Remembering Vernon County resident Overton's Army service

Friday, February 19, 2016
PFC Dale Overton front left, mess hall in background.

Special to the Daily Mail

Thomas Dale Overton served in the United States Army in the 739th Anti Aircraft Gun Battalion B Battery from 1943 to 1946.

Dale was born April 10, 1915, in Liberty, Mo., to Elwood and Alta (Medearis) Overton. Dale's father was attending William Jewel College in anticipation of becoming a Baptist minister. Unfortunately, his father died in the flu epidemic on Dec. 29, 1918.

This greatly impacted Dale's life, as there were two younger brothers by this time and a mother without any income, he told friends. Alta moved back to Schell City where she had family, and Dale was raised there attending Belvoir School. The majority of Dale's life was spent in Vernon County.

Dale was rejected for military service in 1942, but called again in 1943 and inducted into the service on Jan. 5, 1943, at Ft. Leavenworth. Jan. 11, 1943 found him at Camp Davis, N.C., for his basic training. He gave it the unaffectionate name of "Mosquito Hollow."

In one of his letters home he reported that they had done a 4-mile hike in 53 minutes, full rack without rifles and made it in good shape. They came back in singing, "Hail, Hail, the gang's all here" and all the cooks and KPs came running out to see what was wrong with them.

But on a more somber note they were going to have to do a 25-mile hike in a couple of days and he dreaded that, but said, "That's the Army life."

He met two people from the Harwood/Schell City area while in the service -- Toots Ogle and Gene Helm.

Dale was sent home on furlough in June 1943, and then shipped overseas on Sept. 18, 1943. He spent the rest of that year in the sweltering jungles of Fiji Islands and New Guinea. 1944 was more of the same in the Philippine Islands.

Dale Overton in the Philippines.

Dale said many times, "Our next stop was going to be the shores of Japan and we were all prepared to die. But then President Harry Truman approved the dropping of the Atomic bomb. It ended the war and we were spared."

Dale Overton on right at Camp Davis in 1943. Submitted photos

Dale landed in the USA on Jan. 23, 1946, and was honorably discharged Jan. 30. He arrived home Jan. 31, 1946, and later enrolled in the GI school and became a farmer. He married Violet Alexander in 1950 and their daughter, Phyllis, was born in 1953.

Dale died Jan. 22, 1996.

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