Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Snapshot of Berry Oakley, of the Roemans, the back up band of singer Tommy Roe.  Circa 1965 playing at the National Guard Armory, Dublin, Georgia. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Left (north of tracks) Macon, Dublin & Savannah Railroad Depot
Right (south of tracks) Wrightsville & Tennille Railroad Depot (before it was enlarged to house two stories.)


Black Sunday

In the summer of 1943, it became apparent to the country’s top military strategists that in order for the United States to defeat Hitler and his German army, the oil refineries at Ploiesti, Romania must be destroyed in advance of the invasion of Italy  following the withdrawal of the Italian government from the war and the taking over the ancient country by German forces.

Operation Tidal Wave was planned to destroy or severely cripple oil production by the Axis powers.  One of the participants in the bold mission was Dublin’s Mack Fitzgerald.  After Mack, a native of Fitzgerald, Georgia, received his training as a flight engineer and gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator bomber, he and his crew were deployed to Europe, from where they were deployed to Bengasi, Libya in North Africa, located some 1200 miles from Ploiesti, Romania and within the range of the bombers.

“The Liberators were to conduct low-level bombing practice runs over the Sahara Desert in preparation for attacks in the Italian/Romanian theater.   Although designed for high altitude bombing, low level missions were critical for accuracy,” Fitzgerald recalled.

“Because of the nature of the planned mission, volunteers were asked to participate. All the airmen in the 98th Bomb Group volunteered for the mission except one. The men were told that if all the men were killed in their efforts to destroy the oil refineries and the destruction of the refineries was successful, the mission would still be considered a success. It was estimated that the destruction of the oil refineries would shorten the war by at least six months,” Fitzgerald remembered.

At dawn on August 1, 1943, a day which would later be called, “Black Sunday,” Mack’s plane, under the command of Hubert Womble, lifted into the war under complete radio silence as one of nearly 180 bombers flying in three waves north across the Mediterranean Sea.
“The lead navigator's plane went down in the sea. This created many problems for the large number of aircraft that were expecting to be led to Ploesti by the lead navigator. Waves 1 and 2 got off course by making a wrong turn. Wave 3 more closely followed the plotted route arriving 1st at the destination instead of last as previously planned,” Fitzgerald recollected..

The bombs of the first wave had longer fuses to create one mass explosion with the bombs of all three waves detonating at one time.  

“Wave 3 had to drop their bombs first. By the time the aircraft of waves 1 and 2 arrived at the refineries, they had to drop their bombs into an already exploding scene,” said  Mack, who  remembers seeing parts of the refineries up in the air higher than his airplane.

Mack's plane, hit by anti aircraft fire, lost 2 engines.  Hubert Womble, the pilot, had no choice but to make an emergency landing in an open field.   The pilot’s foot was amputated in the crash and the bombardier was left trapped in the plane.  Those who escaped fanned out in pairs.  Mack and his buddy, Sgt. Reid eventually turned themselves over to a Romanian farmer.   Still suffering from shrapnel in his foot, Mack was taken to a Ploiesti hospital for badly needed care.

From the hospital, the men were taken to a makeshift prison near Timisul, Romania in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains.  One hundred and ten prisoners were confined in a small, cramped quarters.

Living off a diet of thin soup and crusted brown bread with occasional exercise, Mack and his fellow prisoners made it through one day at a time. Each and every escape attempt was unsuccessful.  On some days, the men survived by the simple presence of a radio.

“Some time after, we began to get  Red Cross food parcels with dried milk, candy bars, spam, soap and cigarettes,” Fitzgerald looked back as he also remembered wearing Romanian army clothes instead of the uniform he had on when his plane crashed.  Life in prison was made somewhat normal by the camp commander, who allowed the men to attend church and write postcards home.

On the last day of August 1944, elements of the Russian army began to move into the Timisul area from the north.  Prison guards came in to the barracks and told Mack and the prisoners that the war, for them at least for them, was over and the men were free to go.

        Arrangements were made and B-24s began arriving in Romania to pick up the 110 Americans to fly them aboard Liberator bombers back to Italy after 13 months of imprisonment. Mack returned home to the states and back to duty.

Mack’s life turned dramatically when he was summoned to Atlanta to visit his father, who was undergoing surgery.  While he was in the hospital, he met a beautiful student nurse, Deedy DeLoach.  They fell in love and married soon thereafter.

After a short recuperation period, Mack was assigned to  Cochran Field , an Army Air Corps training field south of  Macon, Georgia.   Shortly thereafter, Mack’s request for a transfer down the road to Warner Robins was granted.  As the war was coming to a close in July 1945, Mack Fitzgerald was discharged from the Army Air Corps in July 1945.   During his three and one half years of service in USAAF, Fitzgerald, received several medals, including,  the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and the POW Medal.

After a series of odd jobs, Mack went to work back home in Fitzgerald with Sears, for whom he had worked in Macon before the war. And he was home, home!. Mack and his family moved to Tifton in 1968 and in 1972 to Dublin, where he retired in 1980 after 25 years of service.

The Raid on Ploiesti was deemed as a failure because of  "no curtailment of overall product output" in oil production.   The daring and difficult raid on Plioesti became one of the costliest for the American Air Force in Europe. At least 53 aircraft and 660 pilots and crewmen were lost.  Considered the worst single day loss in the war, that day will be forever known as "Black Sunday".

But for Mack Fitzgerald, his family and friends and all of those people who have been blessed by his friendship and service to his community, that day is not the true story of Mack Fitzgerald.  

Friday, May 27, 2016


Co. E, 2nd Bn., 222nd Inf.
42nd Division

“He Gave His Yesterdays For Your Tomorrows”

Awarded The Silver Star 
for gallantry in action at Gambsheim, France,
January 6, 1945

“Back in the States, we were told to
pick our squad leaders. One quality to look 
for was intelligence, so I picked the best.”

