Calhoun County Museum wishes to recognize Hampton resident Cecil W. “Mutt” Hartley for his WWII service. Most people know Mr. Hartley as a retired Firefighter from the Pine Bluff Arsenal, husband of Beth Talbot and father of Vickie, Susan, Bill, and Tom. But before that he was a Coxswain in the US Navy. Mutt attended Rison High School and enlisted in the Navy in 1943. He served in the Pacific Theater of operations as a Coxswain (Pilot) on a small landing craft used to transfer invading troops and equipment from a ship to the beach. His boat was one of the similar boats designed and built by Andrew Higgins of New Orleans. The Landing Craft Medium (LCM) was a twin 250 hp diesel, 50 ft long boat capable of carrying a tank or 100 troops. The accompanying photo shows a manual for the operation of this craft from the Naval History and Heritage Command Website. The LCM had a crew of four with the Coxswain being in command as well as Pilot. It took considerable skill and courage to navigate a flat bottom plywood boat in heavy waves and under fire from the most exposed position on the vessel. Had I served then I would much rather have been one of the Marines hunkered down behind the steel ramp, clutching an M1 rifle and praying like a TV evangelist. If that pilot and crew didn’t get it right the chances of survival went down for those who discharged. At that point in the total theater naval invasion effort, for a few hours the situation is in the hands of young men probably still in their twenties. Mutt was 20 years old. According to the book “The Men and Women of WWII” Cecil W. Hartley was awarded five battle stars indicating he participated in the last five major landings in WWII South Pacific. Landing crafts re-supplied land forces and evacuated wounded following completion of landing the force. The large attack transport mother ships had to contend with Japanese suicide aircraft while supporting their landing boats in Leyte and Okinawa operations. A month after Japans surrender the support ships at Okinawa had to suddenly abandon their landing craft and put out to sea to escape Typhoon Louise. Some remaining Navy craft in Buckner Bay suffered heavy damage. Among all Mutt’s other harrowing amphibious wartime experiences that storm left a lifelong impression. After the war Dwight D. Eisenhower once called the afore mentioned Andrew Higgins “the man who won the war for us.” That statement indicates just how critical the General felt those heroic little boats were to the war effort.
Dorothea Dix had built a global reputation as a reformer for mental health institutions in the 1840s and 1850s. She had already changed medicine by insisting that the most vulnerable in society were treated with dignity. When the Civil War started, her influence would spread even further as she moved to change the nursing profession.
With the country slowly opening up again, things will be different for the time being. It won’t last forever and I believe we’ll be back to normal again soon. During this time of quarantine, I’ve noticed a lot of funny jokes or memes going around on social media. I think it’s important to still have our sense of humor instead of being doom and gloom. Some recent changes in daily life can be humorous (but taken still seriously).
The human mind is mysterious and amazing, allowing people to perform the simplest tasks to imagining the great scale of the universe and possibilities yet unheard. But the heartbreak of when things go wrong with the mind can destroy lives if not treated. In the 1800s, very little was understood how to treat mental illness, and those with maladies that could be overcome with patience and kindness were so often tossed aside. One reformer, Dorothea Dix, saw their basic humanity and campaigned across the country and across the world to change the way they were seen and treated, transforming mental health care.
It was called the “White Plague.” Tuberculosis caught untold numbers of people in its grasp, leaving thousands dead. In the late 1800s, doctors had few means to treat the deadly disease, and its contagious nature added to the danger and overwhelmed the few medical facilities that existed in the United States in the nineteenth century. Arkansas was no exception. And in the early 1900s, the state created a new facility to help these patients, the Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium.