Below is an article on the Aldersons' military service. We thank the Coleman Cemetery Advisory Committee for honoring the veterans, we thank the Aldersons for sharing their story, but most of all, we thank them for their service.
The Cemetery Advisory Committee is currently accepting donations for the Veteran’s Monument and appreciate your consideration of assisting us with this project. The goal is to raise approximately $16,000. Should you wish to donate to this project, please send a check payable to the City of Coleman with a notation for the veteran’s project. Please mail to: Coleman Advisory Committee, c/o Ann Watson, 721 W. College, Coleman, Texas 76834. If you wish to honor someone (Mom for Mother's Day, a loved one, or a Veteran) please include that information.
Ola Jean Smith Alderson and Wayne David Alderson
Compiled by Lana Kading
I had the privilege recently of talking with Wayne David Alderson and Ola Jean Smith Alderson at their home on Austin Avenue in Coleman, Texas. Wayne and Ola Jean moved to Coleman in 1995 where they live in the home of her grandmother, Mrs. Matt Martin. The reason for my interview with them was because they are veterans of the United States Marine Corp and the United States Air Force.
Ola Jean Smith was born on June 16, 1934, in Coleman, Texas, the only child of Vester Smith and Margaret Emma Martin Smith. Her young life was spent in Coleman but she then moved to Houston where she attended Stephen F. Austin High School, graduating in 1952. While in high school, Ola Jean was a member of the ROTC. One fateful day in her senior year of high school, an Air Force recruiter spoke at an assembly about a career in the Air Force. Ola Jean was very impressed by this woman and decided she would join the Air Force and did so in 1952. Her parents were upset about her decision and her mother cried but later both parents were proud of her decision to serve her country.
Ola Jean received her basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. She was taken there by car by her parents. She remembers a lot of marching in formation and she especially remembers her little 5’ tall drill sergeant who was small but was a great leader. Following her basic training, she was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, where she was chosen to receive dental/medical training, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
At Great Lakes she lived in the women’s barracks in a restricted area. This base served as a training base for all branches of the service, so this meant that there were thousands stationed there. One night Ola Jean had a blind date with a Marine named Wayne David Alderson. They attended the Marine Ball and clicked immediately. Wayne had actually stepped into this blind date for a buddy who had an emergency and was unable to attend. He and another buddy were dressed in their dress blues and met Ola Jean and her friend at a designated area since men were not allowed in the women’s barracks area. Ola Jean said how impressed she and her girlfriend were with these handsome Marines in their dress blue uniforms. For their second date, Ola Jean asked Wayne to go to church with her at the Presbyterian Church, which he agreed to do, even though he did not grow up attending church. After a short courtship, they were married on February 5, 1953, at Lowrie AFB, where Ola Jean was stationed and working in the dental surgical area.
After their marriage, Ola Jean was on leave and came to Coleman to help her aunt take care of her grandmother. After returning to base, she had a blood test, where it was also revealed that she was pregnant. At this time in the military, pregnancy was an immediate discharge and she received her Honorable Discharge from the military. She was an A1C at the time of discharge. Following her discharge she came to Coleman where she stayed until her grandmother died.
Wayne David Alderson was born on July 31, 1931, on a farm outside of Sioux Falls, SD. He was a son of Victor Alderson and Myrtle Josephine Heng Alderson. He had one brother who died at age 45. Wayne grew up on the farm, helping his father, and attending school in Sioux Falls, where he graduated in 1949.
After graduating from high school, he was at loose ends for a while, until his father told him, “you know, you’re going to have to get a job.” Later that day, January 1, 1950, he was driving down the street in Sioux Falls and saw the recruiting office for the Marine Corp. He thought he’d just stop in and check to see what it was all about and get some information. One of his cousins was in the Marine Corp and was killed on Iwo Jima so he was only interested in that branch of service. When he left there a little while later, he was signed up for the USMC. He went home and told his parents and their reaction was disbelief. The next day he was on a bus to Omaha, Nebraska for his physical and induction into the Marines. After his induction, he was put on a train with a lot of other young men, and taken to San Diego for basic training. This was the first time he’d ever been on a train. On the way from Omaha to San Diego, the train stopped in Lubbock, Texas, to pick up more inductees. A big, strapping young man in a white coat got on the train and said, “My name is Ozzie White and I’m from Texas!” He and Ozzie became buddies as well as another man he met on the train by the name of Carroll Potterheuf, who was from Missouri.
They arrived in San Diego for basic training, which lasted 12 weeks. It was a very rough training and Wayne soon learned that he had to learn to get along and obey orders. He was in a barracks with 59 other young men and they all wondered what they’d gotten themselves into because it was so tough. He was also very homesick. He kept thinking all the time, if my friend Carroll can do this, then so can I! His drill sergeant’s name was Sgt. Scar and he was the typical Marine drill sergeant and didn’t take anything off of anyone. He, along with everyone else, soon learned that the drill instructor was Lord and Master. Following his basic training, he was sent to Camp Lejeune, NC, to attend Supply school. While he was there, the Korean Conflict (later Korean War) began, which was June 1950. The Supply school was suspended and everyone was prepped to go to Korea.
Shortly thereafter, the Supply school was reinstated and he graduated from there. He was with the 2nd Marine Division. Following his schooling, they appointed him as an instructor in the supply school. One of his memorable experiences as a young corporal was that he was the instructor for an all-woman supply class. His Colonel ordered absolutely no fraternization! He said this was a difficult task! He was there in that capacity until July 1951, when he was transferred to the 3rd Marine Brigade at Camp Pendleton, CA where he was the Supply Sergeant for the company.
In December 1951 he was sent to an amphibious base near San Diego for Embarkation training. Shortly after this training, he was on his way to Korea with a lot of other marines. While at sea, they received a message that peace talks were in progress with Korea so the ship turned around and headed back to California. He was then sent to Great Lakes Naval Station where he was stationed for the rest of his enlistment. This is also where he met and married Ola Jean.
After his six year enlistment, Wayne served another six years in the Marine Reserve, where he again served as the supply chief. He and Ola Jean returned to Sioux Falls where he worked for an electrical distribution company. After several years, he was transferred to their Dubuque, Iowa, location where he worked for this company until his retirement in 1995.
Wayne is a member of the American Legion but has not been physically able to attend a meeting in several years. He feels that his time in the military was an experience in a different life, where he grew up real fast, and realized that he was no longer a boy but a man. He was glad of the experience and is proud that he served his country. In closing, Wayne said, “Once a Marine always a Marine!” Semper Fi!