Second World War Veterans And Others Given Well-Deserved Awards

Painting of the rescue of USAT Dorchester survivors.
Painting of the rescue of USAT Dorchester survivors.

There are movie stars and then there are genuine stars.

Rube Wolf, 90, is one of them. The Second World War veteran, who had served as a petty officer third class officer in the U.S. Navy, was honored recently by American Legion Post 229 in Adelanto, CA.

He is a star, Wolf joked, while his picture was taken, bordered by an American Legion representative and an assistant for Rep. Paul Cook, R-Apple Valley.

You are more important than a movie star, someone said in response.

The carefree exchange came after Cook’s aide, Wally Linn, a field representative for Cook, had called Wolf’s name as an honoree in a yearly event here.

He was only one of the handful of veterans given an award by hand during the World War II Four Chaplains Commemorative Ceremony. He was also the eldest. Others included veterans of modern conflicts and the Persian Gulf War.

At the Academy Awards, Hollywood people are honored, said Linn, prior to presenting certificates. Now we are honoring real people, the genuine heroes.

The observance, sponsored by the American Legion’s 25th District, High Desert Section 7, has been active for four and possibly five years, although lengthier at district and higher levels, according to Luis Ranero, a first vice-commander for Post 256 in Apple Valley and the Section 7 representative.

Its timing coincides with the remembrance of four U.S. Army chaplains who voluntarily gave up their life vests and steered soldiers as the USAT Dorchester, a troop ship, sank after being hit by torpedoes from a German submarine on Feb. 3, 1943. Nearly 700 were killed out of a 904-man crew, VV Daily Press reported.

The Four Chaplains and The Dorchester.
The Four Chaplains and The Dorchester.

Carol Smith, Post 229 Chaplain, read the story of the four chaplains  — Lt. Clark V. Poling; Lt. George L. Fox; Lt. Alexander D. Goode; and Lt. John P. Washington — while a representative lit four candles on a table close by in memoriam.

The complete list of those presented with certificates, including many who were not in attendance, includes Saresa M. Esparaza; Chicpaul M. Becerra, Jr.; Michael Croy, II; Cherhonda Holden; Jose Padilla; Timothy M. Wood; Richard R. Chappell; Alexander A. Uraine, Jessie Flores; Saul Luna; Michael J. Atkinson; James W. Schraedley; Geoffrey E. Hardies; Therese Moore; Luis A. Ranero; Allan Barbaza; Esteban Penameza; Michael Yates; Dale Peterson; Bobby Brown; Travis Adams; and Gilbert Sandavol.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE