The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

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    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
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    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
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    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
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    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
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    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Bill Craft: I hope I missed them all

Written by David Green.


Bill Craft’s story is a familiar one to many World War II veterans.

Pearl Harbor was bombed. War was declared. A military draft started up and eventually the letter arrived in the mail.

After that point, each veteran has a unique story to tell.craft.bach

Craft spoke Nov. 8 to a packed room at Morenci’s Stair Public Library Annex. The name of his program is “Bringing a World War II Combat Infantryman’s Experience to Life.”

Now 83 years old, Craft recalled walking out of Detroit’s Fox Theatre with a friend and seeing the newspaper headlines “Japs Bomb Pearl Harbor.”

“My friend and I said, ’Where’s Pearl Harbor?‘”

Soon, every American knew.

One of Craft’s brothers was the first family member to receive a draft induction notice.

“I remember standing in the kitchen before he left,” Craft recalled. “My dad was very silent and my mother was sad that her son was leaving.”

Craft wasn’t happy about it either, but then his brother gave him the keys to his Model A Ford with a rumble seat and he found a bright side to the conflict—one that didn’t last long.

“That night about 10 o’clock my brother came in the house after he was declared 4-F because of his vision. I said to him, ‘I suppose you want your car back.’”

Heading for Europe

In 1942 after he graduated from high school, Craft received his own letter in the mail: “Greetings! Your friends and neighbors have selected you.”

“I wondered who those friends and neighbors were,” Craft said, with his induction date looming.

He traveled first to Ft. Custer near Battle Creek and joined the infantry. He was shipped to California for training, then to Alabama, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Finally, he sailed in a convoy to England and then on to France, about three weeks after D-Day. The front of the landing craft dropped down and the troops walked right onto the sand, never getting their feet wet.

“We were very brave,” Craft said. “I could hardly wait to get into combat.”

As they marched inland, they passed  veteran troops heading to the rear for relief.

“Let us at ’em,’ we said. ‘You’ll be sorry,’ the other troops told us.”

It was only a day later that Craft was wondering how to get out of this situation.

“I’d already seen many of my buddies killed and wounded and I was scared,” he said. “When you’re on the front, there’s nothing between you and the enemy, so you start digging.”

craft.bob.roger Craft told of his experiences as a scout, moving out ahead of the front line to establish contact with the enemy.

During one battle, wave after wave of U.S., British and Canadian bombers attacked the German troops, and eventually the orders were given for the ground troops to move forward.

“I saw so many Germans killed and badly wounded and some shell-shocked,” Craft said. “I didn’t have much sympathy at the time, but later I thought what a horrible thing that they were there, but they were trying to kill us. They were as dedicated to their cause as we were to our own.”

In October 1944, Craft was serving as the captain’s runner—he went wherever he was ordered.

“We took over a German command post,” he said. “It was just a covered hole, but I had been cold and hungry for so long. I changed out of wet socks. I was in hog’s heaven. I was so comfortable.”

And then the captain ordered him out to splice a broken communication wire.

He made the splice, looked up and saw three Germans coming at him yelling, “Comrade! Comrade!”

He radioed back to the captain and was chewed out for taking prisoners.

“I didn’t capture them,” Craft explained. “They surrendered to me.”

The prisoners were soon on their way to the rear—for showers, hot meals, dry clothing, no one shooting at them. It made Craft wonder if he were going about things the wrong way.

Craft was later wounded in a barrage of shooting and ended up recovering in England. Within a few weeks, he was sent back for more action.

Of the major European campaigns, he missed only the Battle of the Bulge, and he’s not sorry he was unavailable. About 20,000 U.S. troops were lost either from fighting or exposure to harsh, winter weather.

When the war ended, he returned home to Detroit to face his relieved but shocked mother.

“Billy, what did they do to you?” she asked.

Entering the Army as a scrawny 118-pound 18-year-old, he returned a grown man.

Craft’s perspective

Craft believes it’s important to tell the tales of the battlefield and to keep the memories of the sacrifice alive.

“Some people believe there was no Holocaust,” he said. “Yes, there was a Holocaust. There were millions of people slaughtered.”

When Craft speaks to students at school presentations, he leaves them with a statement they probably aren’t expecting from a battlefield veteran.

“I’m often asked by kids, ‘Did you ever kill a German?’” he said. “I answer that I shot at a number of Germans and I hope I missed them all.”

    - Nov. 15, 2006 

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