AHS's Greatest Heroes



Austin High School's Greatest Heroes

We all remember walking the halls of Austin High School sixty plus years ago and experiencing the steadily increasing feeling of pride that grew within us for those four mostly carefree years as we progressed from freshmen to seniors. Many of us were walking those halls when tragedy struck with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and later Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. We were all aware of the Cold War and the tension that existed between the Soviet Union and the United States. We were also somewhat aware of a growing situation in Southeast Asia which would soon become a major conflict destined to affect all of our lives, some of us directly.

Try to picture yourself eighty years ago walking those same halls as students in the early 1940s. Imagine being a high school student and experiencing the tragic reality that our naval base at Pearl Harbor had been attacked and thousands of Americans had been killed and wounded, that on the following day President Franklin D. Roosevelt had declared war on the Empire of Japan and that three days later the President had also declared war on Germany and the Axis Powers in Europe. These terrible events all took place during the second week of December of 1941. It must have been very difficult, concerning and even frightening to have been a teenage student walking those same halls during such a trying time. Within one week, the United States of America was at war on two fronts across two oceans. Your life, your family's life and the lives of all your friends had been changed forever. In the span of just one week in December of 1941, Austin HS students had been thrust into the reality of World War II, which would continue to rage for four long years.

December 7th: "A Date that Will Live in Infamy"
December 8th: "War Declared on the Empire of Japan"
December 11th: "War Declared on Germany and the Axis Powers"

The citizens of the United States of America rallied together and became a nation on a mission to defend their country and to defeat two very formidable enemies who were trying to take over the world. Young men recently graduated from Austin HS were being drafted into and students still attending Austin HS were volunteering for the different branches of the armed services to fight for their country, for their way of life and for the freedom of the world during World War II. Young women alumni were also volunteering to serve in the WAAC (Women's Army Auxillary Corps), the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Military Services) and the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). Many faculty members took leaves of absence and joined the alumni and students to serve in the armed forces.  

The students, teachers and alumni of Austin HS were a part of that nationwide mission. Throughout the duration of the war, the student body of Austin HS, with help from the surrounding Austin community, undertook a project to honor all those alumni who were serving their country. In many cases these dedicated students were the brothers and sisters of those serving in uniform. The 1942 Maroon and White yearbook contained a special dedication to the tragedy of Pearl Harbor and an initial dedication to all former and present Austin HS alumni and students who were actively serving their country during the war. 


The 1943 and 1944 Maroon and White yearbooks featured a complete list of all those alumni who were serving and, sadly, a running tribute to all those who had been killed. This special tribute was called the "In Service Honor Roll". The list grew cumulatively each successive year. The task was so encompassing that a special room in the school was allocated solely for the purpose of tabulating and updating the information and records associated with this endeavor. Students, teachers and alumni volunteered their time and worked together along with the surrounding community to ensure this listing and tribute remained current each year. 

1943                                                     1944

By the time that victory had been secured in the European and Pacific theatres of war in mid 1945, the terrible price in the number of Americans dead and injured was staggering. The 1945 Maroon and White yearbook contained a memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt who had died in April plus a final "In Service Honor Roll" salute and tribute to all those Austin HS alumni who had served and who had lost their lives for the cause of freedom. Over 3,900 known Austin HS alumni had served their country in uniform during World War II. Tragically, 157 of those brave Austin HS alumni lost their lives while giving the United States of America their last full measure of devotion. (*)



The names of those who served is too long to list, however, the names of those 157 Austin HS alumni who died fighting in World War II is included below. Let us take a moment to honor those fellow Austin HS alumni who died securing our freedom in World War II. Try for a minute to imagine and comprehend that each one of the Austin HS alumni listed below never returned home to their Austin neighborhood, never married their sweetheart and never got the chance to father children who one day might have become our high school friends and classmates. 


(*) The 1945 Maroon and White was printed in early May of 1945. The battle of Iwo Jima had just ended, the battle for Okinawa was still raging and thousands of severely wounded soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen were still fighting for their lives at numerous veterans hospitals throughout the country. Unfortunately, the 1946 Maroon and White cites no further updates nor mention of the "In Service Honor Roll." It would seem logical that additional names surely could have been added to the above lists, therefore, the above number of casualties was probably not entirely complete or accurate. Regardless, the numbers surely qualify as 'no fewer than' totals. The tribute and the numbers are no less remarkable even with this consideration.