1942 parade

Honoring
Our Veterans

Residents of Sparta Township have a long history of answering the call of duty to serve during wartime and peace. From the Civil War, not long after the founding of the township, to our current day military soldiers, we honor those who lost their lives while in military service for our country in the name of freedom, our veterans, and those currently enlisted.



Resurrecting
Sparta's WWI
Monument

Sparta’s contribution in WWI was felt most heavily in the loss of Ransford Basom, Charles A Biggs, Nickolas Denhof, Arthur LaBarre, Rudolph T Lekstrum, Hattil Sharp, and Peter Vanderlaan. In the ‘War to End All Wars.’ Sparta Post #107 of the American Legion was formed only six months after the first chapter was founded in Paris, France. An early item of business in Post #107 was to design & erect a war monument to honor those seven.

In July of 1920, Sparta’s Village Council decided to erect a traffic pedestal on the corner of Division and Union Streets. Affixed onto that pedestal would be the names of the seven who gave their all as well as an eighth plaque naming the place where the fateful battle was waged.

WWI

Sparta's World War I Monument, fondly known as "Shorty's Monument"

Two months later the dedication of Sparta’s WWI Monument took place. Wallace Burtch, owner of the Welch Folding Bed Company, designed an eight-sided pillar approximately ten feet tall with a flag pole rising up out of its center. Over time, the structure became known as Shorty’s Monument, named for the constable who directed traffic around the intersection of Division and Union Streets.

Shorty’s Monument stood sentinel for thirteen years until the village council’s decision to move what had become a traffic hazard to a more suitable location. Why the monument wasn’t moved, but presumably destroyed, is a mystery to this day.

Thankfully, the eight brass plaques were saved, most recently tucked away by former American Legion Commander Don Reed, when a previous Legion building was razed. For 88 years the plaques were set aside with no specific plan for their placement. Over that time, their very existence was limited to a very few people. Upon Don’s passing, his family continued to safeguard these memorials to the seven that Sparta lost in WWI. In 2021, when their existence became more widely known, the already percolating dream of recreating this monument took on much greater fervor. The prospect of having original elements-certainly the most important elements-of the monument, makes this project compelling.

For years, Sparta’s honoring of veterans and those who gave their all for our freedom include:

  • A Civil War monument in Greenwood Cemetery honoring veterans & war dead from that conflict.
  • The more traditional-looking WWI monument-Shorty’s replacement, built in 1938-now resides at the new Sparta Sports Park, dedicated in 2021.
  • Lamoreaux Park was named in 1953, remembering the three brothers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in WWII. A monument in their honor was designed and put in place in the park in 1993.
  • A memorial bench remembering WWII Veteran and business owner Paul Badgerow was put in place by his family shortly after his death in 2016.
  • The park itself was renamed Lamoreaux Brothers Veterans Memorial Park in 2021.
  • Veterans & casualties of the Korean and Vietnam Wars have a brass plaque in Lamoreaux Park.
  • For the last several years, the names of Sparta’s War Dead have been publicly recited in our annual Memorial Day ceremonies. This will continue-we will not forget!
  • Thousands of Sparta’s 5th graders have learned of Shorty’s story in annual walking tours.
  • For years, Sparta’s 8th graders have paid tribute to our seven fallen troops at the Vietnam Memorial Wall & at Max Waldherr’s grave, a Korean War casualty buried at Arlington Cemetery.
  • Plans are to have banners created for our sixty-five war dead lining State & Division Streets in 2023.
  • This current plan is to rebuild and & place the WWI Monument in the Veterans Park in 2023.

We have assembled a group of civic leaders and interested individuals, including a project manager, an architect, a builder, and a number of financial donors for this community project of appreciation & remembrance. Will you consider your own financial involvement in making this happen?

Submitted by Larry Carter



World War I
Memorial Statue Fund
Replicate the Monument

A point of pride in Sparta, since its founding, has been the value put on honoring those who have contributed to the defense of our country. An effort is currently being put forth by a group of residents--the WWI Memorial Committee--to rekindle the memory of the seven area soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice to maintain our freedom in that war.

Artist Rendering

The proposed WWI Monument to be built at the Lamoreaux Brothers Veterans Memorial Park

Shorty's Monument (so nicknamed for the constable who directed traffic around it) was erected in the middle of the intersection of Union & Division Streets in the 1920s and was taken down a few years later as it became a traffic hazard. At the time, a more modest granite marker was built to replace it, which most recently has been relocated at the Sparta Sports Park.

Nothing remains of the original ten-foot tall white monolith except for the most important parts: the seven names of those fallen heroes etched in brass. Their existence has only recently become publicly known. The Committee, under the auspices of the American Legion Post #107, plans to rebuild the monument, putting the name plates back in their rightful place of honor and into our collective memory.

Plans are to have the monument in place at the Lamoreaux Brothers Veterans Memorial Park by Memorial Day 2023.

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raising funds

With your help we can reach our goal!

The WWI Memorial Committee is seeking donations to complete the restoration and installation of the WWI Monument. All donations of any amount are gratefully accepted.

The names of contributors at the following levels will be included on the WWI Monument Plaque that will share the story of Shorty's Monument:

  • ★ Leading Contributors ($12,500+)
  • ★ Contributors ($5,000+)
  • ★ Supporters ($1,000+)

Artist Rendering

First major contributor to the project, the Sparta American Legion Post #107 with a generous $15,000 contribution. From left to right: Tim Fay Vice Commander, Tom Friar Finance Officer, Bill Meyer Adjutant, Chris Carlisle Post Commander, & Jim Lyals WWI Memorial Committee member

Donations are managed through the Village of Sparta. To ensure your generous contribution is appropriately included, please make your check payable to the Village of Sparta and place "Shorty's Monument" on the memo line.

Send your check to:

Village of Sparta
156 East Division Street
Sparta MI 49345

Thank you.

Volunteers to contact to arrange a formal presentation or to inquire further about this project include:
Jim Lyals, phone 231-629-8080 or email
and Larry Carter, phone 616-206-5607 or email

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Memorial Day: An American Holiday

      Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. The Civil War which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country's first national ceremonies. By the late 1860's Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.--from the History channel website.

Throughout the years, Sparta has faithfully celebrated Memorial Day. For years it began with a prayer service at Greenwood Cemetery, followed by a parade led by local veterans serving as Honor Guard. Many local civic groups participated such as: Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies, groups from local churches, little league teams, along with our junior and senior school bands. Families lined the streets as children waved small American flags. Following the parade, a Laying of the Wreath Ceremony, in memory of those who died in service to our country, was held at the Sparta State Bank in front of the memorial plaque donated by the Sparta High School Student Council.

