Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
1939-1952 - June - the Years of World War II and Korea
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:28
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(Photo above - London Blitz World War II - 1940)
Introductory Note: During the WWII years, both June and Stan were in High School...June was in Colfax and Stan in Rice Lake...the war ended during their junior years in high school...following their graduation in 1946, Stan was subject to be drafted as a part of the needed occupation forces in Germany and Japan...this would release the WWII combat troops to return home...it was this reality that caused Stan to enlist in the Army so he could choose his service assignment and training. His choice was the Army Counter Intelligence Corps...it was shortly after his enlistment that the Korean War started...this in turn resulted in Congress passing a law that extended his enlistment from 3 to 4 years...Stan's service was a factor in his meeting June one time while home on leave from the Army in the Spring of 1951...they were later engaged in the fall of that year, and married in August of 1952 following Stan's discharge from the Army.
The years of World War II (1939-1945) were the days that June was in grade 8 and into high school. June at that time was living with her family (Henry Rolstad family) on the Nelson farm near Ridgeland, WI. By the time June graduated from High School in 1946, the war had just ended a few months earlier in August. June should have graduated in 1945, the last year of the war. June took a leave from school for one year in order to take care of the other family children during a period that her mother was ill.
(Photo on right is the Henry Rolstad family in Circa 1944. (L-R Back Row) Grandpa Henry, Grandma Haldis, June, Betty. (L-R Front Row) Jerry, Lyndell, Denis and Lenore) Nelson Farm, Ridgeland, W I)
June could recall (when radio batteries permitted) listening to Edward R. Murrow (the dean of American radio broadcasters) broadcasting by radio from London. His dramatic broadcasts would always start out, "This is Edward R. Murrow in London, the British people today….." His broadcasts in late 1940 through early 1941 covered the intensive German bombing of London ("The Blitz".) and the courage of the British people during those dark hours. Hitler's German armies had swept across all of Western Europe and only England stood in their way. A small group of British fighter pilots defended London's airways. Their valor prompted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to honor them in a speech made (August 1940) during the most intense part of the air conflict:
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." *
* The German air force made 71 major raids against the city of London and 56 major raids against other English cities. London at that time had a population of over 8 million people and was larger than New York City. London was gutted and many British cities were largely destroyed causing enormous industrial damage. As many as 1500 fires were started in London following a single large raid. A desperate fireman calling for pumps is said to have exclaimed "The whole bloody world's on fire."
Approx. 30,000 London civilians were killed during the "Blitz"with the total dead plus injured estimated at 80,000. (Aircraft bombs and incendiaries, V1 and V2 rockets.) Total English civilian deaths were approx. 60,500. It was calculated that if the air raid alerts sounded during the war years were averaged, Londoners faced a threat to their lives once every 36 hours for over almost five years. The spirit of England however, remained unbroken. In the words of Gordon Bruce who lived through the times: "There was a splendid spirit amongst the population."
June recalled how she and her other school friends would often entertain themselves by thinking up ways to torment the German dictator Adolf Hitler. Winston Churchill described Hitler's coming into power in Germany as – "Into that void strode a maniac of ferocious genius of the most virulent hatred that has ever corroded the human breast…Hitler and his Nazi gang have sown the wind; let them reap the whirlwind."
Note: Churchill's reference to Hitler sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind is a direct quote from the Bible in the "Old Testament" The Book of Hosea 8: 7. (KJV) "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind..." The Prophet Hosea dates to the middle of the 8th Century B.C. and the book of Hosea is thought to be written around 722-721 B.C.
(Photo below right taken at the Bruce home in Bexley, Kent. (L-R) Gordon Bruce, Joan Bruce, June Berg and Stan - September 1977)
In later years, June's friends Joan and Gordon Bruce (who lived in Bexley, Kent, a southern London suburb) told of the wartime bombings. Gordon and Joan Bruce were both children in grade school at the time.
