Vic H. Housholder Papers
The papers of Vic H. Housholder document his experiences as an officer during the First World War, including one memorable incident in which he rescued Captain Harry S. Truman from underneath a fallen horse. In addition, the papers document years of correspondence between Housholder and Truman and visits the friends made to see each other.
Size: Less than one half of one linear foot (about 400 pages).
Vic H. Housholder developed a friendship with Harry S. Truman when the two served in the U.S. Army together from 1917 to 1919 in Battery D of the 129th Field Artillery Regiment. His papers include the military manuals that Housholder owned during World War I, as well as Housholder's handwritten account of his experiences during the war. Housholder, a Lieutenant, ranked second in command of the Battery after Captain Truman. Battery D saw action in France at St. Mihiel, the Argonne Forest, Metz, and the Vosges Mountains. At the so-called "Battle of Who Run" in the Vosges Mountains, German guns toppled Truman's horse, which fell on the Captain, trapping him in the mud. Housholder managed to slide the horse off in the mud, freeing Truman, and for this he was awarded the Army's Commendation Medal. The story of Housholder's bravery was not publicly known until many years later -- in 1950 and 1971 the Columbus, KS, Daily Advocate and the Phoenix, AZ, Gazette, respectively, printed Housholder's recollection of events; these articles are included in the collection. While Housholder claimed to have given Truman mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, neither Truman nor his biographers mention this detail. Housholder received his discharge from the Army in May 1919.
Immediately after the war Housholder moved to Arizona to engineer projects such as the Gillespie Dam on the Gila River and a flood control dam at Cave Creek in 1922; he shortly became manager of the American Rolling Mills Co., a post he would hold for 47 years. Establishing a home in Phoenix, Housholder became a notable citizen of his community and his state, participating in a wide range of activities and organizations beyond the realm of his civil engineering work. He managed state track meets, coached the Phoenix Senators baseball team, and sat as a commissioner for the Amateur Athletic Union, among other involvements with sports. Furthermore, Housholder provided leadership and benefits to the youth and underprivileged of his community, sitting on the advisory boards of such institutions as the Boy Scouts of America and the Salvation Army.
Throughout his years in Phoenix, AZ, Housholder kept up a fairly consistent correspondence with Truman. Letters from Housholder to Truman, and from Truman to Housholder, constitute the bulk of the Housholder Papers. Housholder wrote to Truman on a variety of topics, providing his opinion of Truman's decisions (for example, regarding Korea), updates on the Arizona political scene, and well-wishes on Truman's birthdays. More notably, Housholder wrote to Truman and aides such as Harry Vaughan on several occasions to enlist help in finding the whereabouts of his son, Tom Housholder, who was shot down on a combat mission in Germany in World War II. Truman consistently responded to Housholder's letters with sincere affection, and he did his best in helping Housholder locate his son. Also included in the papers are Housholder's accounts of his visit to the White House as Truman's guest in 1947; Housholder stated that, during his weekend stay, President Truman "made me feel at all times that he was genuinely happy to have me with him." Also included in the collection is some related correspondence between Housholder and others, and a small amount of correspondence between Housholder's son, Bill, and Harry Truman, upon the death of Vic Housholder. Above all, the papers of Vic Housholder portray a lasting friendship with the future President, formed during World War I, and Harry Truman's willingness to remember old companions even after ascending to the highest offices in American political life.
More information about the boys of Battery D and their association with Mr. Truman can be found in the papers of John Thacher, Edward McKim, Lorain Cunningham, Edward P. Meisburger, and L. Curtis Tiernan; and in oral history interviews with McKim, Cunningham, Meisburger, Eugene Donnelly, Frederick Bowman, Vere Leigh, Walter Menefee, Harry Murphy, Floyd Ricketts, and McKinley Wooden. In the papers of Harry S. Truman, related correspondence is filed under the names of Housholder and the other veterans in the White House Central Files (President's Personal File), President's Secretary's Files (Personal File), and Post-Presidential Papers. Further information about Truman's military service in World War I can be found in the Truman Papers Pertaining to Family, Business and Personal Affairs and in Record Group 391: Records of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units (Records of Battery D).