Last updated: June 8, 2007
The Lusk Herald
May 31, 2000
The following letter was sent to Lusk High School and published in the Lusk Herald in 1944. The soldier called "Shorty" has never been identified.
While reprinting this letter for publication in this edition of the Lusk Herald, I became curious about the gold star mentioned in the last paragraph of the letter. A search of Niobrara County High school's trophy cases and public displays revealed no gold star, no mention of "Shorty."
I turned to Lusk's resident World War II history buffs, Winifred Bryant and Noel Larson - neither could tell me whether the star had ever been placed in the high school, as requested by the 61st Infantry of Nebraska.
If anyone knows something about this story, please contact Winnie Bryant, Noel Larson or Sharlyn Peterson of the Lusk Herald. We are all interested in finding out whether "Shorty" received the recognition requested by his long-ago comrades in arms.
His story brings a surge of emotion to those who read it; he surely deserves to be remembered with a gold star as well as heartfelt appreciation from the recipients of the peace and freedom he left behind him.
reprinted from "The War Years: A 50th Anniversary Album"
Hastings, Neb., Feb 24, 1944
"In the small town of Lusk, Wyoming everything is peaceful and happy. I want to keep it that way." - "Shorty," Lusk's unknown hero
Lusk High, I am a Sergeant in the Army of the United States. You will find a lot of things wrong with this letter as I have been wounded in the head and I cannot think clearly.
The reason I am writing this letter is, a boy gave his life on Guadalcanal in order to make possible the capture of "Bloody Knoll." All I know him by is "Shorty" but the name should have been much more powerful sounding.
"Shorty" was a light machine gunner with the 61st Infantry of Nebraska. We gained possession of the objective in two hours of bitter fighting. When the Japs made their counter attack, the order was given to retreat to the Jungle.
Shorty ignored the order and stayed by his gun. His fire stopped the Japs halfway up the hill. This enabled us to throw a pincer around the knoll and catch them in the middle.
Shorty is dead now, but he is not forgotten by the 61st. His last 15 minutes of life were spent talking about the reason he disobeyed orders. He said, "In the small town of Lusk, Wyoming everything is peaceful and happy. I want to keep it that way." He also said he went to school at Lusk High School and wanted the people he knew there to keep on being free, and never know the meaning of Japanese torture.
Shorty received no medal because he disobeyed orders, but to the men who saw him, he needs no medal. We will always remember him.
He was the typical American boy from all the High Schools in America and that's more or less what we all are fighting for. The right to learn and be free.
The 61st requests of Lusk High School to hang a gold star in the Auditorium where Shorty once had his fun, like all other boys.
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