter.
Property inventories available through the Missouri Office of Historic Preservation note that in 1882, “the (Rolla) school board voted to improve the African American school, to be called Lincoln School.” The school remained in operation until the 1950s and the original brick building remains a historical landmark in the community. In 1890, Jeffreys left teaching and purchased what eventually became the Rolla Steam Laundry, which he operated until failing health required him to retire. The veteran passed away on November 5, 1922 and is buried in Rolla Cemetery.
Once property of another, Jeffreys admirably fought on behalf of a nation struggling to come to terms with the concept of “inalienable rights,” choosing instead to focus his energies in establishing a path to an education that he and other black citizens had once been denied. And if we might assume there were ever any words wholly embraced by Jeffreys and the founders of Lincoln University, it was the command issued to the men of the regiment by Lt. Col. David Branson on July 3, 1864.
“All soldiers of this command who have by any means learned to read & write, will aid and assist to the extent of their ability their fellow soldiers to learn these invaluable arts.”
Decades later, Lincoln University continues to serve as an enduring tribute to men such as Jeffreys, who sought to extend the privilege of hard-earned freedom and share the benefits of the education they received while serving their nation.
Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America
In his rustic home situated on 66 acres of woodland in rural Moniteau County, Richard Schroeder shared many chuckles while discussing the circumstances that led him into service with both the Navy and Marine Corps … more than sixty years earlier. A 1950 graduate of Jefferson City High School, Schroeder explained that serving in the military was never his ambition while attending the Kansas City Art Institute.
“Back then, my future mother-in-law was the clerk for the draft board (in Jefferson City),” said Schroeder, 84, California. She said that if I was thinking of enlisting, I had better go ahead and do it.”
Schroeder and a friend decided to visit their local recruiting office to avoid being drafted. At first, they intended to enlist in the Marine Corps, but when the line for the Navy began moving faster, they decided to switch lines. Enlisting in October 1951, Schroeder completed his boot camp at the Naval Training Center in San Diego with hopes of serving aboard submarines; instead, the Navy decided that his services could be utilized as a corpsman—enlisted medical specialists able to provide emergency care in a field environment.
“They sent me to Bainbridge (Maryland) Naval Training Center for hospital corpsman school,” said Schroeder. “I had no desire to be a corpsman because all I could think about was (patients) puking and all of that stuff,” he laughed. “So I tried to flunk out of the training by failing all of my tests.”
After months of training, the former sailor humorously noted, he graduated second from the bottom of his class. Returning to Jefferson City on leave, he married his fiancée, Carole Schreen, in July 1952. He and his wife then returned to Bainbridge where Schroeder was assigned to an eye, ear, nose and throat clinic. Although he helped perform routine exams and assist with minor surgeries, one event demonstrated to him the dangers present with many forms of medical care.
“I was assisting a doctor with a bronchoscopy and the doctor sprayed the patient with Pontocaine (topical anesthetic),” Schroeder recalled. “The guy’s heart stopped and the doctor cut him open to massage his heart, but his hands were too big for the procedure. I had to stick my hands in and do it myself.” Solemnly, he added, “The patient did not make it. That was a very traumatic experience for me.”
The young corpsman soon discovered all sailors were required to perform sea duty or complete a tour in an overseas location, resulting in orders attaching him to the Fleet Marine Force—a landing force comprised of U.S. Marines and supported by elements of the Navy, including corpsman.
“I spent some time in training at Camp Pendleton (California) and attended what was basically a shortened Marine boot camp,” he said. “Then I took field medical training, learning to deal with trauma injuries such as shock, head injuries and amputations. Also,” he continued, “we were issued Marine uniforms.”
He became a member of the Third Marine Division and traveled by troopship to Japan. Following his two-week journey across the ocean, Schroeder, as part of “Easy” (E) Medical Company, was attached to a headquarters unit stationed in an outpost near Nara, Japan; which, he described, was “in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by rice paddies.” During the next year, he applied his medical training in a quite unexpected fashion.
“The job I was assigned was venereal disease (VD),” he soberly remarked. “The (Marines) would come in with an issue and I would have to take a sample to be tested to determine if a VD or something else was causing their problems.”
His duties, he noted, also required him to accompany a Japanese doctor and three Japanese police officers on weekly visits to local “establishments” to determine where the men were acquiring their ailments.
“In Japan, prostitution was legal and the government was very good at keeping everything clean,” he said. “Each prostitute was given a government card with a number on it and each month they had to have a physical exam.”
Also participating in regular military training maneuvers as a medic supporting amphibious landings and battle simulations, Schroeder completed his overseas tour in the summer of 1954, returning to the United States to reunite with his wife and meet his 9-month-old son.
Schroeder completed his enlistment at a clinic on New Orleans Naval Station, receiving his discharge in September 1954. He then moved his family to Columbia where he enrolled in the University of Missouri, using his GI Bill benefits to earn his bachelor’s degree in education.
In the years following his discharge, his family grew in size to three sons and a daughter. He was hired as an agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1960 and went on to retire from the agency with 30 years of service.
Reflecting on his brief military career—one with many interesting and unexpected deviations—Schroeder said that he has since benefitted from the training he received, albeit in a specialty he initially viewed as objectionable.
“Although I first wanted to serve on submarines, because of the education that I received in first aid and healthcare, I was able to get a job while in college at the MU Medical Center—that really helped me support my family,” he said. Had I been in the submarines, I would never have earned these skills,” he added.
“But, looking back,” he paused, “the best part of it all was the way it helped me grow up—I got away from my parents and all of those who regulated my activities as a young person and learned to make my own decisions.”
Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.
In 1946, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted a momentous venture designated as the “Blue Star Memorial Highway Program,” which was modeled after a project in New Jersey designed to honor the men and women of the armed forces who had only recently returned from service during World War II.
As the program began to unfold on a national scale, it expanded with support of local gardening clubs throughout the country. Under the auspices of what became the National Garden Clubs, Inc., the group “enlarged its mission in 1951 to include all men and women who had served,” as noted in the “Guidelines for Blue Star Memorial Markers.”
The key component of the program was the purchase of memorial markers that were—and continue to be—placed at parks, civic and historical grounds, and along various highways throughout the United States.
“We are up to 90 markers in Missouri,” said Cynthia Brodersen, who has for the last several years served as the Blue Star Memorials chair for the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri, Inc. (a member of the National Garden Clubs, Inc.), with 125 affiliated local garden clubs throughout the state.
A member of The Grow and Glow Garden Club in Tipton, Broderson explained that although her involvement with the Blue Star Memorial Marker program came unexpectedly, it has provided her with the opportunity to honor her three uncles who served in the military, one of whom was killed during the Battle of the Bulge.
“I was familiar with the marker that is in Otterville and my husband actually attended its original dedication in 1950,” she said. “Back in 2006, the community was preparing for a re-dedication of the marker. At that time, the previous (state) chair was experiencing some health problems and asked me if I would be willing to take over.” She added, “I have really found it to be a very worthwhile cause and one that I am proud to be involved with.”
With five markers now rising above beautifully landscaped flowerbeds in Jefferson City alone—the most recent of which was dedicated on the grounds of Lincoln University late last year—Missouri has served as host to Blue Star Memorials since the placement of the first marker in 1949.
“Three hundred members of the Missouri Federation of Garden Clubs and a few special guests attended the dinner and program given Thursday afternoon in the Highway Gardens at the fairgrounds,” noted the August 26, 1949 edition of The Sedalia Democrat.
During the program, the newspaper article explained, Mrs. J.E. Dvorak, who was at the time national chair of the Blue Star Memorial Program—touted “the work being done by the Missouri Garden Clubs in bringing the Missouri Blue Star Memorial Highway through Missouri.”
Located in Bradford Roadside Park about six miles west of Sedalia, the website of the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri states the memorial was stolen in 2011. However, a new marker has since been placed near the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and State Fair Boulevard in Sedalia, said Broderson.
Although the expense of markers continues to rise, Broderson said that the entire cost of these tributes oftentimes develops into a project supported by the community in which they are to be located.
“Back when Otterville first got their marker (in 1950), there was a lady that went around to all of the local basketball games and collected quarters to help pay for it,” she said. “We (garden clubs) have also helped cover the costs of some of the markers through our fundraisers, along with donations from community businesses and veterans’ organizations,” she added.
Jefferson City resident Jeanne Schwaller, who has been actively involved with the placement of several markers locally, stated that in addition to being a member of both the Bittersweet Garden Club and the Capital Garden Club, enjoys sharing the history of the program and facilitating its growth to other communities throughout Mid-Missouri.
Discussing the program’s history on the local level, Schwaller stated that the first marker in the Jefferson City community was dedicated in a roadside park once located near the Capital Mall, but during the mall’s construction in the late 1970s, the marker was moved to make room for expansion of roads in the area. The memorial, sponsored by the former Hawthorn Garden Club, eventually found a home at the roadside park across from Steak ‘n Shake on Missouri Boulevard; however, according to Jefferson City Parks and Recreation, will soon be re-dedicated at a location inside Washington Park, less than two miles away.
Emphasizing a viewpoint shared by many who remain active with the Blue Star Memorial program, Schwaller explained that her family’s history of military service has been an inspiration for her continued involvement with the garden clubs’ initiatives to honor the memory of all local veterans.
“My husband served during World War II and was one of three boys—all who served during the war,” she said. “All three of them were fortunate enough to return home and programs (such as the Blue Star Memorials) help ensure their service is always remembered.”
For more information on the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri, Inc. and the Blue Star Memorial Markers, please visit www.fgcmo.org.
Jeremy P. Amick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.
Jeremy P. Amick is a military historian and author dedicated to preserving our nation's military legacies.