Kremmling trees memorialize local WWII veterans
KREMMLING — If you take a jaunt just off of Highway 40 and Sixth Street, near the Silver Spruce Senior Apartments, seven tall and strong yet unassuming spruce trees will greet you. While the trees are beautiful on their own, it is what they represent that matters to the Kremmling community.
Students from Kremmling Union High School gathered on May 10, 1945 to plant six spruce trees as a memorial to six of their alumni who were killed during World War II. A seventh was later planted anonymously.
Those memorialized by the trees are Robert Polhamus, Eugene Gilbert, John Conklin, Loy Davis, Richard Myers and Fred Stone. With the help of Tim Nicklas, director at Grand County Historical Association, Sky-Hi News was able to locate obituaries and information about these young men who gave their lives during one of the most important conflicts in human history.
Polhamus, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Polhamus, was born April 16, 1921 in Kremmling. He graduated from Kremmling Union High School with the class of 1939, and went on to attend Colorado State College at Ft. Collins where he was a member of the National Guard.
He soon transferred to the Air Corps. On Feb. 1, 1943, at 21 years old, Polhamus was killed in the crash of a two-engine navigation plane in Texas, a week away from graduating as a second lieutenant.
Polhamus is believed to be the first person from Grand County to be killed during the war effort.
He was buried at Soldier’s Field in Fairmount cemetery in Denver.
“Robert Polhamus was the first Grand County boy, so far as known to give his life in the service of his country in this war. Because of this, his supreme sacrifice, may not we who knew him rededicate ourselves to the task before us to the end that he shall not have died in vain,” wrote the Middle Park Times in 1943.
Conklin was born in Kremmling on Feb. 12, 1926 and graduated from KUHS in 1943. Later that year he enlisted in the Navy, where he took mechanical training.
He was assigned to the U.S.S. Gambier Bay, an escort carrier, which supported the amphibious landing at Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, before heading to Hollandia, New Guinea.
In September 1944 Conklin died of a cerebral brain hemorrhage in the Pacific. He was buried in New Guinea.
Conklin was an outdoorsman who enjoyed skiing, fishing, basketball and playing “cowboy songs” on his guitar. He had one brother, James.
Stone was born Nov. 2, 1925 in DeBeque and moved to Kremmling in 1936. He graduated from KUHS in 1944.
He joined the army in June 1944 as an infantryman, and trained at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was killed in action on March 9, 1945, on the battlefields of Germany, near Remagen. He was awarded a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, and buried at the Henri-Chapelle American War Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium.
Stone enjoyed fishing, hunting, trapping and horseback riding. He had one brother, Paul, and three sisters, Frances, Esther and Bettie.
Davis was a Kremmling native, who worked in the Brown-Jones store while studying at KUHS. He enlisted in the Army several months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
It is believed that he was captured early in the fighting in Manila, Philippines. He was killed in action on Sept. 7, 1944 as a prisoner of war after a Japanese freighter carrying American POWs was sunk off the coast of Mindanao.
Myers was from Kremmling and he enlisted into the Army in 1943. He was killed in October 1944 near Gangelt-Birgden, Germany. He was awarded a Purple Heart and was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American War Cemetery.
Myers’s family was some of the first settlers in Grand County, their homestead was near the Gore.
Gilbert lost his life serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
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