A Memoir for a Fallen Hero


Veteran’s Day is coming soon on November 11. Many people ignore the importance of this wonderful day, overlooking its true meaning. Make sure you take time to thank the veterans in your life for their valiant service of protecting our country. With this day quickly approaching, it is time to remember a local hero.

Wilford Combs was born in 1926 in Marquand, Missouri. He lived the average life of an American farm boy, never going outside of Madison County. Everything changed when he was drafted for World War II. He was plucked out of Marquand and shipped off to Texas for basic training, and eventually was sent to Europe for combat. It is hard to imagine the immense shock this must have caused, after only seeing one place for seventeen years suddenly being sent to a new country.

Wilford was sent to Germany on a ship with his fellow soldiers. During his time in Germany, he had helped take hundreds of Germans prisoner. He was sent with only one other soldier to take these prisoners to their camps. The German soldiers did not fight back because they were so tired, hungry, and ready to surrender, and they knew that at least in the prisoner camps they would be given food. Wilford was wounded in combat one night when his squad had taken camp in an old building. The building was surrounded by German soldiers, who stood and waited for the American soldiers to come out. “I don’t know why they didn’t just throw a grenade in the building and kill us all,” he said. Around three in the morning, the man standing next to Wilford lit his cigarette. A German soldier saw the light through a hole in the blinds and shot at it. Wilford was hit in the right arm with this bullet and fell to the ground. Luckily, a medic was with them and gave him a shot of morphine. The Germans retreated that next morning and Wilford was taken to an Army hospital in England. His parents received a telegram saying only ‘Your son Wilford Combs was wounded in combat.’

Wilford spent three months in England before turning up on his parents’ doorstep. They were ecstatic to see him after not hearing any news after the initial telegram. After he came home, he met the love of his life, Margaret Mouser. They were married in 1946 and moved to Granite City. Eventually, they started a family and had two children in Fredericktown.

Margaret and Wilford Combs

Wilford was well known for always having a smile on his face. He was ornery and made those around him laugh constantly. His brother was known for always having $100 in his pocket, and at his funeral, he had it with him in his casket. Wilford had been staying in the nursing home at the time, and told his grandson, “See that $100 in his hand? I’m gonna get me one of those when I go back to the nursing home.” His grandson asked, “What are you going to do, buy a pizza?” Wilford said, “Well no! I’m gonna call a taxi and get the heck home!” Sadly, Wilford passed away on October 31st, 2019. For this reason, make sure to thank your veterans while you have the chance. Ask them their stories before it is too late, and love them dearly.