Military Honor Roll

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On August 15, 2015, the world observed the 70-year anniversary of V-J Day, which had been the date when the Japanese surrender to the Allied forces to end World War II was announced. After so many war-weary years, people literally rejoiced in the streets.

A footnote to that historic day and a long-time part of Lew Wallace history that seems to have been often overlooked, is the Military Service Roll.

The World War II years hit the student population of Lew Wallace hard, particularly the graduating male seniors. There was very little chance that any of them would go off to college right then, life was put on hold for, as that Greatest Generation often said, “the doo-ration.”

William Vorwald was a student at that time, and he remembers boys not even waiting to graduate before they reported to Uncle Sam to defend the USA from the Axis powers. He reports that as of the time he graduated in 1943, 495 out of 941 boys who had graduated in the last 7 years were already in military service.

The female element was not to be ignored, either; 5 Lew Wallace girls were in the WAACS (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) and one in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, a division of the US Naval Reserve).

Out of the graduating Class of 1943, twelve young men were killed in service, which equated to one out of every 10 boys in the class. What a sobering thought.

The Class of 1943 decided to remember in perpetuity the Lew Wallace graduates and other students who had served in the war, so they presented to the school a Service Roll Honor plaque. All Lew Wallace students seeing service in the war had their names listed on the plaque, and those who had been killed in service were denoted with a gold star in front of their names.

It was originally displayed on the hallway wall outside the old Chemistry room, and Vorwald remembers it being in that spot when he left the school in 1969. Teachers with more recent memory recall the plaque, but its location after the 1970’s renovation of the school is unsure. It has also been reported that there was a similar plaque for those who served in the Korean Conflict; whether or not there was one for those who lost their lives in Vietnam is not known.

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