S1c Edgar Arthur Fansler,
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S1c Edgar Arthur Fansler
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8542 was founded in Welch, Oklahoma in November 1946 and named in memory of two local men killed in World War II.
They were Edgar Arthur Fansler Jr., killed on the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor, and his friend, Harry Rogers, killed at Subic Bay in the Philippines when an unmarked Japanese “hell ship” carrying prisoners of war was bombed and sank. About 300 of the 1,600 POWs died on the ship and many more in the days that followed.
Mr. Fansler enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 27, 1939, and was a seaman first class when Japan attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Rogers enlisted in the Army, apparently in early 1941, and was in the medical corps when the Bataan peninsula fell to Japan in April 1942. He died in December 1944.
Welch had a population of just under 500 when the war ended, but the VFW post formed with 164 members — a measure of the impact of war on small towns in far northeast Oklahoma.
Mr. Fansler was born April 5, 1920 in Craig County, Oklahoma. His father, Edgar Sr., was a farmer and his mother, Mary Perkins Fansler, a homemaker.
Local news accounts in the early 1930s frequently mentioned the son’s prowess at arithmetic. He graduated from the 8th grade in 1934. His parents divorced in 1935.
A memorial service for Mr. Fansler was held at the First Baptist Church in Welch in January 1942. There is a cenotaph for him at the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Miami, Oklahoma.
Sources: the Muskogee (Oklahoma) Daily Phoenix; The Daily Oklahoman of Oklahoma City; The Welch (Oklahoma) American; The Welch Watchman; the Craig County (Oklahoma) Democrat; U.S. Headstone Application for Military Veterans; Census; Navy muster roll. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.