Le Roy A. Higley (1945/05/23)
Okinawa closed the book for a potato farmer from Idaho who had a Watsonville wife.
Le Roy Albert Higley was born in Sugar City, Idaho, on April 28, 1919, to George and Alice Higley. Le Roy's father was a sugar factory engineer in the small community near Rexburg, Idaho. The family was large and consisted of sons George, Howard, Harold, Stephen, Hyman and Le Roy, along with daughters Laverne and Malinda. Le Roy completed grammar school in the Rexburg area prior to his becoming a farmer in Madison County, Idaho. During the early 1940s, he met and married Ruth Velazquez, a resident of the Pajaro Valley and the couple had two children, Melva and Melvin.
On September 23, 1944, Higley entered the US Army and was sent to Fort Hood, Texas for basic training. He was then assigned to duty at Fort Ord, California. During Le Roy's California posting, in December 1944, Ruth and her children returned to Watsonville and established the family residence. In February 1945, Private Higley was sent to Hawaii and in April, joined the 306th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Infantry Division.
The 77th Infantry Division was assigned the task of capturing IE Shima Island three miles west of Okinawa. Between April 16 and April 28 Le Roy Higley's unit helped to secure that island before setting sail for Okinawa. In late May 1945, the 77th Infantry and a US Marine unit joined in an assault on Shuri.
On May 23, 1945 Private Le Roy A. Higley was reported killed in action on Okinawa. His remains were recovered and reinterred in the Honolulu Memorial Cemetery in 1949. Higley's awards include the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
(USCR, 1920 US Census, ID, Madison; NARA2; ABMC, WRP July 13, 1945 1:2, Global Security. org, 77 Infantry Regiment (RTU), 2000 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/77id. htm) (16 September 2008])