During the early intense German Luftwaffe bombings, London's children were evacuated. All the children were sent away from the London area with a name label tied onto them and with their gasmasks in little cardboard boxes. Families in other parts of the country were required to take in the children and were reimbursed by the government. Joan (age 5) and her brother were sent north by train to a village near Halifax in Yorkshire where they both lived and attended school for a year. Gordon (age 7) was sent to stay with relatives in Scotland for about a year, where he attended a local school. After the most intense phase of the bombing passed, the children were returned to London.
Because of their heavy bomber losses, the Germans developed the V-1 Buzz bombs (small pilotless winged rocket propelled bombs) and the later larger V-2 rockets. The German purpose was to terrorize the Londoners and also to cause whatever damage and deaths they could.
Gordon always hoped that a German bomb would hit his school so that they would have a school vacation. One night a German V-2 Rocket landed near his school, damaging the school. Much to Gordon's chagrin, there was only a single day of school suspension before school resumed in other quarters. Gordon also recalled that his home was near the school and the concussion from the V-2 Rocket caused plaster to fall from his bedroom ceiling, covering him with plaster dust. Gordon recalled that he and other neighborhood boys would collect spent anti-aircraft gun shrapnel on their way to school. Such shrapnel fragments could be found along the street gutters the following morning.
Joan's home was severely damaged during one of the night raids on an early Sunday morning. A bomb landed in the street in front of her home. The concussion tore off her home's front door, blew in the windows and damaged the roof. Frequently during the night raids, both Gordon and Joan would spend the night in an air raid shelter. They might go to bed in their own bed but later wake up in an air-raid shelter where their parents had carried them during the night. Joan recalled having a lady school teacher that she disliked. Joan often day dreamed of the teacher being hit by a bomb. One night the teacher was killed in a bombing raid. Joan subsequently was seized with severe conscience pangs. Although Joan was in no way responsible for the teacher's death, she still to this day has uncomfortable thoughts about the event.
(Below right is one of the WWII posters created to promote the war effort. This poster's theme is the Pearl Harbor Attack)
On December 7th 1941, the war came home to the American people. (June was age 14.) This was the Sunday when the Japanese without warning, bombed Peal Harbor in Hawaii. 353 Japanese carrier based dive-bombers and torpedo planes were involved in the early morning raid. June remembers crying as she heard the radio reports of the large numbers of our people who were killed in the raid. (2,390 Americans dead or dying.) Approximately 1,178 additional were wounded. This single raid destroyed or damaged almost the entire Pacific Fleet of the U.S. Navy. (8 battleships and 13 other warships were destroyed or severely damaged. 200 Air Force planes were also destroyed on the ground.) When President Roosevelt reported the losses to Winston Churchill, Churchill's response was "a holocaust". (A term used many years later to describe Hitler's World War II genocide of the Jewish Race.)
The Japanese simultaneously launched an invasion of the Philippines. June had a first cousin in the U.S. Army (Herb Rolstad) in the Philippines. He was captured with 36,000 other soldiers on Bataan when it surrendered in early 1942. He was in the brutal "Bataan death march" (marched 65 miles) in which most of the captured men were killed on the march to the prison camps or in the camps. June later learned that he was one of the few to survive. The Japanese solders had thrown him onto a pile of dead or dying prisoners. A friend pulled him from the pile, helped him along and thus saved his life.
This time period was some of the United States darkest hours. It seemed like the bad guys were winning all over the world. Late in 1942, the tide of the war gradually changed and the end result was no longer in doubt.
June became a member of a student group in high school in her Junior year called the "Victory Corps." ** This was a student activity intended to promote the war effort. June had far more direct involvement in home front activities than I did during this World War II time period. I apparently was content with just living through it all.
"World War II Victory Corps "
As Americans became more involved in the escalation of World War II, volunteer organizations began to form. Seeing the need for high school students to become involved, Commissioner of Education John W. Studebaker, on September 25, 1942, upon the recommendation of his advisory Wartime Commission, established the Victory Corps. The purpose of this student organization was to prepare high school students to aid in the war effort on the homefront and the frontlines. Both girls and boys from white and African American schools participated. In order to be a member, a student needed to participate in a physical fitness program, enroll in a war-effort class, and volunteer for at least one extracurricular wartime activity. Engaging in a physical fitness program was essential because military officials were alarmed by the poor condition of recent enlistments. At the advent of the war, high school curriculums in various states were altered to accommodate war-effort classes. By modifiying industrial arts and vocational-industrial classes, students could learn about machinery, fundamentals of electricity, radios, canning of food, aeronautics, first aid, and other pertinent topics. As the war drew to a close, the Victory Corps program was phased out beginning in June of 1944."
June's Colfax High School Yearbook for her graduation in 1946 contained an "Memoriam" section in which 8 former class members who had died in World War II were honored. This is a strikingly large number for such a small school.
June's cousin Clarence "Hank" Delegard is another example of a number of June's relatives who served in the military during the war. Clarence was in the U.S. Navy at the start of the war. He served on the famous USS Ranger aircraft carrier during the war years.
Prisoner of War Camp
June also recalled that during the war, a prisoner of war internment camp was built immediately south of U.S. highway 8 just east of Barron in Wisconsin. German prisoners of war were kept at this camp. The barbed wire fences, prisoners and guards were in easy view from the highway. This Prisoner of War camp was officially called Wisconsin Branch Camp - "Camp Barron." The camp was just a short "hop-skip and a jump" from June's home on the family farm (Nelson Farm) near Ridgeland just off of Highway 25. Wisconsin Highway 25 was a direct link between Barron and Ridgeland. (About 15 miles or 20 minutes.)
The local newspapers announced the establishment of the German Prisoner of War Camp. The Rice Lake Chronotype on 5 July 1944 had a front page article: "200 Germans in Camp at Barron." The Barron County News Shield on 6 July 1944 had a lead article: Prison Camp is Activated." A later article in the Rice Lake Chronotype suggests some of the existing prisoner mentality. The 2 August 1944 issue article was headlined: "Prisoners Still Think That Germany Will Win War."
There were a total of 38 Prisoner of War branch Camps in Wisconsin with the main base camp at Camp McCoy. Northwestern Wisconsin had camps at Milltown, Barron and Eau Claire. the Barron branch camp was opened in July 1944 and closed in September 1945. The peak number of German Prisoners was said to be 422. (The camp was closed during the winter-spring 1944-1945.)
There is an interesting book on the subject of the Wisconsin Prisoner of War Camps with the title of "Stalag Wisconsin - Inside WWII Prisoner of War Camps". The author is Betty Cowley - 2002. A chapter is devoted to the Barron camp: "Camp Barron 1944-1945." The chapter begins with: "Camp Barron was unique in many ways. More open to the press than the others, this camp in northern Wisconsin housed PW's for both years and experienced two of only three "strikes" in the state..."In 1944 they were housed on Highway 8 where trhe Jerome Turkey plant is now located. In 1945 the camp was relocated to the north edge of town, east of Highway 25 in the area now occupied by the Barron County Highway shops....Circled with woven and barbed wire fence, tents housed about 200 prisoners in 1944 and as many as 422 in 1945. While brought to Barron by train in 1944, they came in two large truck convoys the second year. Trucks transported these German prisoners from the camp to area farms, vineries and canning factories." The two prisoner strikes are described: "When the first PW's arrived in August of 1944, they had not received the pay earned at their previous work site. Because they were without the scrip to buy cigarettes and other treats, the PW's refused to work. The guards who had not received their pay either, sympathized with the prisoners, but quickly implemented the "no work, no eat" order. The following morning the prisoners returned to work and the payroll arrived in the afternoon. Later in the season, a scond strike quickly ended when the Army lowered the flaps on the tents the strikers occupied. The tents quickly became very hot and uncomfortable, convincing the strikers to return to work."
The book also has interviews of local citizens who were present at the time of the PW camps. One interview is with a Kenneth McDonald of Barron. This may be Stan's cousin. (Son of Burley McDonald and Nephew of Grandma Ellen.) there were approximately 30 related McDonalds in Barron County... "Ken was surprised to see the prisoners in a circle playing "catch" by bouncing a soccer ball from head to head. He remembered the entire family going down to see the PW camp on the north edge of town."
