First Lieutenant Arthur Louis Gump
- Unit: 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion, 113th Chemical Processing Company, Company A
- Service Number: O-1037021
- Date of Birth: June 19, 1913
- Entered the Military: March 6, 1942
- Date of Death: July 4, 1944
- Hometown: Las Vegas, New Mexico
- Place of Death: Normandy, France
- Award(s): Purple Heart
- Cemetery: Plot D, Row 25, Grave 23. Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France
Mentored by Ms. Luisa Castillo
West Mesa High School
From a Small Community
Arthur Lewis Gump, Jr. was born June 19, 1913, and grew up in a small rural community in Las Vegas, in San Miguel County, New Mexico. He is the only son of Helena Mary Prell and Arthur Lewis Gump, Sr. and brother to six sisters: Gertrude, Alberta, Hellen, Jeanette, Elizabeth, and Virginia. The local newspaper lists his father as a barber.
By 1930, Helena (Nellie) was listed as the head of household, managing the barber shop.
Gump attended New Mexico Normal School (later New Mexico Highlands University) and graduated in 1939. He worked as a math and science teacher at Artesia HIgh School in Artesia, New Mexico and was active in the Knights of Columbus.
As a “hoofer” he enjoyed the music of the 1940s especially if it allowed him to “cut a rug.” Family members remembered he was the “cat’s meow” who often turned the heads of young ladies.
Starting a Family
Gump married Marian P. Wallis in Bernalillo, New Mexico, on December 20, 1941. He loved his wife and as such turned down an officer’s commission to remain with his young bride. Their daughter, Maryann, was born March 1943. He shipped out May 1943 and tragically Maryann grew up without the honor of knowing her birth father.
Through his letters it was evident that once he found Marian, he devoted his heart to her. He valued family above all else, which is the primary reason he delayed his entry into World War II. Rather than immediately enlist and receive an officer’s commission, he waited to enlist at a lower rank.
New Mexico’s Service Members in the Pacific
New Mexico soldiers serving in the 200th Coast Artillery in the Philippines were captured by the Japanese forces. These men were forced to endure the Bataan Death March on April 9, 1942.
Navajo Code Talkers
Through adaptations of their native language, the Navajo Code Talkers contributed greatly by improving wartime communication by sending coded messages via native language.
Testing of the Atomic Bomb
New Mexico was also instrumental in creating the atomic bomb through a secret laboratory in Los Alamos. In 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated at Trinity Site in southern New Mexico.
Arthur L. Gump was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 113rd Chemical Processing Company, Company A. Soldiers from these units were attached to support advancing infantry units.
Gump was assigned to the 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion. After training at Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, they sailed to England on the SS Empress of Australia. The departed New York on October 21, 1943 and arrived in Liverpool on November 4 of that year. They traveled in Devonshire, England and completed several amphibious training exercises. At some point, he appeared to have been transferred to the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion.
Both units landed in the early stages of the campaign. Gump’s actions are unclear in the next month. On July 4, 1944 Gump appeared on record with the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion. Gump was leading the forward operating team of the first platoon when he was struck by a shell and killed.
I am humbled by your service to our country. You served in the United States Army to fight for our country’s freedom. You valiantly supported your men and upheld the highest standards of our country. You lost your life on foreign soil, in France on July 4, 1945 (ironically on the day we celebrate America’s freedom from England). I often wonder why soldiers, such as you, willingly serve and risk their lives for people they do not know. I believe it is because soldiers are bound by duty, a mission they are honored to uphold. Sadly, many Americans take their freedom for granted. Rather, we should be grateful for the soldiers who fought and lost their lives to protect Americans so we may live our lives happily.
Once again, I close my letter to you with a heartfelt dedication and a thank you for your great service. In all honesty, I feel badly that your life ended so soon. I realize a mere “thank you” is not enough to show you my appreciation for your sacrifice. Lastly, any soldier who served their country during wartime, whether it was World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War or in more recent campaigns, can never be thanked enough. There is no gift that can compare to a precious life… and your short life was indeed precious and important.”
I will close with a poem by Father Dennis Edward O’Brien USMC, titled, “Who.”
It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us the
Freedom of the press.
It is the soldier not the poet, Who has given us the
Freedom of speech.
It’s the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the
Freedom to Demonstrate.
It’s the soldier, not the lawyer, Who has given us the
Right to a Fair Trial.
It’s the soldier Who salutes the flag, serves under the flag and
Whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who gives the protestor the right to burn the flag.
Arthur L. Gump. Artesia High School Yearbook, 1941. ancestry.com.
Arthur L. Gump. Headstone and Interment Records for U.S. Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942-1949. ancestry.com.
Arthur L. Gump and Marian Wallis. Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Marriage Index, 1888-2017. ancestry.com.
Arthur Louis Gump. WWI Draft Cards, Young Men, 1940-1947. ancestry.com.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. Crusade in Europe. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1948.
Gump Family Photographs. Courtesy of Maryann Gump Wetzler.
“K. of C. Class to Honor Memory of Casualty of War.” Las Vegas Daily Optic [East Las Vegas, New Mexico], October 7, 1944. Newspapers.com (25517860)
Meairs, Kate. Email communication with the author. 2012.
New Mexico. San Miguel County. 1920 U.S. Federal Census. ancestry.com.
New Mexico. San Miguel County. 1930 U.S. Federal Census. ancestry.com.
“News From And About Our Boys.” Las Vegas Daily Optic [East Las Vegas, New Mexico], December 14, 1942. Newspapers.com (25510825).
Unit History of the 113th Chemical Processing Company, Record Group 407, National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.
Wetzler, Maryann Gump. Telephone and personal interview with authors. 2012-2013.
Ambrose. Stephen. Band of Brothers. New York: Diamond and Schuster Paperbacks, 1992.
“Arthur L. Gump.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed May 11, 2020. www.abmc.gov/decedent-search/gump%3Darthur.
Burns, Ken, Director. The War. PBS Home Video. 2006. DVD.
Connelly, Michael. The Mortarmen. Victoria: Trafford Publishing, 2005.
Keegan, John. Six Armies in Normandy, from D-Day to the Liberation of Paris. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.
Keegan, John. The Second World War. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.
Kershaw, Alex. The Bedford Boys: One American Town’s Ultimate D-day Sacrifice. Cambridge: De Capo Press, 2004. Print.
Kleber, Brooks E. and Dale Birdsell. The Chemical Warfare Service: Chemicals in Combat. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1990. history.army.mil/html/books/010/10-3/CMH_Pub_10-3.pdf.
“Navajo Code Talkers: World War II Fact Sheet.” Naval History and Heritage Command. Updated April 16, 2020. Accessed May 11, 2020. www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/n/code-talkers.html.