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

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Bill Craft: I hope I missed them all

Written by David Green.

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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