PAPA'S WAR , PART 7
R & R Leave
After we disembarked, things happened so fast that I cannot remember how I got there but the next thing I remember is being home and the wonderful reception that I got from everyone. I was the very first GI to return to my home town, St. Augustine, Florida, from Europe and I was treated like a king. When I walked past any local tavern, the owner called me in and offered the first drink on the house with the emphasis on the word "first".
Well, that was a better offer than I had ever gotten before.
It was going to be a Rest and Rehabilitation leave but the round of parties left little time for rest.
I went to the beach. The Coast Guard's NO CAMERAS signs were still in place. I took a picture of one of the signs. The beach was very messy. Large black sticky globs of oil were everywhere, a reminder of the dozens of tankers that had been torpedoed within sight of shore. Unlike most of America, my hometown had not been completely shielded from the grim realities of war. It had seen tankers burning off shore. Many burned bodies of seamen had also washed ashore here. St.Augustine had had some first hand knowledge of what war was all about.
I had returned to the States earlier than many other GIs because I had not been overseas for very long and was destined to go to the Pacific to participate in the invasion of the Japanese home islands.
My R&R leave was marred by the radio news programs that carried daily reports of the Japanese kamikaze attacks on Allied ships and bases in the Pacific. How can you fight people who willingly go to their deaths on suicide missions for their Emperor? I felt that we would have to kill every single person in Japan to defeat them. The war in Europe was a piece of cake compared to what we would face. Millions of troops would be killed just trying to land on the home islands. I had already used up all of my luck. I was not confident of getting through that.
On August 6, 1945 the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by a B-29 Superfortress, named "Enola Gay". The report that a single bomb had wiped out an entire city raised my hopes that things might not be as bad as they seemed.
On August 9th a second nuclear bomb was dropped, by another B-29, named "Bock's Car", on Nagasaki virtually destroying that city as well. My hopes for the future went up another notch.
Throughout the PacificTheater, during early August, isolated Japanese forces surrendered to forces of The United States, Great Britain, Australia, China, Russia and other Allies. In Japan there were still a few "hawks" unwilling to admit defeat but negotiations for unconditional surrender were moving along well. The last snag was Japanese insistence that Hirohito remain Emperor which was agreed to, providing he would no longer be considered a deity. The Japanese begrudgingly gave in on that one.
On August 15th, the Japanese agreed to the terms of surrender. The day was proclaimed V-J Day (victory against Japan) and there were celebrations all over the world.
On September 2, 1945 the armed forces of the Empire of Japan surrendered formally and unconditionally to General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur aboard the battleship Missouri at anchor in Tokyo Bay.
Thus ended World War II, the greatest conflict in history. It had lasted five years and had been fought in every corner of the earth. Fifty five million people had been killed with uncountable wounded and an additional three million were missing. Obviously, my participation in "Papa's War" had been a microscopically small part of it.
Camp Campbell, Kentucky
It did not end for me just like that. I was still in the Army and had to report to Camp Campbell, Kentucky at the end of my R&R leave. After a brief period of mainly physical training, I, together with other "Coolies" including Don Benz, Jimmy Carr, and Frankie Applebaum, had orders cut to be transferred to a unit destined for occupation duty in Japan.
Jimmy Carr was not known for a quick temper but he thought it was grossly unfair and drove his fist through the latrine wall. It made him feel better but did not change anything.
We went through several rounds of showdown inspections and then we were lined up with a bunch of other GIs and were loading our duffel bags on the trucks when our orders were canceled. We were going to stay at Camp Campbell after all.
You don't stay in one place
very long without the conversation turning to the availability, or lack
thereof, of female companionship. Camp Campbell had no "Little D." There
were no nearby colleges. Clarksville, Tennessee and Hopkinsville, Kentucky
(More commonly called "Hoptown") located outside the north and south gates
of Camp Campbell had a reasonable number of attractive females but the
ratio was terrible. At a USO dance in either town you were lucky to get
your arm around a girl before you felt a hand on your shoulder as some
one was cutting in. This situation made the subsequent period of marking
time that much more difficult. Everyone just wanted to get it over with
and get back home.
Don Benz Gets Even
For reasons known only to the Army, Don Benz, was not sent to a separation center close to his home but was discharged directly from Camp Campbell. As soon as he had his separation papers in hand and the "ruptured duck" securely fastened to his uniform jacket, he decided to get even with Tech Sgt. Arnold Schumacher for all of the dirty details that he and Master Sgt. Emil "The Buddha" Boitos together had heaped on the "Coolies".
Don got a demonic look on his face, drew the bayonet from some GI's scabbard and told Schumacher that he was going to get even for everything that he and Boitos had done to us. Schumacher, who closely resembled Hermann Goering in both countenance and build started running with Don in hot pursuit. Don could have caught him easily but he just chased him, brandishing the bayonet. He chased him across a field until Schumacher dropped from exhaustion, then Don pounced on him and screamed, "Now I am going to cut your heart out!"
Then he just got up and walked away leaving Schumacher cowering and begging for his life, not realizing that Don was gone. Don ran back to the barracks laughing, returned the bayonet, picked up his gear, headed for his transportation off the post, and departed for home.
