One can picture that wooden cross trying to survive each one of those 54 winters of heavy snows and driving sleet storms. Also the constant strain of trying to standing upright against the itchy butts of the large Sattler Ranch herd bulls.
Also picture Jim Sattler in the later years trying to keep that cross upright with baling wire and steel fence posts.
When dh first saw the cross it was cocked at an angle. It appeared to everyone that the old wooden cross had fulfilled its mission in life so Jim and Mabel were asked for permission to allow the old cross to be replaced with a new one. They readily gave permission but asked that the cross be made of heavy steel pipe, and, of course, BULL proof.
That was the start of the Naper 28 Cross Replacement project. It was spring of 2001.
Dh will try to present the cross project in three parts. Three parts because three groups of people at different times contributed their talents, time and sweat.
1. The Construction and the delivery of the Cross to Naper Nebraska.
Stub and Virginia Priefert (and Shep) started on this phase early in the summer.
2. The "planting" of the new Cross.
The Sattler "crew" went to work on this part.
3. Finally there was the group that attended the simple but very moving Dedication of the new Cross at the crash site on August 5th 2001.
This last group included the rest of the people that were connected to the NAPER 28 tragedy. Those who could not attend were there in spirit.
PART 1..The Beginning of The New Cross
Photo 1 Stub Priefert at work
Photo 2 Getting the Cross loaded
Photo 3 Ready "To Roll"
Photo 4 At the Sattler Ranch
Shep and Friend
The building of the cross by Virginia Priefert
"Stub had asked Mary Bruning, the owner and manager of "Feed Lot Fencing" if she had any heavy 4 1/2inch pipe for sale and as she did, Stub, Shep and I went up to "Feed Lot Fencing" and were waited on by Mary's sweet and charming daughter-in-law, Penny Bruning. He got two lengths of 8 foot pipe and bought the caps to be welded on to the end of the pipes.
We wrote out a check for around $68 and Penny said that she would tell Mary what the pipe was going to be used for and as a result Mary refunded the money to him. Stub stamped Mary Bruning's name on the back of the cross as a tribute to her generosity. The Sattlers thought it wonderful to have the iron come from people for whom the town of Bruning and the Air Field were named.
Stub cut one of the 8 foot pieces in two and cut that 4 foot piece again and drew the curve of the pipe to make a saddle to fit against the upright pope and then welded them on. He worried about holding the cross arms on at an exact 90 degree angle as it would be bad it they were off but he got them welded on perfectly, in my opinion.
He then welded the words on the front of the cross and stamped his name "Stub" and Mary Bruning's name on the back.
Stub took the other piece of 4 foot pipe and after the cross and the lettering were finished, he welded it on to the bottom of the 8 foot pipe making it 12 feet long so that 4 feet could go into the ground. He used 7018 welding rod on the cross. (for those welding connoisseur's info) Jim Sattler said he would weld on another pointed piece on the bottom so it would be easier to drive in and make it even more stable so that even the biggest bull could rub against it.
He bought two sacks of quick setting cement and made a ring to put in the cement for reinforcement and was so elated to see that Jim used it when he put it in the ground.
It had been a hot summer. The AAM said that we would deliver the cross on Saturday July 7, 2001 if the Sattlers would be at home. We told Mabel we would be up probably about 3 in the afternoon. The outside Thermometer in the Canary registered 98 degrees but as we got farther north it went down to 96, and we found the AC in the yellow Canary worked fine.(Stub's truck "The Yellow Canary" is mentioned elsewhere!....dh)
We went west to Grand Island and north on 281 into the beautiful rolling hills. As there was very little or no traffic, Stub wondered what his new Sport pickup could do and found she could cruise easily at 85+. No patrolman found us and we were nearly at Naper at 11:30. I called Mabel on the cell phone and she said they were just going out to the other pasture to be back by 3 but would wait until we arrived. A welcome rain had made the Sattlers long driveway a little muddy and Stub was elated he had 4 wheeled drive although we really didn't need it. We were glad the Sattlers were still there and took pictures of us and the cross.
We returned home via highway 81 going through Columbus to see he new Monument to Andrew Jackson Higgins. (Of World War Two "Higgins Boat" fame...dh) We had planned to stay over night, but were back in Hebron before dark. Shep was elated. We had told him he had to stay home alone through the night. He has the ability to let himself in or out of the door as needed.
We were glad the cross had been so well received. SSV."
The Sattler family "crew" working get the new Cross in the ground.
