November 14, 2002

Current Conflict Reminds Local WWII Veteran Of His Service Time

While the war against terrorism in Afghanistan may no longer be the top story in the news, continued glimpses of the country have had a special meaning for one Scotland County man.

Video images of the caves the U.S. Special Forces have found in the mountains of the Middle East country sparked memories of similar caves that this soldier experienced more than 50 years before in the mountains of the Philippine Islands.

"I saw television coverage of these caves in Afghanistan where the terrorists have been hiding and fighting with our troops and it made me think back to similar caves we ran into during World War II," said Joe Neese, Jr. "I know what it was like back then so it makes me really think about our boys over there today and what they are going through for us."

At the same time, as the country was commemorating Veterans Day, Neese was proud to reflect on the military tradition dating back to his father, and now including his grandson.

Neese, a farmer who lives near Rutledge, served in the United States Army during WWII. He served two years with the 32nd Division, which was engaged in 654 days of combat during the Pacific Campaign.

His time in the army began at Camp Roberts in California. He was drafted into the service along with five others from Scotland County. He went to boot camp with Don Tague, Carson Parrish, John Shibley, Robert Gray and Fracis Swearingen. After graduating from boot camp March 20, 1944 Neese, Parrish and Gray went on to the Pacific while the other trio went to Europe.



Joe Neese, Jr. is a veteran of World War II, serving two years in the Philippines as well as in the occupational army of Japan.


After being shipped over seas Neese's service began in New Guinea. It was here that he lost touch with his two hometown friends as the men were assigned to different companies. Neese continued on to Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines. His travels also involved a transfer as he moved from L Company to become a member of the 128th Recon in Leyte.

It constituted a big change as he shifted to become a member of a 24-man unit responsible for some difficult tasks.

"We spent a lot of time behind enemy lines," Neese said. "We were responsible for checking enemy movements, directing artillery strikes as well as making maps."

As Platoon Sergeant, Neese said he quickly became friends with all the men in the small unit.

"We were all very close to each other," he said. "With the kind of work we did, there was a lot riding on the guys you were going in with so there definitely was a strong bond."

The bond wasn't the only strength that the men had to rely on.

"There were never more than eight men in a patrol so we had to carry a lot of fire power with us," Neese said. "The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and the Tommy Guns were the weapons of choice."

Every day of service was a challenge but Neese said the most difficult task by far was the taking of the Villa Verde Trail, which twisted its way 24 miles from the Lingayen Plain to the mile-high peaks of Luzon's Caraballo Mountains. It proved to be the chosen ground of the Japanese as they dug in to make their last stand in the Philippines.

During this epic battle, Neese and his men traveled all over the mountain gathering information against the enemy and establishing travel routes for U.S. troops. They enlisted the aid of the Igorots, a tribe of mountainmen who befriended the U.S. cause after being terrorized by the Japanese occupation force.

Neese said, while the Igorots were short, they were stocky and were well suited to the labor at hand, often hauling loads of more than 100 pounds on trails that were not fit for an ox cart. While they were often used to pack in essential supplies for the troops, their most precious cargo was often wounded U.S. soldiers who were taken from the front back to the U.S. camps for medical treatment.

It was one of these patient transfers that connected Neese back with Carson Parrish.

"We were preparing to move out on a Recon trip when I heard my name being called out from a line of stretchers being hauled into the camp by the Igorots," Neese said. "I went over and there was Carson Parrish, and it was the first time that I had seen my friend since we had shipped out."

Parrish was by far not the only U.S. soldier injured in the fight for command of the trail. The 32nd Division fought for 119 consecutive days taking control of the region on its way to the Cagayan Valley.

During the Villa Verde Trail fighting 1,985 U.S. soldiers were killed with more than 5,000 soldiers injured. Over that same period more than 28,000 Japanese casualties were recorded during horrific fighting in the Philippines.

The key to the victory on the Villa Verde Trail was when the 128th and the 32nd Recon Troop seized Imugan Village, opening the trail wide open all the way to the Cagayan Valley, basically ending the 100 plus day battle.

Just a few months later as MacArthur was accepting Japanese envoys on the Battleship U.S.S Missouri, the 128th was receiving the surrender of General Yamashita, the Japanese Philippines commander who had become known as the Tiger of Malaysia.

It was on the way to the peace talks that the 32nd Division lost commander Merle H. Howe, the second regimental commander to be killed in action.

Neese said the loss hit home for him as Howe was a well liked leader. After the war Neese corresponded with Howe's son who was seeking information about his father's service time.

He was happy to have been of service to the young man. Yet, Neese expressed gratitude that he was able to pass on his own story to his son and his grandson as well as others who were interested in reading this article.