Thereafter, whenever Schumacher was around, one of the "Coolies" would casually mention that he had seen Don Benz somewhere in the company area and Schumacher would disappear for the rest of the day.
At Camp Campbell, I was an instructor in the 5th Division Radio School but it was mostly a wasted effort. No one cared to learn anything now. What was the point?
GIs were flowing through
the 5th Division Signal Company by the hundreds on their way to separation
centers. Discipline was almost nonexistent. At a Division Review,
most of the troops who were supposed to be standing at attention were sitting,
smoking, talking, or just lying around on the parade grounds. What did
they care. In a few days they would all be civilians again.
Dalton R. Coffman, --- At It Again
Other signalmen transferred from the 103d to the 5th Infantry Division included Dalton R. Coffman. We had both been in the Radio barracks back at Camp Howze, but, in combat, Coffman and I were on different radio teams and had essentially no contact with one another until the end of hostilities. At Camp Campbell we again found ourselves in the same barracks together. By this time I was a T/4 having been promoted shortly before transfer to the 5th Division.
Incredibly, in this environment, Coffman's comparisons started all over again. If he was truly aspiring to mediocrity I got ticked off enough to give him a reason to direct his attention elsewhere. The green herringbone twill fatigue uniforms were ordinarily worn just the way they looked after being washed except that the pockets were supposed to be buttoned and the trousers neatly tucked into and draped over the boot tops.
Without Coffman's knowledge, I did something not normally done. I pressed a set of fatigues with sharp military creases and buried them in my foot locker. When we fell out for Saturday morning inspection, nearly everyone's fatigues were sloppy, pockets unbuttoned, boots needed attention, and weapons were not properly cleaned.
Coffman, who fell out to my right, was very presentable, and everything about him was militarily correct, but he blanched when I showed up as no one had ever appeared in fatigues before, seemingly ready for a parade down Pennsylvania Ave. That day it was no contest. If I was his paragon of mediocrity he fell far short of the target. He was second best by a mile.
But that was only the beginning.
Unbeknownst to both of us, and to the Company Commander, as well, Maj Gen Albert E. Brown, the Commanding General of the 5th Division had decided to pull a surprise inspection on the Signal Company that morning.
Both Coffman and I had been issued new weapons by the 5th Signal Company. Our M-3 submachine guns had been replaced by carbines. The carbine is normally slung over the shoulder on its canvas strap. "Inspection arms" is a rather informal procedure with this weapon. The carbine is casually unslung and held in one hand and the bolt pushed back by the other hand followed by removal of the magazine and a quick look into the receiver to be certain that all is well.
Compared to the others in our section, Coffman performed "inspection arms" in a very creditable manner, but when General Brown stepped in front of me, I whipped the carbine off my shoulder with a sharp crack of the sort normally heard only when the leather strap of an M-1 rifle snaps against the stock and the bolt was slammed open with elan. The General snatched the carbine out of my hand the way he would normally handle an M-1 rifle, inspected it carefully and returned it to me in a much more military manner than was normally used with the carbine. If I was his Standard of Mediocrity, Coffman once again fell far short of his standard.
As they moved on to the man on my left, General Brown turned to Capt. Kohnstamm, the Company Commander and said, "That man is the only soldier in this outfit." The Company Commander nodded and said something to the First Sergeant, who made a note.
I doubt that Coffman had any idea why things went the way they did that morning. He probably did not guess that my actions were directed specifically at him and just as probably has no present recollection of the incident. Why should he?
A few days later I was surprised to be promoted from T/4 to T/3.
About a month later I would be discharged, never dreaming how important that promotion to T/3 would ultimately turn out to be.
Hi-Jinx at Camp Campbell
Meanwhile, our company clerk at Camp Campbell was an officious pompous little ass of a T/5, ordained by God to make everyone wait interminably and fill out forms by the book until they got them exactly right.
The "Coolies" decided to have some fun with him.
We invented a person, Private Joe Sanitary (Pronounced "San-tree").
He needed a place to stay.
There was a name tag attached to the foot of each bunk. When a married sergeant, who slept off the post, left for the evening, his name tag was removed and Pvt. Joe Sanitary's name tag was slipped into the holder and he now had a "place".
The first game was "The Telephone Call". One of the "Coolies" would call the Orderly Room from the Service Club and ask for Private San-tree and say he was in the Radio Section Barracks. He would add that it was very urgent.
When the company clerk dashed into the barracks looking for him another "Coolie" would say, "Gee, he sleeps right there," pointing to his name tag, "I think he just went to the Latrine." unlike Camps Hood and Howze, each barracks in Camp Campbell had its own latrine. The clerk hurried down to the latrine only to be told that Sanitary was just there but had gone to the Day Room. There he was told that Sanitary had gone to the T&T Section barracks. After a while every barracks was cued in to the game and sent the Company Clerk on another wild goose chase. After failing to catch up with him, the clerk eventually returned to the Orderly Room only to find that the caller had hung up.
