By Gary Collins
Pine Bluffs Post 

In memorium


“Dear Mom and Dad,

Boy Mom, this is the life. . .Everyone gripes but I don't think there's anyone that would trade if for anything else. . .I enjoyed Poot's letter. Seems he's learning to write without going to school. I miss that kid more than you think. I hope that he will recognize me as quickly when I get home next time. I'll never forget how I woke him up, and he said, “Don” the first thing.”

On March 21, 1945, the Fifth Marine Division dedicated on Iwo Jima their cemetery, wherein lay the bodies of those men who fell during the battle. Donald Eisenhauer had been buried there on February 28, 1945.

From the dedication address made by Major General Keller E. Rockey, USMC, Commanding the Fifth Marine Division.

“Under these crosses lie 1,876 officers and men who gave their lives in the capture of this island. They were the bravest leaders in the fight. Their courage on the field of battle was an inspiration to us all and to them must go the largest share of the credit for the success of this operation.

One of the many heartbreaking tasks a fighting man must face, the most trying is the time he must leave a comrade who has made the supreme sacrifice on the field of battle.

The United States Marine Corps and the officers and men of this division want you to know that in your hours of bereavement, they, too, have not forgotten his valor and sacrifice.”

“Dear Delby,

I wish you could have come along with me, we could sure have a swell time on the first leave.”

USMC Chaplain Rabbi Roland B. Gittelson delivered the eulogy sermon dedicating the Fifth Marine Division cemetery. Gittelson was in the thick of the combat zone, ministering to Marines of all faiths.

“This is perhaps the grimmest, and surely the holiest task we have faced since D-Day. Here before us lie the bodies of comrades and friends. Men who until yesterday or last week laughed with us, joked with us, trained with us. Men who were on the same ships with us, and went over the sides, as we prepared to hit the beaches of this island. Men who fought with us and feared with us. . .Now they lie here silently in this sacred soil, and we gather to consecrate this earth in their memory.

It is not easy to do so. Some of us have buried our closet friends here. . .To speak in memory of such men is not easy.”

“Dear Howard,

So you had a birthday the 13th. . .If you didn't have that birthday party, don't you worry. You're going to have the biggest birthday party ever will have when I get home.”

On March 25, 1945, a memorial service was held in Pine Bluffs High School Gymnasium, honoring the life of Pfc. Donald Eisenhauer. The eulogy was delivered by Mr. Hume, the superintendent of the school. Twelve years later, to the day, March 25, 1957, Mr. Hume, himself, would succumb to death and four days later, March 29, his body would lie in state in the same gymnasium.

“It is my part in this fitting memorial to offer a few words concerning the events in the life of the young man to whom we now pay tribute, a few words about the boy with whom it was my privilege to be associated in school life. I do so in memory of him who sacrificed his life in the world effort for lasting peace; and I do so in honor of those in deep sorrow who gave a son for a righteous cause.

My impression of Donald formed in the early interview was a lasting one, an impression verified by his life in high school. In him there was a purpose, which made him steadfast, in him there was ambition, which made hime excel in his studies and on the athletic field; in him there was talent and with it innate, becoming modesty. He believed in fair play and exemplified it in the schoolroom and on the gridiron. He was courteous to his teachers and fellow pupils, a gentleman at heart. He was kind to his mother, shared with his father the responsibilities of the home, and to his small brothers he was their idol and protector.”

“Dear Lloyd,

If there is anything you want to know or anything I can get out here just say so. Sometime I'll tell you what happens when you call your rifle a gun.

Your Big Brother.”

Mrs. Mabel Walters, Bob and Lloyd's mathematics teacher, penned a letter to the Eisenhauers following the memorial service. Her brother was killed in battle in WWI.

“Donald will always be with you in memory, just as young and handsome and full of life and hope as he was the day he left you. He will never grow older or become less strong in his support of fair play and right conduct. He will always live in the minds of his loved ones and friends as the embodiment of ambition, courtesy, and purposeful living - the traits pointed out by Mr. Hume.

Bob and Lloyd, the memory of your Big Brother's life and the things which his life stood for will be a guide and inspiration which you and your little brothers can't get away from. Whenever you are tempted to do things or stand for things which you know deep in your hearts he wouldn't like for you to do, you will think of him and will be strong for his sake. You won't 'let him down.'”

“Dear Bob,

Well, I guess there wasn't much new in this but I haven't any more to say so I will stop now.”

Robert Eisenhauer, who saw action during the Korean War, passed away Jan. 31, 2014 and now lies next to his brother Don in.

On March 22, 1948 the remains of Donald Eisenhauer were returned to Pine Bluffs at the request of his family and on April 14, 1948 a burial service was held at the cemetery. Mrs. Ronald Lanning a classmate of Lloyd's, attended the service on behalf of her class. Ronald Lanning, her husband, hit his own beach at Normandy and this day rests in the same cemetery

“Donald was the one who was killed in the war, and our class got to go represent the school when they had the burial at the cemetery. I don't think I'll ever forget that. I was in high school. When they played taps up there, it's something you'll never forget,” LaVetra Lanning said.

The Beck-Heath-Eisenhauer American Legion Post No. 213 in Wallace, Nebraska was established in March 1946 and named for Donald Eisenhauer. A color guard from the post was present for the burial service. From the Post dedication ceremony:

“Donald is dead and his body rests in a Soldier's grave, but his spirit and the spirit of thousands of other fine young boys will live forever. He was truly a home town boy, a product of our own homes, our own schools, our own Churches.”

“Dear Tom,

Sure wish I could kick you in the hind end once and a while. Sure miss that, bet you deserve it once in a while. Well, I'll have to quit now so I can send this before Reveille.”

“Your Sea-going-bell-hop,

Don E.”


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