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Five from Bow Valley’s Stevens family were serving in the Army 80 years ago

Paul Stevens

Special to the Cedar County News

Eighty years ago this month, five of the 10 children of the Bow Valley family of Margaret and Henry Stevens were wearing U.S. Army uniforms as the United States entered World War II.

Six months earlier, all 10 Stevens children – six girls, four boys - were going about their lives when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, prompting Congress to declare war on Japan and then four days later, on Germany and Italy.

The four Stevens brothers – Ed, Al, Fritz and Walt – got a head start. Years earlier, they had joined the Nebraska National Guard in Hartington – “Ed and Al and Fritz ahead of me, the last three as soon as we reached 16,” recalled Walter Stevens in the eulogy for his brother Fritz. “It was more for pay than patriotism, I must confess. The legal age for admission was 18, but even then, chronological ages didn’t always conform to the minimums set in legal requirements. All four of us, along with sister Esther who was an Army nurse-officer, served in WWII – a trying time for parents and other siblings as well as for those of us in uniform.”

There was a certain irony in that their father Henry was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1867 when he was 2; the family moved a year later to a farm a mile north of Bow Valley.

His son Walter was fighting with his artillery unit in the German homeland of his father and his ancestors when the Germans surrendered May 7, 1945.

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