- Associated Press - Saturday, June 24, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - In 2005, home from a combat tour in Iraq, Nathan Hall spotted a familiar pin while looking through his grandfather’s memorabilia. It was the crest of the 147th Field Artillery Regiment. Hall, a combat medic, had been in Iraq with the 147th.

“I kind of rushed out to the living room and said, ‘Grandpa, where did you get that?’”

Hall knew his grandfather Charles had served in World War II, but he didn’t know it was with South Dakota’s 147th, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2rSEyyI ) reported. Charles Hall never talked much about the war. But their shared experience of serving in combat in the same regiment opened a door, and for a few hours one day Charles Hall shared stories about the good times - the girls in Australia - and the not so good, including the grueling combat the 147th participated in as U.S. forces wrested control of the Pacific from Japan.

Charles Hall died in 2006. He was among the men who deployed with Battery D of the 147th in 1940, more than a year before the United States entered World War II.

He was also among a group of Battery D survivors who bought a bottle of champagne during a reunion. The bottle was supposed to go to the last surviving man of that World War II odyssey, which saw the men deployed in some cases almost five years. The bottle had been in Charles Hall’s possession when he died.

Nathan Hall said that he and his family didn’t know if there were any other survivors until a story by Argus Leader Media on Memorial Day weekend, which included the recollections of John “Jack” Dewar, a 94-year-old surviving member of the unit who lives in Arizona with his wife, Elizabeth, who Dewar met while deployed in Australia.

Nathan’s aunt reached out to Dewar about taking possession of the champagne.

But Dewar said he wants the Halls to hang onto the bottle.

“We don’t know who the last man is,” he said, noting that another of the unit’s veterans, Russell Peterson, passed away in April at the age of 97.

“He was well liked,” Dewar said of Peterson.

Still, Dewar says he hopes to be the last of Battery D’s survivors.

“I don’t want to go before the others do,” he said.

Nathan Hall said he doesn’t know what to do about the bottle, which his aunt kept after Charles Hall died.

“I knew about it growing up - the bottle of champagne and the story behind it,” he said.

Nathan Hall served two combat tours with the 147th. If the bottle doesn’t end up with Dewar or the last survivor, it would be fitting to end up in his possession.


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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