Whitener Family (Click for Family Tree)
Today is Military Monday but even more special, it is also Memorial Day. Honoring those who have fallen in service to our country has gotten a bit lost on this day, since now it is a big sale day, the end of school (for some), the ‘official’ beginning of summer, pool opening day, and an official 3-day federal holiday so recreation is paramount on such a long weekend. But please take some time today, to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom- because
Freedom is never Free.
Victor Elmer Sigler was the son of Curtis Victor Sigler and Hazel Whitener Sigler. He was born 29 September 1920, and grew up in the small town of Hayti, Pemiscot County, Missouri. His father used his middle name, Vic, so Visitor Elmer was known as “Vic Jr.”
We don’t know much about Victor’s life- he was really too young when he died, just 23- to have had much of a life.
Victor had an older brother who died as an infant, and had two younger sisters, Phyllis and June, and twin brothers, Harold and Berle Sigler.
Victor was found in the 1930 US Federal Census, age 10, living with his family in Hayti, Missouri. We have been unable to find him in the 1940 US Federal Census- he was not enumerated with his parents, but would have been 20 years old and possibly out on his own.
Victor served in the 165th Infantry, 27th Division, and the 295th Joint Assault Signal Co. (JASCO), and 1st Battalion Hdq. He was a 1st Lieutenant.
Victor died on 24 June 1944 in World War II’s Battle of Saipan, in the Pacific Theater. He received a Purple Heart for his sacrifice, posthumously.
Victor may have been a part of the JASCO group called the “Catboat Flotilla” that served in the SW Pacific area. They served as command and communication ships during amphibious operations. Saipan and Taiwan were two very strategic islands in the South Pacifc that were highly desired by the Allies, as they could be used for airfields for their new B-29 Superfortress bomber that had enough range to reach Japan.
On 13 June 1944, fifteen battleships began bombarding the island of Saipan. Amphibious landings began two days later, and JASCO was probably a part of their communications. The Japanese were surprised by the location of the attack, but were ready in some ways, including having flags in the bay so they could determine range of assaulting tanks and forces; this increased Allied casualties significantly, along with other Japanese strategic placements of artillery, machine guns, barbed wire, etc. The Japanese Navy attacked Allied ships on 15 June, but suffered a great loss of their aircraft carriers and planes, and the Japanese soldiers and civilians of Saipan could then expect no reinforcements.
Even without supplies or reinforcements, the island was challenging to take due to its topography- mountains, valleys, jungle, and volcanic caves- and the tenacity of the Japanese soldiers.
The Allied forces moved across the island, taking it bit by bit. “Wind talkers” (Navajo code talkers) and other command and control personnel would have been on the ground with the Marines and Army, directing their movement and firing. Victor may have been a part of this group, since he was in JASCO and listed as killed in action on 24 June 1944. We do not yet know the exact circumstances, so do need to request his service record.
The Japanese rallied their able-bodied soldiers, the wounded, and even civilians in a suicidal banzai charge on 7 July 1944 that lasted 15 hours. At least 4,300 Japanese were killed during the attack, and on 9 July 1944, Saipan was secured after the suicide of the remaining Japanese commanders, including the commander who led the attack on Pearl Harbor and Midway.
The capture of Saipan was a turning point in the war, and the Allies were able to attack the Japanese on the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Japan’s mainland. Vic Jr. was a part of this victory.
At least 30,000 Japanese died on Saipan, and 1,000 civilians committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner by the enemy. The Allied casualties were almost 3,000, with over 10,000 wounded of the 71,000 who landed on Saipan. Victor Elmer Sigler was one of them.
It was sort of a shock to see Victor’s discharge date as “6-24-1944”- yes, it makes sense that one is no longer in the military once one has been killed in action, but it just seems almost callous to call it a ‘discharge’ when he died for our country. Victor, and all the others who made the ultimate sacrifice in war, wasn’t just ‘discharged’ to go on with his life. His life, his potential, and his future, ended on 24 June 1944, at age 23, in order that we, and the citizens of the world, could be free of the tyranny of the Axis powers and the Japanese.
Thank you, Victor.
You are in our thoughts today, and every day that we enjoy our freedoms.
Notes, Sources, and References:
1)Victor E. Sigler Service Number: O-442212
2) World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel, from RG 407, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1905-1981.p. 25 via Fold3.com
3) U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963.
Ancestry.com. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941. Microfilm publication M1916, 134 rolls. ARC ID: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92. National Archives at Washington, D.C.
4) Distressingly, the United States has NO listing of Purple Heart recipients, and does not keep track of any military awards.
Signal Corps/JASCO- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_Corps_(United_States_Army)#World_War_II
Battle of Saipan- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saipan
6) Find A Grave:
Victor Elmer Sigler- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=71776324
Curtis Victor Sigler- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=72577281
Hazel Marie Whitener Sigler- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=72577238
7) Thank you, Jim Whitener, for the wonderful photos and the information you contributed so we could tell Victor E. Sigler’s story today.
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