   Walter E. Stomski, Co. E,
   2nd Battalion, 222nd Regiment,
   42nd (Rainbow) Division, U.S. Army


  May 8, 1945,  V-E Day:  The Dublin Courier Herald’s banner headline read “ War Officially Ends.”  Public celebrations were somewhat subdued.  There were a few flags displayed publicly in stores and homes around the city.  In the Zetterower home, the mood was much more somber.  Dr. and Mrs. Frank Zetterower, Sr. had heard nothing from their son Frank, who had been reported missing in action for four seemingly endless months. Day after agonizing day, night after restless night, they held out hope.  Then on the day the war officially ended in Europe, the news they had feared, but prayed and hoped would never come, did come: “The War Department regrets to inform you that  your son was kil....”  You can’t imagine the pain, the never ending pain, unless you have been in their place. The families of James E. Fountain and Christopher Lowery got the same dreaded news that day, a day which was supposed to be a happy one.

Frank Zetterower, Jr. graduated from Dublin High School in 1936.  Little did Frank and his buddies, Red Tindol and Bob Werden , know what the world had in store for them in the upcoming decade.    After graduation, Frank worked a while for Swift and Company before he was granted a Dunlop Tire franchise in Dublin. 

Frank entered the United States Army and began his training at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.  He quickly rose in rank to a Staff Sergeant in Co. E of the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd Army Division, known forever as the “Rainbow Division.”  The division got it’s name during World War I.  It was named by one of its members,

Gen. Douglas McArthur.  McArthur remarked that the division, which was originally composed of National Guard Units from 27 states: “The 42nd Infantry stretches like a rainbow from one end of America to the other.”  

One of Frank’s fellow staff sergeants was Sgt. George P. Beard, Jr..  Beard, Zetterower, and Russell Harris were the staff sergeants in 2nd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 222nd Regiment of the 42nd Division.  Beard fondly remembered a humorous story about Sgt. Zetterower.  “Because Frank’s last name was Zetterower, he was well known by all of Company E.  There was a daily mail call.  The mail clerk’s name was Cpl. Gwaltney.  He proceeded to call out the mail by the alphabet each day. Frank, because of his last name, was always the last to receive his mail.  After a few
days of mail call, Cpl. Gwaltney, suddenly changed his procedures and started with the letter ‘Z.’   A lot of good natured grumbling occurred as Zetterower sauntered through the crowd with a broad grin and his mail in his hand.  Cpl. Gwaltney did this on several occasions and from then on, everyone knew Staff Sergeant Zetterower in Company E,” Beard wrote.
S.Sgt. Beard remembered another incident which puzzled many members of the company.  First Sergeant Snow gave out weekend passes on every Friday. Sergeants Snow and Zetterower were always the first to get their passes to nearby Muskogee, Oklahoma.  After a few weekends, Beard finally asked why Snow and Zetterower always got their passes before anyone else.  Zetterower reluctantly revealed that he and Snow were studying to obtain their degrees as Masons in the Muskogee Masonic Lodge.    Because of Frank’s inspiration, Beard became a Mason and recently received his fifty-year pin from Culpepper, Virginia Masonic Lodge.  

After basic training, the members of the 42nd Division, composed of the 222nd, 232nd, and 242nd regiments, boarded troop trains on November 13, 1944 bound for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.  The men wrote their families with the traditional sentiments directing them “not to worry, I’ll be back home, soon.” The men marched quietly to the long train of Pullman cars and troop sleepers as the band played “The Rainbow Song” and “Mountain Dew.” Their wives, girl friends, and well wishers
cried.  Despite an attempt to disguise their mission upon the arrival at Camp Kilmer, everyone knew that they were bounded for Europe.  Many of them had been told that the war was almost over and that the German army was ready to quit.  Upon their arrival in New Jersey, the men caught up on their sleep, contacted their love ones and wondered when they would get a pass to New York City.  Most of the men got to go to the “Big Apple,” before all passes were canceled and they were restricted to the base.   From there, the men of the Rainbow Division boarded the troop ship,
“The George Washington,” bound for France.  The rest of the division would come over several months later.
The infantry regiments of the Rainbow Division arrived in Marseilles, France on December 8th and 9th.  Shortly after their arrival, the men marched to a stony, windswept piece of ground known as Command Post 2.  The weather there was an omen of things to come.  The days were cold - the nights, even colder.  The men continued to train during the day.  All lights were put out at night  to protect against German air raids.  In one of his last letters to his brother John, whom Frank affectionately referred to as “Mug Head,” Frank said that he was about 350 miles from the front, somewhere in southern France.  “I don’t know how long I will be at this place, so I’m just waiting around with everyone else to see what happens,” Zetterower added.  The first news from his wife Zona since his arrival in Europe comforted Frank.  Frank wished John, who was a Lieutenant Junior Grade stationed at Dental Dispensary # 29, Camp Ward, U.S.N.T.C., Farragut, Idaho,  a “Merry
Christmas and Happy New Year!”  The Battle of the Bulge dominated the news from the front.  The Third Army was moving northward, while the Seventh Army was stretching its thin lines to take up the line vacated by the Third Army.  The Rainbow Division was assigned to the Third Army and left the Command Post in trucks, and 40 and 8 boxcars to an assembly area in Bensdorf, France.  While they were on the way, the division was reassigned to the Seventh Army to relieve elements of the 36th Division around Strasbourg.
The 42nd, not a full strength division, was assigned to Task Force Linden, which was under the command of Brigadier General Henning Linden and which assembled near the ancient city of Strasbourg, where they arrived on December 23rd.  On Christmas Eve, while the remainder of the Division was still preparing to come over, the 222nd regiment moved into front-line defensive positions along the Rhine River.  Task Force Linden was  placed under the control of the 79th Division.   The 232nd Regiment was on the left flank, the 222nd situated in the city of Strasbourg, and the 242nd sat on the right or south flank.  The total line stretched for 19 miles.   The 42nd spent Christmas on the Maginot Line housed in old French forts and school buildings.  There was hot turkey dinner that day.  There was even running water. Frank and his men could look and see the famous Gothic Cathedral which towered above the skyline of Strasbourg.    Bill Clayton remembered seeing the German soldiers moving about on the other side of the river.  They had orders not to fire,
unless they were fired upon first.    The Germans, also on the defense, fired occasional volleys of machine gun fire into American positions.

