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2017-06-01

The Battle of Midway and two brothers Two different paths through war

By Raymond V. Carter, Jr. BCHC Research Historian ©2017

I spent a great deal of my youth at my grandparent’s house and had the opportunity to meet my grandparent’s brothers and sisters, my Great Aunts and Uncles. Of course, I was interested in them and what they had to say. Not so much the day–to–day stuff, but the old stories they would bring up and for some reason these stories stuck with me. I had an uncle, Lee Roy, born late in life and we grew up as brothers. We were always getting into trouble and playing all sorts of games. There was only one time that we two boys were warned by grandma (Olivia Ploch Coffman) not to talk of certain things and especially war (WWII). We were even forbidden to play war or watch TV, because there might be a war movie playing.
This only occurred when my grandmother's sister-in-law would come to visit. She was George Ploch's wife, my Great Aunt Cola. She had two boys, Ernest E. Mohon, Jr. and Charles Ray Mohan, from a previous marriage, but they were raised by Uncle George and grew up as cousins to my mother. Aunt Cola never got over the loss of her oldest son, Ernest, and her nephew 1st Lt. Charles B. Hux, both lost in WWII. If they were mentioned or the word "WAR” was mentioned, she would lower her head and the saddest expression would come upon her face. Soon her hands would try to hide the flow of tears. Their deaths broke her heart. I just can't put it into words.
My grandparents lived in Bruni, Texas in the 1930s and 40s. My mother graduated from Bruni High School in 1949. I have a copy of the 1945–46 "Caliche–Campus," 1946, Volume I, which was the school's annual published by the Students of Bruni High. In this annual they paid tribute to those who served and those who did not make it back from WWII. I will quote from this annual their tributes to these men, the Mohon brothers and Hux.
A quote about Ernest:
“The staff, the faculty and Bruni School wish to pay tribute to these two former students who made the supreme sacrifice that liberty might live for the rest of us." "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
"Staff Sgt. E.M. Mohon, Jr. volunteered army service December 4, 1939. He trained in Hickam Field, Hawaii and was there when Japan struck her blow in 1941. He attended school at Kanni, Hawaii." "He served as Bombardier on a B-17; he also served as nose gunner. He saw action in Australia, New Caledonia and Midway. In the Battle of Midway, he served on a two-motor B-26, under Marine Command. On June 4, 1942, four U.S. torpedo planes attacked some Jap carriers. Sgt. Mohon made a direct hit on a carrier for which he received the Distinguished Service Cross. Only two of the planes returned to base."
"On July 23, 1942, while on a reconnaissance flight in the Central Pacific area, he was lost at sea at night. The only message, "He failed to reach his destination," which was a military secret." End of quote.
Now quoting: “The Roundtable Forum-Battle of Midway Round Table" from an email by Bill Vickery on 16-May-2005, who wrote about the B-26 Crews at Midway. He listed the Midway crews of the four B-26 bombers, of which only two returned. Of the "69th Bombardment Squadron (M"), of which Mohon was on, the flight crew was listed as: "Captain James F. Collins, Pilot; 2nd Lt. Colin O. Villanes, Co-Pilot; 2nd Lt. Thomas N. Seems, Navigator; Sgt. Jack D. Dunn, Crew Chief; Cpl. John D. Joyce, Turret gunner; T/Sgt. Raymond S. White, radio operator; and Ernest M. Mohon, Jr."
Bill Vickery stated that there was no bombardier listed, but as the "Caliche-Campus" reported Mohon was the bombardier on that mission. According to Vickery the other B-26 flight crew that made it back were of the "18th Reconnaissance Squadron (M): 1st Lt. James P. Muri, Pilot; 2nd Lt. Pren L. Moore, Co-Pilot; 2nd Lt. William W. Moore, Navigator; 2nd Lt. Russell P. Johnson, bombardier; Pvt. Earl D. Ashley, Gunner; Cpl. Frank L. Melo, Radioman; and Sgt. John J. Gogoj, Engineer."
Vickery listed the B-26 crews that were "lost with all hands at Midway" as: "one from the 69th Bombardment Squadron (M), 1st Lt. William S. Watson, Pilot; 2nd Lt. Leonard Whittington, Co-Pilot; 2nd Lt. John P. Shuman, Navigator; Sgt. James E. Via, Bombardier; Sgt. Albert E. Owen, Radioman; Cpl. Bernard C. Seitz, Gunner; and S/Sgt. Richard C. Decker, Engineer." "The other lost B-26 crew was form the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron (M) and were: 1st Lt. Herbert C. Mayes, Pilot; 2nd Lt. McAllister, Co-Pilot; 2nd Lt. D. Hargis, Navigator; 2nd Lt. Gerald J. Barnicle, Bombardier; S/Sgt. Salvatore Battaglia, Engineer; Pvt. Benjamin F. Huffstickler, Radioman; and Pvt. Roy W. Walters, Gunner."
I listed these men, because this data is hard to uncover and the anniversary of the Victory at Midway is upon us. I wanted to remember these men, what they did and the price they paid.
My Aunt Cola's nephew, 1st Lt. Charles Hux was reported “missing in action” on March 27, 1945, over Frankfurt, Germany. According to the "Caliche-Campus," "Hux volunteered on January 1, 1942 and received his Wings and commission on November 3, 1943. He went overseas on March 29, 1944, served two months with General Patton's Third Army, and was last seen "bailing out" over Frankfurt after his plane was damaged by anti-aircraft fire. He was 22 years old and held the Air Medal with Thirteen Clusters. He was Aunt Cola's brother's (Frank Hux) only son."
Aunt Cola's other son, the brother to Ernest, lead a different path. He served, but lived to return. He saw plenty of action though! P.F.C. Mohon, "Ray" as he was called, by family was "inducted into the Marine Corps on August 10, 1943 and spent two years in the Pacific area. The "Caliche-Campus" stated that, "Ray served at Apamama, Rio, Guam, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Ulithi, Pelelui, Hawaii, Saipan, Samoa, Majuro, Kwajaliein, Eniwetok, Tarawa, Eniocni, Leyte, IE Shima, Anguar and Tinian." He was discharged on November 3, 1945 and came home to work in the oil field at Hebbronville, Texas.
I never met either of my mother's first cousins, but I collected some of their war mail and military pictures. War is a terrible thing. All I can say is Thank You and may God Bless all of you who served and are serving. And God please be with the families who lost loved ones, they will never be forgotten.