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One of the great parts of being interested in an organization like this is the opportunity to meet people. One of the people I met shortly after becoming involved in ALH was a gentleman named Vern Staley. It wasn’t at an event; it was at the grocery store I was working for at the time. I was the stores pricing coordinator and I saw this older man walking down the aisle. I noticed his hat; it was a WWII veteran hat with the 70th Infantry Division (The Trailblazers) emblem. I kindly said, I know that division emblem and to see (at the time) an almost 90-

Vern Staley2

Figure 1: Vern talking to Re-enactors at Camp Adair in 2015

year-old man doing a jig because you know something about them, it was a friendship in the making. So, we talked, I obtained his email, and started communicating with him that way.

At this time, I was part of a living history group that was doing a 70th ID impression. Vern came out to our bivouac area for an event and visit with us. He shared all sorts of stories of his time training at Camp Adair. He shared stories of the infiltration course, marksmanship training (he said he shot expert with the M1 carbine), marches, and training bivouacs. One of his stories really stuck with me due to it involving my grandfather’s division (the 96th Infantry Division).

The 70th was activated June 15th, 1943. At this time the 96th was just finishing advanced training in Washington and was in route to the high deserts of Oregon to prep for a series of war games called the Oregon Maneuvers (known also as the Bend Maneuvers in the newspaper). They would come back to Adair for August to turn around and head back for the war games. Vern had earned a weekend pass to go home and visit his folks in Prineville OR. Well Prineville was in the boarders of the Maneuver area. 96th Division MP’s stopped Vern, who was in uniform, and investigated him for desertion because they were unaware of this new 70th Division. After hours of calls, and verification, the MP’s learned of the 70th and

Vern Staley

Figure 2: Vernon Staley joining ALH for Founders Day 2021

Vern was allowed to go, severely shortening his pass. Vern said he didn’t care much for the 96th after that.

After finishing his duty time, Vern was a combat Medic, he would make his way back to Oregon. He would eventually settle in Stayton. The week, Vern turns 100 years young this week. He has been a supporter of ALH, has come to Founder’s Day, and is excited for us getting the interpretive center going. Here is to Vern. An Oregonian that served in “Oregon’s own.” Happy Birthday my friend!

Facts about Vernon Albert Staley:

  • Born 28 March 1924, Prineville, OR
  • Entered the U.S. Army 22 July 1943 at Portland, OR.  He was a machinist.
  • He was a medic in the 274th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division (Trailblazers).  He was cited for heroism by the Commanding Officer of the 70th ID, BG Thomas W. Herron.  “He was cited for outstanding courage and devotion to the welfare of others while his platoon was isolated from the rest of the unit near Forsbach, France in February 1945.  For seven days he cared for the sick and wounded under trying circumstances”. (Bend Bulletin 24 September 1945)
  • 1945 – 1946 – He remained with his unit as part of the Army of Occupation, Germany.
  • Returned to the U.S. in March 1946.
  • Received his honorable discharged in April 1946.  Rank: T/3
  • Married Shirley Ann Krog 11 June 1949 at Prineville, OR. She died on 26 May 2003.  Children: Anton, Victoria, William.
  • Lived the majority of his married life in Salem and Stayton, OR
  • He was part of the 70th ID Association that relocated the 70th ID monument from Fort Lawton, WA to the former Camp Adair, OR.