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  Recollections/Emails (Page 2)
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  Abercrombie, Clotiele B.
Abercrombie, Loyd D. Sr.
Abercrombie, Virgie Blalock

Armstrong, John
Bain, Pamela
Bento, Lola
Box, Dorothy Womack
Campbell, Lu
Holbert, Pearl Shaw
Challis, James E. "Ike"
Cole, Beaver
Coleman, Howard
Cronkite, Walter
Degnan, Julie E.
Duch, Greg
Erikson, Charles Henry
Ezell, Alta Reigh
Farrell, Hal
Gregory, Doug
Grenley, Martha Rogers
Grigg, Horace
Grigg, William N.
Hannon, Bill
Harris, Howard
Johnson, Joe and Bobby
Kronjaeger, Jim
Lester, George
Lester, George - Playmates
Lummus, Darlene
Lummus, Don
Martinez, Nelma Cummins
Mayhew, Bessie
McAllister, Mark

Meissner, J. Raymond
Moody, Mildred
Motley, Pete
Nelson, Ron
Plant, Sally
Platton, Mike
Read, Osceola Jefferson
Robertson, William Judson
Robinson, Jimmie Jordan
Mack Thornton Rogers
Ryan, Terri Jo
Seacrist, Debra
Shaw, Marjorie
Stanley, Glenda G.
Taylor, Bob
Taylor, Jim
Thompson, Bill
Vail, Mary Lechtenberg
Vento, Eduardo
Vinson, Allen Earl
Vinson, Melvin
Williams, William B.
  John Armstrong By Email  
  I only know of this disaster (firstly) from the newspapers at the time, but then while being attached to the Second Marine Division as a Pharmacist mate, and serving at Tarawa & Saipan I met a Ph M 1st class by the name of Sam Hodges. A good friend. "Smilin Sam"

Somehow the subject of the school explosion came up one day and he told me about his sisters.

Sam served on Guadalcanal so when rotation came up after the Tarawa battle he was the only long term company member who did not get sent back to the states.

I never saw Sam smile again. He would only say. "I won't make it home". Sam was killed on Saipan.

I have suspected that he was killed in the West Loch explosion at Pearl Harbor. One of the Navy's greatest secrets of the war. Loaded LST's blew up. Several of our corpsmen show deaths the first day of the Saipan campaign. How many Marine casualties show that date I do not know.

John Armstrong
Kirtland Ohio
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  Lola Bento from an email from her son, Joe Bento  
  My mother, a native of Gause, Milam County, Texas, was 11 years old when the New London explosion occurred. She shared with me this evening a poem / prayer written by W. Lee O'Daniel. O'Daniel was with a hillbilly band, and also had his own radio show where she heard the poem. He was also governor of Texas at one time - I don't know if it was at the time the poem was written. The poem is titled: "A New London Mother's Midnight Prayer."

It is as my mother remembers. It's certainly a lot of verses to remember after nearly 70 years! She remembers it being read during a memorial on W. Lee O'Daniel's radio show.

A New London Mother's Midnight Prayer
(New London, Texas Catastrophe)

At night when I lay on my pillow and weep
In the darkness so silent and black
I can't go to sleep
'Cause memories creep
And it seems my dear children come back.

I can hear them at play as they clatter away
I hear their footsteps on the floor
And their laughter and song
Seems to ring loud and long
In the room just beyond that closed door.

Oh father above, quench this poor mother's love
Let me press that sweet face to my breast
With the tenderest of care
Let me smooth that soft hair
Just one kiss, Lord, is all I request.

Then with a flash in the sky
And a crash from on high
Like the flash that tore buildings in twain
I sit up in bed while up overhead
I hear the soft patter of rain.

'Tis the answer, thinks I
From the one upon high
So loud yet as gentle as rain
"Your children are here, so banish all fear
They now suffer no heartache or pain."

So with faith in my breast
There comes that sweet rest
That hope will endure evermore
And someday I will meet and my dear children greet
In that room just beyond that closed door.
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  Lu Campbell from an email  
  I am a 1965 graduate of New London High school. I was born and raised in Rusk County. I attend New London for 10 1/2 years. Everyday before I got on the school bus my Mom would make me come and show her what I had on and I always did. But one time when I was in high school at the last minute after I had shown her my attire for the day I decided to change clothes. When I got home that afternoon and she realized that I had changed clothes boy was I in trouble. That is when she finally told me that reason she wanted to know what I had on was because if the school blew up again she might be able to identify me by my clothing. She never tried to scare us about going to school in New London because all four of her children are New London graduates. I am not saying that I did not think about it but I just was not afraid to go there.

As a small child I can remember the adults reminiscing about the horrors of the school explosion. I lost a cousin, my Mom's nephew, in the tragedy whom I never met because I was not born until 1947. About the only time they talked about it was in July before the 4th. When I was a child and up until several years ago we went to the Pleasant Hill Picnic on the Saturday before July 4th. It took place under the huge pines at the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church. My aunts, uncles and cousins from Orange, Houston, Dallas, etc would come up for this event. We always had to have a "Pleasant Hill Picnic " dress and new white Sunday shoes. After a delicious meal and a good time visiting with long lost cousins, family members, friends and acquaintances we would walk across Hwy 323 to the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. We always brought fresh flower arrangements and cut out any weeds that had grown in the plots the night before so they would be there on Saturday when the people started arriving. When we took the flowers on Friday night other families would be there and sometime it would take hours to get back home, because I came from a family that loved to talk.

As we walked around the cemetery, we would go our the graves to honor our families members and straighten up anything on the site that was out of place. we usually wound up exploring the entire cemetery. My Mom would take us way in the back where one of our relatives, who was a Confederate hero was buried. Then walking back up the hill is when we usually stopped and Mom would tell us about some of the children she knew who had been killed in the explosion. She told us of some families who lost one child and then she would tell us about a family who had lost all of their children. I can remember reading the tombstones and thinking that these children were my age and at that time in my life death was just not what I wanted to think about; especially when it was children. I can remember parents and other family members standing at the foot of the graves and quietly bowing their heads and softly crying. We were always told to be quiet and speak in whispers as not to bother others.

They do not have the Pleasant Hill Picnic anymore, but I go out regularly and walk around as my maternal grandparents, my Mom and Dad and my only son is buried there. Sometimes my family loads up in several cars especially in the Spring and Fall and we go to pay our respects. I have taken my children and taught them how to show respect to all the heroes there; and we are teaching the grandchildren as we walk step by step through the well worn paths. Thinking about these young children now burdens my heart just as it did as a child. But, as an adult I know that they are rose buds in Heaven.
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