Remembering: Lt. Col Herbert Mills, Jr.

Today we are honoring Lt. Col Herbert Mills, Jr. Herbert came to El Paso in 1939 from Sterling City and joined the Active 20-30 Club of El Paso #96 shortly thereafter. In 1940 he joined the Army and was stationed in Fort Bliss before being deployed to the European Theatre. While serving with the 33rd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division he was awarded a Silver Star and Bronze Star for his actions. On November 17th, 1944 near Scherpenseel and Hastenrath, Germany, Lt. Col Mills led his task force over difficult terrain, across dense minefields and through devastating enemy fire to secure a vital objective. On the initial day of the assault, one of his tanks was hit blocking the advance of the column through a lane cleared of mines. Lieutenant Colonel Mills dismounted from his tank, personally directed engineers in clearing another lane, and led his force through the minefield. While reorganizing his position, a shell struck within a few feet of him, causing injury to his right leg. Though in much pain, he refused medical aid and continued his reconnaissance on foot to improve his positions. Although he lost all officers of his medium tank companies and thirty-three tanks, Lieutenant Colonel Mills kept his force effectively organized and, in the face of enemy opposition, captured his objective without infantry support. While Lieutenant Colonel Mills was in the process of communicating with higher headquarters to report that his mission was accomplished, a shell struck the building above his tank, fatally wounding him. For his actions he was awarded the army’s second-highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross. He was survived by his wife Claire Mills and his two year old son Herbert Mills III.

Members from New Mexico in WWII

To kick off the week of Memorial Day, we would like to take today to remember the Active 20-30 members from New Mexico who lost their lives during WWII. While it may seem odd to focus on the state instead of a club or an individual, their stories are tragically similar. All of these men were also members of various units of the New Mexico National Guard and were inducted into federal service as The 200th Coast Artillery Regiment on January 6th, 1941, for one year of active duty training. They were chosen for an assignment in the Philippines over a regiment from Arkansas because of the fluency in Spanish and arrived in Luzon in September of 1941.

On December 8th, 1941, a mere 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombers appeared over the horizon in the Philippines. After 3 months of fierce fighting, the 76,000 starving and sick American and Filipino defenders in Bataan surrendered on April 9, 1942. While they managed to survive the infamous Bataan Death March on which 7,000–10,000 POWs died or were murdered, all but one were unable to survive their internment at the various POW camps. The lone survivor was killed when the ship taking him to Japan for interrogation was sunk in the Pacific. Some only lasted a few weeks while others lasted years but their names and stories are engraved on twelve granite columns at Bataan Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Those brave men were:
• Pfc. Claude Fleming, Carlsbad #202 – 6/10/1942
• 1SG George Moore, Artesia #231 – 5/20/1942
• Maj. Richard Riley, Albuquerque #103 – 11/13/1942
• Capt. Karl Schroeder, Clovis #225 – 1/19/1945
• Capt. John Beall, Clovis #225 – 2/8/1945
• Sgt. John Shields, Jr., Clovis #225 – 11/24/1942

Thank you for your service.

When Pauls and Founders meet (20-30 & Rotary)

Fun find: “When Pauls and Founders meet. It was a moment mutually enjoyed when Rotary International’s incoming Governor Paul Claiborne, left, of Auburn, California, met Rotary’s Founder Paul Harris, and told him the idea for the 20-30 Clubs came to him at a Rotary Luncheon. Governor Claiborne organized the first of these young men’s clubs nineteen years ago.
(Twenty-Thirtian magazine, year 1941)

Snooping Into Active 20-30’s Past?

I LOVE history, especially when I can find a more personal connection to it. Knowing that my grandparents and parents were members of Sacramento #1, made me curious to learn more about this organization’s past.

Here are two articles that I found had some interesting information, the first is an article the day after the very first official meeting of the 20-30 club and the second one mentions the 50th anniversary celebration where there was an explanation of the hourglass symbol (interesting to note that things haven’t changed much with a social hour, followed by a dinner where likely there were speeches and announcements, followed by dancing).  I might be the only one that’s jumping for joy at this find but it is exciting to be able to solve mysteries of the past and learn how things came about and what happened. Enjoy!

Active 20.30 article1a

Organization of 20-30 Club is Completed

Final organization of the 20-30 Club, composed of men between the ages of 20 and 30 years engaged in all lines of work, yesterday was completed at a meeting held at the chamber of commerce, when officers were elected and constitution and by-laws were approved.

The officers of the club are: Paul Claiborne, president; A.B. Frank, vice president; Carroll Couture, second vice president; C.J. McBride, secretary; Joe Rohl, treasurer, Jack Foale, sergeant at arms; directors, E. Casey, R. Cohen, Homer Dunn, R.Kirby, and Clarence Breuner.

The next meeting of the club will be held December 28th at 8 p.m. at the chamber of commerce.

A feature of the program yesterday was the appearance of Verne Vernill, female impersonator, who sang several songs.

 Sacramento Union, 20 Dec. 1922:  22.

Active 20.30 article7

20-30 Club Was Born In Sacramento

“Twenty-Thirty is Fifty” is the theme of a dinner dance which will be held Saturday in the Woodlake Inn in observance of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the 20-30 club.

More than 500 members and former members and their wives will be in attendance at the affair, which will start with a 6 p.m. social hour followed by dinner and dancing.

Toasts and messages of welcome will be offered by David K. Murphy, president of the club; J. Edward Cain, president in 1927, and Robert Baumgart, who held the office in 1953.

Gene Pendergast is chairman of arrangements.

It was in 1922 that 20-30 Club, long an international organization, had its beginnings. The late Paul Claiborne conceived the idea of forming a service club with a membership that would consist only of young men and with goals directed toward helping the youth of the community – two needs that were not being filled at the time by senior service clubs in the Sacramento area.

Along with Earle G. Casey, Alfred B Franke, Charles G McBride and Marshall A Page, Claiborne took his idea to Mitchel Nathan, then president of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce.

The first meeting was held Dec. 19 and the hourglass, a symbol of the passage of youth, was adopted as the emblem.

Soon after the Sacramento club had established itself, 20-30 began to expand into new areas. Clubs were formed in San Bernardino, San Francisco, Hayward, Tracy, and Oakland.

By 1941 charters were granted to clubs from California to Indiana, from Washington to New Mexico. In 1946, with the chartering of a club in Juarez, Mexico, 20-30 became an international organization and at a “victory” Convention, the official name of the association of 20-30 Clubs was changed to 20-30 International and the age limit advanced to 35.

In the years to follow, expansion began in the far west and Southwest. Clubs also spread through Mexico and into all the Central American countries and parts of South America.

Nineteen Twenty-Two was also the birth date of another service club. Some 700 miles of Sacramento, in Aberdeen, Wash., another group of young men had hit upon Claibornes’ idea and formed an organization which they named “Active”. Throughout the years of expansion both 20-30 and Active were drawn along similar paths. In 1959 President Norm Morrison of 20-30 International and President Ken Helling of Active International proposed that the two almost-identical clubs should merge. On August 1, 1960, Active and 20-30 became known as Active 20-30 International.

Throughout its fifty years of service to the community and country, 20-30 members (or more recently Active 20-30 members) have provided aid and service to youth and provided a training ground for young businessmen.

Sacramento Bee, 26 Nov. 1972:  W-1+.