veterans day 2016
Over the past 100 years, members of St. Paul’s UMC in Houston have been active both in the community and in many capacities around the world in the armed forces. We honor our veterans and wish to say thank you for your service and dedication. Please click above to see the list of names of St. Paul's 480 veterans – all the way from WWI to those currently serving, or download this PDF.
Stories from Veterans
WW II Five interviews from November 7, 2001
Rolfe Beaudry | April 1945 saw the end of World War II in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). The United States, along with her allies, assumed the major role of occupation in Germany. Rolfe Beaudry, an 18-year-old Dallas boy, had just graduated from Adamson High School and the draft was still in effect. He tried three times to enlist in the Navy, but failed the color vision test on each occasion. In June 1945 he was drafted into the United States Army. His indoctrination was at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, where he saw a great big beautiful poster of a paratrooper which read “Jump into the Fight.” Rolfe was a track star in high school and being the athletic type, and of course only 18, decided this was for him! He volunteered for the 82nd Airborne earning his wings at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and on to basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. In July 1946 his unit sailed to Germany on a Liberty Ship. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful. His unit disembarked at Bremen Haven, Germany and then traveled via box cars on a train to Bamburg for redeployment. Within one week they were redeployed to Frankfurt, where they lived in barracks and on continued maneuvers along the German border. Frankfort was virtually bombed out and destroyed. The Germans, being a highly disciplined people, were at the time moving into whatever housing they could find, sometimes with several families in one house. Rolfe remembers being completely awed by the condition of the city. He said there was one large property that was left intact for headquarters but most of the others had maybe one chimney or wall remaining. He recalls the troops being treated with distant respect. He said he was able to get his laundry done locally by trading several bars of soap. Cigarettes, candy bars and soap were the main bartering items with the locals. Rolfe pulled guard duty, which he took seriously, and was required to be armed. Among his charges were equipment, The Officer’s Club, and on one occasion a prisoner in the hospital. For recreation he ran track on the regimental track team. While maneuvers continued, his air jumps continued. He admits that he never jumped out of a plane with his eyes open! After 13 months, he unit was deactivated and returned home. The return trip was in rough weather and high seas. Rolfe says, “I was one of the lucky young men who served without seeing active combat.”
Allen Cochrum | Allen Walter Cochrum served his country as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps from 1942-1945. He navigated B-24 bombers stationed in Cerignola, Italy, on 32 missions, one among a crew of 10 men. He was commissioned in 1942 after receiving extensive training in piloting, gunnery, and navigation. While flying missions, they were twice forced to make emergency landings in Yugoslavia, but made it back safely to their base. Their targets were strategic locations in Germany and Austria. They returned home on VJ Day, September 2, 1945, landing in Norfolk, Virginia. After his return, Allen served in the Air Force Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Captain. He was recalled for 2 years during the Korean War. He was assigned to teach celestial navigation at Ellington Air Field. Allen is a lifetime member of St. Paul’s and the second generation of a 4 generation St. Paul’s family. His uncle and aunt, Walter and Ella Fondren, who were instrumental in the church’s development, brought him to church. Allen and his late wife, Florine Lenz Cochrum, had three children: Allen Walter, Jr., Martha Anne and Mary Margaret. He is a retired mechanical engineer who is still active in the church. He is a Life Member of the Administrative Board and President of the Partnership Class. Allen and the surviving members of his bomber crew still hold reunions.
Herb Collier | Herb graduated from high school in a small town in Missouri in June, 1941, at the age of 16. He wanted to go to college but could not afford to go. Although he had worked from a very young age, he was from a single parent family and his mother was attempting to raise him and his 5-year-old little sister. As a result, he decided to join the Navy and get his education in the military. However, he was still too young. On November 3, 1941, on his 17th birthday, he convinced his mother to lie about his age so he could join the military, which she did. He first went to the Navy recruiter but he failed the physical due to a suspected heart murmur. Herb simply crossed the street, went into the Army recruiting office and joined the Army Air Corp, the forerunner to the Air Force. A month later, on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked. Herb began his military career as a radar instructor in Boca Raton, Florida. At that time, radar was top secret. He taught classes at night and went to the beach during the day. As the war began to escalate, he decided to get involved in the “real action” and became a navigator on B-24’s. Herb was then transferred to the China Burma India Theatre and spent the remainder of the war flying over “the hump” from India to Southeast Asia performing bombing missions on the Japanese with the 7th Bombardment Group. There was no radar, no flight service, and no one to track you and tell you where you were. Near the end of the war, instead of going on bombing missions, the bomb bays of many B-24’s were loaded with three 420-gallon bomb bay fuel tanks. Fuel was hauled over the hump to assist Chain Kaishek in China where gas was urgently needed. Herb received many medals and awards for various missions and accomplishments.
