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Jack Lummus, Medal of Honor Recipient

Jack Lummus was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II.  According to a May, 1945 newspaper report based upon an interview with a fellow Marine, 1st Lt. Lummus was killed while leading an infantry and tank attack on the island on March 8, 1945.

Jack Lummus was born October 22, 1915 to Andrew Jackson and Laura Frances Warren Lummus in Ennis, Texas.  Jack was an outstanding three sport athlete at Ennis High School.  He did not graduate from Ennis, perhaps due to some illness.  He enrolled at Texas Military College in Terrell after which he secured a scholarship from Baylor University in Waco.  While at Baylor, Lummus played baseball and football, earning All-Southwest Conference honors at Baylor and being named an NEA honorable mention for All American honors in 1939.  Lummus was signed by the New York Giants and played two seasons with the club before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1942.  He also had played one year of minor league baseball in Wichita Falls with the Wichita Spudders.

In his early days in the Marine Corps, Lummus also played on USMC baseball teams while serving.  Lummus completed Officer’s Training School at Quantico, Virginia and was sent to Camp Elliott in San Diego, California before being assigned overseas.  He had been serving in the South Pacific for about five months when he was killed in action.

During this period, Lt. Lummus suffered a personal tragedy when his father, also known as Jack Lummus, was killed outside a restaurant in Ennis.  The elder Jack had been serving as assistant police chief in Ennis when on the evening of May 13, 1944 he was fatally wounded by Oran L. Mounts, also from Ennis, who was a special agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

One of the best known images of the war was the second flag raising on Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi which occurred on February 23, 1945.  Iwo Jima was a volcanic island that was situated between the Mariana Islands and mainland Japan.  It was important to the Japanese as a landing strip, although by February, 1945, its air power was depleted.  It had been bombed intermittently by Allied forces since the summer of 1944.  If it were controlled by the Allies, it would provide them with a base from which to launch bombing raids on the Japanese mainland.  However the island was riddled with tunnels and other features that the Japanese troops used for defense.  The battle began the week of February 19, 1945, less than a week before the historic flag raising occurred.  However, the effort to secure the island continued for more than a month with the final Japanese defenders being subdued and their threat eliminated on March 26, 1945.

Lt. Lummus is thought to have been in the first wave of Marines to attack the island and lost his life during the latter part of the battle.  His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to the 2d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Resuming his assault tactics with bold decision after fighting without respite for 2 days and nights, 1st Lt. Lummus slowly advanced his platoon against an enemy deeply entrenched in a network of mutually supporting positions. Suddenly halted by a terrific concentration of hostile fire, he unhesitatingly moved forward of his front lines in an effort to neutralize the Japanese position. Although knocked to the ground when an enemy grenade exploded close by, he immediately recovered himself and, again moving forward despite the intensified barrage, quickly located, attacked, and destroyed the occupied emplacement. Instantly taken under fire by the garrison of a supporting pillbox and further assailed by the slashing fury of hostile rifle fire, he fell under the impact of a second enemy grenade but, courageously disregarding painful shoulder wounds, staunchly continued his heroic 1-man assault and charged the second pillbox, annihilating all the occupants. Subsequently returning to his platoon position, he fearlessly traversed his lines under fire, encouraging his men to advance and directing the supporting tanks against other stubbornly holding Japanese emplacements. Held up again by a devastating barrage, he again moved into the open, rushed a third heavily fortified installation, and killed the defending troops. Determined to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally attacking foxholes and spider traps with his carbine and systematically reducing the fanatic opposition until, stepping on a land mine, he sustained fatal wounds. By his outstanding valor, skilled tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Lummus had inspired his stouthearted marines to continue the relentless drive northward, thereby contributing materially to the success of his regimental mission. His dauntless leadership and unwavering devotion to duty throughout sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.”

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(Image credit: history.navy.mil)

Lt. Lummus was mortally wounded when he stepped on a land mine as he led other Marines.  As he lay wounded, Lummus relayed a report to his commanding officer a short time before he passed away.  One of his superior officers offered this quote on behalf of Lummus.  He said,” I never knew him [Lummus] not to do more than required of him.  He was that kind of man.”  A soldier serving under him offered this quote, “No matter where we were or how much enemy fire there was, he was always moving up and down the line giving us tips and encouragement.”  Another said of Lummus’ leadership, “We would have followed him anywhere.”

Lummus is interred at Myrtle Cemetery, Ennis, Ellis County, Texas.

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Posted by on January 23, 2020 in biography, heroes, medal of honor, world war 2

 

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Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens, Jr.

