When Union Veteran John H. DeGraw arrived in St. Cloud, Florida in the fall of 1909, little did he know that when his daughter Myrtle married Victor G. Mapes, three of John’s grandsons – Victor Loris Mapes, Dana Austin Mapes and Theodore Augustus Mapes would serve their country in the 1940s, as John did over seventy-five years earlier.
The eldest, Victor entered the service in 1939 and spent two years in the Hawaiian Islands, before arriving in the Philippines in November, 1941. Stationed at Clark Field with the 14th Bombardment Squadron of the Army Air Corps, he was reported missing in 1942. Confined for two years and five months in a Japanese prison camp, Victor was one of eighty-three prisoners who escaped while being transported aboard a Japanese freighter in 1944. When the freighter was hit by American fire, Sgt. Mapes suffered a compound fracture in his right leg. He spent time recuperating in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. before returning to St. Cloud. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star and following his death in Silver Springs, Maryland in 2003 was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Victor had earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. In 1945, he did a radio broadcast in which he credited his Boy Scout training with aiding him in surviving his prison camp ordeal.
Shown in photo, left to right: Sgt. Dana, Corporal teddy and S/Sgt. Victor L. Mapes
Dana enlisted on December 28, 1942, serving as a Private in the U.S. Army under General Patton in France before being released on November 12, 1945. Returning to Osceola County, Florida, Dana was with the St. Cloud Police Department from 1953 to 1964, served as a Constable for eight years, then as a Deputy Sheriff until his retirement with rank of Lieutenant in 1978. He was buried in Mt. Peace Cemetery in St. Cloud in 2004.
Theodore enlisted on November 5, 1942 and also served as a Private in the U.S. Army until his release on October 14, 1945. He too returned to St. Cloud where he became owner of Mapes Septic Tank Service. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and Bahia Shrine. Theodore died in 1998 and rests in Mt. Peace Cemetery in the family plot near Dana and their mother.
Not to be outdone by her three sons, Myrtle enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps on June 17, 1944. Her 1993 obituary stated she was an armature winder in an armature works and member of the American Legion.
Sources: “Orlando Evening Star”, “Orlando Sentinel” and “St. Cloud News” articles, 1938 to 1998; Find A Grave; Fold3; “Osceola County Centennial Book”
Image: “St. Cloud News”, Military Edition, December 13, 1946