Celebrating Southern Utah War Heroes
WWII Veterans Honored in Washington County
By Don Parker
By 1945 there were over 65,000 men and women in uniform from the state of Utah. This is a stunning number, given that the total population of Utah in 1945 was only 591,000. That means nearly 11% of the entire population were active duty. By comparison, about 8% of the U.S. population was in the military in 1945 (12.2 million out of 139.9 million).
Considering that at least half of the population were women, and that significant portions of the male population were either under age, over age, or physically unfit for service in the military, it might be close to 25% to 30% of all the men in the state of Utah serving in the armed forces of the United States. Perhaps even as high as 95% of all the eligible males.
This is not to discount, in any way, the service performed at home by Utah’s women. No war (or any other effort) could long be sustained on an industrialized scale without agricultural and industrial strength to sustain it. Utah’s women, like women from every other state, stepped up to provide that strength.
WWII was a very closely fought war, and could easily have gone the wrong way. This is especially true in the early stages of the conflict. The axis powers were extremely dangerous, given the high state of preparation for war they had achieved compared to the allied powers in the 1930s. Under fascism, the economies of Germany, Italy and Japan were under the control of dictatorial powers that enforced the total mass mobilization of society. They fully suppressed any form of opposition. They also ruthlessly invaded their neighbors and subjugated their populations as much as possible.
The people of Utah were above average in their sacrifices in ending the evil that was enveloping the world in WWII. My family is probably typical of most families here in Utah. Those (that I know of) who voluntarily served from my family were:
- Ray Parker (father), USN Gato class submarine sailor
- Stan Williams (cousin), USN Gato class submarine sailor
- Kosh Williams (cousin), USMC F4U fighter pilot
- Lemond Parker (uncle), USA artillery
- Max Cosslett (uncle), USN corpsman
- Charles Foster (uncle), USAAF B-29 pilot
- Golden Lang (stepfather), USAAF B-24 pilot
- Gordon Williams (stepfather), USN hand to hand combat instructor
Here in Washington County there are many memorials to those who served in WWII. A particularly nice one is the Pearl Harbor Memorial at the Tonaquint Cemetery at 1777 S Dixie Dr in St. George. Every year the St George Chapter of The American Legion commemorates the events of that day in 1941 on December 7th.
On Saturday, May 19th, in honor of those who made the huge sacrifices that it took to defeat the forces of evil, Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum will once again host the Annual 1940s Hangar Dance at 4196 S Airport Pkwy in St George. Join us for a wonderful evening of dancing and entertainment! You can also check out the museum’s Facebook page for more info on this and other events.
We have a proud legacy of service here in Southern Utah. May we always be ready to serve and support one another when opportunity comes our way.