    Following the Battle of the Bulge, German forces under Himmler were determined to repulse the Allied advance into their homeland.  On December 26th, American generals were desperately seeking to fill gaps in the Allied lines. Contingency plans for the evacuation of Strasbourg were laid out.  American lines grew dangerously thin.    New Year’s Day found the Americans shifting positions again.  The 222nd regiment took over the sector previously occupied by the 242nd regiment south of Strasbourg.  A threat of an attack on the following night sent the 222nd a little further to the east.  Following a conference between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and French leader Charles De Gaulle, a decision was made to hold Strasbourg.  January 3rd was a bitterly cold day.  Frank had previously written his brother stating that because of the extreme cold in France, that he and his men were forced to burn their shoe polish to stay warm.   Refugees, fearing an oncoming battle, were fleeing  Strasbourg.  The 2nd Battalion of the 222nd, including E Company, moved back into Strasbourg.

E Company (222nd) was relieved on the 5th of January, 1945 by soldiers from the 1st French Regiment.  In order to speed up the relief, one company at a time was taken out from the lines.  By 1:00 p.m., E Company had been completely relieved and the men began loading their trucks for Wantzenau.  They rode in trucks known as DUCKs, which were amphibious vehicles. Company leaders had no knowledge of their mission once they arrived in Wantzenau, when they were directed to move to Weyersheim.

The Germans noticed the movements of the 42nd and began an attack on Gambsheim and other points along the Rhine River on the morning of the 5th.   At three o’clock on the afternoon of January 5, 1945, Lt. Colonel Edmund Ellis received orders for the attack on Gambsheim, France, a small village along the Rhine River, which separated France and Germany.   It would be the second time in a month that American Forces attempted to seize the French border town.    On December 7, 1944, three years to the day after America’s entry into the war, the 19th Armored Infantry battalion and the 25th Tank Battalion liberated Gambsheim.   Zetterower’s company was ordered to move from west to east along the south side of the Weyersheim - Gambsheim Road with E Company of the 232nd Infantry in the attack echelon.  The two companies were a part of Task Force A commanded by Ellis. They were to attack Gambsheim from the west, while Task Force B would attack from the south. The two forces began their attack two to three hundred yards west of Weyersheim with Co. E (232d) moving on the right flank south of the Weyersheim - Gambsheim Road. Zetterower’s company  was still on the way from Strasbourg.  As darkness began to fall, three supporting tanks took the point. Ellis’s force encountered little resistance, only light arms from German patrols slowed the advance. Once E Co. (232d) reached the edge of town and the cover of the Steinwald woods the fire intensified.

The leading elements of Ellis’ force found that a German force had moved into the Steinwald woods, north of town.  The briefing the men received earlier stated that there was no information  whether there were men in the woods or not.   Other German outposts were established along the Landgraben Canal west of the woods. When contacts with other elements of the Task Force were lost, Ellis called a halt to the advance and returned back to the Landgraben Canal.  The men dug in while the leaders continued to attempt to contact the 2nd Battalion of the 242nd Regiment, which had been delayed in coming up because of heavy enemy fire.  At six o’clock in the evening, the two Task Force leaders, were discussing their next move from a command post in Weyersheim.  

Company E arrived in Weyersheim about 4:30 p.m.  They were told little, just that a small force of Germans were defending the town of Gambsheim.  E Company (222nd) was told that the attack was in progress and that they would be the reserve company in the attack, 600 yards behind E Company (232nd).   As the Company Commander was returning to town, the company had already dismounted from their vehicles and were moving forward through Weyersheim.  During their advance through the town, the commander ordered a test of the radios.  Only two of the six radios had been calibrated. Two quit working after ten minutes.  In the haste to move out quickly, the bazookas and bazooka ammunition was left behind in the supply truck.
Upon their arrival at the canal, Company E (222nd) was ordered to assemble in a field. “There were many junior officers, non-coms, and platoon runners there,” Clayton remembered.  The men removed all but their most essential gear.  Each man placed two hand grenades on his field jacket flaps.  They loaded as much ammo as each man could carry.  A first aid kit and a canteen was the only other equipment that most of the men would carry with them - a thought which befuddled Clayton who was told to expect tanks along the way.  The Company Commander went to look for the battalion commander and placed a platoon leader in command of the company.   The captain ran into the tank commander, who had not seen anything of E Company (232nd).   When he returned to his company, the captain found that E Company (222nd) was about 400 yards west of Gambsheim, out in front of E
Company (232nd).  The captain ordered an immediate withdrawal back to the canal.

The Battalion Commander ordered Zetterower’s company to form a defensive perimeter west of the canal in the rear of E Company (232nd).   “ The ground was bitterly cold, the ground was covered with snow, and we huddled together all night long trying to keep warm and prevent frostbite, ” remembered Sgt. Gareth Tuckey. Many of the men slept (or tried to sleep) out in the open with little to warm them. After a reconnaissance patrol returned to camp, the Battalion Commander ordered Zetterower’s Company to be the attacking company, when the force crossed the bridge on the next morning.  The vehicle bridge was the only place where the canal could be forded.  The companies were ordered to get into files and to follow the 242nd over the bridge.

