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Preserving our past

Posted on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

Back in 2005, the Washington and Lee Community Problem Solvers team decided to focus their project for the year on local WWII veterans in order to share their stories. The project was titled Project Pop; the Pop stood for ‘preserve our past’.

During that year, many local veterans were interviewed and their stories were written by the problem solver members and published in The Westmoreland News. In order to continue to preserve our past and honor these men, the following article will retell the stories of some of our local heroes. Many of these men have since passed, but their memories live on. The original stories were written by problem solver members Jordan Coates, Leah Coates, Sarah Daiger, Katie Crossman and Annah Latane.

Carry Lenus Coates

Carry Lenus Coates was born on May 1, 1921 in Westmoreland County and was drafted at age 21. “Everyone else was going, so I was ready to go too,” he said. Upon joining the Army, he went to California for basic training. Coates remembered the time he spent training on the rifle range and how he was given a hard time for not shooting off his right shoulder like most of the men. He shot off of his left shoulder because he had a hard time closing his left eye when aiming. They gave up on correcting him, however, when they realized he was an excellent marksman from the left shoulder. Coates described how when the men missed the target, they would fly a flag up that they called “Maggie’s Drawers.” Coates said he hardly ever saw the flag because he seldom missed. He spent time in Olrah, Africa before being a truck driver in Italy. Of the war, he remembered the regimented routine he followed every day. He would sleep in his clothes on the ground in a tent, wake up when the whistle was blown, line up for roll call, eat breakfast, then go to work moving things and driving trucks. He remembered how sometimes it was so cold that their tent would get stuck to a pole and he chuckled describing the day some of the boys wanted to heat up their tent with a little stove. “They made fast tracks out of the tent when it filled up with smoke.”

Coates came home in 1945, got married, had two boys and worked in a variety of businesses including crabbing, boating, restaurants and carpentry.

William Edward Howeth

William Edward Howeth was born on April 30, 1923 in Oxford, Maryland. When he was seventeen, he chose to enlist in the Navy because he was born near the water and loved being on it. Howeth began his training in Norfolk and noted that life on a ship “wasn’t like home.” He even slept on a hammock instead of a bed. Howeth was in Recife, Brazil at a repair base when the war started. Howeth was a Fire Control Technician for the Navy, operating the equipment that positioned and fired the weapons. He was fortunate enough to not be involved in any combat situations and said that part of his duty was to be on watch four hours on and four hours off. When the war in Japan was over, Howeth came back to San Fransicso where he was assigned to the USS English and traveled through the canal to the east coast. Making a career with the Navy, Howeth worked with the NROTC at Penn State College.  He was an instructor for the operation of the fire control weapons positioning equipment for three years. He later served on the USS Keller, a reserve training ship in Washington, D.C. veterans2

Howeth then served at the US Navy Barracks Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland until his retirement in 1960. He received many awards such as the American Defense, WWII Victory, Navy Occupation Europe, and Good Conduct medals. In 1960, Howeth married Bettie Faunce. He and his father-in-law opened Faunce Seafood in Montross in 1966. He took over the business around 1974 and turned the business over to his son, Joseph William in 1985. When asked if he was glad he served, Howeth said “Yes, and I would gladly do it again.”