World War II cast its somber shadow over the Smith Center community again this week when the body of Corp. Derrol D. Hubbard, gallant Marine, was brought back home for final services and interment.
It was one of the paradoxes of fate that the young man who donned a Marine uniform on February 14, 1943 was never to see his loved ones again. For him there was no furlough, no leave, no delay enroute to permit him to visit at home before he began the serious business of war in earnest. Four and a half months after he entered the service he was on his way overseas to help avenge the treachery of Pearl Harbor and to do his part in driving the invaders from the outposts of Freedom in the Pacific. It was on one of those outposts that he went gallantly to his death on July 30, 1944 as he and his comrades of the famed First Provisional Marine Brigade fought “yard by yard through mangrove swamps, dense jungles and over cliffs” so that the Stars and Stripes might wave once more over the Island of Guam. Corp. Hubbard with his platoon was cleaning out one side of Orote Peninsula near the airfield when he was fatally wounded.
Corp. Hubbard’s body arrived in the United States Dec. 5, aboard the Dalton Victory and reached Smith Center Tuesday morning. It was accompanied by Sgt. William E. Keenan, military escort from the Marines. Funeral services were conducted from the Smith Center Methodist Church Wednesday afternoon by Rev. Roy E. Frey assisted by Rev. Karl Schuster. The pallbearers were all former schoolmates – Albert Kirkendall, Linton Lull, Richard Hill, Paul Wales, Ivan Burgess and Raymond Yenne. U.S. Center Post, No. 220 of the American Legion had charge of the special military services at Fairview Cemetery where final interment was made.
Derrol D. Hubbard, oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Minor D. Hubbard, was born near Lebanon, Kans. Aug. 6, 1924 and died in heroic action on the island of Guam July 30, 1944 at the age of 19 years, 11 months and 24 days. Derrol started to school in Almena, Kans. but the family moved to Smith Center when he was in the fifth grade. He finished his elementary here and then enrolled in Smith Center High School from which he graduated in 1942. During his high school career he wore the red and green of the Redmen on the football field, the basketball court and the track. During his senior year he was president of the Hi-Y organization of the school. Following his graduation from high school Derrol enrolled as a student at Kansas State College in Manhattan but he left his class at the end of the first semester to enlist in the Marines.
After joining the Marines Derrol took his basic training at Camp Elliot, San Diego, Calif. On June 30 he was headed overseas for the South Pacific where he lived up to the highest tradition of the famous Marine Corps. He made the supreme sacrifice on the Island of Guam July 30, 1944 when he with his platoon was cleaning up the Orote Peninsula and capturing the airfield. Just recently his parents have received a copy of the Navy Unit Commendation from James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, which closes with this sentence: “By their individual acts of gallantry and their indomitable fighting teamwork throughout this bitter and costly struggle, the men of the First Provisional Marine Brigade aided immeasurably in the restoration of Guam to our sovereignty.” The Commendation was accompanied by the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon.
His family treasures a letter from his Commanding Officer to Derrol’s uncle, Ralph Brown, that states: “I know that it will give you some satisfaction to know that your nephew was highly respected by officers and men alike. He was quiet and unassuming and a good Marine.”
Another prized possession of his parents is the Purple Heart which was awarded for “Military Merit and for Wounds Received in Action Resulting in his death July 30, 1944.”
Corp. Hubbard is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Minor D. Hubbard; four sisters, Donna, now Mrs. Russell Hill, and Melba, Ella Maye and Marjorie of the home; three brothers, Richard, Jack and Randall, the latter two of the home; many other relatives and a host of friends.