Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns

by Barbara J. Wood
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The Pearl Harbor story of A.J. Dunn – Pearl Harbor Survivor

Source: KSAT12, December 1, 2020

He was assigned to the USS OGLALA, a mine layer that was anchored at Pearl Harbor.
7 December 1941: Holiday routine was the order of the day aboard the 96 ships in harbor, for the first time since the 4th of July all the battleships were in harbor. Seaman First Class A.J. Dunn was returning rom leave as he had spent 5 days in Honolulu doing his Christmas shopping.
At 7:55 AM planes suddenly flashed overhead. As bombs began to fall and the wakes of torpedoes crisscrossed the harbor; the innocence of the day was shattered. A.J. Dunn and some of his buddies grabbed a taxi and started for the base. At the gate, the taxi driver paused only long enough for the sailors to disembark before wheeling his vehicle around and racing for safety. Dunn's ship, a mine layer, the OGLALA, was at the pier several blocks from the gate. He and the others, still in their white liberty uniforms, started to run down the street. A Japanese pilot seeing this tempting bevy of white uniforms dropped down and opened up with machine guns. Sailors hit the dirt and sought shelter in a shallow ditch. As the plane flashed overhead, a Chief Petty Officer shouted, "Up boys, there's 2 destroyers on fire in the dry-dock." A.J. Dunn and his buddies found themselves on the working end of a fire hose, desperately trying to save a couple of sister ships. As the flames approached the depth charges on the fantail and the torpedoes amid ships, they were ordered clear just before the world exploded. He barely missed being hit by shrapnel.
Finally reaching his own ship, he found her sunk and turned turtle. A torpedo had passed under her to strike the cruise HELENA. The resulting explosion ruptured her bottom plates giving rise to the story that the old OGLALA had sunk from pure fright!!
Seaman First Class A.J. Dunn whose own ship was sunk, raced down the pier, and leaped onto the deck of a destroyer that was getting underway. The Captain yelled out "Strip Ship for Action." He had never heard of that, but it meant anything that could burn had to be thrown off. At that moment, he thought "I'm never coming back." Down into the magazine he went, to serve as a shell handler. As a deck sailor, he had never seen a power hoist before, but he figured it out and helped keep projectiles moving up to the guns. They did not encounter enemy action, but they did sink one submarine. At the moment and for the next 6 days the only things in the world that A.J. owned were the white liberty pants and skivvy shirt. His jumper and cap had been lost in combat along with all of his other possessions.
When the attack ended shortly before 10:00 that morning, 18 ships were sunk or seriously damaged. 188 Army Air Corps and Navy planes were destroyed; an additional 128 Army and 31 planes were damaged. 2,403 men and women were killed. If this were the end of the story the 7th of December would not only be a day of infamy, but it would also be an overwhelming tragedy. A.J. Dunn is a survivor. As a young man in the midst of the shock of an unexpected attack reached inside of himself and found the courage to carry on. A.J. continued to serve for 5 more years on 6 different ships. He has many stories that he gladly shares for all those interested.
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Confederate Vets Plaque restored

Historians restore Confederate Vets Plaque ....  A plaque once thought lost has been rediscovered and will again be displayed for all to see. The timing coincides with the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.

"That the memory of Confederate lives may be kept beautiful always" is the sentiment on a 14-inch-by-9-inch copper and bronze plaque that was part of a Confederate soldiers memorial in Floresville.

The plaque was discovered by the late Norman Leus of Floresville among several historical artifacts stored at the home he shared with his wife, LaJuana. It was one of two plaques that hung on the exterior of the gazebo-like structure now located on the courthouse square. The structure was erected in 1926 and was dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1927, by then-Gov. Dan Moody. It stood in the United Daughters of the Confederacy Driveway Park, formerly located in the center of C Street.

The second plaque read, "Erected by Floresville Chapter of U.D.C. 1926, President Mrs. W.E. Myers."

As Floresville grew and the need for parking spaces increased, the park was removed in the 1950s and the gazebo-like structure was moved to its present home on the north side of the courthouse square. The plaques, however, fell into disrepair and were removed.

While the whereabouts of the dedication plaque are unknown, continued inquiries about the status of the other plaque prompted Wilson County Historical Society members Otto Henke, John and Shirley Grammer, LaJuana Newnam-Leus, and Maurine Liles to act. Henke said Danny Ybarra of the Floresville-based Texaloy Foundry Co. managed to reproduce two missing letters after the Southwell Co. in San Antonio said they could not repair the plaque.

Henke cleaned the plaque and remounted the letters. He then mounted the plaque on wood, which he stained.

Shirley Grammer said the Historical Society plans to ask the Wilson County Commissioners Court to approve construction of a glass display case, to allow the plaque to be displayed in a secure manner in the Wilson County Courthouse. A fund-raiser will be organized to cover the cost of the display, which will include a reproduction of the charter signed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter 765 on March 7, 1904.

The Historical Society hopes to be able to display the plaque again later this year, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Records indicate that more than 400 Wilson County residents were enlisted in the Confederate Army.

COURTESY / Wilson County News  Article written by William J. Gibbs Jr. (July 6, 2011)