This Field of Honor is a Memorial as a lasting tribute to those men and women who have served our country in war and peace. Those who survived were forever changed. Those who died were forever young in their loved ones' memories.————————————————
American Legion Post 200 ·
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1959 ·
Jackson County Bank ·
Lunda Charitable Trust ·
BRF Foundation ·
Krohn Clinic ·
Milt & Lydia Lunda ·
Chamber of Commerce ·
Co-op Credit Union ·
BRF Lions Club ·
BRF Rotary Club ·
David & Marilyn Hoffman ·
Peter & Jone Hoffman
Curtis L. Biggar - Architect
World War I
April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
In answer to the nation's call to arms, one hundred and twenty-three young men from Jackson County formed a company of volunteers in 1917, which was designated D Company, 4th Wisconsin. They marched proudly down Main Street and up the hill to the railroad depot on September 26, 1917, accompanied by the cheers of their family and friends. There they boarded a train bound for the National Training Grounds in Waco, Texas. These brave men joined other Wisconsin and Michigan National Guardsmen to form the famed 32nd "Red Arrow" Division. The Company D boys shipped to Europe and took on a new identity: C Company, 107th Ammunition Train, 32nd Division. This group of close friends saw action at Chateau Thierry and the Argonne forest in France, among other battles, where they took part in a fast moving offensive that helped break the stalemate of the trenches. Eventually the 32nd pushed into Germany on the heels of a retreating enemy, and held the honor of carrying the first American Flag onto German Soil in World War I. The French allies eventually came to dub this fighting division "Les Terribles". Company C returned home to Jackson County on May 28, 1919. The story of this close-knit unit is well documented, but it is also important to note that the official total of service personnel from Jackson County in that great conflict was 625. Many local men served with distinction in other units in the army and in the Navy during World War I.
The seeds of World War I were planted by the unification of Germany in 1870 and by rapid advances in warfare technology. The steady development of new and more lethal weapons is today a common occurrence in the world, but at the end of the nineteenth century the advancements in small arms, artillery, bombs, and mechanized vehicles were amazing and compelling to professional military leaders. At the same time age-old European alliances were unraveling. In fear of being overwhelmed by war, smaller European nations made secret treaties with the opposing greater powers of either France or Germany. By June 28, 1914 all of Europe was now lined up into two hostile and heavily armed alliances, and the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne in Sarajevo was the spark that ignited World War I. The United States sympathized with the French and British, but continued to remain neutral for the next three years. Two incidents chiefly led to America's entry into the war. In 1915 a German U-Boat sank the British passenger liner Lusitania, killing 128 U.S. citizens and enraging Americans across the country. Then in March, 1917, American intelligence intercepted "the Zimmerman Note" in which Germany secretly offered to restore to Mexico all of her North American territorial losses if Mexico would declare war on the United States. It was the final insult. On April 6, 1917, America declared war against Germany.
The American Expeditionary Forces sailed for Europe in high spirits. The "Yanks Were Coming". They joined the Allies on the French battlefields early in 1918, and none too soon in the eyes of many leaders. The armies of Europe had been stalemated in bloody combat for over three years in the trenches, with neither side gaining the upper hand. It was America's arrival that broke the stalemate. Two major offensives led this drive, in which American participation shifted the initiative decisively: Belleau Wood, and the Argonne Forest. The Allies were at last on the move. The Germans, driven back finally to their own country and facing total destruction, sued for a cease-fire. An armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Hostilities ceased that day at 11:00am. After the deaths and suffering of millions, World War I was over. President Woodrow Wilson, with his "Fourteen Points" peace proposal, intended for kind treatment toward the German people and a positive reconstruction of Europe. It quickly became apparent, though, that the Allies had other ideas. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 imposed a harsh peace on Germany including loss of its military, loss of important industrial regions, and reparation payments to Allied countries that were quite impossible to pay. The treaty in fact sowed the seeds of World War II. Adolph Hitler rose to power in 1933 chiefly on the strength of his claim that Germany had been cheated of her destiny by the Treaty of Versailles.