The next gag was the "Movie Announcement." One of the "Coolies" would call the on-post movie theater, identify himself as the 5th Signal Co, Company Clerk and asked that an urgent message be flashed on the screen.
The message typically said, " PRIVATE JOE SANITARY, PLEASE CALL THE SIGNAL COMPANY ORDERLY ROOM, URGENT." The movie had to be interrupted to flash one of these messages on the screen. When the message was flashed, a "Coolie" would call the orderly room, identify himself as Private Joe Sanitary, and tell the company clerk that he was answering the message flashed on the screen. After assuring Private Sanitary that no such message had originated with him, he called the theater for an explanation only to be told that Private Sanitary had already complained about the error and complained that he had missed part of the movie because of it.
Private Joe Sanitary now had a voice, --- even a persona. There was no doubt that he was a real person. Or was there?
Leaving nothing to chance, an entire fake 201 file was made up (it took some ingenuity to "liberate" all of the forms) and at the first opportunity it was slipped into the Orderly Room file cabinet.
Meanwhile, "Private Joe Sanitary Was Here" started showing up more often than "Kilroy Was Here" over urinals all over the camp and in Clarksville, Tennessee and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, as well.
"The Telephone Call" was pulled on the company clerk several more times, each time with the explanation that the caller was sorry that he had to hang up the last time, but this time it was even more urgent.
When it was clear that we would all soon be discharged, we decided to leave an ongoing gag we called "Address Unknown". We slipped the required papers into his file to indicate that he had been sent to a separation center for discharge and put a home address in the file. It was a non-existent address in Sioux City, Iowa. Then, for a buck each we signed him up in Lonely Hearts Clubs that advertised in many magazines. The clubs each guaranteed at least a hundred letters from lonely women. We gave The 5th Signal Co., Camp Campbell as his address.
The letters started arriving before we were discharged. When he did not answer to his name at mail call, the company clerk checked his files and forwarded each letter to Sanitary's home. Eventually the letters were returned to someone marked address unknown. Since at least some of the letters initially arrived at Camp Campbell without external return addresses, those would have been returned to the company clerk. I wonder what he did with them. He would have been obligated to try to find Sanitary. Perhaps he forwarded them to the address we gave for Sanitary when he was inducted.
How many times could they come back marked "address unknown"?
We had no idea.
Out At Last
In February 1946, I was shipped to Camp Blanding, Florida where it all began. Camp Blanding was now a separation center and they duly separated me from the Army. I got my "ruptured duck" (the discharged veteran symbol), and a brand new set of ribbons, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Theater ribbon, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Europe Africa Middle East Theater of Operations (EAMETO) ribbon with three battle stars for the Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, and Central Europe campaigns.
It would appear that Papa's War was really over now, but ramifications of my military service would continue for several years.
University of Florida, February 1946
I enrolled immediately in college at the University of Florida under the GI Bill. I had only 31 months of eligibility and it would be nip and tuck whether I could get a degree in electrical engineering before my eligibility ran out. Why electrical engineering? Certainly, Morton Ross who had fostered my early interests, first in chemistry and then in things electrical and electronic, was the major determinant but my service in the Signal Corps also played a part.
I would have to carry a very heavy load. Well, ASTP had prepared me for that.
However, ASTP could not prepare me for the force of attraction between a male and a female. I was smitten, and in July of 1946 I got married.
That made an additional demand upon my time. We could not find housing in Gainesville so my new wife Sally had to stay at home in St.Augustine and the travel time ate into my study time.
By the Spring of 1947 we had our first child, Sandra.
Sandra made us eligible for an apartment in one of the veterans' housing projects. Two-story army barracks had been sliced like loaves of bread and reassembled on several large tracts of land owned by the university. Each of the projects had a name and number. We had to work our way up a list of applicants but were eventually assigned an apartment in Florida Veterans Housing Project III.
Its acronym was FLAVET III.
In Apartment 250T, FLAVET III, we were in the same boat with hundreds of other veterans with families. There was a lot of mutual support among the wives. We dug into the books and did whatever we had to do to keep our families on an even keel. Sometimes it seemed like the days should be a lot longer.
It was necessary to attend college right through the summer in order to keep our apartment. Sally, like most of the other wives, took a job, so we could have three square meals a day, and put our daughter Sandra in a day care center.
The University of Florida was in Alachua County. Alachua was dry. On the last night before our next GI Bill check was due each month, each group of four apartments (2 upper and 2 lower) would pool its resources. If we had enough among us, one of us would drive to "Ruby's", a package store in the next county, (but nestled so close up against the county line that you could not stand a post card on edge up against the building without it being in Alachua County) and purchase a fifth. Any surplus cash went for some potato chips.
We would then have as much of a party as a fifth of booze, divided eight ways, could produce.
Then, back to the books for another month.
While in college, I discovered that former enlisted men who met a long list of qualifications were eligible for direct commissions in the Army Reserve. The key requirement was having been discharged as a first-three-grader. All of the requirements fit me like a glove so I applied and was soon commissioned a Second Lieutenant. I have never met another officer who got his commission that way. West Point --- yes; OCS --- yes; ROTC --- yes; Direct Field Commission in combat; --- yes; --- but no one who did it my way.
