March 12, 2004
ROSE RUFF’S THREE GRANDSONS IN THE FIGHTING ON OKINAWA
by Naomi Cazier
Picture above are decorated veterans of many hard campaigns,
now “dodging artillery shells” on Okinawa, these three husky brothers
are from left to right,
S/Sgt. Marvin Dunham,
Sgt. Hal Dunham,
and T/Sgt. Mervel Dunham.
The anxiously awaited news that her three grandsons on Okinawa were
safe and well, was received Tuesday by Mrs. Rose Ruff of Robinson
Street. The message of assurance was carried in a letter signed
by all three. “We are feeling fine,” they wrote, “but dodging artillery
shells is hard on the nerves.” Each of the men wears a Purple Heart.
Mervel and Marvin, twins, have been awarded the Bronze Star Medal
for meritorious conduct and gallantry during the Leyte campaign.
(Mervel has received a second Bronze Star but no details of the
award have been learned.)
Mervel’s citation tells how “with complete disregard for his own
personal safety, he voluntarily stood up and covered the withdrawal
of his comrades, four of whom had been wounded, under heavy enemy
fire that had been brought to bear on a motor patrol advancing into
enemy territory.” He had volunteered to act as point commander
of the patrol. The patrol was forced to withdraw but Dunham
remained in the area until assured that all men had been evacuated.
“His actions enabled the patrol to withdraw without suffering further
casualties.” The citation accompanying the award of the Bronze
Star to Marvin, read in part as follows:
MARVIN SEES IT THROUGH
“When a light machine gun section, of which
S/Sgt. Dunham was
in charge gave support to two platoons of an infantry rifle-company,
an enemy counter attack with great intensity caused the platoons
to withdraw. In spite of the heavy enemy fire and with
utter disregard for his own personal safety, Dunham maintained his
position and continued to direct the fire of the machine guns in
his section until all ammunition was expended, enabling the platoons
to re-organize and disrupt the attack of the enemy offenders.”
The men are the sons of
Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Dunham of Sacramento. They have
been in the service together for four years. They were all
wounded on the same day on Leyte. They had arrived at Leyte
after a rest period in Hawaii following their division’s assault
and capture of Kwajalein. Their awards were received for service
on what was called Shoestring Ridge, where they participated in
the hardest and bloodiest of any of their campaigns.
SAVE THE CHICKENS
In one letter the three told of making a trade for a chicken and
cooking the bird in a helmet inverted and placed on sticks like
a tripod. Hungry from living on rations, each had a piece
of chicken in his hand ready to do justice to the treat, when an
alert sounded. They grabbed their guns but the didn’t drop
the chicken. It went with them while they ran for their battle
stations. Of Okinawa, the three write that it is a beautiful
island, most of it under cultivation. They say there are some
horses, pigs, goats and chickens there, but the chickens are getting
fewer all the time with the Dunham boys on the island. A few
days ago, one of the men whose life Mervel had saved in Leyte, arrived
in Sacramento on a 45-day leave. One of the first things he
did was look up Mervel’s parents to tell them about their sons.
The brothers recently celebrated their birthdays, in foxholes in
Okinawa. Hal was 23, April 9. The twins were 22 on April 12.
Stu’s Notes: I don’t know any more about
the Dunham Brothers. Did they ever live in Oroville?
I do know they’re Heroes in my book, and that’s good enough.
Debbie is starting to pack up in Iraq. She says the dates
to leave keep changing. She hopes they leave soon as their
replacements are already in Kuwait. I am ready for her to be home.