Y3c Edwin Earl Jante,
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Y3c Edwin Earl Jante
Edwin Earl Jante grew up on a farm in north central Iowa that was right out of “Charlotte’s Web,” a niece recalled years later.
He was born near Garner on Feb. 18, 1920 to Edward Jante and Frieda Dietz Jante. His twin sister, Edna, died at birth. Edwin was baptized that same day and grew up in attendance at St. John’s Lutheran Church — and for a time at its school. He graduated from 8th grade at the school on the family’s farmstead.
He graduated from Garner High School in 1938 and enlisted in the Navy in January 1940. He was a yeoman and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
A memorial service in February 1942 filled the church and its basement. “A large picture of Mr. Jante on a lighted easel draped with bunting stood at the front of the church,” the Mason City Globe-Gazette reported. “Tall baskets of flowers were placed at either side. A special piece was an anchor of flowers presented by the Walther League of which Mr. Jante was a former member. At the close a curtain of black crepe was lowered over the picture.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5155 in Garner was named in his memory.
His youngest brother, Curtis, joined the Navy soon after Edwin’s death, and was part of the invasion of Normandy. He survived the war.
A niece, Patricia Melcher, was born the year after her uncle died. But she recalled a story told by her mother, Bernice Jante Becker, and her father, Kenneth Becker, about arriving at the farm on the day Edwin’s parents received the telegram that he was missing in action. His mother had thrown their fully decorated Christmas tree out in the snow, and she never put one up again.
Patricia said in 2019 that other relatives salvaged the ornaments, which are treasured to this day.
Sources: Special thanks to Patricia Melcher for much of this information and the photograph. Other sources include the Mason City (Iowa) Globe-Gazette; cenotaph at St. John’s Cemetery; Iowa 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.