||In Honor of
Harold Dwayne Webster
Seaman's Memory Lives On
Veteran Dan Eckholt, left, of VFW
Post 41 in Loveland, and Clarence Kelley, two-time commander of
the American Legion Post 15, fold the flag after flying it
briefly on a flagpole installed Friday at the former Lakeside
Park in Loveland, CO. The park is now Dwayne Webster Veterans
Park, in honor of an 18-year old Loveland serviceman who died
during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Named For Harold Dwayne Webster
One of Loveland's
most popular parks has been renamed in honor of the first local
man to die in World War II.
Webster, a crewman aboard the the USS Arizona at Pearl
Harbor, was 18 when he perished Dec. 7, 1941, with 1,170
Dwayne Webster joined the Navy on Dec. 7, 1940. He died in
the Navy on Dec. 7, 1941.
Fifty-one years after her little brother joined the Navy,
sister Betty Lou Ballinger still hates "'Anchors Aweigh'" and
"'Taps'". The last time she saw her brother was in December
1940. He was a 17-year-old Loveland High School senior who had
finally convinced his father to let him quit school to join the
Betty, his sister, was an 18-year-old newlywed, riding
along with her husband and brother on the trip to Union Station
in Denver, where Dwayne would embark for boot camp.
Their parents, Bryan and Edna Webster, were unhappy with
his decision to enlist, and they declined to accompany them.
"The coincidence of the dates is really something...uncanny,
really," Ballinger said.
| By December of 1941,
Betty Lou and her first husband, Elmo Fentiman, had moved to
Summerfield, Kansas, where his parents owned a grocery store.
Like so many others who remember the events of that day 50 years
ago, she recalls finishing Sunday dinner at her in-law's home
and listening to the radio in the living room.
Then came the announcement of the attack on Hawaii. "I just
stood there and thought, 'That's where my brother is.'" Further
reports indicated that the Arizona had taken a direct hit.
"Everyone said, 'No, don't worry; that's not the same ship,' and
all this good stuff, but..."
She called home and talked to her mother, but her parents
didn't know anything more. She and her husband hurried back to
Loveland to be with her parents and her sister, Lucille, who was
in grade school. At their home they waited. "It seemed like an
eternity, waiting to receive word that he was officially
missing," she said.
On Dec. 21 the family got the telegram from the Navy
Department, "...Harold Dwayne Webster seaman second class U.S.
Navy is missing following action in the performance of his duty
and in the service of his country." After that came more
waiting, speculation, and hoping. "It was a terrible Christmas."
Sometime after the first telegram, a package from Dwayne
arrived. It was a box of silverware - a Christmas present. It
was mailed from Honolulu on Dec. 6. The parcel was enough to
raise the family's hopes. Maybe he was on shore that weekend,
they thought, and escaped the fate of his shipmates. "Those
little things kept your hopes up for a while," Ballinger said.
After Christmas, she and her husband returned to Kansas. On
Feb. 6 came the second telegram. The final telegram.
The loss was devastating for her father. "After Dwayne's
death, Dad blamed himself for many years for giving his consent,
regardless of how we tried to convince him it was Dwayne's
wishes," she recalls.
In honor of its first son lost in the war, Loveland named
the new chapter of the American War Mothers after Dwayne Webster
in 1943. Mrs. Webster devoted herself to the organization, doing
volunteer work until shortly before her death.
Mr. Webster continued to carry the guilt, and the memories
of his only son, the middle child who liked to tease his big
sister, the Loveland High School wrestler, the farm boy who
raised chicks for his Future Framers of America project and
drove the horses to help Dad put up the hay.
Betty Ballinger recently wrote, "Shortly before Dad's death
from cancer, when my boys were in their last years at Loveland
High, Mother would take Dad in the car and park by the football
field so he could watch the boys practice. Although he never
said, we felt it was to fill an empty space he couldn't have
with his son."
Several Commendations Including:
The Purple Heart
American Defense Medal
World War II Victory Medal
The American Legion Gold Star Citation
as well as having the Colorado park named after him.
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