Without the promotion to T/3 ( thanks to Dalton Coffman and his aspirations to mediocrity) I could not have applied for the commission but I had no idea at the time that this commission would be very important to my future.
In June of 1949, the nation's colleges and universities dumped out the largest group of engineering graduates in history with less demand for them than at any time in the previous 20 years.
Typically, the number 1
and 2 student in each graduating class had as many as fifty job offers
between them. The number 3 student had one or two. The number 4 student
had none, and I was a lot further down the list than that.
The Final Chapter - and Dalton R. Coffman is Still Involved
Upon receiving my Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (BEE) degree, that June, I found myself married, with a small baby, flat broke, no job, no decent job offer, and I faced the prospect of having to take a low paying job locally and perhaps getting stuck there forever.
Prospects were not very bright.
To buy some time, I applied for a three months tour of duty as a Reserve Officer at the Signal School in Ft. Monmouth, N.J.
While there, I explored the N.Y. job market and found that it was as depressed, and depressing, as the one in Florida.
Then a one in a million chance occurred. I arrived at CBS on the very day that they had decided that, when an engineer who was on extended sick leave returned to work, they would find another job for him, and, in the meantime, hire someone to fill his present job.
I walked in with exactly the qualifications that they wanted and was hired on the spot. I started work at CBS the day after my tour of duty at Fort Monmouth ended.
I spent my entire professional career at CBS, to our mutual benefit, eventually becoming Director of Audio and Video Engineering, responsible for the design and installation of essentially all of CBS Television's fixed and mobile broadcasting facilities. After that, I became Director of Television Facilities Planning and was assigned to a "Think Tank" trying to "crystal ball" the future. It was an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable career but after 37 years I was ready to retire.
I retired in 1985 to my home town, St.Augustine and have a lot of time to spend with my grandson ----- provided he is not too busy.
Except for Dalton R. Coffman. and his annoying comparisons, I would never have been discharged a T/3, therefore, would not have qualified for a direct Reserve Commission, so would not have been eligible for the 3-month Reserve Officers' tour of duty at Ft. Monmouth, and would not have been in N.Y. City on the one day when the one key job at CBS opened up that blossomed into my lifetime career.
God only knows what career path I might have taken if Coffman's path had not crossed mine.
In my own mind, it would surely have been a much rockier road to a far less pleasant place.
Of course, two remarkable coincidences cannot be ignored. Who could have guessed that the 5th Division Commander would pull a spot inspection on the very day that I decided to go Coffman one better?
Without that there would have been no promotion to T/3 either.
And--it had to be karma that the CBS job appeared almost by magic on the very day that I visited them.
Nevertheless, I owe Dalton Coffman more than he could ever know. I have thought about him often, wonder about what road he took, where he is now, and wish him well.
I am also deeply indebted to Morton Ross, my grade school and high school friend for pointing the way.
In 1970 Sally and I took a vacation tour of a dozen countries in Europe. We got off a Rhine cruise at Bingen and I said to Sally, "Now I must visit a town called Nod, if there is such a place, so I can tell the kids that I have been in Wingen, Bingen, and Nod,"--- a play on words from a nursery rhyme. She got it, but asked, "Where is Wingen?" and I explained that it was a very small village in France, near the German border, that no one ever heard of, unless they had been there. After Bingen, we covered part of the route of the 103d Division, namely, the road down through Heidelberg, Ulm, Ober Ammergau (we saw the Passion Play), Garmish- Partenkirchen, and Innsbruck.
While in Innsbruck I tried to find the house in which we were quartered (Nr.4 Wilkestrasse) but was not having much success until I drew the cactus, our division patch, on a paper napkin hoping to get some glimmer of recognition as a starting point for a conversation. Most of the people in the little cafe were young, too young for the patch to mean anything to them, but a man about my age came over, pointed to the patch and said, "Haguenau". That did not immediately compute because at that point in time, 1970, Haganah was in the news as the name of an Israeli terrorist organization. However, he kept punching at the cactus patch and repeated, "Haguenau, Haguenau, Haguenau, - Francaise." Suddenly it rang a bell. He knew our patch from France. Well, he could not speak a word of English and I could remember only 5 or 6 German phrases that were totally useless for carrying on a conversation with a man.
Nevertheless, after establishing that he was Dieter and I was Pierce we managed to communicate by drawing maps and sketches, him speaking real German and me speaking a little "Hollywood German" (English schpoken mitt eine Cherman occent) and extracted the following story.
He was in an SS unit and first ran into the 103d near Haguenau. We pushed him up into the Siegfried Line and when the spring offensive started we pushed him all the way down to Innsbruck where he stayed and became a gymnasium instructor after the war. He was still proud to have been a member of the SS but had the greatest respect for the 103d because we had beaten his SS gang soundly in every encounter in which he was involved. In April 1944, when the 103d was in Army Reserve we were stationed in Bensheim. Coincidentally, he had been in a lazarette in Bensheim after being wounded in action.
