The Farmers Who Fought: The Story of Illinois Farmers Turned to Soldiers During WWII


As World War II impacted rural towns across America, the individuals within had their lives changed by the foreign conflict. This well-documented work tells the stories of three of these men (William Edward Heber, US Army; Roy Dean McCrory, US Army; and John Randall Wheeler, US Navy), plucked from the familiarity of their small town lives and thrown into battles in foreign countries, some of which they had likely never heard of. Though sent to different parts of the world, these men all had something in common: they were farmers, who worked for their fathers and mothers, who left the only towns they had ever known to fight for their country. Whether fighting the Germans through tank operations in Europe, battling the Japanese in the jungles of Papua-New Guinea, or taking on a strenuous life at sea for the sake of their country, these men embodied the wave of patriotism that wracked the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Though this document details each man’s individual military experience during World War II, it is arguably more important to note what each man did after his time overseas. After traveling away from their families, braving grueling conditions, and witnessing the unimaginable, these men came home. They dedicated their lives to their wives, to their children, and to their farms. They advocated for local farmers, were active members of their communities, and spoke little of their time in the service. While their service is notable and important, it is not who these men were. These men went on to become husbands, fathers, and grandfathers, all while maintaining their family farms. For that, they should also be remembered and celebrated. Their story is a part of our history that must be preserved at all costs. A bibliography and several photographs add to the value of this work.

McKenna Love

2023, 8½x11, paper, 56 pp.

ISBN: 9780788429095