Rotary Hosts SCR-I Football Coaches

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Members of the football coaching staff from Scotland County R-1 High School recently presented a program to the members of the Scotland County Rotary Club.  The Head Coach is Mikel Gragg and assistants are Troy Carper and Rod Sears.  Coach Gragg reported that there are 30 boys on the team and two are injured and unable to play.  There are 13 seniors on the team.  Mr. Carper is the defensive coach and Mr. Sears works with special teams. In the classroom, Mr. Gragg teaches Jr. High & High School PE.  Mr. Carper teaches Life Skills and Mr. Sears teaches high school math classes.  The football coaches are pictured with local Rotarian and school superintendent, Ryan Bergeson.

Patrol Discusses Bus Safety

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Elementary Guidance focused on safety during the month of September.  Sgt. Brent Bernhardt discussed Bus Safety with SCR-1 kindergartners.  We can ALL help keep our students safe by slowing down and stopping when we see the flashing lights and stop signs.  Thank you bus drivers for your service!  

MHS Class of 1956 Reunion

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1956 GRADUATING CLASS HOLDS 60 YEAR REUNION – A total of 23 class members of 1956 graduating class of Memphis High School met at the Scotland County  Fitness Center to celebrate their 60th class reunion. A delicious dinner was catered by the Rutledge School Restoration Society.  Traveling the farthest was Dean Hicks from Las Vegas,  Nevada, followed by Bill Smoot and Suzanne  Smoot (Leach) traveling from Billings, Montana.  A good time was enjoyed by all. Pictured in the front row (L to R) are Evelyn Magruder (Prebe), Marilyn Dunn (Prebe), Joyce Aylward (Kiddo), Joann Rood (Carlson), and Edna Gundy (Miller). Middle row (L to R) are Marietta Fowler (Ferris), Betty Ann Lefler (Walker), Leon Kerr, Joanna Shelly (Peck), Suzanne Smoot (Leach), and Ruby Hanson (Pample). Back row (L to R) are Kenny Nelson, Dean Hicks, Barbara Smith (Adams), Jerry Bland, Carol Scurlock (Simerl), George Rude, Bill Smoot, Audrey Glass, Larry Howe, Larry Harrington, and Phil Aylward.

Rush to Preach at Kahoka

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Rev. Terry Rush  will be the guest speaker at the Kahoka Christian Church on October 2, 2016. Terry began his ministry at Kahoka Church of Christ in 1974.  He has been pastor of the Memorial Drive Church of Christ, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the past 39 years. He and wife, Mary, have three children who are also involved in Christian Ministry. Rev. Rush has a long standing association with the St. Louis Cardinal Baseball team, including playing at their Legends Camps and being spiritual mentor to a number of current and former players and coaches. October 2 will be a special “Baseball Sunday”.  Everyone is invited to wear their favorite Team Jersey, or to simply come-as-you-are. Please help welcome Terry Rush back to Kahoka. Services start at 10:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

Conservation Considerations – Archery Season 2016

by MDC Agent Michael Collins

Fall is right around the corner and so is everyone’s favorite time of the year. Between the ‘Friday Night Lights,’ Football Sunday, cooler weather, bonfires and last but not least, pursuing that trophy buck that you’ve been watching all year – this is truly a special time of the year. Archery season is here and it’s time to wipe the dust off of your hunting gear, check to see if everything is up to par and to hone your archery skills.

This year, the dates for Archery Deer and Turkey Season are September 15 through November 11, and November 23 through January 15. The legal shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise, to one-half hour after sunset. During this season, hunters may use longbows, compound bows, hand-held string releasing devices, atlatls, recurve bows of any draw weight, and crossbows. Yes, crossbows, too. Beginning this year, hunters are now allowed to hunt deer and turkey with a crossbow. In the past, hunters needed a hunting methods exemption in order to use one – however, this is no longer the case. Your archery equipment may be outfitted with any illuminated sights, scopes and quickpoint sights. Hunting with the aid of an artificial light, possession or use of night vision or thermal imagery devices, use of any sighting device that casts a beam of light on game, and use of electronic calls for deer and turkey or through the use of bait is illegal and will result in a citation. After harvesting a deer or turkey, hunters are required to notch the month and day of harvest, along the margins of their permit. Hunters are also required to keep their permits with them at all times while hunting.

The season limits are as follows: Hunters may harvest two turkeys of either sex and both may be taken on the same day, may not exceed the limit of 2 antlered deer (all seasons combined), and can fill any number of Archery Antlerless Deer permits in all counties except Iron, Reynolds, Butler, Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi, Dunklin and Pemiscot counties.

As always the Missouri Department of Conservation encourages you to hunt, fish, trap and enjoy the great outdoors. Missourians play a great role in driving the conservation of our wildlife resources through generations of outdoor tradition – for now and more to come. Be safe and good luck out there!

