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These are the Kansans who made the supreme sacrifice while serving in World War 2

Photo of flags at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 17, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley/TNS)
September 06, 2020

In the weeks and months following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Kansans answered the call to serve their country.

All told, an estimated 215,000 Kansans, a little over 12% of the state’s population at the time, were in uniform during World War II.

Sept. 2, 2020, marks 75 years since Japan signed formal surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri, officially marking the end of the war.

The number of lives lost during those terrible years was extraordinarily high. Among that number were 5,476 Kansans in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines who laid down their lives for our country.

The Eagle is taking the time to honor these heroes by listing their names, ranks and military branches — and in some cases, stories and photos shared by family and friends — in a searchable database below.

Stories you’ll find include how Navy Lt. B.F. “Bud” Humphrey braved “the atrocious conditions” of Japanese war camps for 2 1/2 years only to die when a Japanese ship transporting him and hundreds of other prisoners came under U.S. fire.

And how Franklin Davis, the third of six children, left his family’s rural Williamsburg farm to join the Army in 1943 only to go missing in action a little over a year later when German E boats sank American vessels engaging in D-Day pre-invasion rehearsals.

Virgil Allen Standley’s sister tells how he joined the ranks so young his “mama had to sign papers” and how he hoped to become a pilot but settled for an Army Air Force electrical technician position because his eyeglasses made him ineligible to fly.

There’s also a story about two lifelong friends — Belle Plaine boys John “Jack” Tennery and Max Barner — who died when their planes went down in Italy in 1943 and 1944. They are forever memorialized together in a Kansas cemetery garden where small white crosses bear the names of those killed in the World Wars.

As you search through the database, you’ll also notice photos and stories are missing for most of the Kansans who died.

We encourage you to tell us more about these service members by sharing their images, letters, news clippings and a little about their lives and deaths. We will update the database as new information comes in.


© 2020 The Wichita Eagle