Van Keith Mefford

1924 - 2019


Their Story

Van Keith Mefford was born in Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa, the son of Van William Mefford and Helen (Cecil) Mefford on December 20, 1924.  Because Van’s father also had the first name of Van, the family used his middle name of Keith to avoid confusion.

Keith’s family moved to Des Moines where Van attended high school.  In 1942, he registered for the draft. Keith was a student at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

Keith was drafted on March 17, 1943, and was inducted into the Army on March 24 that year, in Peoria, Illinois. Private Mefford was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where he completed basic training. After basic training, Private Mefford was stationed at Ft. Jackson for additional training. He was promoted to corporal at Fort Jackson.

Corporal Mefford was assigned to the 87th Infantry Division, 345th Infantry Regiment, Company M. He left the United States for Europe in October 1944 from New York, sailing on the TSS Pasteur, landing in Scotland on October 22, 1944.

The 87th Infantry Division, known as the Golden Acorn Division, was assigned to the Third Army, commanded by General George S. Patton.  The Division was engaged in three campaigns – Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. Sergeant Mefford took part in two of the three campaigns. He was wounded in the leg during action in the Rhineland Campaign in Germany on March 25, 1945.  He was in the hospital until April that year. He was given a 30-day furlough starting in July.

When his furlough was over, he reported to Fort Benning, Georgia, where the 345th Infantry Regiment was then stationed.

During the war, Staff Sergeant Mefford earned the Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the Purple Heart (returns home – Click on the link to see the medals.

After the war, Van returned to school and completed his education. In 1954, Van was employed by Borg-Warner as a Mechanical Engineer. He retired after 30 years in 1984.

Van married Ila Gannon in 1955 and, after her passing in 1981, he married Pat Bowgren in 1983. Pat passed in 1999. When Ila passed, she was buried at Rock Island National Cemetery in the plot that she and Van would share when he died.

Van was a member of the Roscoe United Methodist Church, Rockton Masonic Lodge #74, and various motorcycle clubs.

Van Keith Mefford died on May 1, 2019, at the age of 95..


                 All Photos of Subject are from Patricia Feierberg who owns the photos.

Citation for the award of the Purple Heart. A rare document that was not normally saved.



Official Military  Military Ribbons Purple Heart military Ribbon,purple heart military medals (  (Accessed 9/22/2022)

Center for Military History, United States Army Order of Battle of the US Army – WWII – ETO 87th  Infantry Division 87th Infantry Division – Order of Battle of the United States Army – WWII – ETO | U.S. Army Center of Military History (Accessed 9/20/2022)

World War II Troop Ships, A Database of records for Troop Ships,  World War II Troop Ships Home Page ( Accessed 9/23/2022)

United States, Illinois, Moline, The Dispatch, 1945 Jul 17, Page 2. returns home – (Accessed 9/23/2022)

FamilySearch Intellectual Reserve, Inc. A service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, =1924&q.givenName=Van%20K.&q.surname=Mefford  (Accessed 9/8/2022) Winnebago County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages, 1836-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.  Winnebago County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages, 1836-1962 –  (Accessed 9/8/2022) U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2005.  U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 – (Accessed 9/8/2022)

Interviews (by Email and Telephone) with Patricia Feierberg, Stepdaughter. All Photos of Subject are from Patricia Feierberg who owns the photos.

Wikipedia contributors, “Purple Heart,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Purple Heart – Wikipedia (accessed September 27, 2022).