Marvin Haines of Benkelman was believed to be the last surviving World War Two Veteran in Dundy County. He passed away at the age of 99 at the Hester Memorial Home last Tuesday. He was laid to rest with full military honors at the Benkelman Cemetery on Monday.
The short military service was stiring and patriotic, very befitting to honor the county’s last WWII Veteran.
Haines joined the Army on September 22, 1941 and was trained as a radio operator and airborne infantryman. He was assigned to several airborne units during WWII, the first being the 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion in the Panama Canal Zone. Eventually his unit was shipped out and served in North Africa, Sicily and Southern France before going into action in the drive on Germany. Marvin fought in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes where he narrowly escaped capture when he took the time to save his radio during an emergency evacuation. Later that year, his unit was part of Operation Varsity through which Allied forces crossed the Rhine River into Germany and then fought their way across the northern portion of that country until the Nazi surrender.
More U.S. service members died during World War II than the number of veterans of that war are still alive today. Of the 16 million service members from 1941 to 1945, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says 291,557 suffered battle deaths. The VA had estimated the number of living U.S. World War II veterans was less then 170,000 by Sept. 30, 2022. There were 5.7 million in 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau information. New Veterans Affairs estimated there are around 1,000 World War II veterans living in Nebraska. Nationwide, nearly 500 men and women who served during World War II die every day. With every WWII Veterans passing, so does a piece of history.