Military Service and History

A civil war fortress

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As the Civil War raged on, the Union Army, following a defeat at Wilson’s Creek in southwest Missouri, fell back to Rolla and in 1863 constructed a double-deck blockhouse to protect the town from any rebel attack from the east. That building – named Fort Dette, after Capt. John F.W. Dette, who supervised most of…

Builders of the bomb

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The U.S. government’s Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the first nuclear weapons, was a massive but highly secretive World War II undertaking that involved thousands of scientists and engineers at dozens of sites across the nation. They included a few with Rolla connections, most notably Thomas G. Day, a professor of organic…

One man’s WWII timeline

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Jesse Bowen, EE’49, joined the Army during peacetime and was a radio operator for B-10 bombers. Immediately after Pearl Harbor was attacked, his unit was equipped with brand new B-25 bombers and sent to Nevada for aerial gunnery training. Bowen was shipped out to England and named Group Communications Chief with the 354th Fighter Group. …

Remembering Bataan

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Gene Boyt, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering; Robert Silhavy, ceramic engineering; and John McAnerney, civil engineering, were called up to serve in the U.S. Army two weeks after they graduated in 1941. Stationed in the Philippines, the three were part of Allied troops stranded without air support after the attack on Pearl Harbor.…