Stan's cousin, Romie E. McDonald, (Burley McDonald's brother and Grandma Ellen's nephew.) is one of the McDonalds that served in the U. S. Army during WWII. Another cousin, Clyde Nedland (Louie Nedland's son and Grandma Ellen's nephew) served in the Navy in the South Pacific and was on what was called the "picket lines". Ships protecting carrier's and cruisers from the Japanese suicide pilots. Near the end of the war, the Japanese grew desperate and resorted to suicide missions by their carrier based planes in an attempt to change the course of the war.
World War II was a war in which the entire country became united in an all out war effort. The resolve, the patriotism and dedication of the American people is said to have been unequaled before or since. Public support for the war effort was reported to be 97% and remained undiminished throughout the war. There was no hollow patriotism. Everyone sacrificed. Neither June nor I can recall any complaining by citizens during the war. There was no anti-war protests. Everyone just "cinched up" their belts and got the job done. It was an all out and total effort.
Foods and materials critical to the war effort were all rationed. June's family had ration books with coupons that permitted a limited purchase of the rationed items. Gasoline and fuel oil was rationed, as were tires, shoes, sugar, coffee, meat, butter and cheese. Some products were frozen from the market for the duration of the war. (cars, washing machines etc.) Americans were told to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." To further conserve gas, a 35 mph speed limit was installed and all pleasure driving was banned. The rationing ended with the Japanese surrender in August of 1945. (The Germans had surrendered earlier in May of 1945.) See photo of ration book cover and ration stamps above..
Even the nation's pastime of baseball had to struggle through the war years. Over 1,100 major league players served in the armed forces. Many were killed in action. Two (2) won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Six special (6) women's league teams were organized to help fill the gap.
President Franklin Roosevelt died less than 1 month before the victory in Europe. President Roosevelt had endeared himself in the minds and hearts of most Americans by his uplifting radio addresses throughout the war. He would conduct what he called "fireside chats." It was in one such radio broadcast that he declared, "This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny." * June was in High School when word of President Roosevelt's death was announced. June said that she and many of the students cried at the news. For the high school students, he was the only president they had ever known. He had been elected to an unprecedented four terms in office. Winston Churchill said of Roosevelt "That great man who destiny has marked for the climax of human fortune…He died on the wings of victory, but he saw them and heard them beating."
The United States had a total of over 16.3 million men and women in the armed services at the end of the war. (U.S. Population was then only 139,928,165.) Almost all of the nations young men of post high school age went into the armed forces. They simply put their life on hold for 2-4 years in order to serve their country.
June's sister Betty's husband Russel Granum served with the army in the South Pacific during the war. A few very patriotic young men of high school age lied about their age in order to get into the armed forces before graduation. (Contrast that with the mentality of the some young men during the Vietnam War who went to Canada to escape serving their country.) June's good friend in her high school days, John Sanford, enlisted in the Navy in 1944 after spending only two months in his senior year of high school.
Stan's Draft Card is illustrated on the right...
June remembers the many silver colored stars in the windows of the homes indicating the members of the home who were in the armed services. A gold star indicated a member of the family had been killed in the war. The death notices were rather callously delivered to the next of kin by way of a War Department Telegram that always started out – "We regret to inform you…
Stan’s Account of his Military Service
"I graduated from Rice Lake, WI High School in the late spring of 1946. World War II had just ended the previous August. The Selective Service (Draft Board) was still in operation and was continuing to draft all able bodied young men age 18 and over to train for occupation duty in both Germany and Japan. This would then permit the wartime members of the armed services to rotate to the States for discharge.
On my 18th birthday on the 14th, of June 1946, I registered with my local draft board in Barron, Wisconsin. I expected to be drafted in the next few months. When I had not been drafted by early 1948, I enlisted in the US Army prior to being drafted in order that I could select my own branch of service and my area of specialized training
On 5 May 1948 I enlisted in the regular army for a period of 3 years for training and assignment to the Counter Intelligence Corp. I was given regular army serial number RA 16-284-530. I received my Army basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky in the 3rd Armored Division. (Company C, 36th Armored Infanty Battalion, Combat Command B.) Following my basic training, I was reassigned to the Counter Intelligence Corp Center at Fort Holabird, Maryland near Baltimore for my final duty assignment and training.
