Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Friends and Neighbors:

Walt Wann Sr., Kimball County WWII veteran


Tonia Copeland/Western Nebraska Observer

Walt Wann, far right, was shown a flag similar to that which he would be presented with at the 2018 Memorial Day Ceremony in Kimball. Wann, a WWII Veteran, passed away just days before he could be publicly honored. Shown above, members of the VFW Post #2243 and VSO Bob Jenner with Wann.

One of his first jobs as an adult paid him $5 each week and the second job was even better. He was saving for a 1936 Chevrolet with a rumble seat, but he never saved quite enough.

"I carried home $47 a week, that was a lot of money," he said. "I was looking for an excuse to go somewhere and I knew I would end up being drafted anyway."

Instead, in 1943, Walt Wann volunteered for the United States Navy in Elbert County, Colorado. He attended basic training in Idaho and eventually landed in the repair unit.

"We had to apply for jobs, you know, so me and another guy got one in the beer hall," he said. "Every time my mother wrote a letter, she said 'Walter, I hope you are learning something.' So I finally gave in and applied for the electric shop."

Within three months, Walt said he was made a Petty Officer 3rd Class and after sewing on his patches, he went into town to celebrate, but was picked up by shore patrol. It wasn't long before he had to remove those same things.

Though he recovered quickly and once again was Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Wann, he said he occasionally broke a few rules, managed to have some fun without getting into too much trouble and was even initiated as his ship crossed the Equator.

Walt was stationed in Perth, Australia and it took 13 days to arrive there from San Francisco. In three years of service, he did not take any leave time.

"It was awful good duty and I bet we ate better than anybody in the United States," he said. "All I have to say is good about the service."

Often times Walt and his buddies went into town dressed as civilians, though doing so was frowned upon.

"A lot of them (fellow service men) stayed in Australia, and I liked it, but I didn't like it enough to stay there," Walt said. "I really enjoyed it, but I wasn't ready to settle down."

Following three dedicated years of service for his country, Walt returned home in 1946 and began working for his father for a short time.

A new sale barn was built in Lyman, Colo., and Walt signed on to haul cattle from Lyman to Denver for some time.

Walt met the woman he would marry in Colorado. They lived and worked in Colorado for about a year but eventually, along with his wife, Delores, and their two sons and a daughter, Walt moved to Kimball to raise their family. He worked in the oilfield for many years.

Walt is a recovering alcoholic who was a sponsor to many and a mentor, along with his wife, they assisted many in the AA program, Al-Anon and Ala-Teens throughout their years in Kimball.

Just prior to printing this story, we were made aware that Walt Wann, Sr. passed away. We are grateful for the time he offered to share his story and we are honored to pass that story on to our readers.


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