Date of Entry 15 Feb 1943, Date of Separation 08 Jan 1946 - Service Company 328th Regiment, 26th Infantry Division (aka Yankee Division or the YD) Daddy, like a lot of veterans, did not talk much about his war experiences. He lost his battle with cancer on 17 Nov 1999 so he can't tell you himself, but I can relay what he told to me, and some of the things that I have found out since.
He drove a truck in Europe during the war. Most of the things that he would talk about were humorous things that had happened. I remember him telling me that as a truck driver taking supplies to the various companies, that he had the opportunity to find out what each of the cooks were planning to serve and would "just happen" to be at the right place at the right time to be able to get the best of what was being served for the day.
He told me that he and another driver had gotten lost and were at a crossroads trying to decide which way to go. Before they could make up their minds, a pretty girl came along riding a bicycle. They stopped her and were trying to ask directions with the few words of French they knew mixed with sign language. To their astonishment, she answered in perfect English, much better than either of them spoke. Turns out that she was a French school teacher who taught English. Mixed in with his military papers, I found a name and address: Eve La Vallee, 6 Rue Michodiere, Bar San Sebastien, Paris, on the back of a 1944 wallet calendar and I wonder if it is the same woman.
He also told me that he and some of his buddies were assigned to stay in the home of a French family when they were in Paris. It seems that during the German occupation that some German soldiers had also stayed with the family. The family told them about the German's taking their piano so that the little girl could no longer practice her lessons. Dad said that he and his buddies drove across into Germany and "liberated" a piano and brought it back to give to the little girl. He said that it may not have been the same piano, but they had decided that the German's owed it to the little girl.
He also told me about his truck being hit with a German grenade. He said that the German grenades had a particular whistling sound and that he heard one coming at him as he was driving along one day. He dove out of the truck head first into a foxhole. By the time that he got turned around so that he could look out, all that he could see was the hood of his truck floating back down to earth. He never told me why he won his bronze star, but my aunt told me that he got it for carrying a wounded man out of a building that was under fire across his shoulders. She said that a Lt. had come to Daddy and told him about some men that were pinned down in a building under heavy fire. He said that he couldn't order him to go, but asked him if he would go. Daddy agreed and he and the Lt. went a round about way to get to them. When they got there, one of the men was wounded. The Lt. and the others climbed in the back of the truck, and Daddy carried the wounded man out and put him in the cab of the truck with him and then drove them all to safety.
I wish that I had been old enough to realise that I should pay attention to and remember the things that my Dad told me, but I remember us watching an old war movie. It was about trucks being driven through a burning town to get supplies to the front lines. I remember him telling me that he had participated in something very similar and him pointing out things that were incorrect in the movie. I just wish that I could go back to that day and and pay more attention to what he was saying instead of being afraind that I would miss some of the movie, but I was only about 12 or 13 at the time and didn't know any better.
Since I have been trying to piece together his military records, I have found out that the 328th was involved in the "liberation" of several "death camps" in and around Linz, Austria - some of the names are Guzen or Gusen in Austria and another town called Ebensee. In another town called Mauthausen I understand that part of the camp has been preserved as a museum.
I am very proud of my Dad and all of the other soldiers, sailors airmen and marines that sacrificed so much to help secure peace for the world and assure our freedoms. My Dad was, and is, my hero.
I still miss you Daddy.
Rusty Macon Weber