In recent years the Memorial Day Service remembering our fallen has been held at Lamoreaux Park, which was named for the Lamoreaux brothers who gave their lives in service to our country during WWII. The event includes the reading of the names of those lost during all wars, the Civil War through today. Hosted by the Lekstrum-Burnett American Legion Post 107 and Sparta Township Historical Commission, the Memorial Day Service features: local clergy, a keynote speaker, the laying of the wreath by our Boy Scouts, and patriotic music played by the Sparta High School band.

Each year, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

These touching 2019 and 2022 Memorial Day remembrance services were filmed by Dan Salas, whose youtube channel may be viewed at Positively Michigan.

In Memory

Civil War | World War I | World War II | Korean War | Vietnam Conflict | Operation Iraqi Freedom

On a computer, mouse over the soldier to view additional details. If viewing on a device without a mouse, give a quick tap to see the info box appear.

Civil War

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PVT George Bidleman

Co. B 7th Michigan Cavalry

1827 - 9 Oct 1862 Grand Rapids, Michigan

George was from St Joseph. He enlisted and mustered in on 6 Sep 1862, at Royalton, Michigan. He became ill and died in less than a month of disease. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Kent County, Michigan.

Simeon and Amanda Bidleman resided at Sparta from the time of the 1860 Federal Census. Simeon was the son of Adam and Anna Bidlman. If George was Simeon's brother, it explains how he came to be buried at Sparta.

The name appears as both Bidleman and Biddleman in various records.

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PVT James Blackall

Co. B 21st Michigan Infantry

1827 NY - 13 Mar 1865 North Carolina

James enlisted on 11 Aug 1862 at Lowell, Michigan, he was mustered in on the 9th of September. He was killed in battle near Averysboro and buried at Wilmington National Cemetery, North Carolina.

Survived by his parents, William and Sarah (Gathrite) Blackall of Sparta, wife Cynthia Maria (Aldrich) Blackall, and children.

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PVT Charles Browman

Co. H 4th Michigan Cavalry

1841 Sweden - 20 Jun 1864 Andersonville, Georgia

Charles enlisted on 9 Aug 1862. He was captured on 15 Dec 1862 while on picket at Nashville, Tennessee. In July of 1863, Charles was returned to his regiment. Once again on 22 Dec 1863, he was taken prisoner and imprisoned at Andersonville, where he died of disease while a POW. He was buried at Andersonville National Cemetery, Macon County, Georgia.

Charles was the son of Peter Magnus and Mary Lisa (Petersdotter) Broman of Sparta.

The name invariably appears as Browman, Brouman, Brooman, or Broman.

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PVT John F. Crysler

Co. K 3rd Michigan Infantry

1841 Ontario, Canada - 31 May 1863 Falmouth, Virginia

John enlisted and mustered in on 9 Aug 1862 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. He became ill and died of typhoid fever at the regimental hospital and was buried at Fredericksburg National Cemetery, Virginia.

John was the son of Jeremiah and Rhoda Matilda (Ford) Crysler of Sparta.

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PVT Chauncy Cumings

Co. H 4th Michigan Cavalry

26 Oct 1822 New York - 21 Mar 1863 Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Chauncey enlisted on 9 Aug 1862 at Sparta, then mustered in on the 28th of the month. He contracted disease and died at the general hospital. Chauncey was buried at Stone River National Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee.

He was believed to be the son of Joseph Mason and Susan (Fenton) Cumings. In 1860, he resided at Sparta and made a living as a carpenter and joiner. Chauncey left behind his wife, Lucy Ann (Fenton) Cumings, and several children.

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PVT John T. Duffy

Co. G 11th Michigan Infantry

1828 Ireland - 9 Mar 1863 Murfreesboro, Tennessee

John enlisted on 8 Aug 1861 at Jefferson, Michigan, indicating he resided at Sparta, and mustered in to service on the 4th of September. While on provost duty at Murfreesboro, John became ill and died from disease. He was buried at Nashville National Cemetery, Madison, Davidson County, Tennessee.

John and his family were enumerated at Huron, Wayne Co., New York in 1850, then at Wheatland, Hillsdale, Michigan in the 1860 Federal Census before they relocated to Sparta. He was survived by his wife, Arsenath Francis (Dillon) Duffy, and five children.

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PVT Eli Hamblin

Co. F 3rd Michigan Infantry

1834 New York - 18 Sep 1862 Washington DC

Eli enlisted on 13 May 1861 and mustered in on the 10th of June. On 28 Aug 1862, he suffered a severe gunshot wound to his left knee during battle at Groveton, Virginia. Taken prisoner, he was recovered by Union troops who transported him to Columbia Hospital in Washington, DC. Eli died from his wounds and was buried at the U. S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Eli was the son of Samuel Bela and Drusilla (Calkins) Hamblin. In 1860, Eil worked as farm labor for Rev Erastus Norton at Sparta. The Hamblin family lost three sons during the Civil War.

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PVT Samuel A. Hamblin

Co. F 3rd Michigan Infantry

1846 Michigan - 6 May 1864 Wilderness, Virginia

Samuel enlisted and mustered in on 8 Feb 1864 to serve. He joined his older brother, William, already with the Regiment on the 27th of March. Samuel was killed in action on May 6th at Laurel Hill, and is presumed to be buried among unknown soldiers at Wilderness Battlefield, Sportsylvania County, Virginia.

Samuel was the son of Samuel Bela and Drusilla (Calkins) Hamblin. In 1860, Samuel Sr was a blacksmith at Rockford, Michigan. The family lost three sons during the Civil War. Widowed, Drusilla resided at Sparta in 1883 with son-in-law and daughter, James S. and Wealthy M. Barkman while collecting a pension of $8 a month for her sons' service.

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CPL William Hamblin

Co. F 3rd Michigan Infantry

1840 Livingston Co., New York - 16 Jun 1864 Petersburgh, Virginia

William enlisted on 13 May 1861 and mustered in on the 10th of June. He re-enlisted on 24 Dec 1863 at Brandy Station, Virginia. Briefly home for a veteran furlough, on 28 Jan 1864 William married Mary C. Rosekrans. On 10 Jun 1864, he was transferred to the 5th Michigan Infantry, Company F, when the 3rd and 5th consolidated. He was killed in action between the 16th and 18th of June and is presumed buried at Petersburgh, Fauquier County, Virginia as an unknown soldier.

William was the son of Samuel Bela and Drusilla (Calkins) Hamblin. The family lost three sons during the Civil War.

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PVT Frank F. Hildreth

Co. H 4th Michigan Cavalry

1840 Ohio - 22 Nov 1862 Danville, Kentucky

Frank enlisted on 9 Aug 1862 at his hometown of Sparta and mustered in on the 28th of the month. He died from disease and was buried at the Danville City Cemetery, Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky.

Frank was the son of John and Dolly (Smith) Hildreth.

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PVT Charles C. Hilton

Co. B 21st Michigan Infantry

1841 Pennsylvania - 31 Dec 1862 Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Charles enlisted on 5 Aug 1862 and mustered in to service on the 3rd of September at Ionia, Michigan. Killed in action, he was buried there at the Stone River National Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee.