(On the right is my Army Driver's License folder issued on 25 October 1951...The number seen on the cover is my army serial number...It is specified on the inside that it applied to Passenger cars and 1/4 ton trucks...it also contained my name and military rank...the form was DA AGO 9-74 with form date of 1 August 1948...Passenger cars of course included jeeps...my only need to have a driver's license was for possible travel between the Counter Intelligence Center and Washington DC)
Initially during my basic training I was trained in the use of the M1 Garand, 30 caliber rifle and the M1 30 caliber carbine. I received an "Expert" rating with the M-1 .30 caliber rifle. When firing for record I scored 193 points out of 200 and 2d place in "C" company of 216 men. While I was no "Sgt. York", it was clear to me that "Farm Boys" already knew how to shoot. Later at Fort Holabird, I was trained in the use of the .38 caliber revolver, (official sidearm of the Counter Intelligence Corps) as well as being qualified in the use of the M-3 submachine gun.
My final training at the Counter Intelligence Corp Center, Fort Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland consisted of Counter Intelligence Administration and Military Justice.
While I was a member of the Intelligence Service of the US Army, I was frequently reminded that I was still in the US Army and a soldier...The post/fort commander at Fort Holabird loved a parade and once a month we had a formal parade and the entire post had to march in review for the post/fort commander...when marching in review, the troops were expected to march around the parade field and in the final sweep we passed in review in front of the review stand where the commander and other high ranking officers stood...
(Photo right is typical Guidon Bearer's position on left)
At that moment we received the order "eyes right" and all heads turned to the right and looked at the review stand...for a reason that I will never know or understand, I was chosen to be the official "Guidon" bearer for the entire marching group/battalion...my job was to march out in front of the entire group at the right front point of the entire battalion/division...my job was to keep the entire division moving in a perfectly straight line...I was about 10 feet to the right front and felt rather lonely and also very concerned that I was leading the battalion and division in a straight line...the commander marched at the front of the battalion/division and to my left...I carried a "Guidon" staff with a small flag at the tip and a pointed end at the bottom...carried by my right hand and arm...because only the front rank could see me the "Guidon" staff was the orientation for those further back in the ranks...at the "eyes right" command I flipped the "Guidon" staff to a forward and horizontal position until the "Eyes Front" command came...In spite of my concerns, everything seemed to always go right and we had no marching disasters...while I suppose it was an honor to be the "Guidon" bearer, I will never know why I was selected for the job and every parade was a nervous exercise for me.
Wikipedia description of the "Guidon" bearer: "The significance of the Guidon is that it represents the unit and its commanding officer. When the commander is in, his or her Guidon is displayed for everyone to see. When he leaves for the day, the Guidon is taken down. It is an honor, although sometimes a dubious one, to be the Guidon carrier for a unit, known as a "Guidon bearer" or "guide". He or she stands in front of the unit alongside of the commander (or the commander's representative), and is the rallying point for troops to fall into formation when the order is given. In drill and ceremonies, the Guidon and commander are always in front of the formation."
The Korean War...the Forgotten War
The Korean War was a war in which President Truman did not secure approval of congress…the President sidestepped this requirement by calling it a “Police Action” in which the United Nations were a part of the action…the burden of he war was however, largely on the shoulders of the United States…The war was started when North Korea invaded South Korea and rapidly over ran the entire South Korean peninsula and was at the point of pushing the South Korean army into the sea when the U.S. entered the war…US forces rapidly drove the North Koreans out of South Korea and up into the northern part of North Korea…at this point the Chinese Army entered the war in behalf of North Korea…The new U.S. President was then Eisenhower, who immediately began peace talks that finally ended the war with an armistice and with a demilitarized zone between North and South Korea…essentially it restored the original borders of North and South Korea at the 38th parallel…the main objective was obtained by recovering all of the territory seized by North Korea and restoring the original borders…South Korea has gone on to become a strong democracy with a good economy…North Korea remains a country ruled by a dictatorship with most of the country living in poverty…
When the fighting stopped, it was a generally a thankless nation that greeted the returning troops. All of the veterans' effort and sacrifice went largely unacknowledged by their fellow citizens. Though fought by an international force assembled by the United Nations, it was as if the war didn't exist outside of Korea. As veteran Spencer Titley from the United States Army recalls, "I know no great novel written about it. And there is no poetry written. No songs. Nothing on the culture side marks the passage of Korea. It was basically over and done with and forgotten."
