Hoobler fights in WWII elite 'Easy Company'
Published: The People's Defender, April 2007
Serving a year in the Ohio National Guard wasn't enough for Donald Hoobler, of Manchester. Less than a year after his discharge, Hoobler joined the Army with his friends, Bob Rader and Bill Howell.
"He was a sweet boy, always had a smile for everyone," Manchester resident Esta Carter recalled.
Hoobler was only eight when his father, Ralph B. Hoobler, died. The elder Hoobler was born in Vanceburg, Ky. in 1892 and joined the Ohio National Guard when he was 24. He later served as a corporal in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant while serving in Europe and was honorably discharged in 1919. After leaving the service, he worked as an electrician in Manchester.
Donald Hoobler graduated from Manchester High School with the class of 1940. On Oct. 15 of the same year, he entered the Ohio National Guard, serving with the 37th Division.
He trained at Camp Shelby, Miss. and was discharged in November, 1941 - one month before Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan.
By July, 1942, Hoobler enlisted in the Army and earned a place in history as a member of the elite Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II.
His training to go to the European front took place at Camp Breckenridge, Ky.; Fort Benning and Toccoa, Ga.; and Camp McCall and Fort Bragg, N.C. While at Camp Toccoa, the 506th adopted their motto "Currahee," the name of the adjacent mountains and the local Indian word for "stand alone." They embarked on Sept. 5, 1943 for Europe.
The 506th was one of three parachute regiments activated in the 101st during WWII. The enlisted paratroopers received $50 per month of extra pay for their hazardous missions. After their arrival in Europe, they trained in Wiltshire County, England for the coming invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
In the dark hours of early morning on D-Day, the 506th flew to their first combat jump. Unfortunately, the planes became scattered by low clouds and enemy fire, and many of the men were dropped off-course. However, Easy Company managed to capture a German battery of four 105-mm cannon and take them out of action. The cannons were aimed at Utah Beach. Hoobler was injured on June 12 while in Normandy, but was able to return to duty.
In July, the paratroopers returned to England to rest and train until Operation Market-Garden in Holland. They dropped into a field in Holland during the daylight hours of Sept. 17, 1944. Their mission was to clear a pathway through Holland for the British soldiers. On Nov. 11, while still in Holland, Hoobler was injured again.
Hoobler was back in action during the Battle of the Bulge when the Germans waged a major offensive through the Ardennes Forest. The 101st was engaged in the counter-offensive. Two days after the Germans began the offensive, on Dec. 18, they were loaded up into trucks and rushed to Bastogne, Belgium. The little town was the hub of seven main roads through the Ardennes Mountains, and the 506th helped hold the perimeter through heavy fighting and a siege that lasted until Dec. 26. Just a week later, on Jan. 3, Corporal Donald Hoobler was killed in Belgium.
Hoobler left behind his mother, Kathryn (Carrigan) Hoobler, known locally for her rhubarb pies; a sister, Mary Kathryn Lane; and a 17-year-old brother, John R. Hoobler.
For his service, Hoobler was awarded the Purple Heart, with two clusters; European Theater of Operations Ribbon, with two stars; American Defense Medal; Combat Infantry Medal; Presidential Citation, with cluster; French Croix de Guerre, with poluis; Belgian Fourruge, with paluis; and Dutch Orange Langard. He was buried in Luxembourg, but at the request of his family, returned to Manchester after the war.
The People's Defender of Jan. 25, 1945 reported that his mother was confined to bed upon receiving the casualty message. She had been a widow since 1930 at the young age of 37 and never remarried. She was 83 when she passed away at her daughter's home in Fort Ritchie, Fla. She is buried next to Donald in Manchester Cemetery.
John Hoobler joined the U.S. Navy on Feb. 2, 1945 and served as a Fireman 1st Class in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations. In July, 1946, he was honorably discharged. According to the War Service Book of Adams County, after his discharge, he worked as a heating operation engineer. He later moved to Fort Ritchie, Florida and passed away in July, 1997.
Donald's sister, Mrs. A. M. Lane now resides in Mississippi.
Donald has been charcterized in the book, "Band of Brothers," by Stephen E. Ambrose and portrayed in the HBO mini-series of the same name.
- Special thanks to Fred DeBord, Esta Carter, Albert Palmer, Georgie Woolard, Stephen Kelley and Valerie Young for their assistance in finding information for this article.
Edited by gilliesisle, 29 April 2007 - 08:32 PM.