As we approach Veterans Day on Nov. 11, it is interesting to compare differences arising from the modernization of United States military equipment and tactics used during World War I, as well as noting the similarities that were faced by World War I soldiers and the soldiers of today.
Most of the differences that have occurred in the military since World War I and today resulted from the technology used in the manufacturing of weapons, planes, ships, radar, etc. However, there are the ever-present similarities as well. I noticed this when I was reading of the life experiences of Wilbur Dickerson’s father, Wilber A. Dickerson Sr., who was a member of Company A, 168th Infantry, 84th Brigade. Like those soldiers serving in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and around the world, deployments were for extensive periods of time. The Iowa 168th, of which Dickerson Sr. was a member, saw battle for 264 consecutive days. This group of soldiers, like today’s, also faced the dangers of chemical weapons, although different in side effects. In November 1918, the family of Dickerson Sr. was notified he had been wounded in action and that he was undergoing treatment for being gassed. He did survive, received a Purple Heart, and through answered prayers of family and friends, he was able to return home. This is the same fate that all of us want for our military personnel — a safe return home.
Dickerson Sr. was born in a farm house northeast of Woodward, where he lived until the family moved to Perry in 1898. He grew up in Perry and married Emma Ruby Waldron in 1934. They became the parents of four children: Morris Amon, Margaret Joan, Wilbur A. Jr. and Richard Dean. Richard followed the family tradition and served in the Army during the Korean War. The senior Dickerson served in the Civilian Conservation Corps until the time the corps was terminated. Following his work with the CCC, he worked for the Perry Chief for a number of years as the senior back shop staffer. Following his work at the Perry Chief, Wilbur Dickerson Sr. worked for the Nashua paper.
Everything wasn’t work for the senior Dickerson, as he established a baseball team here in Perry that was sponsored by the Grand Opera House. One of the clippings regarding this team said “A game has been arranged between the Dickerson Team and the Smokey Nine, to be played at the Round House Grounds.”
Dickerson Sr. returned to his home in Perry to enjoy a productive life following his military service. Thank you to Dickerson Sr. and all of our military veterans for their service.