During the winter campaigns in North Korea, US forces fought under unbelievable severe conditions…US soldiers spent many nights in foxholes trying to survive the 35 degree below zero weather…The Korean War serves as reminder that no war, nor the people involved in it, can or should truly be forgotten. Though the nation may have collectively "forgotten" about the war and its veterans, to those who fought it, the Korean War is unforgettable. The words etched on the Korean War Memorial commemorate the service, commitment and sacrifice of the U.S. armed forces members who fought a war against communism half a world away. However, for 60 years the Korean War was referred to as a "police action," "the Korean conflict" and "the Forgotten War." Yet, in all senses of the word, it was war. While millions died and many more suffered from the hostilities, the nation collectively "forgot" about or ignored the war and its veterans. ..in the words of a U.S. Soldier who survived the war: (Titley) "I'm proud of what we did and we did it. The words at the Korean memorial spell that out. Freedom is not free. And we went to help a country that needed it.")
(Lower right photo is Stan Berg sitting on steps of Headquarters Company, Fort Holabird 1950)
On 25 June 1950, when the United States became embroiled in the Korean War. The US Congress immediately passed a law that extended the service time for all current members of the armed services for an additional period of 1 year. That turned my three (3) year enlistment time period into a service time period of four (4) years...while most who were drafted served for 2 years, I served my 4 years...I was never a hero nor in actual combat...I just served my time...
I was eventually discharged on 2 May 1952. On discharge my Military Occupational specialty was listed and designated as 4246, Intelligence Specialist. – CIC Administration. (Comparable civilian occupation was showon as "Investigator II") My rank was enlisted grade E-4.
I looked at my four (4) years service as one of the most valuable and one of the best periods of my life. I was never a hero, was never in combat but my training in the lessons of life were invaluable. I also spent most of my free time completing University extension courses and enhancing my education.
During this time I also established a relationship with the Baltimore Police Department and spent many hours on weekends working in their identification division. That experience coupled with my military experience and training would later be a springboard to a forensic career.
It was while I was home on leave in the spring of 1951 that I met the love and light of my life, June. June would later become my wife on 16 August of 1952. We were married for 56 years. We traveled all over the US, Canada and Europe on forensic matters. I designated June as my Administrative Assistant. June's bright smile and personality greatly enhanced my forensic business and truly made my life an adventure. June traveled with me world wide whenever I attended forensic conferences. I lost June to Alzheimer’s disease on 23 October 2008. June was a once in a lifetime find and a true blessing from God. I will never remarry! I will always consider June my wife...June is in Heaven while I am still here on earth..."
U.S. Losses of Lives and Wounded
The magnitude of the U.S. losses (lives and wounded) in World War II can better be appreciated if one compares it to the more recent Wars in US History. The loss of a single or few American lives during the recent Iraq war was the cause of front-page headlines and TV News presentations. During World War II, the loss of an entire company of US soldiers would unfortunately go unnoticed in the press.
World War II - (1941-1945) - 4 years – 405,399 Deaths and 670,846 Wounded. On average 8446 American service men died per MONTH, and about 282 a day) - -23,000 planes were lost in combat..
The total dead and wounded: 1,076,245. Total US Service Members: 16,112,566. US Population (1940) : 132,164,569.
Korean War - (1950-1953) – 3 years – 36,516 Deaths and 92,134 wounded. About 1014 deaths per month died and 33 per day.
The total dead and wounded: 128,650. Total US Service Members: - 5,720,000. US Population (1950) : 151,325,798.
Vietnam War – (1955-1975) – 20 years – 58,209 Deaths and 153,303 wounded. The total dead and wounded: - 211,454. – Average died per year: 2,910, An average of 243 per month and 8 per day. Total US Service Members: 8,744,000. - US Population (1970) – 203,211,926.
Iraq War – (2003-2011) – 9 years – 4,488 Deaths and 32,222 wounded. The total dead and wounded: - 36,710. –Average deaths per year 543, 45 per month and 1.5 per day... Total US Service Members 1,471,008. - US Population (2010) – 308,745,538.
To put this in perspective: World War II had 90+ times as many US armed service member deaths as has the current Iraq War. In addition, World War II had over 4 times as many US armed service member deaths as the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Iraq Wars in combination.
Note: Battle induced mental disorders that later became commonly known as PTSD was almost unheard of in WWII...not that they did not happen with as much frequency, solders were expected to "Suck it in" and move on...it was later during the Vietnam war that it became fully recognized, diagnosed and treated...Although psychiatrists were advancing in their understanding of war trauma, combat exhaustion was not universally accepted. General George Patton was notable in his lack of sympathy for the psychological afflictions of soldiers. He is said to have slapped two soldiers who were recuperating in a military hospital while yelling to a medical officer, “Don’t admit this yellow bastard…There’s nothing the matter with him. I won’t have the hospitals cluttered up with these sons of bitches who haven’t got the guts to fight”. President Roosevelt received thousands of letters about the incident, most of which indicated support for Patton. “Ultimately, though, Patton was reprimanded, ordered to apologize, and relieved of command of the Seventh Army”
Only a small percentage of troops in a combat zone ever actually engage in combat...this analysis made during the Vietnam War is s good indication...only a relatively small percentage were ever involved in combat. In fact, it is likely less than 30% of all who served there ever saw combat of any sort during their war.
Although the ratio of combat to support troops varied over time, as a general rule there were approximately 10 troops supporting every soldier carrying a rifle in the field. At the height of the war in 1969, there were roughly 540,000 troops in Vietnam. Of that total, only perhaps 60,000 were-rifle carrying, front-line soldiers. At any given point, perhaps less than 40,000 of that 60,000 were actually in the field, at risk and seeking contact with the enemy. Minor wounds, disease, R&R, leaves, training, administrative needs, rear assignments and legal proceedings kept perhaps 25% of an infantry company out of the line on a continual basis. During much of the war, Long Binh, regarded as the largest American facility, was staffed by over 100,000 US troops (that is roughly 20% of the entire US troop commitment at the height of our involvement!), of whom only a very small fraction were assigned to a direct combat role.
While a single death of a family loved one is a great personal loss and tragedy for that family, this discussion is not in any way intended to minimize such a loss. However, on a comparison basis, and contrary to press coverage of recent Wars, such personal casualty losses in the recent wars have been low and the national impact very small compared to World War II.
We currently kill more people annually on our highways than we do in war and with no public outcry whatever. (33, 807 US Highway deaths in 2009.) 7.6 times more than the entire Iraq War. We are a strange society!....and we kill as many or more people every year from tobacco related illnesses (460,000) then we did in all of WWII....(NIH data) and again no public outcry!!...June and Stan lost their oldest son David that way!...the latest research now tells us that every year over 500,000 people die from Alzheimer's or other Dementia diseases and again no one seems to care...this also is more deaths in one year then all of WWII...the funding for research is less then the funding for obesity...that is how Stan lost both his mother Ellen and how he lost June!...and two cousins and 4 friends...again, no public outcry whatever...strange priorities...
* It was this same generation of World War II Americans that prompted Tom Brokaw of the NBC Nightly News fame to declare:
"It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced."
The World War II years were also years that produced some very great and memorable songs that remained favorites of June (and Stan) for the rest of their lives. Most of the songs were intended to promote morale and raise the spirits...A young lady singer from England became prominent for her songs during the World War II years...this was Vera Lynn.