Early in our "conversation," Dieter and I were alternately naming villages that we had been in (and we had both been in quite a few of the same villages) when he happened to mention Wingen. Sally said, "I thought that you said no one ever heard of Wingen." I replied, "Well, he has because he was there, too."
It turned out that Dieter had a lot better reason for remembering Wingen than I had. He had been an artillery observer in a steeple in Wingen. At one point he looked out at a sort of corridor of rolling hills that had woods on both sides and saw American tanks, Wald to Wald, so to speak, approaching Wingen. The tanks halted just short of the crest of one of the hills. When he checked the opposite direction, he saw the same thing only they were German Tiger tanks. They also stopped just short of a crest on their side of town. According to his story, a vehicle came out of the American column flying a white flag and stopped midway between the two forces. It was soon joined by a vehicle from the German tank force also flying a white flag. After a brief discussion, both vehicles came into Wingen.
Again, according to Dieter's story, they stayed in Wingen for about a half hour. He had no idea what was discussed but one can imagine that it went something like this. The Americans stalled for time to get our artillery zeroed in on the German tank positions and to call in tactical air support. The Germans probably demanded surrender pointing out that our Shermans were no match for their Tigers (there was more truth than poetry to that). The parley probably ended in a stalemate.
Dieter's story continued. The vehicles returned to their respective columns and the tanks on both sides started revving up their engines and leveling their guns. He suddenly realized that he was looking right into the muzzles of the guns of both sides. It was obviously time to get the hell out of the steeple so he retreated to the cellar of the church.
The battle was joined and we won. Obviously, by parleying with them we bought enough time to get adequate air and artillery support to neutralize the superiority of their Tiger tanks. That night, American infantrymen slept in the pews of the church. Dieter crept up out of the cellar and stole an American uniform from someone's pack, put it on over his German uniform, and just walked out of Wingen. Once clear of our lines, he got out of the American uniform and escaped.
Sally was amazed that she could understand this story when Dieter did not speak English and neither of us speak German.
The bottom line is that I finally got across to him what we wanted to do. He got his VW and drove us around Innsbruck until we found the house. The woman who owned it when we requisitioned it back in '45 was still living there. I have a picture taken when we were quartered there, standing at the gate with my M-3 "grease gun" hanging over my shoulder. I wanted to get essentially the same picture but with my movie camera hanging over my shoulder. However, every time we got set to take the picture, our ex-SS-man would jump into the field of view, pretend like he was shooting at me, and yell, " Boom, Boom!".
We wasted half a dozen exposures but couldn't get the idea across that I wanted one picture without him in it. I thought that we would never get the picture I wanted so we got back in his car and when he started to move, I jumped out, ran to the gate and Sally stuck the camera out the window and snapped the picture. God only knows how, but she got it --- not exactly what we wanted but close enough.
Dieter drove us back to the cafe and we thanked him. He said something that loosely translates into, "I am here and you are here and das is gute." I guess he was trying to say that it was good that we both survived. I shook hands with him and we both said, "Comrade" but I really felt no comradeship with him after what the SS did at that concentration camp at Landsberg.
I had been curious about the destinies of most of the individuals mentioned in this story. I recently had the opportunity to find out about some of them.
In January of 1993 I received a totally unexpected phone call from Harold Rorem, formerly of the 103d Signal Company, T&T Section, who was trying to round up other veterans of the Signal Company to attend a reunion in Chicago in August, 1993. Through him, I obtained addresses and phone numbers of many former comrades.
I got busy making plans to attend the 1993 reunion and reestablishing communications.
First, Our Radio Team:
Norval Hennum: Our radio crew chief is retired and residing in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Have talked to him a number of times by phone.
Seymour Fader: Came to the Signal Company from ASTP, Oklahoma A and M. He is a college professor (what else?), still active, and lives in Paramus, N.J. He takes a group of students to England every year. He and his wife, an author of note, are both listed in "Who's Who." Have communicated with him frequently by mail and by phone.Update. Seymour passed away in 1999, in England, while doing what he most loved to do, teaching.
Michael Schindler: Passed away in 1982.
103d Division Signal Company Commander:
Capt. Bernard "Bernie" Beck: I ran into him while in the Army Reserve in the early 1950's. We were both in Mobilization Designation Unit # 23. At that time he was a Major (still as pompous as ever) and I was a Captain. He lived on Long Island at the time. I was recently called by his son, Andy Beck, who said that he passed away in 1985. Andy is a WWII buff and now attends all 103d Reunions as a proxy of a sort for his father.
103d Div. Signal Company Motor Pool Officer:
W/O Edwin St.Cin: Do not know of anyone who has had any contact with him. Last known address Webster Grove, MO.
Radio Section Master Sergeant:
Emil "The Buddha" Boitos: Passed away in 1980.
Radio Section Tech Sergeant:
Arnold Schumacher: Deceased, date of death unknown.
Radio Section, The "Coolies":
Don Benz: Became an engineer and owns his own business in Portland, Oregon. He is still active running his business. We have talked several times on the phone and corresponded by mail. We both attended the 1993 Reunion of the 103d Infantry Division in Schaumberg, Illinois. Swapped "war stories" and had a very enjoyable personal reunion.
