By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
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.
Herb “Herby” Hammar
Date of birth: Aug. 3, 1925
Dates of service: August, 1943 to November, 1946
Hometown: Concord, N.H.
Theater and location of service: Midland, Texas
Branch: Army Aircorps
Rank: 1st lieutenant
Specialty: B-25 pilot and instructor
Lives in: Clovis
Trained as a B-25 pilot, Hammar went on to train pilots at several bases throughout the midwest, including Cannon and Midland, Texas. While at the latter he trained bombardiers. They were tough on the young men they trained. “We had to be” he said, since the training was critical to their success.
“I was scheduled to go over to Germany. They gave up in ‘45 just after I got my commission. At 19 you think you’re really put upon not to have any active duty, but I’m happy as can be now” he said.
As they pulled into Clovis on the troop transport, Hammar recalls passing by debris left by the explosion that occurred in Tolar. As they passed, he said, “we were all eyes and ears”.
Spending a short time in the area, Hammar decided to settle in Clovis and, 23 years later, he is now a business owner and a permanent resident.
Elwin B Wilhoit
Date of birth: Oct. 8, 1921
Dates of service: September, 1942 to January, 1945
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Rank: T5: Technician 5th grade
Unit and specialty: 63rd Anti Aircraft; anti-aircraft gunner.
Lives in: Portales
Initially serving stateside both in training and then as coastal defense, Wilhoit said he was sent overseas when the Army began filling the coastal positions with limited serve personnel. After that, he says “ I covered a lot of territory in that year’s time” being sent through out the islands of the Pacific.
Operating a 90 milimeter gun, Wilhoit found himself guarding newly gained territory from the Japanese who continually attempted to regain their position.
“I guess I was lucky” he says, recalling that the men captured in the infamous Bataan Death March had held the same position as he, prior to his arriving in the Pacific.
When the war ended, he says his unit was on the island of Luzon preparing to move on.
“We were drawing new equipment, it was all covered in cosmoline (a corrosion inhibiter used in shipping), we had to clean all that stuff off of it.”
Just as they were finishing cleaning up the new equipment they were told the war had ended “we took the new equipment back and exchanged it for our old stuff” he said.
Happily, Wilhoit returned home to his wife and young daughter as the war drew to a close.
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: