75 years ago – Hartington man dies at Pearl Harbor

Dec. 11, 1941

HARTINGTON — War was the paramount thought in the minds of Hartington and Cedar County residents this week. News that Japan had attacked United States possessions in the Pacific, flashed over the radio Sunday afternoon, came as a stunning blow to most of the populace who had hoped and prayed that America could keep out of a shooting war.

There was talk of war wherever two or more people gathered. There was apprehension for the safety of many Cedar County men who are believed to have been in Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and Manila, which were heavily bombed by the Japanese.

Following closely behind the Japanese invasion came Germany’s and Italy’s declaration of war against the United States. These members of the Axis, not unexpectedly, announced this morning (Thursday) that they were at war with this nation.

Although Cedar County is far removed from the war zone and is not immediately adjacent to any of the nation’s defense industries, the citizens of this area will be called upon to assume their share of the war burden.

Dec. 11, 1941

HARTINGTON — Julius B. Sidak, 26-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sidak, who live 11 miles southwest of Hartington, is Cedar County’s first casualty in the American-Japanese war.

The war department at Washington advised Mrs. Sidak by telegraph shortly before noon today (Thursday) that her son had been “wounded in action” in Hawaii. The brief message did not state the nature or seriousness of the wounds.

The telegram said:

“The secretary of war desires me to express his deep regret that your son, Private Julius B. Sidak was wounded in action in defense of his country in Hawaii December 7.”

It was signed by “Adams, The Adjutant General.”

The Sidaks believe their son was wounded when the Japanese bombed Hickam field, one of the U.S. Army air fields on Hawaii. Young Sidak has been stationed at Hickam field, which guards the entrance to Pearl Harbor, nearly two years.

Mr. and Mrs. Sidak, outwardly calm but with anxiety and strain registered on their faces, talked with a staff member of The News shortly after noon in their farm home.

Mrs. Sidak said her son held the rank of a sergeant and was an engineer in the army air corps. She explained that it was his duty to help prepare airplanes for their flights.

“He wrote not so long ago,” she said, “that in case of war he would be a gunner on a bomber plane.”

Young Sidak has been in the army slightly more than five years and his parents haven’t seen him since he enlisted Oct. 31, 1936.

Mrs. Sidak told The News that Julius would have completed his two years of foreign service December 13 and had planned to ask for a transfer to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he had been stationed two years prior to going to Hawaii. He spent his first year in the army at Vancouver, Wash.

Prior to enlisting in the army, Sidak served three years as a member of the Hartington national guard.

He attended Rose Hill rural school.

Once during the conversation, Mr. Sidak remarked: “I am sorry I am too old to get in.”

He declared “nobody but a gangster would do what the Japanese did to our boys without warning,” and added that “for every American killed, two Japs should be put to death.”

The Sidaks last heard directly from their son about three weeks ago. In that letter he told them he was going to get a few days furlough and planned to take a vacation at Hilo. Mrs. Sidak said her son liked the army “very well,” and had written often of how fine the soldiers were treated. Mr. Sidak expressed fear that his son was seriously wounded or the family wouldn’t have been notified.

“I don’t suppose we will hear anything more right away,” Mrs. Sidak said, “unless we are notified that he has died.”

The Sidaks have two other children, a son and a daughter who are working in defense plants. They are Joe and Wilma, who are employed at the Solar Aircraft Co., at San Diego.