Lakeside tour honors World War II veterans

DOVER — In honor of Memorial Day, Lakeside Cemetery on North State Street featured tours and biographical information of more than 80 local World War II veterans on Monday.

Cemetery caretaker Danny Waite coordinated the displays and tours.

“It all really started when I was a kid because I would come out here with my dad and I saw so many people here were veterans so I started doing some research,” he said.

Mr. Waite’s intrigue led him to become a history teacher and for a decade now, he has shared information about local World War II veterans every Memorial Day.

More than 33,000 Delawareans fought in World War II and about 900 never returned home.

Mr. Waite has gone through the public archives, old newspapers and history books to chronicle the lives of those veterans who lived in or around Dover.

He has created more than 80 poster boards that were placed across the cemetery Monday. They include facts about World War II along with photos and biographies of the local men (and one woman) who fought in it, many of whom had very interesting stories.

One of the more engaging stories belonged to William E. Paskins, the only local black soldier to die in the war. Mr. Parsons was one of about 4,000 black Delawareans in the war and belonged to an all-black unit and one of a very few units that also had black officers.

He fought for the liberation of Rome and after the battle was killed in action in Florence. Mr. Paskins’ death didn’t get the same amount of coverage in local papers as local white soldiers so Mr. Waite puts his story on display every Memorial Day and always includes it in the guided tour.

For those who preferred to wander on their own and read the biographies, Mr. Waite left the posters up until after 7 p.m.

Calvin Boggs of Cheswold was one of three brothers who fought in World War II. After the death of his brother, Clayton in the war, Calvin married his widow and raised his son. The Boggs brothers were three of more than 80 World War II veterans recognized on Monday at Lakeside Cemetery in Dover. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)

Calvin Boggs of Cheswold was one of three brothers who fought in World War II. After the death of his brother, Clayton in the war, Calvin married his widow and raised his son. The Boggs brothers were three of more than 80 World War II veterans recognized on Monday at Lakeside Cemetery in Dover. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)


Another fascinating history was that of the Boggs family of Cheswold. The Boggs sent three sons off to war, J. Caleb, Calvin and Clayton. Clayton was the only one of the three who didn’t survive, leaving behind a widow and young son.

Calvin, a Marine (the other two brothers fought in the Army), ended up marrying Clayton’s widow and raising his son while J. Caleb went on to become Delaware’s governor from 1953 to 1960 before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1973.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people think that situations like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ where a whole family of brothers sent to war was uncommon but it reality, it happened pretty frequently,” Mr. Waite said.

One of the morning tour’s participants, Gary Knight of Camden, came to share some information he recently discovered.

“My next door neighbors are now in their late 80s or early 90s and their family was very involved in World War II,” he said. “It was a family of 11 brothers and three sisters and 10 of them went off to war.”

Mr. Knight shared the information with Mr. Waite who plans to look further into the family’s history and obtain more information about them.

“I love getting all this information and then being able to share it,” Mr. Waite said. “I’ve actually been out here and seen people visiting a veteran’s grave and been able to give the family more information than they knew about their own family member and it feels good to be able to help people like that.”

A boy, Howard Earl Massey, was just that, a boy when he was sent to war. Mr. Massey hadn’t yet graduated high school from Dover High when he left for World War II.

“If your grades were good enough, you were allowed to leave high school early to fight,” Mr. Waite said.
“In this case, Mr. Massey was trained and already fighting in Italy before his graduation date.”

Mr. Massey was set to be awarded his diploma at the ceremony in absentia but on the morning of the ceremony, his parents learned he had been killed in action.

“Although many of these stories don’t have a great outcome, all these soldiers’ lives were very interesting and I love learning about them and being able to honor these local heroes,” Mr. Waite said.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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