Died in Military Service

In Remembrance of our Classmates who Died in Military Service


… we here highly resolve that these dead
shall not have died in vain… – Abraham Lincoln

Codes:
DNB = Died Non-Battle, DOW = Died of Wounds, HA = Hostile Action, KIA = Killed in Action

Note: Classmates shown in BOLD have their obituary linked. If you have additions or corrections to this page please email PerryOkAlumni@att.net.

World War I

Grad Yr/Class Deceased Name
1920 9/16/1918 null Private Ambrose “Seth” Kite – DNB
Kite volunteered for the army at the end of his sophomore year in high school, May 30, 1918, taking the artillery branch of the service. He was sent to Ft. Logan, Colorado, for a short time before he was sent to Camp Mills, a U.S. Army World War I training and embarkation camp near Garden City, New York. After training he was sent to France. An accident occurred only two weeks after his arrival and he died on September 16, 1918. His body was returned to Perry in January of 1921. He was buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.

World War II

Grad Yr/Class Deceased Name
1928 1/16/1942 null CPO James Eldridge LeTellier – DNB
Chief Petty Officer, U. S. Naval Air Corp enlisted June 3, 1927. He served with 5th Division as Pilot, Naval Air Station, Anacostia, D. C. His principal duties were ferrying airplanes from coast to coast. He died January 16, 1942, in an airplane crash when landing on ice on Phantom Lake, near Abilene, Texas. LeTellier is buried in Arlington National Cemetery at Arlington, VA.
1929 6/23/1944 null PFC Byron Ransom Kepley – KIA
Kepley lived in Los Angeles, California when he enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 10, 1943. After only 9 months of service as a PFC 165 Inf 27 Inf Div he was killed in the battle of Saipan* in the Mariana Islands on June 23, 1944. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Kepley was interred almost five years later in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
*Battle of Saipan
1936 7/11/1943 SSGT Vernon Dale Best – KIA
Best entered the service December 30, 1941. Training at Sheppard Field, Texas, and a Long Island, N. Y., AAP school, he was sent overseas May 26, 1943. He served as a Staff Sergeant & Crew Chief with the C-47 #42-32918, 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron, 61st Troop Carrier Group, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. They were transporting soldiers of the 504th Parachute Infantry, 82nd Airbourne Division for an invasion of Sicily when they were accidentally shot down by friendly fire over Sicily and crashed 3 miles northeast of Modica, Italy. The entire flight crew and all passengers, except for one, were killed in this crash. Best was killed in this crash and was awarded the Purple Heart.

He was first interred, by the Canadian Infantry, near where the C-47 had crashed. He was later re-interred at the Ponte Olivo Airfield, Sicily, Italy and was then later repatriated to the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Lemay, Missouri on December 12, 1949.

1936 10/4/1943 null LT George LaFeburne Butler, Jr.
Butler served in the Oklahoma National Guard band for five years, achieving the rank of corporal. He enlisted September 19, 1939, at Oklahoma City in the air corps. Serving first at Fort Sill, he was promoted to the rank of corporal in 1941 and to the rank of sergeant in 1942. He was sent to the air corps technical school at Lowry Field, Denver, Colo., and then transferred back to the 100th air base squadron at Fort Sill.

Butler received other training at Miami Beach, Fla., where he received his wings and was commissioned a lieutenant in September, 1942. He was stationed at St. Louis, Mo., at Jefferson Barracks. He served overseas eight months as transportation officer. LT George LaFeburne Butler, Jr. died on October 4, 1943 in airplane crash, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific. He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the National Capital Region, Philippines.

