Idaho Falls - City of Destiny

War Efforts

Red Cross War Efforts

The American Red Cross was established in 1881 as a private, voluntary association, part of a growing international Red Cross movement that had been created to provide voluntary aid to sick and wounded soldiers on the battlefield. The Mountain River Valley Chapter of American Red Cross was officially chartered in 1913 as the Bonneville County Chapter of the American National Red Cross. Originally housed in the old armory on Memorial Drive the Red Cross office has occupied several locations during its 78 year existence including a stop in the Bonneville County Courthouse. In 1991 the Red Cross is housed at 740 Park Ave., which it purchased in 1987.

The history of the Bonneville/MRV chapter is rich and varied. The first real challenge to the local Red Cross was World War I, at which time the local volunteers organized to produce the following items for use by U. S. troops in combat:

1,707 knitted sweaters
2.969 knitted pairs of socks
27 pairs of wristlets
54 scarfs
26,065 pieces of surgical dressing
8,174 surgical dressing pads
23 fracture pads
715 suits of pajamas
1,189 case shirts
5,205 bed shirts
381 bed jackets
92 operating gowns
602 comfort bags
1,894 towels

Local children made bed socks and pillows for the GIs. For use by refugees of the War, local citizens made 32 afghans, 208 women's house jackets, 20 girl's capes, 25 girl's dresses, and 70 boy's suits. During Christmas holidays 549 packages were filled, inspected, wrapped and sent overseas.

Activities between the two great wars consisted mainly of expansion into volunteer nursing programs, swimming lessons for local youth and raising funds for local crises as they occurred.

The onslaught of World War II again rallied the Bonneville Chapter to come to the aid of combat servicemen. The local residents of Bonneville County donated $5,250 to the Red Cross war effort, astoundingly, within two days of the attack on Pearl Harbor. One amusing sidelight of the war was when one local soldier gave a Red Cross representative overseas money and requested that roses be sent to his girl in Idaho Falls. The request was honored and a Bonneville County Red Cross representative delivered a bouquet of roses to a very surprised and appreciative young lady.

During World War II school children raised funds for the Red Cross to equip the hospital at the Pocatello Air Base. Four thousand local women gave 55,000 volunteer hours in sewing for the local chapter. In 1943, 2,531 women stitched 468,064 battle dressings while knitters volunteered 13,860 hours to the production of various knitted items for overseas GI's. Among the items shipped from Bonneville County for use in the war effort were pneumonia jackets, hot water bottles, bottle covers, and slippers. Red Cross volunteers gave 1300 hours of service as nurse's aids. The final tally of donated dollars to the War Fund Drive was a very respectable $10,500.

With the close of World War II the Bonneville Chapter again continued its peacetime work in Water Safety, First Aid training, Blood Collection and Disaster relief. The Korean and Vietnam conflicts raised many concerns for the local chapter in the areas of emergency communications for servicemen and families in the local area, but the extensive efforts of the past World Wars was neither necessary nor requested. The Chapter flourished during this time and continued its leadership role as a charitable organization in Bonneville County.

On July 1, 1989 Bonneville County Red Cross was merged with the Red Cross units in Madison, Fremont, Jefferson, and Teton counties and renamed the Mountain River Valley Chapter, a name which adequately describes the various geological regions of the 6,000 square mile jurisdiction. The Chapter is still headquartered at Idaho Falls, as this is the largest population center in the jurisdiction. MRV is today considered to be an innovative, example- setting chapter. It is staffed by two full-time employees and one part-time employee and serves in excess of 28,000 people per year.

Submitter: Deanne R. Chick
Sources: Red Cross scrapbooks, now at Bonneville Museum Reading and Reference room; Deanne R. Chick and Don Owen, both of American Red Cross.

Bonneville County Efforts During World War Two

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, most Idaho Falls residents were spending a quiet day at home or attending their respective churches.

Overnight Idaho Falls was alerted and the city went into action. Axis nationals were ordered to remain indoors for their own protection, foreign language schools were prohibited, and several Japanese suspects were apprehended. Guards were placed at the Broadway bridge and the sugar plant; precautions in restricted zones were ordered. Army and navy recruiting stations were filled with applications by young men unwilling to wait for the draft. This was the beginning for three years and eight months.

East Idaho surely played a vital part in winning the war.

The contribution of valley residents was something of which to be proud. Manpower, food, war work, money, Red Cross--whatever was asked--was produced, sometimes as if out of thin air.

From Bonneville County 2600 men served in the military service during World War Two. In addition there were hundreds of national guard members as well as seventeen-year-olds who flooded the recruiting office.