At 3:00 o’clock on the morning of January 6, 1945, the Ellis force departed from the departure point, the Landgraben Canal vehicle  bridge.  Their mission was to reach the railroad station before eight o’clock.  This time line was critical because the ground between the bridge and the railroad was flat and open.  After reaching the railroad, the Ellis Force was ordered to push the German’s across the Rhine River.  This was no easy task for two companies which had virtually no armored support.

In an interview following the battle, Colonel Ellis stated, “The attack went off as planned.  The tanks moved out with the Ellis force.  The terrain which the 2nd Battalion, 242nd Infantry, was advancing was not suitable for tanks.  The attack progressed in a satisfactory manner.” He further added that “basically the plan for the attack was sound, but that a three hour delay for further reconnaissance and
organization would have been of considerable benefit.”  Better communications, ammunition resupply,  and additional fire support would be needed for the attack to succeed.  There was no bazooka ammunition, although each unit carried an adequate supply of bazookas.  

The point of the 242nd was cut down by fire which enfiladed the column.  Two tanks were brought up to lead the advance.  The forces then moved out across the bridge and took up night attack formations.  Bill Clayton remembered that “you could only see a few feet and conversation was limited to a few whispers.”  The attack pattern was two or three men on the point, followed by the company commander, who was followed by three platoon runners, and three rifle platoons.

Heavy machine gun fire began to rain down on the Ellis Force after they crossed the first canal. Three 60mm mortars silenced the machine guns.   Clayton remembered that the German machine guns opened up from several directions. Sweeping tracers were flying all over the place.  Clayton thought about lying down in the snow.  He heard S/Sgt. Boyd Turner cry out that he had been hit. Clayton crawled to Turner and brought him back to safety behind a pile of rocks or a stone wall.  It was hard to tell in the dark of night.  Company E, with Sgt. Zetterower heading one of the leading elements, began to race across the open ground, firing as they ran.  The dark night allowed Ellis’s men to move faster.  The Weyersheim-Gambsheim Road, which divided the two forces, aided in directing the attack toward Gambsheim.  The flashes from German guns in the Steinwald Woods to the northeast kept the men moving in the right direction.  The skirmishers of the  242nd slowed the enemy fire from the Steinwald Woods.

As Lt. George Carroll of Company E looked around as the nautical twilight began, he noticed that the tanks which had been promised to him were not there. He ran back in the dark to find them, but to no avail.  E Company was pinned down in the snow.  They were easy targets.  Men were being wounded and killed, left and right, in the crossing machine gun fire.  Charles Livingston, a platoon leader, looked around and saw no one was firing.  Company F was supposed to be coming up on the
right flank.  They were not there - ambushed and pinned down by the Germans several miles away.   The men of Company E  were hugging the snow laden ground. Still, there were no tanks.  Five runners were sent back to find them.  All five were wounded.  Frederick L. Vonglarick, Kenneth Dickey, and Harry D. Pratt were all awarded Bronze Stars for their heroic achievement in volunteering to run back through the fire to find the badly needed tanks.  All three were wounded and were presumed missing in action.   As Carroll approached riding on one of the American tanks, Livingston ordered his men to charge toward the railroad embankment. The tanks stopped and began firing.  One round accidentally killed two men and wounded a platoon leader.  The Company Commander attempted to force the tank to unbutton its turrets by beating on the turret with rifles. 

After this didn’t work, he managed to get in front of the tank’s periscope and waved his arms.  By 8:00 a.m., the tanks were no longer to be found.  The tank platoon leader was killed when a bazooka round destroyed his tank.

The men charged toward the railroad tracks.  They had only crossed half way across that open, and very deadly, field.  There was no alternative.  One officer ordered his men to fire rifle grenades into the railroad station.   There were rebel yells and shouts of “hubba hubba” as the men rushed the German positions.  By this time, most of the men must have felt they were about to die.  The embankment of the tracks was the only cover from the horrific fire they could find.   The tracks, which were elevated twenty feet high at a 100% slope, provided excellent cover.  The rifle grenades seemed to slow the enemy fire coming from the station.   Livingston said, “the last time I saw Frank, we were pinned down in the snow along the railroad tracks.”  

It is impossible, after 55 years, to determine the exact order of events as the battle as they took place. The men’s memories are clouded by the maelstrom of the moment.    Frank took his 2nd Platoon rifle squad toward an open school yard.   “He was with the leading elements of the company,” said Sgt. Gareth Tuckey,  who lead a weapon’s platoon in Zetterower’s rear.     Suddenly one of Frank’s men was wounded, lying helplessly  in the open.  The sun was quickly illuminating Zetterower and his men, who were silhouetted against the white snow.   Frank had to do something.  His man had no chance out there.  Someone had to go get him.  He knew the odds weren’t good.  That man would die unless he went to out to get him.  The sergeant made sure his men were covered from enemy fire before he made his move. He made it to the man and began to drag him back to safety.

Small arms fire and the always deadly automatic weapons fire permeated the school yard.  The shots were coming from the direction of the Gambsheim railroad station.  Charles Ross, who was standing near Sgt. Zetterower, said  “ he just dropped down and his helmet went flying back off his head.” Ross called out to Frank, but Frank never moved or answered.  When Lt. Carroll ordered the men the charge, Walter Stomski stood up.  He looked up and down the lines.  “I was horrified to see how many of us did not get up,” Stomski lamented.  Stomski called for his squad leaders looking for orders. “When I called for S. Sgt. Zetterower’s name, he did not respond,” Stomski still vividly remembered.  “At this point, I knew he didn’t make it, but it was not confirmed until the next day when the medic reported the casualties to me,” Stomski said.