For more information go to mdc.mo.gov, see the 2016 Fall Deer & Turkey pamphlet, contact the Northeast Regional Office or contact Conservation Agent Michael Collins at (660) 216-1374.

Roll Clouds

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Roll clouds were part of an amazing sunrise in Scotland County early Tuesday morning, September 13th.  A roll cloud is a low, horizontal, tube-shaped and relatively rare type of arcus cloud, a category of low cloud formations.  Roll clouds form near advancing cold fronts.  A downdraft from the advancing storm front can cause moist warm air to rise, cool below its dew point, and so form a cloud.  When this happens uniformly along an extended front, a roll cloud may form.  They differ from shelf clouds by being completely detached from a thunderstorm base or other cloud features.  They usually appear to be “rolling” about a horizontal axis.

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Former Pastors to Speak at First Christian Church Centennial Homecoming

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Phillip Gore and Tim Hawkins, former ministers of the Memphis First Christian Church, will be the speakers for the Sunday, October 2, morning worship service as the Church hosts Homecoming Services to celebrate the completion of the current church building (located on the corner of Jones and Main Streets) which was completed in 1916.

Gore, who grew up in Vandalia, preached his first sermon at age fifteen.  He graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry.  In January, 1998, Gore became minister of Memphis First Christian Church where he served until 2000.  He is owner of Phillip Gore Design and designs web sites and creates digital art.  Gore and his wife Lanaya have four children. They currently live in San Antonio, Texas.

Hawkins, who served as youth minister and then senior minister at First Christian Church from 1994 to 1997, now resides in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Stephanie and their four children.  He is Executive Director of Sojourn Collegiate Ministry and has been with the group since 2006 helping college and university students on their journey back to God.  Hawkins is pastor of Reunion Christian Church, Somerville location.

Former Memphis resident Terry Rush will speak at the closing service on Sunday afternoon (October 2).  Rush has served the Memorial Drive Church of Christ congregation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since July of 1977, and also serves as the coordinator of the Tulsa Workshop. He is the author of seven books including, “The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense” and “The Miracle of Mercy”. Rush is an avid St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan and has a unique ministry of playing baseball in legends camps with former St. Louis Cardinal old-timers since 1984. He and his wife Mary have three adult children; their two sons are in full time ministry.

There will also be services on Friday, September 30, and Saturday, October 1, (see schedule of services ad published in this issue of the Democrat).  Special music for the services will be provided by the Gateway Singers and Paul Burton and Mercy’s Bridge Band, a country gospel group.

The Planning Committee for the Church Homecoming celebration will share historical information about First Christian Church as part of the three special services and host fellowship times with snacks, a barbecue, and luncheon for  the congregation, the community, and friends to enjoy.

Voters Reminded Last Day to Register to Cast November Election Ballot is October 12th

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Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Those words by former President Roosevelt ring true, for those who chose not to vote as well as those who fail to properly register.

Scotland County Clerk Batina Dodge reminds prospective voters that the deadline to register to vote in the November 8th general election is October 12th.

Missouri law states that any citizen of the United States who is a resident of the State of Missouri and seventeen years and six months of age or older shall be entitled to register and to vote in any election which is held on or after his eighteenth birthday. (115.133, RSMo)

Prospective voters can register in person in the county clerk’s office in the Scotland County Courthouse. Dodge says individuals simply need to bring with them a copy of a birth certificate, a Native American tribal document, other proof of United States citizenship, a valid Missouri drivers license or other form of personal identification at the time of registration.

You can also register to vote online at the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office https://www.sos.mo.gov/.

An application may also be printed from the website or obtained at the county clerk’s office, completed and mailed to Scotland County Clerk’s Office, 117 S. Market, Street Suite 100, Memphis, MO 63555.

Not only is the application used to initially register to vote, but the short one page form also needs to be completed when voters move to other jurisdictions, or change their address on a current voter registration within the same jurisdiction, or change the voter’s name.

“If a voter needs to change his or her address or name, a new voter registration application must be filed with the local election authority,” said Dodge. “Please note that voters who do not update their addresses before election day may be sent to a different polling place depending on their new address.”

To check your voter registration, contact the office of Batina Dodge, Scotland County Clerk, at (660) 465-7027 or visit https://www.sos.mo.gov/.

Bushel Basket Open House Highlights Local Orchard’s Tasty Products

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by Andrea Brassfield

Richard Zimmerman and his family hosted an Open House for their business, The Bushel Basket, on Saturday, September 17th.  They also own Evergreen Sharpening and are located south of Memphis (take HWY 15 to the first gravel, then 1.5 miles west).

At the Bushel Basket, the Zimmermans are busy producing honey and growing apples, peaches and strawberries.