Response to seven war bond campaigns was tremendous. In all drives the quotas were well over the top, and in the last five drives Bonneville County residents purchased approximately nine million dollars worth of savings bonds. Ration books were carried for commodities such as gas, sugar, shoes, etc.

As reports reached the home folks of the work being done by the Red Cross on all fronts, money poured into the Red Cross headquarters. In 1945, a quota of $18,000 was set for Bonneville County--and the drive netted $26,000. Additional drives for relief of people in devastated countries, conducted in conjunction with the Community Chest, found local residents generous in their donations.

Farmers and ranchers went all out in their response to break all crop records to feed the ever-increasing armed forces and people of devastated countries. Potato-men answered the challenge by breaking all production records in 1943 and 1944. This was all done in spite of many machine and labor shortages. The farmers were determined to--and they did--chalk up many home front triumphs. The Upper Snake River Dairymen's Association reached their peak production in June, 1943. Dairy processing plants worked overtime to set aside various percentages for the armed forces and lend- lease. During the final three war months 55% of all butter, 70% of cheese, and 75% of milk powder was set aside for the armed forces.

Women surely played an active part in the war effort. Twenty- four graduates from the LDS School of Nursing served in the armed forces, some on the front line. Others took their training elsewohere. Some joined the WACs, WAVEs, SPARs, or Marines, doing vital work in both the USA and overseas. In Bonneville County, over 13,000 women gave 193,000 hours of volunteer service making and shipping 36,000 garments overseas. After an urgent appeal for surgical dressings, that department was opened in November, 1942. When it closed in February 1945, 2351 women had given almost 43,000 hours of service, making 1,080,600 dressings.

In February 1943 Bonneville County counted its first dog enlistment for the Canine Corps. "Tarzan," an English shepherd who lived a rough and ready life, was ideally suited for sentry service. By the end of July 1943, 60 Idaho dogs had entered the service to help win the war.

The American Red Cross played its part in the war effort. With much work and little glory, Bonneville County residents responded wholeheartedly to the many calls of the Red Cross. A trained motor corps was seen as a possible need and anticipated. The nurses aid corps was organized and 42 volunteers gave 2300 hours of service. First Aid courses and home nursing classes were given. In the first months of the war, a canteen corps was organized. This group could serve dinner to 250 people in 22 minutes for 13 cents per person. Twenty-two volunteers in this service gave 510 hours of service. County school children took over the Russian clothing drive and collected three truckloads of clothes; they sponsored the anti-TB (tuberculosis) Seal Drive; and the children made numerous articles for the veterans. The Red Cross sponsored victory gardens and distributed wartime food guides.

Money, hours, dedication, loyalty--the contributions of the people of Bonneville County during those three years and eight months of World War Two are something of which to be proud.

The war did leave its mark in many homes. In Bonneville County 112 young men died in the line of duty. These men paid the full price for victory and liberty. They will forever be remembered by those of us who value the democracy and spirit in America.

Submitter: Carol Romer
Sources: Bonneville Museum, files, scrapbooks, Post Register.



Begin Here
Introductory Comments
Chap. 1 - Agriculture
Potatoes, grains, sugar beets, livestock, irrigation.
Chap. 2 - Business and Industry
Banking, Chamber of Commerce, Rogers Brothers Seed.
Chap. 3 - Amusements, Arts and Music
Amusements: dancing, circus, baseball, theaters, Heise Hot Springs, War Bonnet Roundup, parades. Arts: painting, drama, dance, music, symphony, opera theatre.
Chap. 4 - Communications
Newspapers, telephone, broadcast.
Chap. 5 - Celebrations
Centennials and Jubilees, Pioneer Day, Intersec.
Chap. 6 - Churches
Chap. 7 - City Government
Mayors, City Hall, Public Library; Departments of Electricity, Fire, Police, Building and Planning, Parks and Recreation, Public Works.
Chap. 8 - Courthouse and Federal Post Office
Chap. 9 - Historic Preservation Efforts
Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission (Historic buildings, places, homes), Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Chap. 10 - Schools
Chap. 11 - Clubs/Fraternal Organizations
Lodges, Sportsmen's Association, American Legion and other Veterans Associations, Boy Scouts.
Chap. 12 - Transportation
Railroad, Automobiles, Aviation.
Chap. 13 - Medical Practice &Amp; Hospitals
Chap. 14 - Native Americans
Chap. 15 - Snake River
Bridges, Greenbelt, Temple.
Chap. 16 - Tourism and Hotels
Chap. 17 - Lawyers and Judges
Chap. 18 - War Efforts
Red Cross, World War I, World War II.
Chap. 19 - Population Growth
Chap. 20 - INEL
Appendix 1 - Bibliography Guide
Appendix 2 - Chronology