Dame Vera Lynn, (born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917) is an English singer and actress whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during World War II. During the war she toured Egypt, India and Burma, giving outdoor concerts for the troops. She was called "The Forces' Sweetheart"; the songs most associated with her are "We'll Meet Again" and "The White Cliffs of Dover".
The World War II years were also the years of the Big Bands...Gen Miller's band was the most prominent and noted of the several big bands...Glen Miller's rendition of the song "In The Mood" was world famous and received awards not equaled since...I can recall in my high school days hearing 'In The Mood" being played on a radio in the lunch room where the country kids would bring and eat their bag lunches during the noon hour...The music style was the swing and the dance style was the fox-trot..When I later learned to dance while in the service, the fox trot was my most useful style..
It topped the charts for 13 straight weeks in 1940 in the U.S. and one year later was featured in the movie Sun Valley Serenade. In 1983, the Glenn Miller recording from 1939 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. To listen to the famous Glen Miller and his "In The Mood'...and perhaps drift back in time to the 1940's... just click the link below...
Listing of most of the Great Songs spawned by World War II
"There'll be Blue Birds Over the White Cliffs of Dover" (Kate Smith/Vera Lynn),
"A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" (Bing Crosby/Vera Lynn),
"When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano" (Ray Eberle),
"When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World" (Vaughn Monroe),
"Comin In on a Wing and a Prayer", (The Song Spinners),
"And The Angels Sing" (Benny Goodman/Martha Tilton),
"I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen" (Sammy Kaye),
"Kiss The Boys Goodbye" (Mary Martin),
"Now is the Hour" (Bing Crosby),
"Lili Marlene" (Marlene Dietrich),
"My Buddy" (Sammy Kaye),
"Moonlight Serenade" (Glenn Miller),
"I Can't Begin to Tell You" (Harry James/Betty Grable),
"I Don't Want to Walk Without You" (Dinah Shore),
"Blues in the Night" (Martha Raye),
"Goodnight Sweetheart" (Ray Noble),
"The Last Time I Saw Paris" (Kate Smith),
"I'll Walk Alone" (Dinah Shore),
"White Christmas" (Bing Crosby),
"The Very Thought of You" (Vaughn Monroe),
"Its Been a Long Long Time" (Bing Crosby),
"I Think of You" (Frank Sinatra),
"Thanks for the Memory" (Bob Hope),
"Stormy Weather" (Lena Horne)
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" (Bing Crosby)
"We'll Meet Again" (Guy Lombardo/Vera Lynn) *
* The Song "We'll Meet Again" is one of the ending songs played and sang at each of the hour long renditons of "June's Gift of Music" for the Residents of the Benedictine Nursing Home, New Brighton, MN by "June's Benedictine Blue Grass Five". (Four times each year on Valentines Day, Mother's Day, June and my anniversary on August 16th and June's birthday on November 8th. These music concerts are in memory of June and is a reflection of June and God's love. June's last days (2.5 + years) were spent as a resident at the Benedictine before Alzheimer's took her life on 23 October 2008. for those who would like to listen to this old and very touching song from World War II as sung by the original Vera Lynn, click the below link:
(Below are two more Wartime World War II Posters created to promote the war effort and raise morale)
Elaine Wharmby - Tamworth, United Kingdom - (6 October 2014): "Am always interested in yours and Junes' lovely life together Stanton."
Nadine Nado - Minneapolis, Minnesota - (8 October 2014): "Thank you for giving us some insight into what life was like back then."
Bonnie Seip - Ottsville, Pennsylvania - (9 October 2014): "I'm always interested in your history of your life . There is always A LOT of interesting facts I enjoy reading about Mr Berg !!! Please keep them coming !! God Bless you ..."
John Stevens - Twin Falls, Idaho - (7 December 2014): "Fascinating read Stan. I learned a bit in doing so. I was named for a uncle MIA in July 1943. Only three survived and made it off an island in the Pacific. Well written piece Stan. Thank you. "
June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - Click on: