Memories of World War II

Joseph was Staff Sergeant and was stationed in Texas, Scottfield, GA; China; and Burma, India. He entered service on January 2, 1942 and was discharged in December 1945. He married Evelyn Welu; they had 13 children. He is buried in Lucan Cemetery.

(Reference: Redwood, The Story of a County, Wayne Webb, pg. 223-224)

Through the summer of 1941, war was the consuming topic of interest. Civilians got into the act in a small way in July when a civilian defense committee was organized with George A. Barnes, Redwood Falls, as chairman. First project was to collect scrap aluminum, and by the end of August, 2 1/4 tons hand been picked up. How tiny the effort was to seem later, but at that time it was the most the home front could think of doing.

On that gray, gloomy Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese crushed the fond hopes Americans had of being sheltered in their isolationism and shattered the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor and killed American boys by the hundreds. Redwood County servicemen made the supreme sacrifice, dying at the rate of more than two per month during the war period, December 7, 1941 to September 1, 1945.
Veteran, Joseph Dolan, was living in Milroy when inducted and tells his story: (Reference: “Lest We’ll Forget 1940-1946, Irma Norcutt, Lucan Historical Society, pg. 60)
“In 1942, I enlisted, got basic training in Texas and then was an aircraft mechanic in Georgia before I went to China. It took 40 days to get there by boat because they had to zig-zag to avoid the torpedo boats. They were not part of a convoy.

I worked on the P-51 fighter plane, before I was sent to Burma a year later. There I flew the mountains or, as it was called, “The Hump” many times. The Air Force had to load the planes with as much equipment as possible in order to get the necessary supplies to the front. Then the planes were too heavy to get over the mountains. The pilot asked the men to “roll out barrels of oil” so that they could make it to the other side.
As crew chief, I was in charge of the mechanical work of one plane, a C-46. These supply planes hauled the oil and transported men. The P-51 was the fighter plane which carried just the pilot and 50 caliber machine gun. The pilot operated the gun himself. These small planes could land within 100-150 yards on grass. As soon as they landed, 5 or 6 men would push them back into the jungle so the planes couldn’t be seen from the air. I knew more than one pilot who did not come back from his mission.”