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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.
Park Is 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 shipmates.
     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 Navy.
     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."
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Webster Received
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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Copyright 2002-2015 Lorraine Marks-Haislip