Ephraim woman invites residents to
display veteran photos in window
of family store during November
By Robert Stevens
Oct. 26, 2017
EPHRAIM—Last year, Marge Anderson of Ephraim inherited the flag given to her family in 1944 when the U. S. military returned the remains of a brother who had died in combat during World War II.
Anderson had three brothers who served their country during wartime. Herb fought in the Navy during World War II. Frank was in the Korean War in the Army. They both returned safely. Anderson’s brother Mern, who served in the Army, was not so fortunate.
Now Anderson wants to honor her brother, Mern Andrew Jacobsen, by displaying the family’s 48-star flag in the window of Anderson Drug and Floral, her family’s store, during November, the month that includes Veteran’s Day.
But in addition to displaying her personal memorial to her fallen brother, Anderson is inviting others to bring photographs of the service men in their lives—deceased or living—to accompany her brother’s flag in the drugstore window display.
Anderson’s brother, Mern, was part of a U. S. Army assault on a small island in the South Pacific during May of 1944. Anderson says when her brother’s unit landed on the island, they met little initial resistance. But all was not what it seemed.
The island was a high-priority target for the U.S. military—home to three Japanese military airports. Holding the island would limit the Japanese air forces by denying them a safe place to land and refuel on missions away from their mainland.
The defending Japanese troops were fully-prepared for the American attack. They had dug tunnels and caves from which they engaged in guerilla warfare with the U.S. troops. The strategy was effective, resulting in the loss of many American lives, including Anderson’s brother.
Anderson’s family, like many others, learned of Mern’s death by telegram. “Nobody wanted to receive a telegram back then,” Anderson said.
Later, her brother’s remains were delivered with the 48-star flag by military personnel who kept a 24-hour watch on the sealed casket until the funeral was complete,
In 1944, telephones had not become commonplace, and most communication was via U.S. mail. Communication with a serviceman stationed abroad was limited to letters, which sometimes took a long time to arrive at their destinations.
“Visiting the post office became a very social thing,” Anderson said. “You would go every day to see if you had a letter, and if you ran into someone you knew there, you would ask ‘Did you get a letter from your guy?’”
Anderson says she can’t be held responsible for items like war medals, so if someone would like to honor the military service of a loved one, she would prefer a photograph. She asks people who submit to include their name, the name of the service member, branch of service and hometown.
Photographs can be picked back up from the drugstore at the beginning of December.