1937 2/25/1945 null 2ND LT Dennis Leroy Underside – KIA
Dennis Leroy Underside enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps in November, 1942. He graduated in advanced instruction at Blackland Army Air Field, Waco, Texas, in the upper ten per cent of his class, and received wings and commission on April 15, 1943. He sailed for duty overseas in October, 1944. 2nd LT Underside was killed in action January 29, 1945 in France and received the Order of the Purple Heart. He is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.
1938 2/18/1944 null SGT Lawrence Shea – KIA
Sgt. Shea was killed in action in Anzio, Italy while fighting with the Perry battery C of the 158th field artillery, 45th division. He enlisted September 16, 1940 and was mobilized with the national guards, having been a member of the battery six years before it was called into federal service. Shea was decorated with the Order of the Purple Heart. He is interred at Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery, Perry, Oklahoma.
1939 11/11/1944 null Curg Kay Cress – KIA
Cress enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps reserve in September, 1942 and was called to active duty in May, 1943. He received his commission and wings at San Marcos, Texas, July 1, 1944. Cress served overseas two weeks as Navigator on B-24 (liberator) in the 15th Air Force stationed in Southern Italy. He died November 11, 1944, in action over the Adriatic Sea and was awarded the Order of the Purple Heart posthumously.
1939 1/16/1942 null CPL Paul Everett LeTellier – DNB
Paul LeTellier served in the Oklahoma National Guard and went to Fort Sill in September of 1940. As a Corporal with the 158th Field Artillery, U. S. Army he was stationed at Camp Barkeley, Texas. Corporal LeTellier died January 16, 1942 in an airplane crash at Phantom Lake, near Abilene, Texas, with his brother, James LeTellier, who also died at the scene. The brothers were returning to their respective duties from the burial of their brother, Grover LeTellier. Corporal Paul LeTellier is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery.
1940 5/30/1943 null 2ND LT Frank Marley Jones, Jr. – DNB
Jones began training in the field artillery of the 45th division. Stationed first at Fort Sill and then Camp Barkeley, Texas, he was transferred to Fort Devens, Mass., where he enlisted in the army air corps. After about a month at a classification center, Nashville, Tenn., he was sent to Ellington Field, Huston, Texas. Her received his second lieutenant’s commission at San Angelo field, Texas, April 1 and was sent to Rattlesnake Bomber base, Pyote, Texas. Second Lieutenant Jones served with the 19th Bomb Group, 93rd Bomb Squadron from Pyote Army Air Base, Texas. He was one of eleven airmen killed when B-17F Flying Fortress #42-5798 crashed, 32 miles east of Salt Flats, in Culberson County, Texas. Second Lieutenant Jones was killed in the crash and is buried at the Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.
1940 1/4/1941 null CPL Vester A. Wilhelm – DNB
Corporal Wilhelm served in Battery C. 158th Field Artillery of the Oklahoma National Guard. He died January 4, 1941 from non-battle wounds and is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.
1940 3/7/1945 null 1ST LT Carl Eugene Wilson – KIA
Carl Wilson, First Lieutenant, entered the army in 1944 upon graduation from Oklahoma A. & M. college, Stillwater, OK, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the army engineers. He received a promotion to first lieutenant in September, 1944, after duty at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was killed in action in Germany on March 7, 1945 and is buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm, Germany.
1941 5/24/1944 null SSGT Warren Keith Haga – KIA
Warren K Haga, Staff Sergeant, U. S. Army Air Corps enlisted December 9, 1942. He served as Radioman and Aerial Gunner on B-17 and died May 24, 1944, in action over Berlin, Germany. Haga was awarded the Air Medal, Oak Leaf Cluster, and Order of the Purple Heart. He is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial in Liège, Belgium.
1941 11/18/1944 null SSGT Robert Berry Ronald Mieir – KIA
Robert B Mieir, Staff Sergeant, U. S. Army enlisted November 18, 1942. He died November 18, 1944, in action in Ardennes Forest, near Metz, France. He was awarded Marksmanship and Expert Rifleman medals and was decorated with the Order of the Purple Heart. He is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.
1941 3/25/1945 null SGT David Sleeth Thomas – KIA
David Sleeth Thomas, Sergeant, U.S. Army, enlisted May 25, 1943. He won a place in the army’s student training program following induction into the army and studied at Rutgers university, Rutgers N. J. until the training program was abolished, then he was assigned to Camp Carson, Colo.

Thomas served with the “Timber Wolves”, 104th Infantry Division, 413th Regiment and received the Purple Heart for his wound in Holland and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge “for exemplary conduct in action against the enemy.” He was cited February 9, 1945 in recognition of outstanding performance of military duty in Germany on November 23, 1944.

He died March 25, 1945, in action in the vicinity of Asbach, Germany and was posthumously awarded a second Purple Heart and the Silver Star. The Silver Star citation read in part, “Skillfully maneuvering his squad in advance to relieve a besieged platoon, Sergeant Thomas exposed himself to enemy fire to lead his men forward. Reaching a point 25 yards from an enemy machine gun, he coolly raised himself to an upright position, shot two enemy soldiers and rushed the enemy positions. In the fierce fire-fight that followed Sergeant Thomas was mortally wounded, but his men, inspired by the gallantry of their leader, captured the objective.” Sergeant Thomas is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.

