Hello Local History Fans!
This week I discovered the story of a local resident whose short life was filled with great accomplishments and who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I came upon this information from a printed power point sent to the library by a student from the St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in 2006. As part of the requirement for the student’s history class he must have been assigned to research a statue or memorial on campus and he chose the “Himes Memorial Fountain”.
Thomas Forest Himes was born in Crandon on June 10th 1923 to Colonel Forest H. Himes of the Wisconsin National guard and his wife. His father also owned the F.H. Himes Lumber and Coal Company in town. At the age of fourteen Thomas was sent to the St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, WI. During his four years there he excelled as a student, an athlete, a leader, and was immensely popular among his fellow cadets. A few of the awards and he received were:
- President of the 1941 Senior Class
- Member of the Officers Club
- Most Likely to Succeed
- Most Popular Captain
- Most Efficient Cadet
- Best All Around Fellow
- Most Modest Cadet
- Expert Rifle and Marksmen
- Dr. Delafield Medal(Highest Honor for a Senior)
After Thomas’s extraordinary success at the academy he was admitted to Lawrence University where he finished a semester before joining the U.S. Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a member of the 4th Army 80th Division and deployed as Second Lieutenant and Platoon Leader. Thomas was sent to France on August 3rd 1944 where he swept across the country on foot liberating villages and towns. On September 25th 1944 in order to prepare for an attack on the German lines Lieutenant Himes, along with a few others, went on a reconnaissance mission to locate the German lines to allow their regiment to move into the most optimum position the night prior to the attack. But the Germans had this area heavily guarded and they shelled the U.S. soldiers killing Lieutenant Himes instantly. St. Johns Academy erected the Himes Memorial Fountain on their campus with funds given to them by the Himes family that stills stands today.
This is only one of the many stories of the brave men and women from Forest County who chose to serve their country and accomplish tremendous feats in the face of death and war. We should be proud of our veterans and very thankful! To learn more about local residents who served in the military visit the Veterans Office and Museum on Main St. in Crandon.