John Donlan: Had a successful engineering career with 3-M. Is now retired, living in West St.Paul, Minnesota. We have had several long phone conversations and an ongoing exchange of letters. We both attended the 1993 Reunion of the 103d Infantry Division and had a most enjoyable personal reunion not only with one another but with other Signal Company Radio Section comrades, as well as others from other sections of the Signal Company and also with buddies from ASTP in Denton. These included Stuart Friedman and Sid Kantor.
Frank "Frankie"Applebaum: Is retired, residing in Pikesville, Maryland. Talked to him by phone.
Maurice F. "Bud" Zink: Is retired from the insurance business and lives in Canton, Ohio. Talked to him by phone.
John "Jack" Phillips: Lives in Blue Island, Illinois. Talked to him twice on the phone and talked him into attending the 1993 reunion. He doesn't see very well and had to be driven to the reunion. Matt Kovats brought him but they both arrived after Don Benz and John Donlan had departed so the "Coolies" who attended were not all there at the same time.
James "Jimmy" Carr: Originally from Philadelphia PA. Has dropped completely out of sight. No one has a clue as to his whereabouts.
Frank Tullio: Is also among the missing. Matt Kovats had several contacts with him. He worked for Armour (meat packers) but Matt has lost track of him. Last reported in Chicago area.
William "Bill" Ballantine: Wounded in action when he and Seymour Fader were sent through a mine field that was under mortar fire with a back pack radio to restore communications with a beleaguered infantry outfit. Was seen by several GIs at various "Repple Depples" (Replacement Depots) but as far as I know never returned to the 103d Signal Co.
George Bartlett: Whereabouts
unknown, last reported in Stockton, Cal. Update: In 1998. George, who had
gotten my e-mail address from my website, contacted me. We have, since,
been in contact by phone and are in frequent contact via e-mail.
George lives in Scotts Valley, CA.
George was in contact with Bill Ballantine for a few years but eventually lost contact with him.
Other Signal Company Enlisted Men:
Dalton R. Coffman, Radio Section: After all these years, I finally found out what happened to him. He had a successful teaching career and a parallel career in the National Guard. He is now retired and residing in Cocoa, Florida. Spoke to him by phone and, as expected, he has only vague recollections of me. After all, one does not tend to remember the mediocre. I did not mention his comparisons of his gear to mine or how important they turned out to be. I'm not sure he would understand.
Bill Ambrose, Cook: Whereabouts unknown, last known location Chicago, Ill.
John Anderson, Radio Section: Whereabouts unknown, last known location, Providence, R.I.
Joseph M. Patterson, Message Center Section: Deceased. Date of death unknown.
Robert Rushing, Radio Section: Originally from Big Sandy, Tennessee, now living in Royal Oak, Minnesota. Did not make it to the 1993 reunion.
Matthew "Matt" Kovats, Radio Section: Not a "Coolie", but one of the "good guys" in the Radio Section. He was a T/4 at Camp Howze and a T/3 radio crew chief during the war. An "Honorary Coolie." Spoke to him by phone and helped talk him into coming to the 1993 103d Division Reunion. He looked like he had been trapped in a time warp. Still had dark hair, had gained no weight, had no wrinkles, age spots, or noticeable infirmities. He was instantly recognizable. He, obviously, has been doing something right. We had a good time swapping war stories.
William F. Barclay, Construction Section: Fought the ASTP wars at Texas A and M before being impressed into the Wire Construction Section of the 103d Signal Company. Now retired and living in Roseville, CA. Editor of 103D INFANTRY DIVISION SIGNAL COMPANY REMEMBRANCES. Also author of the continuity of that book. Makes all of the 103d Division Reunions.
John Anania, Construction Section: Now living in St.Clair Shores, MI. John makes it to many reunions.
Manual Berman, Construction Section: Another ASTPer. He came to the 103d via The University of Nebraska and the University of Oklahoma. Now resides in Bellmore, NY.
Sgt. Eugene Jones, Construction Section: Last known address, Fort Worth, TX.
Marvin Ellis, Construction Section: Deceased. Date of death unknown.
Arthur K. Vernon: Attended the 1993 Reunion and regaled us with his anecdotes. Now residing in Livonia, MI.
John Donlan: Reported above. See "Coolies".
Bert F. "Rebel" Erwin, ASTP roommate: Feet frozen in France (trenchfoot). After many months in hospitals and rehab, he became a dentist in Winter Haven, Florida. We had occasional contact after college. I visited him once in Winter Haven. He owned two Dobermans. Both dogs had gold caps on some of their teeth. He has dropped out of sight and is no longer listed in the Winter Haven phone book. Have been unable to contact him since I retired to Florida in 1985.
Bob Enterline, ASTP roommate in Chilton Hall: Ended up in Charlie Company, 411th along with Tom Kane. Awarded the Bronze Star. Out of touch for 50 years but as a result of the '93 103d Division Reunion found out his address and phone number and determined that he had a successful career in engineering. Have had several telephone conversations with him and have started an exchange of letters. He attended the '93 103d Div. Reunion but we missed contact there.
