Documented history of WWII soldier presented to Centre, Alabama library

Tommy Toles (from left) and Cherokee County (Alabama) Historian Jim Lewis present the history of Benjamin Earl Weaver and the USS Houston to Cherokee County Library Director Elaine Henry.

The documented history of Benjamin Earl Weaver and the USS Houston has been presented to the Cherokee County Library in Centre, Alabama.

Weaver, who went down on the Houston just after the start of World War II, has numerous family members residing in Cherokee and DeKalb counties in Alabama and in Floyd and Chattooga counties in Georgia. Tommy Toles, of Jefferson, Alabama, a former Rome News-Tribune editor and graduate of Gaylesville High School in Alabama, presented the history on behalf of his sister Helen Toles Buffington, a native of Cherokee County and a former resident of Chattooga and Floyd counties.

Toles is also a former editor of The Summerville News and a former correspondent with The Cherokee County Herald.

The history book was compiled by their aunt, the late Blanche Toles, Menlo, a longtime teacher at the Oak Grove and Menlo Schools. The history of Weaver and the USS Houston was presented by Toles and Cherokee County Historian Jim Lewis, center, to Library Director Elaine Henry. Toles is also a former student of Lewis.

The material contains a spike from the “Death Railroad,” featured in the movie, “The Bridge Over the River Kwai.”

Survivors of the Houston, which was sunk in the Java Sea on Feb. 28 or March 1, 1942, were taken to Japanese prison work camps on the infamous railway. Relatives of Houston crew members did not know their fate until after the end of World War II.

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