1942 5/14/1943 null P.O.3/C George Dufek, Jr.
Dufek enlisted in the Navy August 30, 1942 in Oklahoma City. He was serving as a petty officer third class aerial gunner stationed at Deland, Fla. Dufek, who was ready for promotion to second class petty officer as an aerial top gunner in the naval air corps, was killed on Friday, May 14, 1943 in the crash of a naval airplane near Deland, Fla. and is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.
1943 7/11/1944 null PVT Melvin Matthew Beard – KIA
Pvt. Melvin Beard entered into military service on July 13, 1943. He was sent to Fort Sill followed by Camp Roberts, Calif., for his basic training. He served in the infantry and was killed in action on Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, July 11, 1944. He is buried at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.
*Battle of Saipan
1943 6/13/1945 null PFC Thomas LaVaughn Fitzhugh – DOW
PFC Thomas Fitzhugh entered the army in June, 1943 shortly after graduating from Perry High School. After a few days at Fort Sill he was sent to Camp Roberts, Calif., for 18 weeks’ training, then to Fort Ord, Calif., completing his training in Hawaii for six months. He served with Compnay “K” of the 165th infantry and saw his first action on Saipan. He spent some time in the New Hebrides before going to Okinawa, Japan where he was wounded in action June 1, 1945. He died from those wounds on June 13, 1945. He is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma.
1943 12/25/1944 null PVT Frank Ritthaler, Jr. – KIA
Pfc. Frank Ritthaler. Jr. entered V-12 training in August, 1943, at Stillwater, Oklahoma. In February, 1944, he went into active duty with the infantry and was stationed at Camp Hood, Texas, and Camp Rucker, Alabama, before shipping overseas November 12, 1944. He was serving with the 262nd Infantry Regiment, 66th Infantry Division aboard a troop transport that was sunk in the English Channel on Christmas day 1944. His loss is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

Korean War

Grad Yr/Class Deceased Name
1951 10/5/1952 null CPL Thomas Dawayne Miller – KIA
Miller enlisted in the Marines in April 1951 and grid trained at San Diego, Calif. He was a member of Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in Korea on October 5, 1952. Corporal Miller was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. Miller is buried at Garber, Oklahoma.

Vietnam War

Grad Yr/Class Deceased Name
1962 5/2/1968 null SSGT Jack Lee Snodgrass – HA
Snodgrass joined the Marine Corps in 1962, shortly after graduation from Perry high school. He was stationed at San Diego, Calif., and in Hawaii before going to Vietnam on Nov 30, 1967. Staff Sergeant Snodgrass served 6 years before he was mortally wounded by shell fragmentation while under enemy fire near Quang Tri, south of the demilitarized zone in Vietnam. He was buried in Perry, Oklahoma. His name is on the Wall at Panel 54E – Line 18.
1965 2/16/1967 null CPL Kenneth Truman Russell – HA
Russell began his tour in Vietnam in Vietnam on February 1, 1967 and was assigned as a squad leader with H&S Company, Scout/Sniper Platoon, HQ Company, 26th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Within a few days after being assigned he was a part of a Battalion Landing Team. Beginning at 8 AM, 16 February 1967, BLT 1/4 conducted an amphibious assault in the coastal area halfway between Tam Quan and Duc Pho in what became known as Deckhouse VI. During the operation. He denotated a land mine and was killed. He was the first casualty of the operation which lasted over several weeks. Corporal Russell was buried with full military honors at the Fairmont Cemetery in San Angelo, Texas. His name is on the Wall at Panel 15E – Line 51.
1968 3/22/1971 null SPL/4th Class Gary Sidney White – HA
Specialist White entered the Army in 1970. He trained at Fort Lewis, Wash., and at Fort Ord, Calif., before beginning a tour of duty in Vietnam on August, 31, 1970. White served as an Army specialist fourth class in Vietnam seven months as a radio man with Company D, 52nd Inf Regiment, 1st Battalion. He died in combat while serving near Chu Lai and is buried at Grace Hill Cemetery in Perry, Oklahoma. His name is on the Wall at Panel 4W – Line 69.

Post Vietnam

Grad Yr/Class Deceased Name
1981 10/14/1989 null SFC Ross Hunter Duncan
Duncan was inducted into the National Guard at Oklahoma City in 1987 and was assigned to Company B, 179th infantry, Perry-Cushing unit. Since February, 1988, he had been assigned full-time to the Oklahoma Air Assault School at Fort Gruber. Oklahoma National Guard Specialist Ross Hunter Duncan, 27, died as the result of injuries received in a fall while rappelling from a helicopter in a demonstration of air assault techniques. He is buried at Rose, Oklahoma.