O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon sailor critically injured in Pearl Harbor attack

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president. rkirsch@bnd.com

One by one, O’Fallon received word that her sons in the Pacific were all right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Except for one.

On Dec. 12, 1941, it was learned that Robert Frederick Mertz sustained “critical” injuries. Mertz was a graduate of O’Fallon Township High School, class of 1938, and grew up with his brother Emmett at Willard’s Station (the area of Betty Lane in O’Fallon), where his father, Fred, was a foreman at the stove foundry there. Robert had joined the Navy two years prior to Pearl Harbor. His father moved to Belleville in the spring of 1941. According to an account in the Belleville News-Democrat in June 1942, “Mertz was eating breakfast aboard ship when the waves of Jap planes appeared overhead dropping their missiles of destruction. A gunner, attached to an anti-aircraft battery on his ship, Mertz rushed to his post to open fire on the enemy planes. At times the dive bombers swooped to within 100 feet of the ships before letting go with their bombs.” (To be continued next week.)

75 years ago, Dec. 18, 1941.

A Christmas decoration which is attracting attention is that at the Walter Thomas hardware store where three large letter V’s in holly and illuminated with veri-color lights are strung over the front of the building. The decoration is designed to represent “victory”.

50 years ago, Dec. 15, 1966.

“Christmas in Review” is the theme for the Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School musical presentation to be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the all-purpose room. Children in kindergarten, first, second and third grades and the school band students will participate under the direction of Mrs. Maida Meyer, vocal instructor; Mrs. Sheila Sinclair, instrumental instructor; Mrs. Edna Stief, kindergarten teacher; Mrs. Sandra Cook, first-grade teacher; Mrs. Mercedes Javorchik, second-grade teacher; and Miss Carol Moore, third-grade teacher.