The family started their fruit orchard five years ago and have eight varieties of apples including Ginger Gold, Crimson Gala, Honey Crisp, Cortland, Crimson Crisp, Sun Crisp, Gold Rush and Pink Lady.  The Honey Crisp apples have already completed their growing season.  They also have two varieties of peaches including Baby Gold and Red Haven.  This is the second year of apple production and the first year for peach production.  The past two years, the winters were too harsh for the peach blossoms which are not quite as hardy as the apples.

Additionally, the Zimmermans have added more strawberry plants to their gardens and hope to have enough production next spring to begin selling.

Another part of their apple production includes custom washing, polishing and pressing not only for themselves but for other apple growers as well.  Their delicious apple cider is sold in gallon and half-gallon jugs.

Another tasty treat found at the Bushel Basket is honey and can be purchased in a variety of sizes.  The Zimmermans currently have four hives in production as well as neighbors who add to their honey supply.

Honey harvesting takes place twice a year, in August and October.  A brood box is the nest where the queen bee lays up to 2,000 eggs per day.  There are anywhere from 20,000 to 70,000 bees per colony with only one queen bee.

Another interesting fact about these amazing little creatures is that one ounce of honey would provide one bee with enough energy to fly around the world.  Also, it takes twelve bees their entire lifetime to collect one teaspoon of honey; 556 bees a lifetime to collect one pound of honey from approximately two million blossoms!  With this in mind, it is easy to see where the term “busy bee” comes from!!

The Bushel Basket is not the only family business owned by the Zimmermans; they also have owned and operated Evergreen Sharpening for the past seven years.  They sell Echo brand chainsaws, new chains, and some accessories.  They also sharpen chainsaw chains, saw blades, drill bits, kitchen knives, pinking shears and sewing scissors.

Mr. Zimmerman works full-time at Raytec LLC here in Memphis, however during his busier harvest times, he works four days a week in order to spend more time with his fruit orchards and honey production.

Business hours are Monday, Friday and Saturday all day and “by chance” on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Downing House to Host ‘Evening at the Museum – Candlelit Tour of the Past’

The Downing House Museum Complex received a $2,000 grant from the US Bank Corporation for the purpose of “providing opportunities to enhance the cultural and artistic lives of communities in which we live and work”.  Rhonda Mathes and Beverly Shelley are pictured presenting the grant, on behalf of US Bank, to Rhonda McBee, museum volunteer.  The grant is being used to purchase props, supplies and costumes for the upcoming “Evening at the Museum – A Candlelit Tour of the Past”.

The Downing House Museum Complex received a $2,000 grant from the US Bank Corporation for the purpose of “providing opportunities to enhance the cultural and artistic lives of communities in which we live and work”. Rhonda Mathes and Beverly Shelley are pictured presenting the grant, on behalf of US Bank, to Rhonda McBee, museum volunteer. The grant is being used to purchase props, supplies and costumes for the upcoming “Evening at the Museum – A Candlelit Tour of the Past”.

The Downing House Museum Complex, as part of the Scotland County Historical Society, recently received a $2000 grant from the US Bank Corporation. US Bank’s guidelines for the grant specified that the grant should be used to provide opportunities to enhance the cultural and artistic lives of communities in which we live and work. With this in mind, the Downing House Museum applied for the grant in order to provide a new cultural activity for our community. The grant will enable the Museum to purchase props, supplies and costumes to host a fall event at the location at 311 South Main Street in Memphis, Missouri – “EVENING AT THE MUSEUM – A Candlelit Tour of the Past”.

Join us for a unique evening walking tour of the museum complex while enjoying narratives from the past provided by fascinating residents from the Downing House, the Memphis Depot, the carriage house, summer kitchen and the Boyer House. Residents will be portrayed by volunteers from the Memphis Community Players and will include such characters as Ella Ewing, William G. Downing, Tom Horn, a barber in the barbershop, a blacksmith working in the carriage house, the ticket master at the Memphis Depot, kitchen servants, Dr. Keethler, a one room country school teacher, and a Civil War soldier, They will tell stories from their lives while living in the buildings of the museum complex. You will learn little known facts and details that will open your eyes to our local history and the residents that have had an impact on our community. Candlelit tours will be offered on Friday and Saturday October 14th & 15th and will begin at 7:00 p.m. The tour will last approximately 75 to 90 minutes and are $5 per person. Tickets will be available for purchase at the Memphis Theatre on October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 2016 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. for $5 each or you may call the theatre during those times to reserve a ticket. The theatre phone number is (660) 465-2277.

Discover our local history, the mansion and buildings, and the architecture and artifacts that give the Downing House Museum Complex its distinctive character. It is a museum of Scotland County’s history with many stories to tell; tales of amazing local citizens complete with period furnishings and artifacts from our past. The Downing House was built in 1858 and was listed on the National Historic Register in 1979. It sits one block south of the town square on South Main Street in Memphis, Missouri.

Submitted by Rhonda McBee

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