Lewis W. Hemstock, 91, of Sparta, died Monday, July 16, 2018 in Sparta. He was born on November 6, 1926 in Sparta to William and Iris (Gudbaur) Hemstock. He spent his early years in Sparta and Burns Valley, La Crosse County.
Lewis enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and was assigned to the light carrier USS Cowpens (CVL-25) as an Aviation Ordancemen. The Cowpens was with Admiral William (Bull) Halsey’s famous third fleet and saw action in the Pacific.
The Cowpens was chosen to be the first carrier to Tokyo Bay entering the Bay on August 29, 1945. The Cowpens was near the Battleship Missouri when the Surrender was signed. Lewis served three years aboard the Navy’s first guided missile ship, the USS Norton Sound (AV-11). The Norton Sound performed many missile tests in the Pacific and at Christmas Island. Lewis crossed the Equator and became a Shellback, a coveted award.
In 1951, Lewis was assigned to the USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) a carrier in an anti submarine squadron. The carrier made three patrols along the Korean coast from Pusan to Manchuria.
Lewis was awarded many medals and ribbons for the years he was in the military including: the Combat Action ribbon for WWII and Korea, the Navy’s Unit Citation, South Korea’s Presidential Citation, WWII and Korea ribbons with battle stars, and UN ribbons and Occupation ribbons.
On April 12, 1951, he was united in marriage to Mary Howe in Waukon, IA at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. Mary resided in Pittsburg, CA while Lewis was overseas. In 1957, he left the Navy and enlisted in the US Air Force, serving as a jet engine supervisor. His last base was March AFB Riverside, CA. He retired in 1967 while a member of the 22nd Heavy Bomb Wing, a Strategic Air Command, B-52 Bomber squadron.
Lewis and Mary retired to their home at nearby Perris, CA and returned to Sparta in 1970 due to health reasons. Mary passed away in 1988 and, in 1989, Lewis began spending part of the winter in South Texas at South Padre Island and Weslaco. He also made several tours to Europe visiting seventeen countries including the Vatican and Russia.
Lewis is survived by his brother, Basil “Buzz” (Marilyn) Hemstock of Sparta and a special nephew, Jim Hemstock and his family of Winona, MN.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Mary; his sisters, Margery, Nancy, and Audrey; and his brothers, Harold “Mac”, Chauncey, and Phillip.
A special thank you to all the Mayo Hospice employees and Marilyn Hemstock for the wonderful care they provided.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 20, 2018 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Sparta, with Father Juan Pedro officiating. Burial, with military honors provided by Sparta VFW Post 2112, will be in Cataract Cemetery, Cataract.
Family and friends are invited to call from 10 a.m. until time of services on Friday at the church.
The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.