Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas

 

HAROLD J. MARBURGER
1926 - 2007

 
32nd Infantry Division 127th Infantry Crest

HAROLD J. MARBURGER

Patriot, Chapter 1919

 (ARMY, WWII, Pacific) Article January 1998

Harold was one of the last men wounded in action in WWII, just before the Atomic Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  As a teenaged college student, he might not have had to serve at all, had he not insisted that the draft board answer his questions about his status.

Harold Marburger was born in 1926 in Clearfield, Iowa. He graduated from High School in nearby Coggon in May 1943, and then attended Iowa State University for one year. On a weekend visit home from college he met a local girl, Betty Wenger, at a "skating party" for his cousin. During the Summer break from college in 1944, Harold received his draft notice. 

Harold was inducted into the Army at Fort Snelling, Minnesota in October 1944.  He spent 15 weeks in Infantry training at Camp Hood, Texas, and then was sent to Fort Ord, California where he shipped out in March 1945 on the troop ship, “General John Pope”. Harold arrived in the Philippines on Luzon in late April 1945 and was assigned as an individual replacement to Company G, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division. This was a Wisconsin-Michigan National Guard unit that had already seen three years service in the Pacific. 

The 32nd Infantry Division was in the mountains of Luzon, in contact with the Japanese, pushing towards the town of Santa Fe on what was called the “Villa Verde Trail”.  Harold received his Purple Heart after a fight that took place on July 22, 1945.  On a very narrow mountain path, Company G came up against a determined Japanese force supported by Mortar fire, and Harold was wounded. The men put Harold and his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) on a stretcher and with great difficulty they managed to carry him to safety back down the path. He spent 30 days in the Field Hospital at Baguio, Summer Capitol of Luzon, before he was able to rejoin his unit. 

Harold recounts an earlier episode of his service, “My first duty in Company G had been to help bury dead Japanese and I remember watching a rifle squad member from Johnson City, Texas (I was a naive 19-year old from Iowa), using his machete to obtain gold teeth. About 15 years later, I saw this man running a gas station in Austin (he is now deceased).”   After the war ended the 32nd Infantry Division was broken up and Harold was reassigned to a 5th Air Force unit that was doing Occupation Duty at Itazuki Air Base near the city of Fukuoka. He remained at Itazuki Air Base for the rest of his time in service. He was promoted to Technical Sergeant and was serving as the Acting First Sergeant of his Company when his turn came to be returned to the United States for his discharge in November 1946. 

Betty had finished one year at Iowa State by the time Harold returned home after the war. They were married December 8, 1946 in Manchester, Iowa, and two weeks later they moved to Texas. Harold obtained a Bachelor's Degree from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos in 1949, a Master's in 1950 from the University of Texas at Austin, and had completed course work for a PhD at the University of Iowa by December 1951.

During his career, Harold taught history and government, and coached baseball, at several different high schools and colleges; held executive positions in agencies of the Texas State and Federal Governments, and at Southwest Texas State University, the University of Texas, the Texas State University System; and finally retired as Assistant to the Chancellor of the University of Texas System in 1982. Harold Marburger has always supported and continues to serve in civic, public service, veterans, college alumni, and philanthropic groups too numerous to list here. 

Harold earned “grocery money” during his early years in Texas as a pitcher for various Semi-Pro Baseball teams. He is very proud of his career in Austin with the "7-UP BOTTLERS", a team sponsored by Austin’s legendary Ed Knebel.  Also at that time, Harold helped Ed in chartering the "Knebel American Legion Post 83".  At a game in Beeville, Harold once pitched against Don Newcomb (the Brooklyn Dodgers' ace).  Harold is an inductee in the "South Texas Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame" in Hallettsville (Hall & Museum).  Harold and Betty Marburger live in Austin, but travel extensively. They spend most of each summer in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and then entertain several perennial "Winter Texans" in season. Harold Marburger is a Charter Member of Chapter 1919, Military Order of the Purple Heart and has served two terms as the Finance Officer and three years as a Trustee.  

 

BETTY (Wenger) MARBURGER

…had this to say…..

Betty's family in Iowa lived about 18 miles from Harold's family, but the two didn't know each other until Harold was in college. Betty still thinks it is amusing that 18-yr old Harold wrote to his Draft Board in the Summer of 1944 telling them he intended to return to Iowa State in the Fall if he didn't hear from them. The Draft Board promptly sent him his draft notice. Betty and Harold wrote one another while he was in the Army and she was at Iowa State. They married when he came home from Japan in 1946. Later, Betty also earned a Degree from Southwest Texas State University. Betty also retired when Harold did (in 1982) after 20 years as a 6th Grade Teacher in Austin Independent School District. They have recently celebrated their 51st Wedding Anniversary.

 

 

Harold J. Marburger provided this Purple Heart story for publication in the January 1998 issue of PATRIOT BULLETIN.  Harold passed away in April 2007.


Semi-Pro Baseball Cardinals #21

1954-1955 "Beeville"

127th Infantry Sign Kyushu

before Division demobilized in Fall 1945

Scenes During the War

Inauguration of President Bill Jones at Southwest Texas State University

1968-69

With Governor Price Daniel

Spring 1957

Harold did a special study for the Governor

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