Gustav "Gus" Enyedy, ASTP roommate in Chilton Hall: Ended up in I Company 409th. Out of touch for 50 years but, after noting his name in "Who's Who In Engineering," assumed it had to be him and initiated a dialogue by mail. He called back and we are now in close contact. Successful career in Chemical Engineering. President of own company.
Harrison Griffin: Ended up in I Company 409th (with Gus Enyedy). Became an attorney and eventually County Judge in Deland, Florida. We keep in touch.
Stuart Friedman: Until the 1993 reunion of the 103d Division, had not seen or heard a word about him since ASTP broke up. He was assigned to a 103d Infantry Division rifle company, 410th, B Company, 2d Platoon, and was seriously wounded by a shell from an "88." He was not found until late in the day when the reserve (B Company, 3d Platoon) was called up. Mahlon Waller, another ASTPer from ASTU 3890 found Stu lying there and went for help. He found Sid Kantor, an infantry medic and also an ASTPer from ASTU 3890. Sid already had a wounded GI on his litter but he gave Stu a shot of morphine and promised to send the next available litter team to him. Stu was picked up and carried back to an aid station and was quickly moved to a field hospital. What Stu learned from Sid, 50 years later, was that that litter team was the last litter team sent out that night. Stuart lost a leg and spent many months in hospitals and in rehabilitation. Stuart attended the 1993 103d Division Reunion and together with John Donlan, Sid Kantor, Mahlon Waller, Wally Wessa, Calvin Bibens and other ASTPers from Denton we had a few mini-reunions of our own.
Sid Kantor: Was an infantry medic. Shortly after helping to save Stuart's life, he was captured and not freed until the end of the war. He had some interesting stories about life as a prisoner of war.
For example, as a medic, he could not be made to do manual labor but was assigned to assist in the treatment of wounded soldiers from both sides. The commandant of the POW camp decided to stretch the rules a bit. He sent the medic POWs out into the fields to dig potatoes on the grounds that this was humanitarian work because the potatoes would feed the POWs who otherwise might starve.
The medic POWs were all Jews who spoke Yiddish which is very "Germanic" so they also understood the orders of the German officer who was in charge of the potato-digging detail. When they were unloaded at the potato field, all of the medics sat down and pretended not to understand what they were being told to do. The officer angrily ordered them to dig but couldn't seem to make them understand. He just kept getting a shrug and "nicht verstehen" from each of them.
When he saw that he was getting nowhere, he finally told one of the German noncoms to load the stupid Amerikanische dumbkopfs on the trucks and take them back to the camp.
It was like a "Hogan's Heroes" script. The words were no sooner out of his mouth than, to a man, the medics all jumped to their feet and started toward the trucks.
They had outsmarted themselves.
"AH! HA!" yelled the officer, as he suddenly realized that they understood everything.
He quickly made them understand that they WOULD dig potatoes, --- or else ---, and they did.
Thomas "Tom" Kane: A member of a physical education basketball team along with me: Rebel Erwin, Tom Lutze and a couple of others. Our claim to fame was that we lost every game. Tom Kane was awarded a bronze star with "V" for valor for action near Saulcy su Meurthe, France, November 22, 1944. I saw his name in the new 103d Division history and got an address and phone number from Bob Enterline. Have opened up a communication channel after 50 years. PhD in Chemistry. Successful career with Du Pont.
Bayard ("BD") Dodge: Killed in action at Saulcy su Meurthe, France, November 22, 1944.
Harold Class: A high school and ASTP friend of John Donlan and an ASTP friend of mine. Killed in action by a sniper January 6, 1945.
Thomas "Big Toe" Lutze: A really nice guy and good friend of mine in ASTP. He was on our hopeless basketball team. Tom was killed in action, on December 15, 1944, by a mortar round that exploded in his foxhole.
John " Jack" Steptoe: See Below.
High School Friends:
Jack Steptoe: After ASTP, he went to the 99th Infantry Division. Lost contact until 40th and 45th high school reunions. Jack worked in several states for General Electric Credit Corp. Around 1970, in face of another interstate transfer, left GECC, took position with postal service and stayed there until retirement in 1986. We had good personal reunions at both 40th and 45th high school reunions but could not contact him for the 50th.
Morton Ross: We kept in touch over the years. He had his own general contracting business in Philadelphia, PA. Saw him at our 40th and 45th high school reunions and had good get togethers both times. He passed away suddenly in 1989. It is hard to think of him as gone.
Unidentified Major and T/5, 88th Division, 5th Army
Recently the 88th Division had a reunion in my home town, St.Augustine, FL. My connection with that division (from our excursion into Colle Isarco, before the official linkup with the 5th Army) didn't click in my mind until their convention was over, otherwise, I would have tried to locate the major and/or his driver.
I am sorry about that missed opportunity. I hope they got out safely. The war in Italy was, technically, over and that would have been a terrible time to get killed.
ASTP -- Lt. John McGiver
Lt. McGiver became a professional
actor, John I. McGiver. The name may ring a bell. He was in roughly
20 movies including The Manchurian Candidate and Love in the Afternoon.