Charles was the son of Alanson V. and Eunice M. Hilton of Sparta.

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SGT John T. Krey

Co. E 21st Michigan Infantry

1831 Germany - 18 Jul 1865 Nashville, Tennessee

John lived at Chester, Michigan, when he enlisted to serve on 11 Aug 1862 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. He died at General Hospital #8, Nashville, from a skull fracture suffered in a fall from a window at the barracks, and was buried at the Nashville National Cemetery, Madison, Davidson County, Tennessee.

His parents were Johann and Maria Ann Caroline (Fisch) Krey. John was survived by his wife, Rosina (Mehl) Krey and their three children.

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PVT Sebastian Lown

Co. B 16th Michigan Infantry

1821 New York - 5 Aug 1865 Michigan

Sebastian was drafted in to service on 27 Mar 1865 at Sparta, Michigan. He may have been ill or injured as he was mustered out early on 8 Jul 1865 at Jeffersonville, Indiana before the rest of the unit was disbanded at the end of the month at Jackson, Michigan. Sebastian died three weeks later. He was laid to rest at Myers Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan.

Sebastian was the son of Johann Jacob and Mary A. (Tenney) Lown, he had a brother Joseph of Sparta, and his wife's name was Cordelia.

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PVT Thomas McConnell

Co. D 10th Michigan Cavalry

16 Jan 1812 Pennsylvania - 16 Mar 1864 Knoxville, Tennessee

Thomas enlisted 10 Oct 1863 at Sparta and mustered in on the 23rd of the month, claiming to be 43 when he was actually 51 years old. He died of disease and was buried at the Knoxville National Cemetery, Knox County, Tennessee with a memorial stone also placed at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan.

He was a shoemaker who arrived in Sparta during the late 1840s with his family. Thomas left behind a wife, Elizabeth (Spangenburg) McConnell, and several children. He was the son of John and Melissa Jane (Disbrow) McConnell.

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PVT Horace McNitt

Co. H 4th Michigan Cavalry

1842 Ohio - 9 Jan 1863 Nashville, Tennessee

Horace enlisted at Sparta along with may other local men on 11 Aug 1862 who joined the 4th Cavalry, then mustered into service on the 28th of the month. He died of disease and was buried at Nashville National Cemetery, Davidson County, Tennessee.

The son of Ira and Martha McNitt, Horace was also mourned by his wife, Elvira (Fitch) McNitt.

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PVT Charles P. Myers

Co. C 1st Michigan Engineers & Mechanics

1826 Ontario, Canada - 12 Oct 1862 Nashville, Tennessee

Charles enlisted on 19 Sep 1861 at Grand Rapids then mustered in to service on the 29th of October. He became ill in June while in Alabama, later died of the disease at a military hospital in Nashville, and was buried at the Nashville National Cemetery, Davidson County, Tennessee.

Charles was the son of Charles F. and Ruhamath (Perrin) Myers of Sparta. His wife, Louisa Jane (Shoales) Myers, and several children, of Sparta, survived.

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PVT Charles F. Myers

Co. H 6th Michigan Cavalry

1839 Ontario, Canada - 21 Aug 1864 Andersonville, Georgia

Charles lived at Sparta when he enlisted on 18 Sep 1862 at Allegan, Michigan, and mustered in the 11th of October. Just over a year later, he was taken prisoner on 11 Oct 1863 at Brandy Station, Virginia, and sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Charles died of disease while a Prisoner of War and was buried at Andersonville National Cemetery, Macon County, Georgia.

He was the son of Hiram H. and Barbara (Traxler) Myers of Sparta.

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PVT Henry J. Myers

Co. B 16th Michigan Infantry

1835 Ontario, Canada - 9 Jun 1865 Arlington, Virginia

Henry was drafted on 15 Mar 1865 and mustered in to service on the 28th of the month for a term of one year while residing at Sparta Center. Just three months later, he died of disease and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Henry was the son of Charles F. and Ruhamath (Perrin) Myers of Sparta. He was survived by his wife, Lucy (Abels) Myers, whom he had just married less than two weeks before he was drafted.

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CPL David Noble

Co. C 1st Michigan Engineers & Mechanics

19 Feb 1817 Porter, New York - 22 Jun 1862 Tuscumbia, Alabama

David enlisted on 17 Sep 1861, at Grand Rapids, then mustered in to service as a Corporal on the 29th of October. He contracted Typhoid Fever also known as "Camp Fever", died, and was buried at Tuscumbia, in Colbert County, Alabama, but was later relocated to the Corinth National Cemetery, Alcorn County, Mississippi.

The son of Obed and Sally (Allen) Noble, David was survived by his wife, Mary Ann (Knapp) Noble, and three children. Since 1855, the family resided at their farm in Sparta Township.

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PVT George Norton

Co. F 2nd Michigan Cavalry

1843 Michigan - 28 Jul 1862 Rienzi, Mississippi

George enlisted on 9 Sep 1861 then mustered in on the 2nd of October. He died of disease and was buried at Rienzi, Mississippi, but was later relocated to the Corinth National Cemetery, Alcorn County, Mississippi.

His parents were Rev. Erastus W. and Minerva (Gardner) Norton of Sparta, a clergy with the Freewill Baptist Church.

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PVT William Rogers

Army

1845 Sparta, Kent, Michigan -

William was cited as "the first white child born in the town". However, by 1847, the family moved to Ravenna where his father established a farm and served as a Supervisor.

He was the son of William and Margaret J (Freyer) Rogers.

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PVT Andrew Saur

Co. K 1st New York Cavalry

1837 Saby, Jönköping, Sweden - 27 Jun 1864 Frederick, Maryland

Andrew was a Swedish immigrant who resided at Sparta, Michigan, and was drafted on 20 Jul 1863 to serve when additional men were needed. He was sent to serve with the "Carbine Rangers" or "Sabre Regiment", which was also known as the "1st U.S. Vol. Cavalry". During the eleven months Andrew served, his unit saw a considerable amount of action, primarily in Virginia. He died while serving, but his cause of death was either lost or unrecorded. Buried at Antietam National Cemetery, Sharpsburg, Washington, Maryland, his remains were reinterred from Fredericksburg.

Andrew's parents were John and Eva Katarina (Malberg) Saur of Sparta.

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PVT Eli J. Severe

Co. E 21st Michigan Infantry

1841 Ohio - 13 Nov 1862 Louisville, Kentucky

Eli enlisted on 5 Aug 1862 at Grand Rapids, Michigan, indicating he resided at Wright, Ottawa, MI, and mustered into service on the 3rd of September. He became ill with Typhoid Fever, died at Park Barracks General Hospital, and was buried at Cave Hill National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky.

Eli was the son of James W. and Susanna (Graham) Severe. He was survived by his mother and three younger siblings.

