“Who, more than self, his country loved ….”
Roy Wayne True, born in north Dallas County near Tunas, Missouri, on November 24, 1925, was the first of five children born to Roy A. and Bethel Owensby True.
Wayne attended Palace School his first-grade year, then he completed grade and high school at Tunas School where his mother taught.
The year of Wayne’s graduation, 1943, was a year of turmoil in the world. Pearl Harbor had been bombed in 1941, and the United States and the Allies were now involved in full-scale war against Germany, Japan, and other Axis powers. Soon Wayne was headed to war. He elected to join the Navy.
After finishing basic naval training in Idaho, Wayne was sent to Boston to the ship which awaited. It was the USS DE 223 Spangenberg. After completing the necessary preparation in Boston, Wayne, his fellow shipmates, and captain headed out to sea.
Wayne and the others faced danger many times because the Spangenberg was a Destroyer Escort. One of its jobs was to escort other ships loaded with American troops who were headed to the front lines. Included in his ship’s arsenal were depth charges, and their ship would make circle after circle around each ship they escorted as it left America and headed toward Europe or another destination in order to prevent an enemy submarine from sinking it. They used the depth charges when necessary. Altogether, Wayne and his fellow shipmates accompanied seventeen shiploads of American military men safely to their destination.
After completing that mission, Wayne’s ship was sent to the Mediterranean Sea. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, known as the “Desert Fox,” had made advances in North Africa early on as he assisted the Italians there, but the British had come on strong and made such strong advances, they pushed Rommel and his forces out. Wayne and his shipmates were charged with watching the waters above Libya and North Africa to help keep the area free of enemy vessels because the Germans were still a formidable force there.
The war continued, and the Allies made some advances. Before long, the USS Spangenberg was sent to Sicily, then to Italy. The Allied plan had been to take control of the “soft underbelly of Europe,” so it was now the men’s duty to see that the land area was completely cleared of the remaining German fighters. This time Wayne went on shore. He carried a Tommy Gun, and he and the men carefully advanced through some very treacherous areas. He was ordered to advance through the Vatican to see that it was clear. He was able to carry out those orders.
The next assignment for Wayne and his fellow shipmates was to head toward Norway. They were to go past Denmark and go all the way up the coast of Norway to find and eliminate any enemy submarines or ships in those areas. They advanced up the coast, almost being frozen in at one point. However, before they reached their destination, orders came to head back southward for another mission.
This mission was different. The men were not told what the objective was. They had no idea they would soon be involved in the great D-Day invasion and follow-up at Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during WWII, and Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, had made every effort to keep that mission as secret as possible, and many of the armed forces did not know what lay ahead.
The D-Day invasion began on June 6, 1944. It was the biggest seaborne invasion in history. The soldiers and landing forces from many ships went ashore amidst heavy artillery fire. The Spangenberg naval forces, when they got into position, aimed their torpedoes and cannons in ahead of the landing forces, then turned to a second task. In the throes of battle, many of the forces going ashore to establish a beachhead had been hit and their landing crafts damaged. Wayne and his shipmates scrambled to rescue men from the water.
The D-Day invasion was a turning point in the war, and the Allies would soon be on the road to victory. In 1945, as the war was grinding to an end, the men on the Spangenberg had one last war-time adventure. They captured a German submarine. Actually, the men on the submarine came up and gave themselves up because the German war machine had seen its better day. The disastrous offensive in the Ardennes had exhausted the resources of the Germans on the Western Front, and Allied advances had left many Germans on submarines and in other areas without direction or leadership. The men on the submarine were giving themselves up, hoping for food and for leniency. Wayne’s ship later took the captured men to a section of the northern British Isles, where they and others were released in a pre-planned safe area.
After the war ended, Wayne returned to Missouri and enrolled at Southwest Missouri State College. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree and prepared to teach school. He met and married Sylvia Nunn of Urbana, Missouri, and they had a son, Larry True. Wayne began teaching school. After his wife’s death, he married Helen Guthrie. A son, Ryan, was born.
Wayne became a teacher of history and English in Corder, Missouri, and he later taught in other neighboring schools. Soon he became a Superintendent of Schools. Altogether, Wayne spent forty-two years as teacher and superintendent. He was also a Mason for over fifty years and a member of the Lions Club for over fifty years.
Wayne was baptized into Christ at a young age at the Tunas Christian Church. Upon moving to Corder, Missouri, he placed membership with the Corder Baptist Church.
Wayne was 93 years old at the time of his death. He leaves two sons, Larry True of Salem, Missouri, and Dr. Ryan True of Corder, Missouri. He also leaves a brother, Bertram Eugene True of Urbana, Missouri, two sisters, Chrystal Anne Melton and Avaline Harris of Springfield, Missouri, and a brother, Daryl Owensby True of Arnold, Missouri.
Interment was at Calvary Cemetery in Corder, Missouri.
Quotation is from “America the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates