The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Deb Olson, The Quill
Many alive today may not notice or remember why every year on December 7th we pause to honor those who died on a distant island in the Pacific.
In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that marked the entry of the United States into World War Two, on this day, The Quill salutes Robert Krieg Bice who was reported missing after the attack on Pearl Harbor but who came home nevertheless.
According to biographical information Robert was born at Memphis, MO on June 12, 1922 to Alpha "Alf" Bice and his wife Clara Lou Krieg Bice.
Bob was 1 of eight children born to the couple. In 1932 the family moved to La Harpe.
Alf was a general laborer until he got a job as janitor at the local school. He continued in this work until retirement.
Clara Lou worked as a receptionist at the office of Dr. Mueller. She worked there until forced to retire due to poor health. After her death in 1960 Mr. Bice continued doing part time janitorial work until his death at age 93 in 1983.
Following the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor Mr. and Mrs. Bice, received word that their son Robert had been "killed in action in Hawaii".
Heart broken, the parents arranged a memorial service for their son in The Union
Church on December 21, 1941.
It is written that a crowd of 700 to 800 people came to honor the first man from La Harpe to sacrifice his life for his country.
A clipping from a Dec 16, 1941 newspaper described him as "one of the brave men
: who think enough of the American way to lay down their life's blood for its sustenance."
In reality however, Bob Bice, although gravely injured in the attack, survived his burns and other injuries.
Another local article describes him "as probably the only man ever to return to this city carrying his funeral notice and his obituary in his duffel bag.
Bob also had two brothers serving in the military during World War 2 - brother Marion
and brother Benny. The Bice family sacrificed much to keep our country free.
And so we remember Pearl Harbor:
On that fateful day, 75 years ago 2,403 Americans died and 1,178 were wounded. Although
Bob Bice, like many others forever marked by their experiences that day, survived the horrors of December 7th he has now gone to join the ranks of his former compatriots. His life
represents so much about the Americans of his generation.
Born in the years just before the depression, this so called "Greatest Generation" rose from the depths of suffering in the 30's through the horrors of war in the 40s into a new prosperity in the post war world.
We are here today as a free people because of the sacrifices of men like Bob Bice and we owe them our respect and our gratitude.
To each veteran, and all those serving actively today we say, "Thank you for your service."