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PVT Denton Smith

Co. A 16th Michigan Infantry

27 Feb 1823 New York - 6 Jun 1865 Washington, DC

Denton was registered on 1 Jul 1863 while a resident of Sparta. He was drafted on 15 Mar 1865 and mustered in the 28th of the month. He became ill, died of disease, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Denton was the son of William and Barbara (Vosburgh) Smith and was survived by his wife, Fidelia (Soules) Smith and children.

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PVT Henry D. Spicer

Co. F 18th Illinois infantry

1815 Springport, New York - 4 Nov 1863 St. Louis, Missouri

Henry was a blacksmith working in Grand Rapids when the family was enumerated for the 1860 Federal Census. He joined to serve and was mustered in on 30 Jun 1861 at Birds Point, Missouri. Buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Lemay, Missouri.

Henry was the son of Asa and Elizabeth (Tobias) Spicer. He was survived by his wife Esther E. (Johnson) Spicer and several children of Sparta.

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PVT Charles Wegal

Co. H 4th Michigan Cavalry

1840 Sweden - 24 Dec 1862 Nashville, Tennessee

Charles enlisted at Sparta on 9 Aug 1862 before he mustered in on the 28th of the month with his younger brother, August. Charles became ill and died of disease at General Hospital No. 16 then was laid to rest at Nashville National Cemetery, Davidson County, Tennessee.

Charles was the son of Swen and Helen Christiane (Gustaffsdotter) Wegal of Sparta. John Crysler and Charles Browman were Charles' neighbors just northwest of Sparta Center when the 1860 Federal Census was recorded. All three lost their lives during the war.

World War I

Civil War | World War I | World War II | Korean War | Vietnam Conflict | Operation Iraqi Freedom

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PFC Ransford B. Basom

Co. D 126th Infantry 32nd Div.

14 Jun 1890 Lisbon, Kent, Michigan - 29 Aug 1918 Juvigny, France

Ransford lived at Sparta and was employed at the Clay Works according to his draft card. He joined the U S Army, trained, shipped out of Hoboken, New Jersey on 17 Feb 1918 onboard the USS President Grant, and arrived March 6th at Breast, France. He fought at Alsace, Marne, Courmont, then relieved a front lines Division of French "Blue Devils" near Soissons. Ransom was killed in action the next day. His final resting place was at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Seringes-et-Nesles, Aisne, Picardie, France. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Ransford was the son of Edwin Adelbert and Flora A (Bradbury) Basom of South Union Street.

Charles Biggs
PVT Charles A. Biggs

Co. L 337th Infantry 85th Div.
Co. B 28th Infantry 1st Div.

21 Oct 1891 Ashley, Ohio - 8 Oct 1918 Varennes, France

Charles signed his draft card on 5 Jun 1917 while employed at the M.C. Purdy farm and a Sparta resident. He joined the US Army and on 22 Jul 1918, shipped out of Brooklyn, New York, for deployment in France. Used as reinforcements, Charles was sent to the 28th Infantry, comprised of Pennsylvania National Guard. He lost his life in the ferocious Meuse-Argonne operation near the Aire River one day before his Infantry unit was relieved. A Purple Heart and WWI Victory Medal were awarded. He was laid to rest at Ravanna Cemetery, Muskegon County, Michigan.

Charles was the son of Edwin Amos and Bertha A. (Zent) Biggs.

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PVT Nicholas L. Denhoff

Hdqrs. Co. 116th Infantry

10 Mar 1896 Chester, Michigan - 11 Oct 1918 Meuse, France

Nicholas enlisted into the US Army, trained, and shipped from Hoboken, New Jersey on 13 Jun 1918 onboard the USS Finland and arrived eleven days later at St. Nazaire, France. He fought along the Swiss border, then at Meuse-Argonne where Nicholas was killed in action and buried at Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse, France, then reinterred in August 1921 at St Francis Xavier Church Cemetery, Conklin, Ottawa, Michigan. He was awarded a WWI Victory Medal and a Purple Heart.

Nicholas was the son of Jacob J. and Wilhemina Minnie (Graftema) Denhoff of Sparta.

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PVT Arthur D. LaBarre

Co. M 337th Infantry 85th Div.
Co. L 28th Infantry 1st Div.

3 Sep 1890 Sparta, Michigan - 16 Sep 1919 Rouen, France

Arthur enlisted on 29 May 1918 to serve in the US Army. He trained and shipped out on 22 Jul 1918 at Brooklyn, New York on the USS Nevasa. They served as support units and where needed. At some point, Arthur was sent to join the 28th Infantry. Arthur was scheduled to sail home on the 12th and 17th Jul 1919 but removed from the manifests, unable to make the trip. He died while still in service at General Hospital #21 at Rouen, Normandy, France, and he was memorialized at Lisbon Cemetery, Sparta, Kent, Michigan.

Arthur was the son of George and Jeannie (Blanvelt) LaBarre of Sparta.

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CPL Rudolph Lekstrum

Co. A 107th Field Signal Batt'n 32nd Div.

25 Mar 1892 Sparta, Michigan - 19 Oct 1918 Sommerance, France

Rudolph was a machinist at Marsnick Mfg. Co. in Detroit on 5 Jun 1917 when he signed a draft card. He joined the US Army's new "Red Arrow" Division six days later and on 23 Jan 1918 shipped out from NYC on the RMS Baltic arriving on 6 Feb in England, then on to St. Nazaire, France. The 107th kept lines of communication open. Rudolph was killed in action and laid to rest at Saint Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France with a monument placed at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan. He was awarded a Purple Heart.

Rudolph grew up in Sparta, the son of John Fred and Elizabeth Katrina (Broman) Lekstrum.

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PVT Hattil C. Sharp

Canadian 3rd Div. Supply Col.

4 Mar 1891 Sparta, Michigan - 1916 France

Hattil enlisted into the US Navy shortly after graduating from Sparta High School. On 20 Jun 1910, he was recorded in the US Census as a sailor on the USS Georgie, residing at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Before the US entered WWI, Hattil enlisted with the Canadian Army Service Corps and died in service. He was laid to rest at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery, Somme, France, and honored at the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower, Ottawa, Canada.

His parents were Dr. Hattil C. and Sarah Ella (Bacheler) Sharp of Sparta. In 1920, the Census placed the family on Grove Street and Dr. Sharp was a veterinarian surgeon.

Peter VanderLaan
PVT Peter VanderLaan

310th Trench Mortar Battery 85th Div.

30 Aug 1893 Chester, Michigan - 29 Jan 1919 France

While residing at Sparta, Peter signed a draft card on 5 Jun 1917 then enlisted to serve in the US Army. He sailed onboard the SS Mauretania on 30 Jul 1918 to Europe. Peter died from Pneumonia and was buried at St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France.

Peter was the son of Nicholas and Antonia (Raap) VanderLaan.

