WORLD WAR II
The experience of our ships being sunk at Pearl Harbor destroyed the comfort Americans felt being surrounded by wide oceans. There was fear of attacks on the United States. The JULIEN DUBUQUE BRIDGE was painted gray to make it difficult to see from the air.
It was decided that America needed some form of defense against the possibility of enemy attack. In May 1941, President Roosevelt created the OFFICE OF CIVILIAN DEFENSE (OCD). This was put into place as a means to organize the thousands of Americans who wanted to volunteer their services.
At home where “food will win the war” was an important slogan, Iowa’s agricultural possibilities were stretched to breaking. In 1930 Iowa’s farm products had a value of $690,302,406 and there were 214,928 farms. In 1945 the number of farms had decreased to 208,934 but the value of the crops had risen to $1,232,010,705.
Iowa also played an important role in the manufacture of war implements. Finding definite statistics of production is difficult because some of the manufacturing was secret. However, it is known that in 1939 there were 64,773 production workers in 2,541 industrial plants creating production worth $243,390,000. In 1947 112,490 employed worked in 2,965 plants with the value of production rising to $671,100,000. Many firms won the prized E award for excellence in production.
In Dubuque, many companies converted their operations to produce goods for war. Klauer Optical ground lenses for high-powered binoculars used for gauging tank and artillery fire. A.Y.MCDONALD MANUFACTURING COMPANY made gas nozzles, valves, and other products for the Navy and Air Force. FARLEY AND LOETSCHER MANUFACTURING COMPANY made thousands of wooden foot lockers, munitions boxes, and doors and windows for military barracks.
Since many males left their jobs to join the military, companies found themselves short of laborers. This created more opportunities for women wishing to work outside the home. Although the popular image of "Rosie, the Riveter" pictured men and women working side-by-side at the same jobs, men and women were often placed in separate jobs. Men, for example, were often given work with machines while women were assigned to assembly jobs. Women who did the same work as men found themselves earning less for the same work. When the war ended, however, many of the women remained in the workforce proving themselves to employers who relied on their abilities.
Iowans in uniform played important roles in the war. Reverend Albert HOFFMAN became the most decorated American chaplain of the war and lost his left leg in Italy while helping a dying soldier. Many Iowans received the MEDAL OF HONOR and the state played an impressive role in the founding of the Women's Army Corps. Records indicate that 263,000 Iowans served in the military during World War II. There were 4,255 killed and 11,724 wounded.
Among those who died was Lieutenant Robert J. BREITBACH, one of five Army Air Force men, who perished in a crash of a B-17 bomber on the J.W. Seifker farm west of CENTER GROVE on February 8, 1944. The plane from Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois, was on a routine training flight with Breitbach as the pilot. The plane smashed through a tree before ramming into a hillside, exploding and then bursting into flames.