Remembering World War II veteran, Burlington native Frank Latta

Navy reservists stand aboard the USS Cobia before the start of the USS Lagarto Memorial Ceremony at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum Saturday, May 1.  5, 2018, in Manitowoc, Wis.  Among those honored was Commander Frank Latta, a native of Burlington.

The First World War ended in blood on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

As a silence settled over these apocalyptic battlefields of Europe, the victorious Allied nations moved to honor those who served in the “war to end all wars” with a celebration then known as the name of Armistice Day.

But World War I was not the end of the war and bloody conflicts continue to unfold. The list of battles and war dead goes on. In 1954, Armistice Day disappeared to be replaced by Veterans Day – a national holiday to honor those who had served in all of our country’s armed conflicts.

Iowa should be especially sensitive to the respect due to the military, as the state has long been at the forefront of serving-ready citizens.

It started with the Civil War – when Iowa was the northern state that sent the highest percentage of its young men to the battlefield. This was especially true in 1941 when the distant battlefields of World War II called the young people of Iowa to the flag. And Burlington has not been spared as the global conflict has upended lives.

Burlington native Frank DeVere Latta stands aboard the USS Lagarto, a submarine he commanded in 1945. On May 20, 2005, a group of private deep-sea divers found the wrecked Lagarto sitting in 230 feet of almost untouched and standing on the ocean floor.

A review of those who fell in the battles that will follow call some household names. Families who were business leaders, professional pillars and the men and women who moved the community forward saw their sons and daughters step forward. Many who served did not return.

After:Veterans Day offers and activities in the Burlington area Friday

Frank DeVere Latta belonged to one of these families. The Lattas had long been one of the most prominent families in southeast Iowa. A church along Irish Ridge Road and the station near Sperry bore this name.

Leave a Comment