Keeping it all in the family
The Stober brothers take great pride in their service to this country.
When Morris R. Stober, of Sweet Springs, was a senior at Malta Bend High School, he was drafted in October 1943. He took 13 weeks of basic training at Camp Roberts in California. He took a troop transport ship to New Guinea in the South Pacific.
His first assignment was on Leyte of the Phillippine Islands. The landing ships couldn’t take the men all the way into the beaches because of the coral reefs. The men had to walk the width of a football field with water up to their chests.
The beaches had been heavily bombarded by artillery from the ships and by the P-38 airplanes. The coconut trees were leveled by fire. A short distance from the beach stood a bamboo shack on stilts which had not been hit.
The men proceeded to fire into the shack with their rifles, in case there were enemy soldiers inside. They heard a baby start to cry. The mother and the baby came out and to the ground unhurt.
The men went a short ways inland and saw a Japanese soldier run across their path at some distance in front of them. They were ordered to fire and several soldiers opened up. Stober could see tracers from his gun and several others hit the soldier, but he continued to run. They don’t know how far he went.
The men were exhausted their first night. They dug in between rice paddies on the high ground. Two men were in each foxhole. A pair on the outside perimeter spotted three Japanese soldiers about 3 a.m. One of the Americans accidentally threw a smoke grenade instead of a regular one. Two enemy soldiers ran back, but one came through the center of the perimeter.
“The fellows who shot him said he looked like he had been squirrel hunting. He was carrying his gun down by his side and looking in the holes,” he said. “He fell right between our foxholes. He was groaning back there and he’d raise up every once in a while... He died sometime before morning. Nobody slept from then on,” said Stober.
He was later assigned to the 1st Cavalry and sent to Luzon, the largest of the Philippines. The fighting was very intense there. They were fighting at one of the colleges in Manila which had a concrete-walled square building with a courtyard in the center. The building originally had three stories, however the top floor had been blown off by artillery. Walkways connected several rooms on the interior walls.
The Japanese controlled three sides of the building and the Americans one side. After intense fighting, the Japanese were driven into part of one side and trapped in two rooms. The Americans heard some of chanting or singing and then two explosions. The Japanese soldiers had blown themselves up. The rooms were a bloody mess. The estimate was 77 enemy soldiers had just committed hara-kiri rather than surrender.
“It was a bad situation,” Stober said. “We were already on edge... All at once, they ended it.”
In another skirmish, the Japanese were holed up in the basement of a church with the Americans on the main floor and the Japanese in the back and basement. This was a tough situation for either to be in. The Americans evacuated that night.
There was a building close by occupied by the Japanese. This building, a seven-story stucco apartment house, had had the top floor blown off. The Japanese barricaded the windows and doors with sandbags. These bags filled the doorway up to the transoms above the doorway.
There was a four-foot wall with a walkway between the building and the wall. Several Americans jumped over it into a hail of rifle fire. They were killed immediately.
Stober ran for the wall. A Japanese soldier lying on top of the sandbags opened fire wounding Stober in the right arm between the elbow and shoulder. The .31-caliber bullet went all the way through between the nerve and bone. Yet Stober opened up on the Japanese soldier with a hail of bullets ending that soldier’s war. The date was Feb. 26, 1945. Stober’s rifle was a .30-caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).
“It just felt like I touched a spark plug, just a trickle of blood, but it took me a month to heal,” he said.
The next day the Japanese were driven into the basement. Flame throwers came and the building was burned. After recovering from his wound, Stober went onto Manila and helped free a prison where the Japanese had held American prisoners of war. They had been treated very poorly, but he never saw a happier group of soldiers. They were supporting each other and shouting thanks for their freedom.
The 1st Cavalry loaded onto a troop ship and shipped out to Japan full well knowing that they could encounter very stiff resistance from the Japanese homeland. However, the Japanese had considered their fate.
The ship Stober was on anchored one-quarter mile from the mighty battleship Missouri. The men observed the signing of the surrender of the Japanese from a distance. When they landed at Yokohama, they were greeted by the 11th Airborne, the outfit Stober’s brother, Paul, was in. They were singing “The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be.”