World War II
December 7, 1941 to August 14, 1945
Many citizens from Jackson County were already serving in the armed forces when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. Some of them were stationed at Pearl Harbor itself; others were serving in the Philippines. The hometown newspapers had local tragedy to report from the very first day of the war, of death by enemy action, of injuries, and of capture. The newspaper accounts would continue until August of 1945 and beyond, as Jackson County citizens waited weekly for reports of fresh tragedy, as well as eagerly embracing news of heroism and of homecomings. It is estimated that over 1,500 men and women from Jackson County served in the armed forces during World War II. They did not form a single volunteer unit and march down Main Street to the cheers of their neighbors. They enlisted, or answered their Country's call through the draft, in individual response and in small groups. They took the train from the depot in ones and twos, and threes and fours. Many bid their families farewell in the early months of the war in 1942, but the farewells continued for four more years. Youngsters barely in high school on Pearl Harbor Day still got their chance for danger before it was over, and faced it bravely. The contribution could be tallied by the number of service stars in the front windows of homes. The cost could be assessed in the growing number of stars that were gold. Jackson County citizens fought in North Africa, Italy, and France. They fought in the Philippines, New Guinea, and Malaysia. They sailed every ocean and flew in every sky. Some never returned and none returned unchanged.
America's entry into World War II began with the Japanese surprise attack on pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Japan had been forcibly expanding its empire for ten years in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The successful attacks on U.S. forces in Hawaii, the Philippines, and the Java Sea from December 7 to March 1, 1942 marked the climax of their expansion and the darkest months of the Pacific War for America. The momentum was shifted on April 18, 1942 when American B-25 bombers carried out a surprise attack on the Japanese homeland. It was a tremendous morale boost to the American people, and it was quickly followed by the naval battles of the Coral Sea and Midway in May and June. These engagements gained the first decisive American victories in the war. The Pacific Campaign was a war of liberation from territory to territory, island to island, in coordinated assaults from air, sea, and ground forces. It was a bloody, grueling effort against a determined enemy, most of who considered surrender an unacceptable option. But one by one, in the two years between July of 1942 and August of 1944, American forces reclaimed the islands from the Japanese in the Marianas, Solomons, Gilberts, Carolines, and New Guinea, as well as engaging the enemy in Burma and Southeast Asia. In October of 1944, at long last, the first ground troops returned to the Philippines where they had been defeated and driven out almost three years earlier. Fighting to recapture those islands continued until July 5, 1945. The war in Europe had ended by this time, and now American forces were gathering and preparing for the final assault on Japan itself. But it was never to take place. On August 6 and August 9 of 1945 the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945, ending World War II.
America's war against Germany officially began on December 11, 1941, four days after Pearl Harbor. From the start U.S. leaders believed that the key to ultimate victory rested with the conquest of the Nazis; yet it was not until July 4, 1942 that the bombers of the U.S. 8th Air Force made the first attacks against the Germans in the Netherlands. The first ground force engagement took place four months later in North Africa in a joint assault with the British. Combined operations with America's allies would be a hallmark of the European Theatre in their plan to retake Europe and defeat the Nazis. The North African campaign ended with the Axis defeat in May of 1943 after six months of fighting. The next Allied objected was the Italian Peninsula. Sicily was invaded on July 9, 1943 and liberated quickly. Italy was invaded next at Salerno and Anzio, but the Italian Campaign bogged down in heavy resistance. It didn't end until May of 1945, just five days short of V-E Day itself, having lasted far longer and with far greater cost than ever imagined. The climax of the European Campaign was D-Day, June 6, 1944, when one million allied soldiers and sailors combined in the greatest single invasion in history. 2,500 Americans fell in one day at Omaha Beach. An equal number were lost in the Airborne raids behind enemy lines. After the second front was established, the Allies moved steadily through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and finally Germany itself while the Russians were closing in from the East. The last great effort of the German army was the battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest, which ended in their defeat in January of 1945.The German forces finally surrendered on May 7, 1945, after the fall of Berlin. The total number of Americans who served in all theatres of World War II was over sixteen million. Casualties totaled almost one million. More than a third of these were killed in action.