World War II

Civil War | World War I | World War II | Korean War | Vietnam Conflict | Operation Iraqi Freedom

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PVT Walter F. Blakslee

1st Div. 16th Infantry

7 May 1917, Grand Rapids, Michigan - 1 Aug 1944 Bretagne, France

Walter was employed by Walter Ebers when he signed his draft card on 16 Oct 1940 while a resident of Sparta. He joined and served in the US Army's "Big Red One". Walt was killed in action as the allies routed German forces in retreat from France. He was awarded a Purple Heart. The soldier was laid to rest at Brittany American Cemetery, Saint-James, Department de la Manche, Basse-Normandie, France.

Walter was the son of Fred Jacob and Oliver Katherine (Smith) Blakslee. He also left behind his wife, Dorothy Florine (Hering) Blakslee of Sparta.

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S/SGT Louis J. Burnett

Co. M 32nd Div. 126th Infantry

1920 Comstock Park, Michigan - 26 Nov 1942 Buna, New Guinea

Louis joined the US Army assigned to the "Red Arrow". Upon arrival in New Guinea, troops were sent on a rainy 130+ mile jungle trek over mountainous terrain. Inadequately supplied with six days rations for a trip which took 42 days, many became ill. With just a week of rest, they were ordered to the front lines in the Battle of Buna-Gona, which decimated the battalion. Among the dead, Louis was buried at Manila American Cemetery, Philippines, with a cenotaph placed at Lisbon Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan, and he was awarded a Purple Heart.

His parents were Louis E. and Lillian O. (La Barre) Burnett, and wife was Caroline E. (Patterson) Burnett.

John
S/SGT John P. D'Amour

344th Bomb Squadron 98th Bomb Group 8th Air Force

9 Aug 1911 Rapid River, Delta, Michigan - 1 Aug 1943 Benghazi, Libya

Johnny enlisted on 3 Apr 1942 at Detroit, where he had been employed by Motor Products Corp., and became a B-24 Gunner. On his fateful day, he was assigned as part of a replacement crew to the 9th Air Force, a B-24D Liberator known as "Kickapoo". Operation Tidal Wave's mission was to bomb the Ploesti oil fields at Romainia. Shortly after takeoff, an engine fire engulfed the right wing. Returning to base and upon landing, there was a fiery crash. After the War, he was reinterred at Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas in 1948.

John Paul was the son of John B. and Mary E. (Guerno) D'Amour.

Robert
TM3 Robert E. Devenport

US Naval Reserve

12 Dec 1921 Sparta, Michigan - 1 Jun 1944 near Point Tagan, Matsuwa Island, Kuriles

Bob worked at American Seating Co. in Grand Rapids when he joined the US Navy. Assigned to the USS Herring, a 311' Gato class submarine (SS-233), he became a Torpedoman's Mate 3rd Class. He served in the South Pacific. The sub left Pearl Harbor on 16 May 1944 on a mission to the Kurlie Islands which stretch 800 miles between Japan and Russia. They torpedoed four ships before a Japanese shore battery spotted and sunk the sub with two direct hits. Lost at sea, Robert was memorialized at Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii and awarded a Purple Heart.

He was the son of Ernest and Daisy May (Gilbert) Devenport.

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S/SGT Charles H. Doran

824th Bomb Squadron 484th Group 15th Army Air Force

5 Mar 1917 Grand Rapids, Michigan - 30 Jan 1945 Italy

Charles enlisted on 7 Apr 1942 at Lafayette, Indiana, while he was employed as an advertising agent for a soap company. Deployed to a base at Toretta, Italy, southeast of Foggia, Charles was the radio operator on a B-24 Liberator crew. He was killed in a crash during the North Apennines or Rhinelander Campaigns and was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery, Alpine Twp., Kent County, Michigan.

His parents were Charles H. and Ruth (Carlson) Doran.

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CPL Charles L. Ebers

57th Troop Carrier Squadron 375th T.C. Group

3 Mar 1920 Grand Rapids, Michigan - 9 Jul 1944 Papua, New Guinea

Charles enlisted and served in the South Pacific transporting troops. His crew's mission was to fly a C-47A Skytrain to transport passengers and Browning .50-caliber machine guns to Nadzab, New Guinea. After leaving Saidor Airfield at Mandang, New Guinea, the flight was never heard from again and declared lost. The crash site in mountainous terrain was finally located in 1948 at a 7,200' elevation. Remains were buried at Manila American Cemetery, Philippines with a Cenotaph placed at Greenwood Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.

Charles' parents were Avery Edward and Sylvia Marie (Bettes) Ebers.

Silas
PFC Silas R. Fenn

32nd Div. 126th Infantry 2nd Batt'n.

17 Feb 1916 Pottersville, Michigan - 28 May 1945 Luzon, Philippines

Silas resided at Sparta with his mother and step-father, Albert Sercy, in 1940 shortly before he enlisted to serve in the US Army on 25 Apr 1941 at Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was assigned to the Division known as the "Red Arrow". On 26 May, near the close of the of the Villa Verde Trail battle, Silas was on a mission to guard a rations train when he suffered traumatic wounds in a Japanese attack. He survived surgery but died two days later. He was buried at Benton Township Cemetery, Pottersville, Eaton, Michigan, and was awarded a Purple Heart.

Silas was the son of Ernest Romeyn and Georgiana (Walker) Fenn.

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TEC5 Raymond F. Fix

120th Chemical Process. Co.

8 Feb 1923 Sparta, Michigan - 3 Jul 1944 Caumont-l’Evente, Basse-Normandie, France

Ray was employed by Pulte's Plumbing and Heating in Grand Rapids and lived at Sparta when he completed a draft card on 30 Jun 1942. He joined the US Army on 30 Dec 1942 at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ray became a Technician Fifth Class, was killed in action, buried at Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, Calvados, France, and was awarded a WWII Victory Medal and a Purple Heart. A memorial stone was placed for him at Holy Trinity Cemetery, Alpine, Kent County, Michigan.

Raymond was the son of William and Anna (Thomas) Fix.

Al
SGT Al Lamoreaux

Co. L 78th Div. 309th Infantry

5 Jul 1918 Ada, Michigan - 6 Feb 1945 Schmidt, Rhineland, Germany

Al was employed at Sparta by Michigan Artcraft on 23 Mar 1943 when he joined the US Army serving in the "Lightning Division". During the Rhineland Campaign, Al was killed in action while they fought to capture the Schwammenauel Dam in Roer Valley. Buried at Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands, with a monument also at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan, Al was awarded a Purple Heart.

The third son of Clair Bushnell and Alice Hortense (Feutz) Lamoreaux to die in WWII, the military failed to reach him in time to prevent his death. Al's widow was Anita (Petronis) Lamoreaux.