The men were ordered to keep going.  Ross hoped Frank was just wounded. Weapons platoon leader William C. Bahan and Sgt. Gareth Tuckey followed Frank’s squad into Gambsheim.  When they got to where Frank was, they found that someone had marked his location by sticking his rifle into the ground and placing his helmet on the ground.  There was nothing they could do for him now.    They said to themselves that at least he did not have to suffer very long in the extremely cold weather. Rear elements of the unit came up and brought Frank’s body back to the back of the lines.  Sgt. Zetterower was the company’s first casualty of the war-  in its first battle.

Rifle grenades drove the German defenders from the railroad station area. Fortunately there were no German troops in the railroad station, which Livingston set up as a command post.  Company E of the 232nd Infantry, the reserve company, came up and the survivors established a shaky foothold on the western edge of town.  E Company (232nd) had lost all but one of its officers in the first hour. Then, inch by inch and foot by foot, the Americans moved house to house, eventually making it to the eastern edge of Gambsheim.  The Gambsheim Church was shelled in order to prevent sniper fire. The plan was then to take the southern half of the town.  E Company (232nd) took over the attack echelon.  E Company (222nd) had used most of its ammunition.  The 2nd Platoon was used to establish a bridgehead.  The 1st and 3rd Platoons moved out toward Gambsheim Church, which they took fairly easily through the use of rifle grenades.   The 242nd, now north of the town, had no support.  Col. Ellis reported that there was little fire in the town itself, although there was some enemy artillery shells fired, but were being shot over the heads of his men. Had Ellis known of the predicament of the 242nd, he would have turned north, instead of south.

The Americans had been told that the town was occupied by a few war weary German infantrymen.  Instead, they ran into a company of German Panzer tanks. With no bazookas, the infantrymen of Task Force Linden were helpless.    Then men originally thought they were American tanks coming down the Rhine River from the flank.  The men noticed that behind the tanks were German infantrymen, many of whom were killed by American machine gun fire.  

Sgt. Frank Diaz, Jr. was wounded in his back by mortar shell fragments.  Diaz continued to assist the squad leader until he was also wounded.  Sgt. Diaz took command of the squad and helped move the wounded into a railroad station.   Diaz remained with the wounded and took them down into the basement and then directed the remaining men out of the station and back to safety.  For his actions of heroism, Sgt. Diaz was awarded the Silver Star.   Ross was wounded in the leg and taken to an aid station, which had been set up in that  house.    Someone came in and told him and four other wounded men that the companies were pulling out and they had to stay behind. The five wounded men hid in the basement of the house for five days until they were captured and taken to a German P.O.W. Camp for the remainder of the war.  They never knew what happened to their friends and fellow members of the company.

Bill Clayton remembered coming to after being hit by something.  He was directed to a pub where medics were treating the wounded.  The lesser wounded men started passing a bottle of Cognac around to help alleviate their painful wounds. Then someone yelled, “here comes a tank!”  The tank fired a shot directly into the building.  Those who could run,  ran out. Clayton attached himself to a Lt. Colonel, whom he figured knew what was going on.  The colonel was trying to organize a delaying action to stop the tank.  Clayton made it back but, it wasn’t easy.

Sgt. Tuckey’s weapon’s squad made it to the station “where it seemed obvious to me that we were hopelessly out-gunned and out-manned, Sgt. Tuckey wrote.  “A couple of senior officers sent three volunteers to try and locate the armor support. They were wounded or captured almost immediately,” said Tuckey, who then was forced to withdraw with the rest of his squad.  “I lost five men from my platoon, including a college classmate, who was my best friend,” Tuckey lamented.

There was still no communication with the 242nd on the north, or more importantly, the 232nd on the south.  Ellis’s men thought they could hold against the infantry, but not against the powerful Panzers.  Ellis ordered a withdrawal.  The Germans failed to pursue them.  Ellis commented that the German infantry was “rather inferior.”    The two companies of Ellis’s force joined west of town, but when heavy mortar fire began coming into their positions, Ellis ordered a further withdrawal.

The survivors made it back to the Rohr River to the west.  Livingston and some of the men escaped under the cover of a frozen irrigation ditch.  In all of the confusion and pure Hell, Livingston was unaware of Zetterower’s condition. Livingston, who was awarded a Silver Star for his heroism during the battle, was shocked and grieved, nearly fifty five years after the incident, when he first learned of Frank’s wounding.  He was “a truly likeable guy,” Livingston said.  “Frank amused me with his ‘Yankee Californian’ pronunciation of his name, which sounded like ‘Zettawowah,” Livingston fondly remembered.

The American forces had been  forced to into a hasty withdrawal, having to leave many of the wounded behind, including the platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Dallas Hartwell, the third platoon leader,  and Sgt. Zetterower.  It was their first “baptism of fire.”  The two task forces dug in and waited for eight cold days before being sent back to Luneville, France to recuperate and accept replacements.  The men recovered, new replacements came in, and the advance toward Germany continued. Company E saw action three weeks later at the Ohlungen and Hagenau Forests.   In the last weeks of the war, the men of the 42nd Division moved in the concentration camp at Dachau.   Not knowing  whether or not they were going to fired upon they moved into an area which Bill Clayton described as “deadly quiet.” The prisoners were huddled in their cages. No words were uttered.  Those men of the 42nd, who were the first to enter the camp, were profoundly affected by what they saw for the rest of their lives. The war ended when the 42nd Division was near the Bavarian Alps, which was some of the most beautiful country in the world, a substantial contrast to the hundreds of mile of Hell that had traveled in the last five months. 