PART 3 THE CROSS DEDICATION August 5 2001. We need more trip narrtives and pictures..
dewaine r. erickson wrote:
My narrative of a trip to Naper Nebraska to dedicate a new steel Cross at the site of the l944 U S Army Air Corps C-47 crash with 28 men aboard.
This writer had participated earlier in a get acquainted trip (April 1999). My relationship to the project was that of being stationed at Bruning Army Air Field in l944 at the time the plane left on the flight to Pierre South Dakota.
In addition, I attempted to locate some ot the victims relatives in order to let them know about the efforts being made to recognize these military servicemen.
Dh has asked that I write up a short story of my trip to Naper that weekend.
The summer in Nebraska had been hot and dry. So driving north in the my old '92 Ford Pickup for 150 some miles would not get me out of the heat. However the pickup AC was working O K. so I decided to leave Wilcox Saturday afternoon. But only after mowing the lawn which takes about three hours on the forty some inch wide Grasshopper riding mower. (The kids Toy).
In returning the mower to the barn I noticed an old gallon crock jug. That would be just what we need for the hot Sunday afternoon on the ranch. Would need a burlap sack to cover it.
"Nah! Who in that crowd at the cross dedication would drink from that old jug?" Even the granddads are now buying that "silly bottled water." Far cry from the old fashion jug on "the threshing run" in hot "dirty thirties".
So I filled our two chest coolers with ice, some pop, and that "silly bottled water". That should do the job for this cardiac susceptible Geezer. And the kids would like a pop. And those young folks may accept some spring water.
State Highway No. l83 north from Holdrege , Nebraska looks the best route again. Very little traffic except week-end warriors pulling their skiing and fishing boats to the Sandhills lakes.
Most of the grass had a reasonable growth considering the intense heat during June and July. Not many cattle were seen from the highway.
Drove into Bassett, Nebraska for gasoline and something to eat. The service station had both. I asked the lady for a small pizza and place to stay over night. She directed me to the motel about a block east. She said she operated it and would go home and let me in. The rent was very reasonable but the accommodations were not in the Holliday Inn class. The pizza and part of snicker were washed down with a Dr Pepper. It was still gurgling when I hit the sack about nine o clock.
Not sure of the time when I got up but took a shower and headed the remaining 40 miles or so to Naper. It was just eight when arriving at the Naper Cafe. One of the two ladies let me in when I asked about a group planning to eat there at nine. They wondered how many people were coming. They brought me a cup of coffee and I told them I'd wait until the others arrived to order. When asked, they told me I could get a Omaha World Herald at the service station. No one was on duty but a pile of Sunday papers were near the door. I put the six quarters on the ground beside the papers and returned to the Cafe with the news.
No one came running after me! I hope the paper boy got his money!
A few locals came for breakfast and about nine some of our group arrived. On this trip a journal was not kept so I am unable to list the names of those attending. I'm sure some one will have a list and probably pictures to insert on the Web Site.
Each member of the group gave their name and indicated their connection to the Naper 28 group. Everyone ordered their breakfast and had a fine time getting acquainted.
Dh led the way to the Jim Sattler ranch about 7 miles south west of town. On their four wheeler the Sattler's escorted us over the rolling hills to the crash site.
From up on the side of the valley we could see the large steel Cross. It had been erected by the Sattler family sometime earlier. It was a simple but yet imposing structure. Knowing how difficult it is to weld a bead on uneven material I wanted to see Stub Priefert's handiwork placing words and numbers on a steel pipe.
He did an excellent job.
After milling around and observing the terrain and visiting with every one, pictures were taken near the Cross.
It became a solemn moment when we each came to realize what took place here so many years ago not knowing the details of the accident. The original wood Cross, erected by people who did not know any of the victims was an act of genuine kindness. Even though these young men did not see conflict they should be remembered as supporting it by giving their all, they were brave men.
Dewaine R. Erickson
P.O. Box ll8
Wilcox, Nebraska 68982
(Dewaine was a member of the 507th Fighter Group)
After the Dedication and heading home, the outside thermometer on dh's truck read 104 degrees
GREAT PHOTOS OF THE SUNDAY CROSS DEDICATION..WE NEED MORE !!!
Photo 1 Names Coming
Photo 2 Names Coming
Photo 3 Names Coming
Photo 4 Names Coming
Photo 5 Names Coming
Photo 6 Names Coming
Photo 7 Names Coming
Weight- 250 pounds
Height- 8 ft
In ground- 4 ft
Width, crossarms- 4 ft
The finished cross at Stub's Hebron Nebraska workshop
Again..Please send your suggestions, point out my errors and share some of your thoughts... Email dh..