Don
PFC Donald Lamoreaux

36th Div. 141st Infantry

10 Aug 1922 Ada, Michigan - 21 Jan 1944 Italy

Living at King, Washington, Don returned to Michigan to join the US Army on 28 Apr 1943 and was assigned to serve in the "Arrowhead Division". In an attempt to cross the Rapido River boatloads of soldiers were besieged by mines, heavy artillery, and machine gun fire which destroyed most boats. Men who weren't killed or wounded were captured. Don was killed in action. Awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart, he was laid to rest at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, Nettuno, Lazio, Italy.

Don was the son of Clair Bushnell and Alice Hortense (Feutz) Lamoreaux. He was the first of three sons to become casualties of war.

Howard
PVT Howard Lamoreaux

Co. E 96th Div. 381st Infantry 2nd Batt'n

16 Oct 1924 Sparta, Michigan - 10 Nov 1944 Leyte Island, Philippines

Howard lived at 213 Martindale and was employed by the Muskegon Piston Ring on 21 Dec 1942 when he signed a draft card. On 26 Feb 1943, Howard joined and was assigned to the US Army's "Deadeye" Division. They landed at Leyte Gulf, on 20 Oct 1944, between Tanauan and Dulag. Howard died in battle. He was buried at Manila American Cemetery, Philippines, awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was honored on a stone at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan, with his two brothers who also died in the war.

Howard was the son of Clair Bushnell and Alice Hortense (Feutz) Lamoreaux of Sparta.

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2LT George James Leary

703rd Bomb Squadron 445th Bomb Group

14 Jun 1920 Sparta, Michigan - 18 Oct 1944 Landican, England

George was a college student in New Jersey when he registered and enlisted in the Air Force. He was stationed at Tibenham, Norfolk, England. A B-24 Liberator used as a troop transport flying at 1,000 feet during stormy weather had a catastrophic mid-air explosion, possibly due to fuel leakage. All 24 men on board were killed in the crash at Landican, near Birkenhead, England. George was buried at American Military Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridgeshire, England and a stone was placed at Fairplains Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

George was the son of Clayton Norman and Dora Leona (Miller) Leary.

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PFC Philip W. Mutchler

84th Div. 334th Infantry

2 Mar 1926 Sparta, Michigan - 1 Mar 1945 Germany

Philip indicated he was employed by Haskelite Mfg. Corp. in Grand Rapids, on his 1944 draft card. He joined "The Railsplitters" and was killed in action in Germany. Philip's final resting place was at Camp Butler National Cemetery, Springfield, Sangamon Co, Illinois, in 1948, after being reinterred from Margraten, Aachen, Holland, and awarded a Purple Heart.

He was the son of Howard Edmund and Ethel M. (Sabin) Mutchler. Philip's wife was Lorraine Bertha (Visser) Mutchler.

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SGT Roger E. Plank

Co. A 88th Div. 350th Infantry

8 Apr 1919 Grand Rapids, Michigan - 19 Apr 1945 Bologna, Italy

Roger's 1940 draft card stated he was employed by S.S. Kresge Co. in Grand Rapids. He enlisted in the US Army on 22 Sep 1942 and served with the "Fighting Blue Devils" in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Roger was killed by a sniper bullet while scouting in advance of his Infantry Company in the Po Valley near Bologna. He was laid to rest at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan, then awarded the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart.

He was survived by his father, J. Raymond Plank, step-father and mother, Henry and Eldora (Murray) Schuiling of Sparta.

Lloyd
CPL Lloyd George Rees

Co. E 91st Div. 361st Infantry 2nd Bat.

23 Jan 1917 Tustin, Osceola, Michigan - 17 Oct 1944 Livergnano, Italy

On 16 Oct 1940, Lloyd signed his draft card as a resident of Sparta and joined the US Army on 16 Mar 1942 at Fort Custer, Kalamazoo, Michigan. He served in North Africa and Italy. An Army Chaplin's letter said Lloyd was killed in action during an enemy mortar attack near the front line and he was struck in the head. Burial was at the American Military Cemetery, Pietramala, Florence, Italy. He was re-patriated to Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan, and awarded a Purple Heart.

His parents were Harry Leslie and Allie Agnes (Adams) Rees. Lloyd was predeceased by his wife Gladys Marie (Black) Rees, a lifelong Sparta resident, and their three children.

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S/SGT Clayton V. Rider

Co. C 9th Div. 47th Infantry 1st Bat.

7 Sep 1918 Solon, Kent, Michigan - 16 Nov 1944 Germany

Clayton enlisted on 23 May 1943 in the US Army, a resident of Cedar Springs, and became a member of the "Raiders". On D-Day plus 4 they landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, France. Four days later, they fought the Germans, and were the first Allies into Belgium. Vernon lost his life during a fierce battle near the Belgium - German border. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta.

The son of C. Clayton and Anna (Albrecht) Rider, Clayton was also survived by his wife, Alma Charlotte (Hagenah) Rider. She lived at Sparta in 1948 when she signed an application for a military headstone placed at Greenwood Cemetery.

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PFC Fred Aaron Rowley

Co. H 3rd Marine Div. 9th Marines 2nd Batt'n

30 Aug 1923 Grand Rapids, Michigan - 27 Aug 1943 Guadalcanal, Sol. Islands

Fred enlisted to serve with the Marines on 2 Jul 1942 and mustered in to training at San Diego, California. By January 1943, he was at sea in the South Pacific. Between 28-30 Apr 1943, Fred was listed as a patient at a Regiment Field Hospital. Once recovered, he returned to duty and was killed in action. Fred was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan.

He was the son of Fred A. and Helen Hazel (Nielson) Rowley. In 1940, the family lived on Englishville Road in Algoma Twp. and Fred Sr. was a tool and die maker at the foundry.

George
PFC George Otis Timmer

Co. 96th Div. 382nd Infantry

27 May 1921 Hanford, Kings, California - 6 Nov 1944 Leyte, Philippines

George lived with his cousins, Joe and Opal Brooks, on Union St. at Sparta per the 1930 US Census. He signed his draft card on 16 Feb 1942 while employed at CWC Foundry in Muskegon and joined the Army on the 16th of October. Sent to the South Pacific, he suffered a gunshot wound during the Battle of Leyte and was hospitalized, but died three days later. George was buried at Maple Grove Cemetery, Fremont, Newaygo, Michigan and was awarded a Purple Heart.

George was the son of George Augustus and Floy E. (Thompson) Gearing and step-father John Timmer.

Jimmy
ENS James A. Warren

US Naval Reserve Fighting Squadron 33 (VF-33)

21 Oct 1921 Sparta, Michigan - 5 Jun 1944 New Britain Island

Jimmy enlisted and became a fighter pilot. On 6 Sep 1943, he was credited with the first aerial Hellcat victory in the South Pacific shooting down an enemy fighter. In a dogfight on 23 Dec 1943 over Simpson Harbor, his F6F-3 Hellcat was shot down over Kabanga Bay and he parachuted to safety. Soon discovered by the Japanese, he was imprisoned at Rabaul POW Camp on New Britain Island and later declared dead. Memorialized at the Walls of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery, Philippines, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart.

James was the son of Charles Henry and Rose Matilda (Monette) Warren.

Burl
PO3 Burl Walton Welch

US Navy

7 Feb 1926 Gulliver, Michigan - 9 Oct 1945 Nakagusuku Wan, Okinawa, Japan

Burl and his twin brother, Durl, enlisted on 4 Jan 1944, at Detroit to serve in the US Naval Reserve. Both were assigned to the USS PC-1128, a steel hulled patrol craft built at Bay City, Michigan. Burl became a Motor Machinist's Mate, Third Class. The USS PC-1128 saw action at Leyte, Okinawa, and Manilla. When the war ended and prior to heading home, the ship was grounded at Nakagusuku Wan, also known as Buckner Bay, by Typhoon Louise. Burl was declared dead, missing at sea, and was memorialized at Courts of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii.

His parents were Benjamin Harrison and Maude May (Keach) Welch.

Durl
F1C Durl Walter Welch

US Navy

7 Feb 1926 Gulliver, Michigan - 9 Oct 1945 Nakagusuku Wan, Okinawa, Japan

Durl and his twin brother, Burl, enlisted on 4 Jan 1944, at Detroit to serve in the US Naval Reserve. Both were assigned to the USS PC-1128, a steel hulled patrol craft built at Bay City, Michigan. Durl became a Fireman First Class, rating S2C. The USS PC-1128 saw action at Leyte, Okinawa, and Manilla. When the war ended and prior to heading home, ships were gathered at Okinawa when Typhoon Louise struck. PC-1128 rolled twice killing all but 9 of her crew. Durl was laid to rest at Fairplains Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan.

Durl was the son of Benjamin Harrison and Maude May (Keach) Welch.

Harold
2LT Harold A. West

492nd Bombardment Squadron, 7th Bomb Group (H), Crew 67

12 Jul 1920 Michigan - 1 Jul 1944

Harold enlisted with the US Army Air Corps as an airplane mechanic. The 1940 census recorded him at Selfridge Field, Macomb County, Michigan, as he resided at the 27th Pursuant Squadron barracks. When the US entered the war, Harold served with the 10th Air Force as a Navigator and flew in a B-24 Liberator in the China-Burma-India Theater. While stationed at Tezgaon-Kurmitola, India, they undertook missions to transport gasoline across the "hump" to the 14th Air Force in China. He died in service and was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery, Comstock Park, Michigan.

His parents were Harlan Dennison and Elise Nancy (Whebrock) West.

Jack
Jack Wendell Young

Air Corps Squadron 14

13 Jun 1922 Sparta, Kent, Michigan - 25 May 1943 Fresno, Kings, California

Jack enlisted on 21 May 1942 to serve in the US Army. He became an Aviation Cadet with the Air Corps and died during a tragic training exercise accident while in advanced training at Lamour Field in California. He was laid to rest at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan.

Jack was the son of William Albert and Hilda Alberta (Meeker) Young. In 1940, the family resided at 131 S. Union St., Sparta.

Korean War

Civil War | World War I | World War II | Korean War | Vietnam Conflict | Operation Iraqi Freedom

Richard
PFC Richard F. Guiles

Co. D 1st Marine Div. 1st Marines 2nd Bat.

18 Jan 1933 Sparta, Michigan - 30 Jun 1951 North Korea

A lifelong Sparta resident, Richard enlisted to serve in the US Marines. In the first 20 days of June 1951, the 1st Marine Division near Hwach'on Reservoir successfully fought to take the ridge line overlooking a deep valley close to Inje called the "Punchbowl". Ten days later, Richard became a ground casualty as he suffered multiple fragment wounds. During the last week of November, he was laid to rest at Fairplains Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan, and awarded a Purple Heart.

Richard was the son of Elijah Joseph "Joe" and Ruth (Welch) Guiles. Joe's WWII draft card indicated he was employed by the Kent County Road Commission.

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CPL Elmer Amos Scott

Co. B 45th Div. 180th Infantry 1st Bat.

14 Jan 1929 Nunica, Michigan - 9 Jun 1952 North Korea

On 17 Jan 1951, Elmer Scott, a young man from Crockery Twp. in Ottawa Co., joined the Oklahoma National Guard, the first of two National Guard units deployed to Korea and involved in combat. Upon their arrival, the "Thunderbirds" served in a support role at Yonchon-Chorwon and guarded the route to Seoul, they fought repeatedly at Pork Chop Hill, then participated in Operation Counter at Outpost Eerie to break a stalemate with formidable Chinese forces. Elmer was killed in action. He was buried at Fair Plains Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan, and awarded a Purple Heart.

His parents were Delbert Deforest and Frances E. (Zlotnicki) Scott.

Max
CPL Max Waldherr

Co. B 7th Div. 32nd Infantry

13 Sep 1929 Circle, McCone, Montana - 2 Dec 1950 Hudong-ni, North Korea

Max enlisted on 10 Aug 1948 into the US Army and was reported missing on 2 Dec 1950 during the 17-day Battle of Chosin Reservoir, aka Lake Changjin, not far from the China border. US Army and Marines were out numbered 30,000 troops against 120,000 Chinese. In sub-zero temperatures, three battalions were destroyed as they suffered in excess of 2,000 casualties. Recovered in 1955, Max was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Among several awards, he received a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Korean Service Medal.

Max was the son of Martin and Hermina (Schmid) Waldherr.

Vietnan Conflict

Civil War | World War I | World War II | Korean War | Vietnam Conflict | Operation Iraqi Freedom

Daniel
SP4 Daniel Louis Behm

A Battery 11th Artillery 11th Infantry Bde. 6th Bn.

5 Dec 1948 - 24 Jan 1970 Quang Ngai, South Vietnam

A recent graduate of Sparta High School, Daniel served in the US Army Field Artillery. On 6 Feb 1969, he began his tour of duty. Daniel suffered an accidental death and was buried at Lake Forest Cemetery, Grand Haven, Ottawa, Michigan.

He was the son of Louis Henry and Kathleen M. (McCarthy) Behm.

Bruce
PFC Bruce Wayne Curtis

H&S Co. 3rd Bn. 4th Marines 3rd Marine Div. III MAF

13 Sep 1949 - 25 Feb 1969 Quang Tri, South Vietnam

Bruce enlisted on 27 Jun 1968 and served in the US Marines as a Motarman. On 31 Dec 1968, he began his tour of duty. His death was the result of an accident when an 81 mm mortar round exploded in the mortar tube killing three Marines. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan.

Bruce was the son of Floyd Curtis of Sparta and Mrs. Barbara Wagner of Jenison.

Michael
PFC Michael Dunneback

B Troop 3rd Sqdn. 4th Cavalry 25th Infantry Div.

