Saturday, October 25, 2014


Theresa Lewis holds a Purple Heart and Bronze Star earned by her father, Leon Anglemyer, during World War II. Lewis is trying to have her father's name added to the memorial wall in the basement of the Elkhart city hall. Anglemyer served in the European theatre and was a prisoner of war held in Germany. (Jennifer Shephard / The Elkhart Truth)

A plaque is placed above a memorial in Elkhart city hall that holds names of service men and women who served in World War II. Elkhart resident Theresa Lewis is trying to have her father Leon Anglemyer's name placed in the memorial. Anglemyer served in the European theatre and was a prisoner of war. (Jennifer Shephard) (Buy this photo)

A lighter that belonged to Leon Anglemyer shows the date 1945, which was when he was a prisoner of war in Germany. The lighter also has Italy, France and Germany printed on it. The other side shows his initials and has the dates of when he was taken prisoner and liberated by the French army. Anglemyer's daughter, Theresa Lewis, is trying to have her father's name added to the memorial wall in the basement of Elkhart city hall. (Jennifer Shephard) (Buy this photo)

Theresa Lewis sits behind the head stone of her father, Leon Anglemyer, at Union Central Cemetery south of Elkhart Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Lewis is trying to have her father's name added to the memorial wall in the basement of Elkhart's city hall. Anglemyer served in the European theatre and was a prisoner of war held in Germany. (Jennifer Shephard) (Buy this photo)

One of three sections of a memorial in the basement of Elkhart city hall, as seen Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Elkhart resident Theresa Lewis is trying to have her father Leon Anglemyer's name placed in the memorial. Anglemyer served in WWII and was a prisoner of war. (Jennifer Shephard) (Buy this photo)

Theresa Lewis touches one of three Bronze Stars earned by her father, Leon Anglemyer, during World War II during an interview in her Elkhart home Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Lewis is trying to have her father's name added to the memorial wall in the basement of the Elkhart city hall. Anglemyer served in the European theatre and was a prisoner of war held in Germany. (Jennifer Shephard) (Buy this photo)

Theresa Lewis holds a photo of her father, Leon Anglemyer, taken near the start of his service in World War II Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Anglemyer was a prisoner of war in Germany and earned a Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars. Lewis is trying to have her father's name added to the memorial wall in the basement of the Elkhart city hall. (Jennifer Shephard) (Buy this photo)
Elkhart woman lobbies to add father's name to WWII memorial
Posted on June 20, 2014 at 11:34 a.m.

ELKHART — All Theresa Lewis wants is a small spot on the sprawling World War II memorial that covers part of a hallway wall in Elkhart City Hall.

An inch or so by six inches would suffice.

There, the Elkhart woman wants to place a small wooden nameplate reading “Leon Ellis Anglemyer.” That’s her father, a prisoner of war from World War II who grew up in Elkhart County and died here in 1964 when he was just 40 years old. The memorial at city hall honors those from the community who served in the war, and she noticed five or so years back that her dad’s name was absent among the many inscribed nameplates up there.

She’s been lobbying on and off ever since to get Anglemyer’s name on the memorial, largely without success. But she’ll keep at it.

“To some people it might seem trivial,” she said. “But for families who have had family in the service, it’s not trivial.”

Reps at city hall and the Elkhart County Veteran’s Service Office, contacted by The Elkhart Truth, initially passed the buck, each pointing the finger at the other as responsible for deciding who gets a spot on the memorial. Then Arvis Dawson, assistant to Mayor Dick Moore, relented.

"I don’t see any problem,“ Dawson said. Protocol needs to be followed, confirmation of the relevant details needs to made, he indicated, but steps would be taken to address the matter.

’MADE MY HEART SINK’

Enter city hall, go down a few steps to the lower level of the building and you’ll see three huge wooden boards containing name after name after name — those from the community who served in World War II. When Lewis first stumbled upon it while visiting city hall with a friend who had business there, she did a double take.

“I looked over at the A’s and there was no Leon Anglemyer, and that just kind of made my heart sink,” she said. Her friend looked for the name of her own father, also a World War II veteran, and found the Bristol man’s name.

Over the years, Lewis, who used to work as a registered nurse, hasn’t gotten much of a response from her efforts, so she came to The Elkhart Truth with her story. The urge for action intensifies about this time each year — around Memorial Day, Anglemyer’s July 5 birthday and the day of his death 50 years ago, June 10, 1964.

"I want, somewhere, his name to be listed with the people who served with him,” she said.

GRASS MEALS, RIFLE BUTTS

Today, a portrait of her father in his military garb decorates Lewis’ living room. The U.S. flag that draped his coffin and the purple heart and one of the bronze stars he earned from his service sit on a nearby stand.

Anglemyer, who grew up between Nappanee and Wakarusa, joined the U.S. Army in 1943 at the age of 19, eventually attaining the rank of corporal. He traveled to Europe, seeing action in Italy, France and Germany, and was taken prisoner by German troops Jan. 20, 1945, according to Lewis.

He was liberated less than three months later, on April 16, 1945, but the experience in a POW camp left an impression. Anglemyer, who worked at Elkhart Products Corp. in Elkhart before passing, would later tell stories of having to eat grass to survive and of Germans butting him and other prisoners in the head with their rifles.

Back in Indiana, Lewis remembers, her father never ate green vegetables because it brought back memories of the grass meals. He later died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and veterans officials indicated it may have stemmed from the rough treatment as a POW, she said.

Still Anglemyer soldiered on, she said, and while he may have been bruised, he wasn’t broken. That grit seems to be the motivating factor for Lewis, 50 years since her father’s death and nearly 70 years since his service in World War II.

"You’re going to make me cry," she said from the living room of her home, remembering her dad. “They didn’t break his spirit... Everything he went through, it didn’t break him.”

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.