June 27, 1950 to July 27, 1953
The Korean War has been widely considered America's "forgotten war" with little known by the general public about its causes or its action, except that is was waged to fight communism. There are no official statistics of the actual number of Jackson County citizens who served in the Korean War. Statewide statistics indicate that 132,000 people served from Wisconsin with over 5,000 casualties; and it is equally clear that many Jackson County men and women served in the military during the Korean War, but no one knows exactly how many. What is known is that local citizens answered the call once again and served bravely in all military branches. Young men from Jackson County were standing in the face of the Chinese when they crossed the Yalu River. They were manning tanks, walking patrols, refueling jets, and sailing Korean waters. Men and women were treating wounded, saving lives, and transporting honored dead. Many Jackson County veterans of World War II returned to serve again in harm's way, and some of them gave their lives in the second effort. A few local boys also discovered the horrors of Korean prison camps. Here at home there may have been less understanding of the politics of this war than there had been in the fight against the Japanese and the Nazis; but the fear of international communism was very real, and faith in America was never higher. The war effort was supported for those reasons, and they were enough. When the news of the cease-fire was received it was met with relief and great pride in the contributions of the new generation of Jackson County Veterans.
In 1945 Korea was divided into two countries at the thirty-eighth parallel. It was a familiar compromise in the clash between the victors of World War II, which came to be called the Cold War. The Soviet Union and the United States were deeply at odds. Poised in the middle was the new and fragile United Nations, on whose stage the Korean War would be played out. Korea was supposed to reunify in 1948 through free elections in both countries, but they were never held in the North. Instead, a tightly controlled communist regime was imposed by the Soviet Union. Tensions mounted even higher with the communist revolution in China. Finally Soviet-backed North Korea decided to attempt unification by different means. On June 25, 1950 the People's Army crossed the thirty-eighth parallel and invaded the South. The United Nations called for immediate withdrawal but was ignored. Within five days a multi-national force led by the Americans was in combat on land, sea, and air against a rapidly advancing North Korean army. By early September the People's Army has successfully overrun the country and had hemmed their enemies into the southern tip of the Korean peninsula at Pusan. But the UN forces countered with a bold plan. A drive against the people's Army began at the Pusan perimeter, and at the same time a fresh force landed north of them at Inchon, an unlikely and dangerous coast for an invasion. It was successful and forces quickly pushed to the capitol. By September 28, UN forces had retaken the Country and were advancing on the thirty-eighth parallel. As the enemy was retreating, events took a dramatic turn.
Despite the warning from China that they would intervene if American troops crossed the thirty-eighth parallel, the UN General Assembly authorized its forces to continue the offensive into North Korea. On October 7, 1950, UN forces led by American troops crossed the parallel, and on October 8 the People's Republic of China ordered its troops across the Yalu River to join the war. The subsequent assault in November was massive, and a brutal winter was already beginning. Offensives and counter-offensives ensued across the parallel for the next six months and control of Korea changed hands four times at a cost of thousands of lives. On July 1, 1951 both sides agreed to discuss cease-fire. The truce talks would wrangle, haggle, break off and re-start for the next two years while combat operations on the ground and in the air were used as bargaining chips at the peace table. Troops were in a perpetual state of uncertainty, anxiety, and frequent horrendous combat. In the face of these hardships American soldiers and marines rose to heroic effort. At last with the death of Josef Stalin in March of 1953 a major barrier to final cease-fire was removed. Although tensions remained high and petty wrangling continued to hinder the talks, progress was finally made at the peace table. Prisoner and wounded exchanges were agreed upon and truce terms were seriously discussed. On July 27, 1953 the cease-fire was signed and the Korean War ended. The result was a permanent partition of the country at the thirty-eighth parallel, communist in the north, democratic in the south. It would remain a hostile frontier for years to come.