Stober spent several months in Japan serving as a sergeant at a police station. He was discharged in January 1946. He returned to the family farm. A man at the filling station on U.S. Highway 65 gave him a ride to his driveway for 50 cents.
“I had my duffel bag and I started walking down the drive. I got about half-way and here comes Mom,” he said.
He retired from farming in 1996.
In the years of World War II, all young men, when they turned 18, were required to register with the Selective Service. When your number was selected, you went. In the fall of 1944, I was a senior in high school at Malta Bend, looking forward to a great senior year and an exciting season of basketball. We were a good team and expected to go to the state play-offs. Instead, in October 1944, my name came up and I went. I was fortunate to have acquired enough credits my first three and a fifth years of high school to graduate.
First stop was Fort Leavenworth, Kan., then to Camp Fannin, Texas, for basic training. That lasted 12 weeks. Then I headed overseas to the Pacific Theater. I crossed the ocean on the USS Eberly.
A chance came up to select a division of service and I chose paratrooper in the 11th Airborne. My training was in the Philippines. While seniors in the states were planning senior trips, I was on the longest senior trip. Mine took me to Manila, Lipa, Luzon, Leyte, Okinawa and finally Japan.
My rank was staff sergeant, but because I could type, I was given the job of company clerk. I still had to jump regularly and do calisthenics each morning.
In September 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur came to Japan to sign the peace treaty. I lacked a half inch to qualify as one of his honor guards, but I saw him go onto the USS Missouri for the signing.
I was scheduled to come home in October 1946, but I had to make one more jump. A nervous, hyperactive kid, jumped right behind me. Sure enough he jumped too soon and landed in my chute and trouble began. We came down fast and hit the ground hard. We buried our helmets in the ground, but miraculously both of us got up, folded the chutes and walked away. I have always felt the Lord was definitely a paratrooper that day.
It took 30 days to cross the ocean to come home. I still don’t like Spam. I married my war-time sweetheart in May 1948. This year will make 64 years and we live in Marshall. How blessed we are to have the United States as our home of the free because of the loyalty of the brave young men of 1941-45.
JOHN “PETE” STOBER
Pete Stober was drafted into the Army on Dec. 2, 1954. He did basic training and radar training at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was transferred to the 485th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Missile Battalion at Fort Sheridan, Ill. They installed Nike Ajax guided missiles along the lakefront of Chicago. The threat at that time was the Russians. They feared they would fly over Canada and bomb the industrial area along Lake Michigan.
When he was released from active duty, he was transferred to Headquarters Battery, 283rd Field Artillery Battalion (8” howitzer) in Springfield with annual training at Fort Carson, Colo. He was released from the service on Nov. 30, 1956. Upon returning to civilian life, he continued in the welding supply area. He lives in Sedalia.
LOUIS DWAYNE STOBER
Dwayne Stober was drafted into the Army in June 1955. He was sent to Camp Chaffee, Ark., for basic training and Fort Benning, Ga., for mechanic training. He graduated at the top of his class and was sent to the Nike missile site in White Plains, N.Y.
He re-enlisted in the Army for three years in 1957 and was sent overseas to Germany in August. He served in 53 various locations and participated in the Lebanon uprising crisis in 1958. He returned to the United States in 1960. He joined the New York Army National Guard and returned to the missile site. He was transferred to Brooklyn, N.Y., and was a motor pool sergeant. He was promoted to sergeant first class and was in charge of a unit from Brooklyn. He received letters and medals of commendation for service during the U.S. Postal Service Strike.
He later trained units in Maryland who were deployed to Desert Storm. He achieved the rank of master sergeant, before he retired in June 1995. He died soon after on June 25, 1995.
Donald Stober served in Alaska at the time of the Anchorage earthquake at the Nike missile station there. He now lives in north Texas and is retired.
Orlyn Lockard married Daphene Stober, the sister of the Stober brothers. He served in the Coast Guard and was stationed on the East Coast throughout World War II. He retired and was a teacher. He is deceased.
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