veteran.art

November 13th, 2003

I asked my grandfather, the dentist, a couple of brief questions about his war-time experience, expecting a brief answer. I hope I am often this disappointed:

I first enlisted in the Military reserve, which I believe was war time, not regular army, as a dental school student on April 12, 1942. We graduated July 30, l943. My class from dental school who were army bound needed to be called by Aug 12, l943 as that is when our physicals expired. Mine was lost and I had to repeat twice in Des Moines because of a goof up on the second one. When I returned from Des Moines after my third trip I had a notice to return again. I wrote them a letter telling them I had been down three times, was broke ( I had to hitch hike home from Des Moines the last time I went down) and could not afford to go down again, and if they wanted me, come and get me! Within a few days I had a telegram telling me to report to Ontario, CA to the 311 Army Air Base. I had to leave Cascade on Oct 12, l943. While there the name was changed to US Air force but I do not remember when.

I was at Ontario over two years and closed up the dental clinic there in Oct l945. The entire base personnel was transferred to March Field at Riverside, CA. I only worked in the dental clinic about 4 days and got orders to go to Geiger Field in WA being told I would stay there until discharge. Theoretically I was on limited duty, due to my eyes, which meant I could not be sent overseas or assigned to a field unit. We left for Geiger Nov 1 of l945. On Jan 22 I was ordered to Greensboro, NC to go over seas with a bomber unit (I think B29 but am not sure. At any rate they had one at March Field and guards kept us a mile away from it).

About this time we received a phone call that Aunt Minn, with whom Fr Ed and I lived during schooling with my mother’s Uncle Peter A. Koob, was very sick and may not live. We arrived in Cascade and she had died. So was able to go to the funeral as I had about ten days of travel time to go from Spokane, Wa to Greensboro as we needed to only travel 200 miles per day when in service. The day of the funeral the temp was 27 degrees below zero with a howling wind and the cemetery is on a hill. My only cold weather coat was a trench coat. The only car that would start was one Fr Ed had borrowed to go to Cascade from New Hampton. Ralph was now out of the service and I called him and he got the rest of the cars going for the funeral. In a couple days Ralph and Mom took me to the rail road station in Dubuque. I do not remember the date and won’t bother to look it up.

In Chicago a fellow dentist, heading for Greensboro, got on the train and sat beside me and asked where I was headed. He said he was headed there as well and asked if I had seen the paper. My reply was no. Then he said they had reduced the number of required points to be discharged and that made me eligible. However, the army had discharged the dental students when the war ended and there were no replacements so all dentists state side were frozen in the service. We got to Greensboro like 11at night but were processed and most of us were up for reassignment. I called mom at 3:00 AM to tell her I would not be going overseas (Germany).

In six weeks I was sent to Chanute Field at Rantoul, IL and in Sept. l946 was sent to Ft Sheridan in Chicago for discharge. Due to accumulated leave time I always thought I was officially out Dec 7 but needed to look it up and the papers say Nov 7, l946 but I got paid for those days of unused leave time. I came to Waterloo to go in with Dr Charles A Boatman and started Monday Sept 15, l946.

My Grandmother has Alzheimer’s; here’s an article about the two of them, from the Waterloo (IA) Courier.

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