10 Nov 1948 Grand Rapids, Michigan - 5 Mar 1969 Tay Ninh, South Vietnam

Michael was employed in Sparta by Emelander Construction before he served in the US Army as an 11E10-Armor Crewman. On 9 Dec 1968, he began his tour of duty. While in battle, a hostile grenade hit his tank. Michael died at a US Army hospital three days later from the severe burns he suffered in the attack. He was laid to rest at Holy Trinity Cemetery, Alpine, Kent, Michigan, and awarded a Purple Heart.

Michael was the son of Edward L. and Helen M. (Loveless) Dunneback.

Dennis
LCPL Dennis Merryman

M Co. 3rd Bn. 5th Marines 1st Marine Div. III MAF

29 Jun 1949 East Grand Rapids, Michigan - 5 Mar 1969 Quang Nam, South Vietnam

Dennis served in the US Marine Corps as a Rifleman. The 22nd of August 1968 was the start of his tour of duty as he arrived in Vietnam. While on combat patrol, he was killed in action near Hoa. Dennis was laid to rest at Algoma Township Cemetery, Rockford, Michigan.

Dennis was the son of Ray C. and Ethel P. (Udell) Merryman of Sparta and husband to Barbara (Green) Merryman.

Ronald
SFC Ronald Jay Miller

FOB-4 CCN MACV-SOG 5th SF Group USARV

3 Jun 1936 Grand Rapids, Michigan - 12 May 1968 Thua Thien, South Vietnam

Ronald joined the US Army on 6 Jul 1954 and became a Green Beret. He was part of an elite highly classified Special Forces Group, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) stationed at the Forward Operations Base-1 - Phu Bai and Base-4 - Da Nang - Command and Control North. Ronald was killed in action, buried at Idlewild Cemetery, Kent City, Michigan, awarded a Bronze Star for bravery and a Purple Heart.

Mourned by parents Leonard G. Miller of Greenville, step-father George and Clara M. (Groner) Nickolai of Sparta, wife Johanna Rosa (Lindke) Miller, and five children.

Jimmy
SP4 Jimmy Roger Murrell

D Co. 1st Bn. 501st Infantry 101st Airborne Div.

24 Sep 1950 Michigan - 2 Jul 1971 Thua Thien, South Vietnam

Jimmy lived at 10613 Alpine Ave., Sparta, when he let to serve in the US Army Light Weapons Infantry. On 28 Mar 1971 he began his tour of duty. He was killed in action and laid to rest at Fairplains Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan.

Jimmy was survived by his parents Ralph and Carrie Aline (McKenzie) Murrell, wife Jean D. (Hanson) Murrell, and a son.

Craig
PFC Craig Edward Yates

B Co. 2nd Bn. 505th Infantry 3rd Bde. 82nd Airborne Div.

23 Nov 1950 Grand Rapids, Michigan - 29 May 1969 Binh Duong, South Vietnam

Craig grew up in the Sparta area and his family resided at 720 13 Mile Road, on the southeast bank of the Rogue River. He was a 1968 graduate of Sparta High School and worked at Groendyk's Bargain City. In October, Craig joined the US Army and on April 1st, he went to Viet Nam. In less than two months, he died during combat operations and was brought home for burial at Greenwood Cemetery, Sparta, Michigan. Craig was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Craig's parents were Roland and Marian (Porter) Yates of Sparta.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Civil War | World War I | World War II | Korean War | Vietnam Conflict | Operation Iraqi Freedom

Brandon
SPC Brandon Lee Stout

46th Military Police Co. 210th Bn.

7 Dec 1983 Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan - 22 Jan 2007 Baghdad, Iraq

Brandon had strong faith, love of country, and desire to serve. A 2002 graduate from Kent City High, he joined the Michigan National Guard at Kingsford in June 2003, became a MP, and on 9 July 2006 was activated to go to Iraq. He arrived overseas in Oct. to train Iraqi police. Two weeks before the end of his tour, his life was cut short when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. Brandon was laid to rest at Pinewood Cemetery, Tyrone, Kent, Michigan, awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Brandon was survived by wife, Audrey (Hinken) Stout, and parents: Bill & Tammy Stout, Jeff & Tracy (Vronko) Anderson of Kent City, and Gary & Laurie Hinken.



Remembering
Our Veterans

On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918, in France, the guns of Europe fell silent to end the war "that would end all wars". "The Great War" officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. Fighting ceased seven months earlier when an Armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the allied nations and Germany went into effect on November 11, 1918. On November 12, 1918, our grandfather wrote from "Somewhere in France":

      Dearest Mother and All,
      Yesterday was one of the most wonderful days that the world has known since the birth of Christ. I know it was a day when the whole world rejoiced.

Sentinel Leader, November 15, 1918:

      Victory Day Sunday, November 17. At the Baptist church Sunday night at 7 o'clock instead of having the sermon announced for Sunday night, we will celebrate the victory of the Allies by holding a big patriotic meeting. We will sing national songs, salute the flag, have special music and a patriotic address by the pastor. You are all invited to come and celebrate. You can shout and cheer if you want to do so for we all feel happy.

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11am.

      To those who recall the hilarious joy occasioned by the close of the World War, Armistice Day will always remain an outstanding occasion. In the more sober celebration of its anniversary, we pause to honor those brave boys who did not return. This bank will close all day.--Sparta State Bank, November 9, 1933, published in the Sparta Sentinel Leader

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. "In order to ensure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citienry will wish to join hands in the common purpose."--Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today we show our appreciation to Veterans by thanking them and asking about their service. We fly the American flag and students in school are encouraged to write letters of thanks to local veterans. Some pause for a moment at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month to thank God for having provided us with the great gift of freedom.

"Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them."--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Submitted by Jayne Heath and JoAnne VanderWerff



Civil War Letters

Sparta resident Amherst B. Cheney volunteered on 4 Sep 1862 and served in the 21st Michigan Infantry for the duration of the Civil War. One of eleven Sparta men in the 21st, only seven made it back home. Amherst attained the rank of Lieutenant and although initially was assigned to Co. B, he was attached to other companies, as needed.

Cheney wrote nearly one hundred letters which were saved. The Amherst B. Cheney Civil War Letters collection was donated to the Sparta Township Historical Commission and are presented for your viewing... with a click of the button.




Contact

STHC

Sparta Township Historical Commission headquarters at 71 North Union Street

Our History Center is conveniently located at 71 North Union Street in downtown Sparta. Please join us for coffee and lively conversation on Monday mornings. Visits to the History Center can also be scheduled by appointment, for your convenience.

We do not receive mail at the History Center, instead, please use our mailing address, which is:

attn: Sparta Township Historical Commission
Sparta Township
160 E. Division St.
Sparta MI 49345

For inquiries of all types, the Sparta Township Historical Commission can be reached by phone at: 616.606-0765 or via email at the following address:

Our meeting minutes are available on the Sparta Township website.