Gillette Veterans’ Memorial Tour 2018 #ThisWeekInWYHistory
Mary Kelly, president of the Gillette Historical Society, told some incredible stories today of Campbell County men and woman who served in conflicts going back as far as the Spanish-American War.
The Campbell County Historical Society and Campbell County Cemetery District hosted guided tours of veteran graves at the Mount Pisgah Cemetery in Gillette, with the highlighted graves marked with pumpkins.
Despite the depth of the information provided, the tour was what Kelly called a “snippet” of the military history at the cemetery, where over 980 white crosses mark the graves of veterans.
Kelly and Sandy Holyoak did all the research of the nine graves, including gathering together photos and information about the wars the veterans fought in. Here’s a brief summary of their work.
Ira Francis “Ike” Shober was born in 1920 on the family homestead 49 miles north of Gillette. He enlisted in the Army the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He became a B-24 pilot. During a raid on a German aircraft factor in Vienna, the pilot was killed by flak right after he had ordered the bombs to be dropped. Shober was the co-pilot. He somehow managed to pull the badly damaged aircraft out of a dive and fly it to an allied airfield. He stopped the plane by having remaining crew strap parachutes to the gun mounts, which were then opened upon landing. On another mission, Shober was shot down over Pristina, Yugoslavia and spent nine months in a German POW camp. He is the father of Campbell County Commissioner Micky Shober, who participated in one of the tours today. Micky Shober said his father lost about 80 pounds while he was in the camp. Ike Shober died in 2006.
The oldest gravesite was that of George Marshman Chambers, who was born in 1837. He was a private in the Union Army during the Civil War. He lost two brothers in that bloody conflict, including one at Andersonville Prison. He was wounded in 1863 and subsequently discharged. He lived with his son in Gillette and died in April 1926. He was given a military funeral by veterans of World War I and the Spanish-American War.
John Gleason was born in Greensburg, Indiana in 1877. He enlisted in the Illinois Volunteers, Company B, Fourth Regiment, and was honorably discharged in 1899. Gleason homesteaded along the Little Powder River near Weston in 1906. He died in 1950 and was buried with military honors conducted by the American Legion Post 42. There is not much known about his activities during the Spanish-American War, but he is said to have been an “outspoken Democrat.”
George “Rock” Emigh was born in Humbolt, Nebraska in 1896. He was 18 months old when his family moved to an area near Sundance, Wyoming. He joined the Army in 1917 and served on the Mexican border. While there, he pinned a ribbon on Omar Bradley, who would later become General Omar Bradley during World War II. After the war, Emigh and his wife moved to Gillette in 1962. He died in 1983.
George Redman Keeline moved to Campbell County in 1908, when he was 15 years old. He worked as a “wagon boss” in charge of cattle round-ups when Wyoming was one great, big open range. He served in the Dental Corps during World War I. He died in 1978. Kelley explained on the tour there was one dentist for every 1000 veterans serving in the military.
Jane Elizabeth McDaniels died three days after her husband, Charles Jerome McDaniels. Jane was born Jane Schumacher in 1936 in Cleveland, Ohio. She entered the Nursing Corps in the Navy after graduating high school. She was stationed in Maryland for training and became a hospital corpsman. She reenlisted in the Navy Reserves and served another four years. In 1976, she and her husband moved to Pine Haven, and shortly after that, they moved to Gillette.
Darrio Butcher was born in Gates, Nebraska in 1914. Two years later, his family moved to their homestead 23 miles north of Gillette. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and was an inspector for tanks and half-tracks. He shipped out in Feb. 1944 for England, and after D-Day he was sent to France. On Sept. 1, 1944, the armored vehicle he was driving was hit by German artillery, killing Butcher. He was buried in an allied cemetery in France, and in April 1949, his body was brought home to Gillette.
A.C. “Jack” Castleberry was born in Rosebud, Montana. He enlisted in the Navy in 1951 and served as a Radioman Third Class in San Diego. On the U.S.S. Begor, he participated in the evacuation of loyal Vietnamese and Chinese refugees escaping communist-controlled Viet Minh, during Operation Passage to Freedom. He moved to Gillette in the 1950s and died in 1988.
Althea Blanche Creswell was born in 1922. She enlisted in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After her discharge from the Navy in 1945, she got a degree in pharmacy from the University of Colorado. There she met her husband, George Hunter. The couple would operate Hunter Drug in Gillette until their retirement. Althea Hunter was the first woman in Wyoming to get a pharmacist license. She died in 2003.