Dick Wayne Higgs, Emil Bigler

Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.

Dick Wayne Higgs
Date of birth: Jan 27, 1925
Dates of service: 1944-1945
Hometown: Atlamont, Ill.
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: Pacific, Iwo Jima
Branch: Marine Corps
Rank: Private 1st Class
Unit and specialty: 28th Marines; 5th division
Veterans organizations: Disabled American Veterans, VFW Post 3015

In his words: Higgs was part of the Iwo Jima invasion.
He said the sand on the beaches was so deep that the men could barely walk and his unit had no cover to protect them from the Japanese. “We were like sitting ducks.”

At noon on his 30th day on Iwo Jima, Higgs was hit by a mortar round. Because of the intense fighting, he was given morphine and a sulfur pack and had to lie in the fox hole until darkness fell and he could be safely removed from the battleground. He received a Purple Heart for his effort.

“We had good moral even though we lost so many. About 6,000 were lost (at Iwo Jima). I’m glad I went, we were well trained before we went there, but I lost a lot of buddies.”

Higgs was among the American troops who witnessed the American flag shortly after it was planted on Iwo Jima.
“That was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.”

Emil Bigler
Date of birth: Dec. 22, 1922
Dates of service: March 24, 1944 to April 14, 1946
Hometown: Anton, Texas
Lives in: Fort Sumner
Theater and location of service: England, France, Poland and Germany
Branch: Army, Company C, 264th Infantry, Black Panther Division
Rank: Private 1st Class

In his words: While being deployed to Cherbourg, France, the boat Bigler was on was torpedoed by a German submarine in the English Channel. The attack killed 749 soldiers.

“My advice to all is don’t swim in the English Channel on Christmas Eve. The water is too cold.”

Bigler spent 10 days in a field hospital in Neems, France, after the attack recuperating.

After his unit regrouped, they started a trek through Europe that included 141 days on the front lines and tearing down the gates at a Polish concentration camp in Koblenz, Germany.

World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
sharna_johnson@link.freedom.com