Going into the battle, Bill Clayton estimated there were 175 men in Company E.  After the battle the company’s strength was down to 65, including the walking wounded.   Among those who gave their lives were Pfc Dominic R. Deluca, Pvt. Jack E. Hodge, Pfc John T. Ratchek, Pfc Robert W. Swanson, and S/Sgt Frank R. Zetterower.    2nd Lt. John T. Smithson was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic
action, when his company was pinned down by heavy machine gun fire, mortar fire, and small arms fire.  Lt. Smithson rallied his platoon and laid down a covering fire which permitted the advance to be continued.  When many of his men began to fall, he succeeded in having two of the more seriously wounded men moved safely to the rear.  Lt. Smithson was reported missing in action following the battle.  Pfc John Masonis was also awarded the Bronze Star for heroism when he came out from the
protection of a wall and fired his Browning automatic rifle to allow several exposed men to crawl to the safety of the wall.  Masonis disregarded his wounds and once again moved out into the open to give aid to his wounded platoon leader.

          “On January 6, 1945 at Gambsheim, France, Company E, 222nd Regiment received its baptism by fire.  Without artillery or armor support, and without proper weapons to destroy enemy armor, we attacked the enemy.  We got our asses kicked, losing over half the company.  It was a strange tactic to say the least.”
          Bill Clayton, Co. E, 222nd Infantry

     In the fall of 1945, the United States Government recognized the heroic achievements of Staff Sergeant Frank R. Zetterower, Jr.  Major Gen. E.F. Witsell posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for heroism, to Frank’s widow, Nona, in recognition of “ His skillful leadership and self-sacrifice in taking care of his men and for gallantry in action.  Frank’s body arrived in Atlantaon July 21, 1948, just over three and one half years following his death.  On that very day and after a long illness, his father, Dr. Frank R. Zetterower, Sr., died.  Both were buried in Northview Cemetery in a double funeral (Sect. M, Row 1).
      Ten days after the death of Sgt. Frank Zetterower, another young Dublin sergeant  was a mile or so west of Gambsheim.  He was a part of the 66th Armored Infantry Battalion.  His unit was involved in an offensive to counter the German army which had stood firm in the area.  The young man was a member of Company A which moved across the canal about a mile below where Zetterower’s company had crossed ten days earlier.  This time the attack was directed between the canal and the Steinwald woods.   Their mission was to clear the woods of the German forces.  There was a little snow on the ground, but the fog was so thick that the men could not see more than twenty feet in any direction.  As the men of Company A approached the northern half of the woods, they came under fire.  The young Dublin sergeant fell. At first his family thought his wound was very serious.  He was lucky, unlike his former neighbor, Sgt. Zetterower.  The man returned to his unit and in April of 1945,  led the first allied force across the Danube River in Germany.  The younger neighbor of Sgt. Zetterower, who lived about three blocks from the Zetterower home was Sgt.   Lester Porter.
      Frank Zetterower was remembered fondly by all of those who still survive   him.  Sgt. Tuckey described Zetterower as “a competent, well-liked, and highly respected NCO, who became a member of the training cadre when the 42nd Division when it was activated.”  Charles Livingston hoped that his family would be consoled  by the fact that “he was a very brave and selfless man.”   Perhaps Sgt. George  Beard put it best. “Frank was well respected by his squad members, his fellow noncoms,  and our Company Captain Bungo.  I am sure our Maker is now using his talents, and Frank has already informed Him that if there is a roll call, please start with the letter  ‘Z.”
               “Being from New York, The Bronx, I liked
               to hear Sgt. Zetterower talk with a
               Southern accent.  He was always fair and
               not a sergeant that screamed orders, but
               accomplished things by a firm voice in a
               gentlemanly manner and the men obeyed
               him on account of his toned down method
               of giving orders.”
                Oswald T. Cutilli
                Co. E, 222nd Inf.
          Letters from members of the 222nd Infantry Regiment,(Zetterower File, Dublin-
          Laurens Museum.)
     The Badge, Rainbow Division Veteran’s Association, November, 1998.
          Winter Storm, by Lise M. Pommois, Rainbow Veteran’s Association, Turner
          Publishing Company, 3rd Edition, 1998.
          The Final Crisis, Combat in Northern Alsace, by Richard Engler, Aegis Consulting
          Group, Hampton, Va., 1999 .
     Dublin Courier Herald, May 9, 1945, Oct. 4, 1945.
     42nd Rainbow Infantry Division, History World War II,   Lt. Hugh C. Daly, 1946.
          42nd Rainbow Infantry Division, National Association of Rainbow Veterans, Turner
          Publishing Company, Paducah, KY, 1987.
     Rainbow Division Website
     Reveille Magazine, April 1998, June, 1998.
          Interview with Col. Edmund Ellis in reference to the Weyersheim-Gambsheim
          Action, 5-8 January, 1945, by William Goddard, 7th Army Historian, U.S.
          Army Military History Institute.
     Furnace and the Fire, Vienna, Austria, 1945.
     42nd Division Battle Deaths, Rainbow Division Memorial Foundation, St. Louis, MO,
     Personal Interview with Dr. John W. Zetterower.







        Now that all of the tears of joy and pride have been shed.   Now that all of the caps and gowns have been stored in their keepsake places. Now that the diplomas are ready for framing.   It is time to say a fond hail to the Class of '16.  Not the class of 2016, but the Class of 1916.  It was one hundred years ago when the first school class in Laurens County's history  had its own school annual filled with photographs, tributes, mottos and sponsor's advertisements to remember their high school years.

Schools  were much different a century ago. High School students attended only through the 11th grade.  Dublin High School had a principal, N.G. Bartlett,  and four teachers.   Grady McKee taught mathematics.  Misses Velona Posey and Mae Allen King taught English, French and history.  Mrs. K. Walton was the science teacher.  Students attended school in a two-story brick building, which is now occupied by the Dublin City Hall.