Buck Owens was born Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. to Alvis Edgar and Macie Owens in Sherman, Texas in 1929.  Buck is said to have given himself the nickname of Buck after his favorite mule (alternately said to be a donkey or a horse in different accounts) when he was young.  His father, Alvis Edgar, Sr., was a sharecropping farmer in Grayson County, Texas.  In 1937, the family moved west to Arizona.  The family legend is that their trailer broke down near Phoenix, Arizona where they had other relatives, so they elected to settle there.  Similar to the stories of many other musical artists, Buck’s mother sang and played the piano at their home and in church.  Buck learned to play the guitar, mandolin and other instruments when he was a youth.  He dropped out of school at age thirteen to help the family survive and did all sorts of jobs to raise money.  As a young man, Buck began performing in honky-tonks to earn his living.  When he was about twenty, he married his first wife, the former Bonnie Campbell, a singer in a band both she and Buck played in called Mac and the Skillet Lickers.  Buck and Bonnie eventually moved to Bakersfield, California where Buck began to play around town and in the surrounding area. Buck and Bonnie would remain married for about five years.  He was married three more times.

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Posted by on January 16, 2020 in biography, entertainers

 

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Henry and Ivy Methvin

Ivan “Ivy” Terrell Methvin was born April 5, 1885 in Louisiana to Hamilton Terrell and Mary E. Barron Methvin.  Ivy was one of five children and their names all began with the letter I:  Iverson Victor (1876-1952), Izaarh (or possibly Isaiah, 1877- about 1894), Isaac (1879- about 1894), Idonia (the only sister, 1882-1910) and Ivy, all born in Louisiana.  In the 1880 census, Hamilton Methvin’s profession was listed as being a farmer.  In some listings, Izaarh and Isaac have the same years of birth and death, but in the 1880 census, Isaac is not quite one year old while Izaarh (possibly just a misreading of the written name) was at least one year older.  Of the children, Iverson survived the longest, living until 1952, working as a farmer for many years and later working as a cobbler of shoes in Louisiana.  Iverson and his wife Sarah Huggins Methvin had a large family.  The sister Idonia married a man named Campbell and had a small family before she passed away at around the age of 28 in Oklahoma. Hamilton Terrell Methvin died a about eighteen months after Ivy was born.

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Governor John Connally, Jr.

Governor John Bowden Connally, Jr. was born February 27, 1917 to John Bowden and Lela Wright Connally in Floresville, Wilson County, Texas, the third of seven children.  In 1920, his father’s occupation was listed as being a stock farmer (rancher) in Floresville, which is located on the southeast side of San Antonio.  By 1930, the family had moved into San Antonio for a time, as John, Sr. was operating a bus on a bus line.  Governor Connally attended San Antonio Harlandale High School but graduated from high school in Floresville.   After his graduation, he entered the University of Texas in Austin where he received his undergraduate degree and later earned a law degree.

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Irene Ryan

The actress Irene Ryan was born Jesse Irene Noblitt on October 17, 1902 to James Merritt and Catherine J. McSharry Noblitt while her family was living in El Paso, Texas.  James was stationed at Fort Bliss and the family did not remain in Texas long, but El Paso has always claimed Irene.  The Noblitts lived off the base on Franklin Street near downtown.  Irene recounted that she was born at home.  James was a sergeant in the United States Army and soon after she was born, they moved to California.  Irene began entertaining when she was a teenager and recalled winning a talent contest when she was eleven years old.  When she was nineteen, she married actor Tim Ryan.  The couple appeared as Ryan and Noblette in vaudeville until that venue declined.  After this, the couple appeared on radio as Tim and Irene.  Ryan was a character actor who appeared in many films over the years, including From Here to Eternity (1953).  The couple was married for about 16 years, and had no children.  Ryan died in 1956 of a heart attack.

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Posted by on December 26, 2019 in biography, entertainers

 

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Jimmy Dean

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(Image credit: Associated Press)

Jimmy Ray Dean was born August 10, 1928 to George Otto and Ruth Taylor Dean in Seth Ward, Hale, Texas which lies just outside of Plainview.  At that time, the family was to be operating a farm.  Ruth was Otto’s second wife, but by the time Jimmy was 11 or 12, Ruth was listed as a single parent, working as a seamstress out of her home in Seth Ward.  From that point on, the family consisted of Ruth, her sons Jimmy and Don.  Ruth later is said to have become a barber to support her family.  At an early age, Jimmy learned to play the piano, accordion, harmonica and guitar as he worked around the family farm.  He was active in the local Baptist church there in Seth Ward and attributed his interest in music to his mother and the music in church.

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Posted by on November 28, 2019 in biography, entertainers

 

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Major Horace S. Carswell

The former Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth was named for Horace Seaver Carswell, a Medal of Honor winner from North Texas.

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(Image credit: Findagrave)

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in biography, heroes, medal of honor, world war 2

 

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