The World War I and II War Memorial that has been sitting on the grounds of the old City Hall in Montpelier has recently been relocated to the War Mothers Park on the west side of Montpelier.
The names of 21 Bear Lake County men who lost their lives during World War I and the names of 44 World War II dead are on that monument. These names were taken from files of The News-Examiner, and were for the most part, kept current during the war through the work of an honor roll committee form Post 63, American Legion, according to a March 16, 1950, article in the The News-Examiner.
The honor roll of the second world war lists names of all known Bear Lake County men and women who gave their lives, whether on battlefield, naval engagements, or at other stations, between Dec 7, 1941 and Sept. 2, 1945.
Eligibility regulations for membership in the American Legion, which covered the same period of service, was used as a criterion in establishing limiting dates for inclusion of names. Legion membership for the first world war was dependent on service between Apr. 6, 1917, and Nov. 11, 1918, the period of hostilities.
There are known instances of service men who died or were accidentally killed shortly after termination of hostilities in both wars. Two such instances, one for each war, are Lee E. Ream, son of Mr. and Mrs. William D. Ream, who died at the age of 28 on Feb. 13, 1919, and Lieutenant Donald Humphreys, son of Dr. and Mrs. Elzo G. Humphreys, who in the capacity of a pilot on a C-17, was killed in a crash on Apr. 18, 1946, while on duty in England.
Beth Humphreys, who was a sister of Lieutenant Humphreys, is the only woman whose name is on the World War II honor roll. She was an army nurse and she died Aug. 1, 1945. The Beth Humphreys Post of Salt Lake City was named in her honor.
On the World War II list there are names of a few men who, for different periods of time, and for one reason or another, were away from Bear Lake County when they entered the armed forces. However, this county was considered their true home by relatives and inclusion of names was made on the honor roll. This in part, explains why the last known official government list is inconclusive and in variance with the one kept during the war by Post 63. In many cases, men entered the service while at school or engaged somewhere in war work. Often an outside address was given. Others had moved away temporarily, but still retained this county as their home.
The war dead from Bear Lake County far exceeded the average throughout the nation. Similarly, the number of men and women in the service was greater than the country’s average on a per capita basis. As an example, at the end of World War II, a total of 1,017 printed names were on the glassed-in Legion Honor Roll, located between the Fair Store and the Nielsen building in Montpelier. Names were listed alphabetically under various categories, such as “active,” “discharged,” “missing,” “dead,” “prisoner of war,” etc. Names were moved from one classification to another when verified information finally came to relatives. New names were added after induction and enlistment in order to keep the board current. In this way, errors were corrected on the spot, which makes the Legion list a fairly accurate historical record.
Now this monument rests at the War Mothers Park where it will remain for all to see and read the names of those from Bear Lake who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.