August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975
The Vietnam War was the longest conflict in American History and different from previous wars in many ways. It was the first war in which soliders did not stay for the duration but rotated in limited tours, leaving their comrades behind. It was the first war in which the enemy itself could not be clearly recognized and great danger existed whether he was seen or unseen. It was the first war in which there were no front lines and no strategies for the permanent gain of territory. It was the first war in which the horrors of it were brought into our living rooms every night on television news. And it was the first war in which the original objective, despite huge cost, was not achieved in the end. What did remain true to American history was the commitment, courage, and patriotism of the soldiers that were called upon to serve in it. A total of 409 Jackson County citizens served in the Vietnam War, many on combat duty and many in support positions throughout the military. Four were killed in action and many more were injured, some permanently. From the earliest days of unquestioning commitment to the last days of dark doubt, through turbulent social times and widening differences of opinion and belief, Jackson County citizens still continued to enlist and to answer the call to service when their time came. Whether their families were in unwavering support or deepest opposition concerning the war itself, the hearts of all were filled with pride and deep respect for the brave sacrifice these young men were making. It was made after all for the love of America.
After the French relinquished colonial control of Vietnam in 1954 the United States assumed the role as advocate for democratic government there. It was a difficult role because in the ongoing civil war the communist movement led by Ho Chi Minh, with its call for unification and an end to western interference, enjoyed greater support from the people of both North and South Vietnam. American leaders, fearful of another communist regime in Asia, established a non-communist dictator in South Vietnam. For the next eight years they would continue to prop up a shaky government, and encourage resistance to Ho Chi Minh. By 1964 over 16,000 U.S. military advisors were in South Vietnam. President Johnson wanted victory over the communist forces and nothing less, despite private misgivings from key advisors. With passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August of 1964, he expanded the war. The first American combat troops arrived in Vietnam in the summer of 1965. Operations at first consisted of securing airbases and conducting an air war, but gradually combat patrols and ground missions increased, as did the call for more troops and equipment. For the next three years American involvement in combat steadily increased. By February of 1968 troop strength was up to 463,000. The death toll had reached 16,000. More than one million Americans had already rotated through a tour of duty in Vietnam. The President continued to claim progress and to promise a victorious conclusion, but the American people were becoming increasingly concerned. What was once a fledgling anti-war movement was steadily growing. Then came the Tet Offensive.
The Tet Offensive in February of 1968 dispelled any belief that the North Vietnamese were running short of troops, supplies, or determination. More than a hundred cities and towns were attacked at the same time throughout the entire country, involving tens of thousands of soldiers and tons of munitions and equipment. The attack gave rise to startling events in America. Anti-war demonstrations erupted and support for the movement greatly broadened. President Johnson announced he would not seek a second term, and the leading candidates in presidential race all ran on the promise to end America's involvement in the war. Richard Nixon won on the promise of a secret plan to bring peace with honor. Meanwhile fresh American troops continued to swell the ranks in Vietnam until the peak strength of 543,000 was reached in April of 1969. By this time 33,000 Americans had been killed in action. Nixon's plan was called "Vietnamization", a process of equipping and training South Vietnamese troops to take the place of the Americans as the units pulled out. The process would take almost four years to complete, during which casualties continued to mount and anti-war fervor continued to grow. It climaxed in the spring of 1970 when American troops invaded Cambodia, and four students were killed in a demonstration at Kent State University. In March of 1973 American combat action ceased at last, but it was not until April 29, 1975 that the last Americans were finally withdrawn. The next day communist forces captured Saigon, which was later re-named Ho Chi Minh City. Two million Americans served in the war in Vietnam, one quarter of them in combat. 153,329 were wounded. 57,690 were killed.