Alf Klaveness | Alf Klaveness is a pioneer geophysicist who was transformed from Petroleum Engineering to Geophysics early in his career. He joined Texaco in 1938 and had previously worked on Texaco seismic crews during several summer vacations. Alf found Geophysics very challenging and still does after more than sixty years. Alf has been active in various capacities in seismic data acquisition, data processing, data interpretation, project planning and company management. Principal assignments have been in South America, Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S. Gulf Coast, West Coast and Alaska. During World War II, Alf served in the U.S. Navy on a Destroyed in the Pacific as navigator, sonar officer, executive officer and commander. Afterwards he resumed his career in geophysics with Texaco. Alf holds U.S. and foreign patents in seismic technology, well logging and well drilling procedures. After retiring from Texaco (30 years) and AMAX Petroleum (20 years) he co-founded Klaveness Research Company, a petroleum technology development company. There he developed a borehole seismic energy generator to provide continuous three-dimensional formation logging while drilling for oil and gas. Alf attended Louisiana State University where he got a B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering. Later he attended Cornell University for graduate work in Geology/Geophysics, University of Houston Law School (mineral law) and various U.S. Naval Science Schools (Naval Reserve 1934-1974). Alf is a charter member, honorary member and past president of the Geophysical Society of Houston and currently serves as Alternate GSII Representative to SEG. He is also an active member of SEG, SPE, APG, HGS, and AADE. Ask Alf about the simpler times when the GSII President’s gavel was a useful sledge hammer, the geophysical directory was the Houston telephone book, all members were hypnotized and instructed to pay their dues on time and the meeting luncheons cost $1.25. Ask Alf if we should go back to the “Good Old Times” and he will say “Absolutely not.” He cheerfully accepts the convenience of swamp buggies, helicopters, air guns, floating point amplifiers, digital recording, satellite navigation, computer processing and versatile offshore vessels that tow a swath of hydro phone streamer cables that provide ten times the volume of high quality data in half the time required formerly. In Navy terms, Alf says, “Full Speed Ahead.”
Homer Leifeste | When Pearl Harbor was attacked, I was a sophomore in medical school. The Dean quickly announced that we would remain in school because doctors were needed in the service. We were given a commission without pay. We then attended classes year-round. After graduation and following a nine-month internship, I was inducted into the Navy as a Lt. JG. My first assignment was to San Diego and then to San Francisco to await the commissioning of my ship. It was a troop transport, an APA. We crossed the Pacific four times with stops in Hawaii, Peleliu, Leyte, and Manila, each where the war had been. Beyond Manila, there was action and we sailed in the center of a convoy protected by Destroyers on the periphery. We stopped a Saipan and Okinawa. We handled casualties from Le Chima for a 336-hour period before they were transferred to a hospital ship. In the East China Sea, we encountered Kamikazes. Troop ships and cargo ships were their prime targets. Our ship’s guns accounted for five, but one, after it was hit, veered off and hit our bow killing one and injuring 15. We went to Ulithiatoll for repairs, but since they couldn’t handle it, we returned to Seattle and San Francisco for repairs. As we sailed under the Golder Gate Bridge, our Captain had our bullet-ridden flag unfurled. By the time we got back to the Philippines, the war was over. At Wakayama, Japan, we saw devastation. I was detached from the ship at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines and spent my final months as a Lt. Sr. Grade in the Navy Hospital in Faragut, Idaho where we skied on the weekends and toured the sights of the Pacific Northwest during holidays. I had five chance meetings with med-school classmates in the Pacific and one with my brother, also a Navy man, when he came through San Francisco. I met fine men from all over the U.S. who became my close friends. I was impressed with how many fine people there also are outside of Texas.
Vietnam One interview from September 13, 2016
William Gene Scott | William Gene Scott, Captain, United States Army Medical Service Corps, served three years, part in the “Cold War” on the Berlin Wall, in West Germany. The assignment there included work as a medical educator and administrator, preparations and training for airborne parachute actions. William spent 15 months in the Republic of Vietnam, in or near the 6th. Convalescent Center at Cam Ranh Bay, in the Republic of South Vietnam. This was the largest hospital in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. He worked as the Company Commander of Company B, a reconditioning facility for a while then was in charge of all the maintenance, transportation and construction at the hospital plus other duties in and about South Vietnam. He extended the required time in Vietnam to complete several special assignments vital to the well being of the hospital. William says that the best day was when they arranged and successfully completed the transportation of 1,400 patients, nurses, doctors and other medical staff to attend the Bob Hope Christmas Show. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in the face of a foreign enemy of the U.S., although Williams says the real credit should have gone to all of their staff for their tireless efforts.
veterans helping veterans
All military veterans are invited to participate with this weekly group meeting on Wednesdays, noon–1 pm, in the Youth Center (Sanctuary Building). Lunch provided.
The intention for the group is that the veterans share their stories and support teach other with hope and healing through community.
Questions? Email Jennifer West or call (713) 528-0527.
Resources for Support
From The United Methodist Church: