Re­porter re­mem­bers World War II

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­

CENTREVILLE — It was the war that changed the face of the mod­ern world. From 1939 to 1945 the sec­ond World War grabbed the at­ten­tion of those across the United States and Europe. For­mer Record Ob­server edi­tor and long­time colum­nist Dan Tabler, a fa­mil­iar face to Queen Anne’s County res­i­dents, was still in school when the war broke out. Shortly after his 18th birth­day, he was joined with the United States Army.

Tabler re­counted those years, from his per­spec­tive. After the stock mar­ket crash in ‘29, said Tabler, his fa­ther, Ray Tabler, a fi­nance man, was re­cruited to re-open the Centreville Na­tional Bank and moved his fam­ily to Centreville. Tabler was at­tend­ing Centreville High School and writ­ing his first col­umn, “Dots and Dashes by Dan” at the age of 15.

Tabler was 17 when he com­pleted school in Queen Anne’s. “There must’ve only been 11 grades at the time,” Tabler re­called, and his fa­ther think­ing him too young still sent him to com­plete his ed­u­ca­tion with rel­a­tives in West Vir­ginia.

“I have two high school diplo­mas,” laughed Tabler, but ed­u­ca­tion, he said was im­por­tant to his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, who had served as school su­per­in­ten­dent.

Tabler’s fa­ther who had served in the three wars prior, in­clud­ing the Span­ish-Amer­i­can War and World War I, had been re­called by the army, he said. The elder

Tabler thought it was likely that his son might also be called upon to serve and sug­gested that he en­roll at the Citadel.

“I’m glad I did [go]; one year of school there and I knew how to take or­ders, those up­per­class­men sure gave us a hard time,” said Tabler.

His fa­ther proved right and one year into his school­ing at the Citadel, Tabler was drafted into the army.

“I was go­ing to the Citadel and the board grabbed me up,” Tabler said.

They let me fin­ish the year out, Tabler re­called, and then I was put on a bus and sent to a re­cruit­ment cen­ter near Bal­ti­more.

From 1943 to 1946, Tabler resided at Camp Lee in Vir­ginia, serv­ing his coun­try. Tabler was told by his re­cruit­ment of­fice that since he had good marks at school they would send him to Of­fi­cer School.

“I said, I don’t want to be an of­fi­cer,” said Tabler, “I told them put me in pub­lic re­la­tions.”

And so pub­lic re­la­tions was where he stayed. Camp Lee was the largest quar­ter­mas­ter camp in the coun­try, said Tabler, 40,000 men large. Iron­i­cally, Tabler’s fa­ther was sta­tioned at Lee also, as the fi­nance of­fi­cer.

“I never did tell any­one that,” said Tabler. But he was very busy send­ing me­dia re­ports to the Wash­ing­ton and Rich­mond dailies. Tabler also wrote for The Camp Lee Trav­eler, the weekly news­pa­per for the quar­ter­mas­ter camp. The paper came by the name Trav­eler, said Tabler, for Gen­eral Lee’s horses name.

“We were busy, al­ways busy,” said Tabler, “get­ting the re­port from over­seas and in­ter­view­ing in­fantry­men who had done some­thing ex­cel­lent or dif­fer­ent, some­thing they’d got­ten awards for.”

Tabler even in­ter­viewed Ger­man POW’s at Camp Lee.

Still, Tabler didn’t for­get his read­ers back in Queen Anne’s, he con­trib­uted weekly to the RecordObserver with his col­umn, “This Army Life.” Of­ten his col­umns con­sisted of letters sent by mil­i­tary post to Tabler from his many ac­quain­tances.

A reg­u­lar writer to Tabler, was Pri­vate Wal­ter “Woody” Wood­ford, a grad­u­ate of Centreville High School and for­mer stu­dent at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege be­fore his in­duc­tion into the Army. One such let­ter was sent from “some­where in the South­west Pa­cific” and read, “Some time ago there was a hard, fierce fight here, but there are no Japs here now, ex­cept the ones push­ing up daisies. The only fight­ing we do is against mos­qui­toes.”

Tabler also shared cor­re­spon­dence sent to par­ents of the men sta­tioned abroad so that fam­ily and friends lo­cally might be kept up to date. In one let­ter, sent from Sgt. Ge­orge Aldridge, Queen­stown, Tabler noted that it had been some time since they had last heard from Aldridge and he be­lieved that Aldridge was cur­rently in Ger­many even though his last cor­re­spon­dence had been lined, “some­where in Lux­em­borg.”

“I have had quite a so­journ in Hol­land since I last wrote you,” Aldridge wrote, “While there I saw my cousin Tom Rhodes, of Queen­stown ... it had been three years since I saw him last. He brought me news of many of the countr y boys.” Aldridge went on to say, “This is a nice coun­try and is very beau­ti­ful. The peo­ple here are the cold­est yet.”

Tabler also did his best to keep the folks back at home up to date with the men’s over­seas ad­dresses.

When fi­nally the ar­mistice was signed, Tabler got his sep­a­ra­tion pa­pers, a copy which he car­ries with him still.

“I walked back into the Record-Ob­server‘s of­fice on Lawyer’s Row, said Tabler. The edi­tor said, “Good morn­ing, Dan. There’s your desk, sit down,” and so I sat down and stayed there the rest of my life.”

Edi­tor’s Note: Dan Tabler has been with the Record Ob­server in dif­fer­ent ca­pac­i­ties since 1940, with the ex­cep­tion of a brief pe­riod of time when he was as­so­ciate edi­tor of the Delaware State News for 14 years. He has served as re­porter, ad­ver­tis­ing sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive, colum­nist and edi­tor. His col­umn, “Writer’s Note­book,” runs weekly in the Record Ob­server still.


At his desk at Camp Lee, Dan Tabler re­ports the news from home and abroad.


A young Dan Tabler in his Army uni­form at Camp Lee.

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