The year 1916 was the first year that Dublin High School published a school yearbook or annual at the end of the school year. Printed by the Courier Herald Publishing Company,  the first volume was naturally named "The Shamrock."  Ida Robinowich was the Editor in Chief.  She was assisted by Associate Editors Madge Hilburn and Cecil Ray.  Rogers Powell and Elma Tripp handled the business aspect of the printing, while Annie Braddy contributed her whimsical cartoons.

Athletic progams at Dublin High were relatively new.  The school fielded teams in  track, baseball and basketball.  An organized football team would not be outfitted until 1919.  The four-man track team performed well at the district meet inspiring the boys to try even harder the next year.  Principal Bartlett's basketball team, in its third year of existence,  had a winning record playing teams within a 40-mile radius.  Prof. McKee's baseball nine were the pride of the school in its athletic endeavors.

School activities were not all playing ball.  The seniors formed an 11th grade literary society under the leadership of Madge Hilburn, Olive Bishop, Elbert Brunson and Nina Carter.  These students worked hard to educate themselves through books on matters of educational, scientific, social and historical matters.

At Dublin High, there was a strong tradition of celebrating Christmas in the school by having parties with grab bags, gifts, entertainment and delicious food.    The seniors also celebrated Thanksgiving with an extraordinary feast of food and frivolity.

A big part of the daily life at Dublin High School was a position which is rarely mentioned in a school annual.  The Shamrock's editors paid an extensive tribute to "Big Henry," the school's janitor.  "Teachers come and go, likewise pupils, but Big Henry remains forever," the yearbook staff wrote.  Henry's giant size and voice of thunder enhanced his power over the little children in the primary department.  Henry kept the older children in check after witnessing their  mischievous deeds.  Henry would often feign deafness as a front to disguise his true  perception of the world around him.  At Christmas, the students and teachers filled Henry's wheel barrow with a large load of fruit.

In those days and as late as World War II, 8th graders were considered high schoolers.
Vincent Mahoney, the President of the 8th grade class, would become an eminent journalist of national note for his coverage of Hollywood news and national political events.

Estelle Burch was president of her 9th grade class.  Elizabeth Chumbley, Sadie Daniel and George Powell rounded out the class officers.

Ottis Burch lead the 10th graders with the assistance of Clyde Smith and Earl Arnau.  Clyde Smith would become an imminent librarian in North Carolina.

In the early decades of the 20th Century, it was rare that boys completed high school.  The same was true in 1916 as three boys (Elbert Brunson, Marvin Grier and Rogers Powell)  graduated with twenty one  girls.  School Board President, Lucien Q. Stubbs blamed the imbalance on the parents of the boys who allowed their sons to quit their studies for the sake of earning a few dollars.   Too many of these young men would wind up fighting for their country in World War I.  Clarence D. Fordham was one of the boys who didn't graduate. He joined the National Guard at sixteen, served 5 months on the Mexican border   and died in France from his wounds at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, in July 1918. He was only 18 years old.
At the end of the school year, Principal Bartlett retired and a month later,  was named as the new Director of the  Dublin Chamber of Commerce.  Professor McKee was chosen to succeed  Bartlett.

In the second week of April, Dublin students competed in the 12th Congressional District Literary and Athletic meets.  Dublin and Cochran tied as co-champions of the district.  Annie Braddy and Henry Rutland competed in the writing competition.  Other competitors were: Estora Woodard in music, Mildred Arnau in recitation,  William Brandon in declamation and  Sarah Walker and John Walton in spelling.

The track team led by 100 yard dash runner, shot putter and high jumper Manning Stanley, 220 and 440-yard dash runner Elbert Brunson, hurdler Marion Kendrick and broad jumper Chris White did well.  Stanley came in first in the high jump while Brunson finished ahead of all other runners in the 440-yard dash.  Both were invited to attend the state championship in Athens in June.   Two decades later, Marion Kendrick held a high ranking journalistic position as the New York editor of the Associated Press.

The Dublin High School Class of 1916 were presented their diplomas by Superintendent William T. Garrett and Principal Barrett in the school auditorium on May 26, 1916, one hundred
years ago tonight.

The students, parents and friends were treated to musical entertainment as well as the commencement address of Rev. N. H. Williams, the Presiding Elder of the Dublin District of the South Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Marvin Grier, the best orator in the class, spoke highly of retiring principal Bartlett and presented him with the obligatory gold watch fob and a matching set of cuff links.

Madge Hilburn, the associate editor of the Shamrock, went on to become the most successful member of the Class of '16 as the long time editor of the Vienna News. In 1994, as Madge Methvin, she was inducted into the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame.





8TH GRADE - 1915 - 1916

9TH GRADE - 1915 - 1916

10TH GRADE - 1915 -1916 

Thursday, May 26, 2016


The Bertha Theater, located at the corner of South Jackson Street and the South Franklin Street (southeast corner of courthouse square was built in 1913.  It was the premiere movie, vaudeville, theatrical, musical and wrestling arena in Dublin in it burned in 1918.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


This hand colored postcard view of 
Dublin was taken at the railroad tracks looking northwest. 
The building on the right is the New Dublin Hotel.
On the center left is the Four Seasons Building. In the center, far rear 
is the Dublin Banking Company.

