Springville Korean War soldier honored nearly 65 years after death

Memorial to Springville's fallen veteran dedicated Wednesday

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SPRINGVILLE — On Tuesday, a few dozen people huddled in the cool wind at the Springville Cemetery to honor a 22-year-old soldier killed overseas.

The group listened to a hymn, a flag was given to the next of kin and three shots were fired into the air in a military salute to honor Robert Lee “Bob” Newman of Springville.

It had the appearance of a funeral, except for one thing — Newman has been dead for nearly 65 years.

Newman died on Dec. 26, 1952, while stationed at Iwakuni, Japan, during the Korean War.

The Mariner bomber his patrol squadron was flying experienced engine failure and crashed into the Sea of Japan, east of North Korea, said Karen Taylor, historian with the Springville Area Historical Society.

Of the 14 crew members, the destroyer USS Renshaw rescued four survivors and recovered the bodies of two others.

The bodies of Newman and seven others were lost at sea.

Taylor said she has never found any indication that a funeral took place after Newman’s death.

“We’re not sure if (Newman) had any memorial service when he died,” Taylor said.

Because no physical memorial existed for Newman, Taylor said Springville’s American Legion Post 331 and the historical society partnered to begin a yearlong process that ended with Tuesday’s memorial service.

The service was held to dedicate Newman’s memorial, a plaque that had been installed in July just behind Newman’s father’s gravestone.

“I’m glad it all worked out,” Taylor said. “ I’m very satisfied. It was a long effort, and it’s finally come to pass.”

With the help of Newman’s first cousin once removed, Kim Shipley, 69, of Cedar Rapids, Taylor said they were able to get the plaque through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Before she was approached by the historical society and the legion post, Shipley said she wasn’t even aware her uncle — Newman’s father Hubert “Stub” Newman — even had a son.

“I’ve learned a lot in the last year,” said Shipley, who received the flag during the service as Newman’s living next of kin. “It was fun to find out that Uncle Stub had a son I wasn’t even aware of.”

Taylor said Newman was born on Dec. 6, 1930, and eventually adopted by Stub Newman and his wife, Elizabeth Soper Newman.

He attended Springville School before enlisting in the Navy on Oct. 5, 1950. Newman was a petty officer third class and an aviation electrician’s mate at the time of his death, Taylor said.

Taylor said he was remembered by others as popular, someone who loved banana splits and the person the class elected as a governor of Iowa.

“Now there’s a place for him,” Shipley said. “That’s a good thing.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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