MUSCODA- With Memorial Day about to come at the end of the month it seems proper to spend a bit of time remembering. Those of us who have been around awhile perhaps recall that the day was once called ‘Decoration Day,’ a time to decorate graves of veterans and family members and visit with relatives not seen since that day the previous year.
Looking for memorabilia I checked a “Muscoda
Progressive” dated April 26, 1945, printed during the heart of World War II. A lead story was headlined ‘Lt. Col. Gene Strouse Has Close Call On B-29.’
The story continues, “Lt. Col. Eugene Strouse of Muscoda, who has been piloting B-29s over Tokyo for several weeks, owes his life to the heroic action of the pilot of the plane he was traveling in April 12.
“The pilot on this mission was S. Sgt. Henry E. Erwin of Alabama and he was awarded the first Congressional Medal of Honor ever presented to a B-29 crewman.
“Lt. Col. Strouse was squad leader on the April 12 trip to Japan when a faulty bomb exploded in the launching tube and shot back into the plane, striking Sgt. Erwin his face. The plane and its crew would have been lost if Sgt. Erwin had not picked up the burning bomb, groped to the pilot’s window and heaved it out. His clothes were completely aflame. Erwin then fell back on the floor and was being treated for serious burns.
“Lt. Strouse has made a goodly number of missions over Tokyo and other cities. He is the son-inlaw of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Gillette of Muscoda.
“Lt. Col. Strouse holds the highest rank of any young man from Muscoda in World War II. He enlisted in the Canadian Air Force in 1940 and transferred to the U. S. Air Force in 1942.”
At the same time, back home in peaceful Muscoda, plans were being made for V-E Day and the end of the war in Europe. Village President Ed Duffey, in a proclamation, urged that when the word comes,“All places cease activity and all citizens go to their place of worship and give thanks to God for giving success to the armed forces of the Allied Nations.”