He also had
bit roles in a whole slew of 1960s TV series, and had a few of his own short-lived series (Many Happy Returns, Mr. Terrific) plus many appearances on Broadway and in dinner theaters.
He and his wife had 10 kids so he had to work a LOT .
He once did a voice over on a Keebler commercial. When the Keebler people found out he had ten kids, they sent them several cases of cookies. Their mom doled them out one a day for months.
John I. McGiver died of a heart attack in Sept 1975 at age 61.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the fact that while I had bits and pieces of this book in my computer, I was procrastinating about finishing it, when a former member of the 103d Division Signal Company, who, incidentally, was not even mentioned in the narrative, lit a fire under me to get it done.
He was Harold Rorem, a member of the 103d Signal Company Telephone and Telegraph Section who called me out of the blue in January of 1993. Harold was comparing the Company Roster to the names in a set of CD ROMs listing everyone in the United States having a telephone. I was the only Anderson Pierce Evans in the USA with a telephone. When he found that match he figured it had to be me and called. (Lucky for me that my name is not Bill Smith.) He provided me with names and addresses of many former Signal Company buddies and encouraged me to attend the reunion of the 103d Division in Schaumburg, Illinois in August of 1993. I did not wait for the reunion but telephoned a number of friends including my Crew Chief, Norval Hennum and many of the Coolies. This resulted in the dredging up of a lot of dormant memories and before they could get away again, I plugged them into the appropriate spots in the narrative. Thanks are also due specifically to Don Benz, Matt Kovats, Art Vernon, and Bob Gill for refreshing my memory about some events that I had nearly forgotten.
Through some of these contacts, I found out that William F. Barclay, a member of a wire team in the Signal Company Construction Section was writing a book about the 103d Signal Company and was looking for diaries, notes, letters, anecdotes, etc, with which to "personalize" his book. I offered him some of the parts that I had finished to see if he wanted any of it and indeed he did. After several exchanges of letters, computer disks, and phone calls, I was writing frantically to finish my first draft so I could show it to him when we met at the Schaumburg reunion. He was ecstatic over the fact that, of all of his sources, mine was the only one available on a computer disk. As a result he has, with my permission, borrowed quite a few portions of the narrative that, I modestly believe, have substantially improved his book, --- and, with his permission, I have shamelessly purloined a few anecdotes from his book, 103D INFANTRY DIVISION SIGNAL COMPANY REMEMBRANCES, so we have both benefitted. Thanks, Bill, for permission to use a number of anecdotes from your book.
I have had a ball putting this book together. Thanks, Harold and Bill, for getting me off the dime.
Stuart and Ginger Friedman spotted a large number of typographical errors and outright mistakes in the text and were gracious enough to bring them to my attention in a tactful manner. Thanks Stu and Ginger. I'm not sure we caught them all but the book is much better than it would have been without your eagle eyes.
Peder Knudson, a former associate at CBS, spotted a few major goofs and helped me over a lot of bumps regarding the eccentricities of WordPerfect 5.0, 5.1, and 6.1 for Windows. Thanks Peder for saving me from many restless nights.
And, finally, I must not forget my grandson Brenton Colen Kelber. Without his intense interest in World War II (or, "Papa's War," as he calls it to differentiate it from other wars), this book would never have happened.
T H E E N D
REPORT AFTER ACTION The Story
of the 103d Infantry Division
Ralph Mueller and Jerry Turk
Copyright© 1945 The 103d Infantry Division
Reprinted by the Battery Press, Nashville, Tennessee
103RD[sic] INFANTRY DIVISION "The
Trail of the Cactus"
Harold M. Branton
Copyright© 1993 Turner Publishing Company Paducah, Kentucky
Library of Congress Catalog No. 92-80116, ISBN: 1-56311-046-6
2194 DAYS OF WAR
An Illustrated Chronology of the Second World War
Compiled by Cesare Salmaggi and Alfredo Pallavisini
Copyright© 1988 Arnaldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., Milan, Italy
WHEN THE ODDS WERE EVEN
The Vosges Mountains Campaign. October 1944 - January 1945
Keith E. Bonn
Copyright© 1994 Keith E. Bonn
Published by: Persidio Press, Novato, CA
ýÿÿÿ‚ ISBN2: 0-89141-512-2
INFANTRY DIVISION SIGNAL COMPANY REMEMBRANCES
A compilation of recollections of Signal Company veterans edited by William F. Barclay.
Limited publication, 1995. Full text (Sorry, no pictures) of original book is now available on this website.
ABOUT THE FONT
The font face selected for this book is Times New Roman, a scalable font having graceful lines and unexaggerated serifs. It is a very comfortable font that does not tire the eye. The font size chosen for the body of the text is 14 Point, Bold. This font size is larger than is generally found in published books, however, while the book was written primarily for my grandson, who has excellent vision, I expected that it would be read by many of the individuals mentioned herein whose eyes, like mine, are well past their prime. So, buddies, this font and type size is for you.
The computer graphics in
this book were drawn by Pierce Evans.