Monday, May 23, 2016


The Original Big Mac

It seems strange that nearly fifty years have passed since a young man from Mobile,  Alabama first took his position at first base for the Sandersville Giants.  As a young boy, all Willie Lee ever wanted to do was to play baseball. Growing up in the shadows of the legendary Hank Aaron,   the young man idolized the ability, desire and undaunting courage of Jackie Robinson as he broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.  When he signed a professional contract, he told a reporter that he would have paid the team to let him play baseball. He loved the game that much.   Over his twenty five-year career in baseball, the tall lanky and powerful young man, affectionately known as “Stretch” for his ability to snare and scoop incoming infield throws, became the most prolific left handed home run hitter in the history of the National League, that is until his record was eclipsed by a fellow Giant Barry Bonds. McCovey  was a man of natural power, found not in a bottle, but in the desire of his heart.  This is the story of Willie Lee McCovey, who began his professional baseball career as a member of the Sandersville Giants in 1955.

Willie Lee McCovey was born on January 10, 1938.    While most kids his age were about to complete the requirements for graduation from high school, Willie packed his careworn bat and glove and headed to Melbourne, Florida for a try out with New York Giants.  Giants scouts couldn’t help but notice his slender 6 foot four inch powerful physique and his ability to catch anything thrown at him.  In addition to signing future Giant greats Felipe Alou and Orlando Cepeda, the Giants  signed Willie to a minor league contract and assigned him to the organization’s Class D farm team Sandersville of the Georgia State League.  His contract provided that he would be paid $175.00 a month or about six dollars a game.   Willie started his career at the bottom of the Giant’s farm system.  Though he grew up in the South and experienced the atrocities of racial segregation in the 1950s, Willie was the first black player ever to play for Sandersville, which was in its eighth year in the league.  He was joined by two other black players, Robert L. Reed and Robert Scott, a former Negro league player.

It has been said that the Giants sent Willie to Sandersville just to get rid of him.  He was such an unknown that the Sandersville Progress first called him “Willie McCoohren.”  It was April 25, 1955 when the young seventeen-year-old slugger was to play his first game for the Sandersville Giants.  The Giants opened the 1955 season at home versus the Dublin Irish. Mayor Tom Carr of Sandersville threw out the first pitch to Mayor Felton Pierce of Dublin.  Georgia State League President was the ceremonial first batter.  Furman Bisher, the legendary sports columnist of the Atlanta Constitution was present to witness the birth of a legend.  McCovey reached base in his first plate appearance and scored a run.  The Giants went on to defeat the Irish 4-1.

The Giants and the Irish would face each other 21 more times during the season.  In those games the Giants took an 11-10 advantage.  McCovey batted just under .300, driving in 15 runs and smacking five home runs.  The highlight of his games against the Irish came on May 26, when he belted two home runs.  When he was a young man, Dublin resident Melvin Hester, witnessed one of those mammoth McCovey wacks. I remember it as if it was yesterday when Hester, my Sunday School teacher, told a group of us boys that McCovey hit one over Telfair Street.  Whether on several bounces or on the fly, that was a real good knock, well over 500 feet.

McCovey led the Giants to a second place finish in the Georgia State League. Though his batting average (.305), home runs (19) and runs batted in (113) in 107 games were very impressive, they were nowhere near league records.  McCovey did lead the league in rbi and putouts.  He ended his first season 5th in runs scored, 3rd in total bases and 4th in extra base hits.  Playing that season with McCovey in Sandersville was Julio Navarro, a journeyman infielder, who made it to the major leagues in the 1960s.

Willie McCovey rapidly climbed the steps of the big leagues.  After successful seasons in Danville, Va. And Dallas, Tx. , he was elevated to Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League. In 1958 and  the first half of the 1959 season, Willie batted .319 and .372.  The Giants were in the midst of a pennant race with their arch rival foes, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Giants needed Willie’s left handed big bat in the lineup.

He was immediately sent into the starting lineup to replace another young star and powerful hitter Orlando Cepeda, who moved to the outfield.  In his very first game, McCovey went 4-4 against future Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts.  He finished the season with a startling record of 13 home runs, 38 rbi and .354 batting average in 52 games, a feat which earned him a unanimous selection as  National League Rookie of the Year.  In 1962, with a company of heavy hitters including Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou, McCovey led the Giants to the National League Championship and a berth in the World Series.  McCovey nearly became a legendary series hero only to have a series winning line drive snared by Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson, who preserved the American League powerhouse’s victory.  Willie achieved his best season to date when he belted 44 home runs and drove in 102 runs in 1963.

It was during the seasons of 1968 through 1970 when Willie McCovey began his journey to baseball immortality.  In that three-year span, McCovey hit 36, 45 and 39 home runs and batted in 105, 126 and 126 runs.  His 1969 season, deemed by most to be his best, led to his election as National League Most Valuable Player.  

Following three seasons at the top of his game, McCovey limped through the rest of his career, frequently playing in excruciating pain.  He missed a third of the ‘71 season as well a half of the ‘72 campaign.    Much to the dismay of Giant fans everywhere, McCovey was sent down the Pacific Coast to the San Diego Padres for two seasons.  In 1976, the aging star was again traded, this time to the Oakland A’s, across the bay from San Francisco.  To the cheers of thousands of adoring fans, McCovey returned to the Giants in 1977.    The height of his active baseball career came in Atlanta in 1978, when Willie McCovey became only the 12th man and the 3rd Giant ever to hit 500 home runs.

In 1986, Willie McCovey was elected to Baseball Hall of Fame with a highly respectable 81% of the ballots in his first year of eligibility. Willie was selected to a half dozen all star games and played in two world series in 1962 and 1971 with a .310 batting average.   In his 2588 game career, Willie McCovey safely hit 2211 times with 521 of those hits being home runs.  He drove in a remarkable 1555 runs and all the while hitting for a career average of .270, all of this accomplished by a young kid who began his dream in the lowest levels of baseball right here in East Central Georgia, trumped the doubters and when he retired in 1980 was the 12th greatest home run hitter in baseball history.