NEWS FROM THE HUT by John Hamilton
Saturday morning, June 26, 2021, a dedication was held at the Hominy Post 142 for the WWII Soldiers Cross Memorial in honor of Hominy native Bill Starks Sr, US Army Infantryman killed in action in the Philippines in 1945 in WWII courtesy of his son Bill Jr. and grandson Matt. Bill’s widow, Sylvia Rhodes, a lifelong Hominy resident and Gold Star mother touched the lives of many in Hominy during her lifetime. Post Commander Steve Swinford began the dedication with Legion State HQ Senior Vice Commander Charlie O’Leary and Legion Auxiliary Unit 142 President and Past Auxiliary Department President Nancy O’Leary in attendance. Bill Starks was killed during a Japanese mortar attack one day before his unit was withdrawn from the front lines and a short time before the war ended. Special thanks to Post 142 Legionnaire Babo Carter for raising the funds and getting the Soldier’s Cross made and set up at the Hominy cemetery.
Babo Carter has led the charge for the Soldier’s Cross to be installed at the A.J. Powell Memorial Cemetery. Back in June of 2020, Babo wrote an article about the Soldier’s Cross that appeared in the Hominy News-Progress dated June 3, 2020. Babo wrote about a fund raiser in process for the Soldiers Cross to be carved out of a tree stump in the Hominy Cemetery. Unfortunately, the tree stump was removed before the required funds were collected to pay the artist, Clayton Coss, to carve the Cross. Eventually the funds via donations from many Hominy residents were collected to move forward with this project.
A Soldier’s Cross was dedicated Saturday morning after placing it on the grave of World War II serviceman, Bill G. Starks, Sr. The cross was carved by Clayton Coss. The Cross is tribute to those who died on the battlefield and served initially as a temporary monument to the soldier. It typically consisted of his boots, rifle, helmet, and other personal effects such as his dog tags. It was used as early as the Civil War.
Starks shipped overseas in January of 1944 and served in the Philippines. Two months after arriving he was decorated for service as a member of Company F, 129th Infantry, 37th Division. The unit received the Presidential Unit Citation for the defense of Hill 700 that repelled 8 major attacks by two Japanese divisions.
A year later he received a Bronze Star for Individual Heroism in January 1945. A month later he participated in the Lingayen beachhead north of Manilla, Luzon, Philippines. The unit proceeded to fight street to street and building to building in their fight to take Manila. On February 12, 1945, Starks was killed instantly by a mortar as he entered a building. His unit was pulled from the fighting the next day.
During his service, Starks qualified for seven different weapons and received two battle stars, one beachhead arrowhead, Good Conduct medal, WWII Victory medal, Pacific Campaign medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
In attendance at the ceremony was his son Bill, Jr., and his grandson, Matt Starks.
The cross was the result of an idea by Project Leader and Hominy’s “flag man” Babo Carter. Community donations and a major contribution by Hominy Bank financed the project.
Until further notice, our regular Legion meeting will be the third Thursday of each month. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, June 17th at 7:00 PM. The Sons of the American Legion meetings have been suspended until further notice, depending on the future COVID-19 situation. We have resumed the tradition of the dinner at the meetings now on the third Thursday of each month. The Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings have been resumed at 8:00 AM. If you are a veteran, come by for our monthly meeting, and/or the Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings. Several of the Post 142 members meet on Wednesday’s at Daylight Donuts on OK-99 around 8:00 AM in Hominy for coffee and breakfast treats. If you have a good story, it may end up in print. Also, keep up with us at the Post 142 website “americanlegion142.org” and Hominy Legion on Facebook.