A soldier / Un soldado

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

WHILE REVIEWING SOME DIGITAL FILES for uploading to San Geraldo’s genealogy database, I rediscovered my father’s World War II diary and photo album (all scanned before we moved to Spain).

My father served in the 3rd US Infantry Division. His division saw some of the worst fighting and suffered the most casualties. He never talked about the war, but was clearly proud of his years and had a collection of medals, including the Silver Star awarded in 1945 for gallantry in action. My mother had his medals framed in a shadow box in 1970. When she died, I gave the frame to The Kid Brother, who already had the American flag that had been draped on my father’s coffin at his funeral.

My parents’ politics were diametrically opposed. My father was a conservative and a hawk. My mother was a liberal and a dove. But that was common. Most people at opposite ends of the political spectrum didn’t consider those who disagreed with them to be the devil’s spawn — back then.

My father died in 1987 and already thought Donald Trump (and his father Fred) were jerks (both devil and spawn). He and my mother wouldn’t be cancelling out each other’s votes this year. It would be two more for Biden/Harris.

But back to the diary and photos. I need to edit all the scans to reduce them to a usable size and will then create an album for SG’s website. This collection is a fascinating piece of history. My father kept a day-by-day photo diary of his crossing of the Atlantic, newspaper clippings about his division, cartoons, newsletters, postcards to my mother, and official documents. My mother was furious with him when he reenlisted in 1946. By that time he was a staff sergeant and had found his calling. He wanted to make a career of it. They married while he had less than a year to go.

My father returned from Germany and was stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey for his final months, where, without telling my mother, he took the “Leaders’ Course.” His commanding officer even wrote to convince her of her husband’s great future in the military. But although my father was, on the surface, “the boss,” The Dowager Duchess made it clear who was really in charge. “Absolutely not!” was the royal command.


MIENTRAS REVISABA ALGUNOS ARCHIVOS DIGITALES para subirlos a la base de datos de genealogía de San Geraldo, redescubrí el diario y el álbum de fotos de mi padre de la Segunda Guerra Mundial (todos escaneados antes de mudarnos a España).

Mi padre sirvió en la 3.ª División de Infantería de Estados Unidos. Su división vio algunos de los peores combates y sufrió la mayor cantidad de bajas. Nunca habló de la guerra, pero estaba claramente orgulloso de sus años y tenía una colección de medallas, incluida la Estrella de Plata otorgada en 1945 por su valentía en acción. Mi madre tenía sus medallas enmarcadas en una caja de sombra en 1970. Cuando ella murió, le di el marco a The Kid Brother, que ya tenía la bandera estadounidense que había sido colocada en el ataúd de mi padre en su funeral.

La política de mis padres era diametralmente opuesta. Mi padre era conservador y halcón. Mi madre era liberal y paloma. Pero eso era común. La mayoría de las personas en los extremos opuestos del espectro político no consideraban que quienes estaban en desacuerdo con ellos fueran el engendro del diablo, en ese entonces.

Mi padre murió en 1987 y ya pensaba que Donald Trump (y su padre Fred) eran unos idiotas (tanto diablo como engendro). Él y mi madre no cancelarían los votos del otro este año. Serían dos más para Biden / Harris.

Pero volvamos al diario y las fotos. Necesito editar todos los escaneos para reducirlos a un tamaño utilizable y luego crearé un álbum para el sitio web de SG. Esta colección es una pieza fascinante de la historia. Mi padre llevaba un diario fotográfico de su travesía del Atlántico, recortes de periódicos sobre su división, caricaturas, boletines, postales para mi madre y documentos oficiales. Mi madre estaba furiosa con él cuando se volvió a alistar en 1946. Para entonces, él era sargento de personal y había encontrado su vocación. Quería hacer una carrera con eso. Se casaron cuando a él le quedaba menos de un año.

Mi padre regresó de Alemania y estuvo destinado en Fort Dix, Nueva Jersey durante sus últimos meses, donde tomó el “Curso de Líderes” sin decírselo a mi madre. Su comandante incluso le escribió para convencerla de su gran futuro en el ejército. Pero aunque mi padre era, en la superficie, “el jefe”, La Duquesa Viuda dejó en claro quién estaba realmente a cargo. “¡Absolutamente no!” fue la orden real.


Click the small image below for a closer look.
Haz clic en la imagen pequeña a continuación para ver más de cerca.

December 1946. Garmisch, Germany.
Only 20 years old. In for more, ready for a career.

Diciembre de 1946. Garmisch, Alemania.
Solo 20 años de edad. En busca de más, listo para una carrera.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

22 thoughts on “A soldier / Un soldado”

  1. That is a great collection. My father was drafted near the end of the way, did basic training in Louisiana, and spent time in Brooklyn and Ft. Dix. Probably about the same time your father was there. Later in life he joked that he defended New Jersey from the Nazis, successfully they never invaded.

    1. David:
      My father enlisted the minute he turned 18. He started at Fort Dix and finished there after spending most of his re-up as part of the occupying force in Germany. So grateful to your father for saving New Jersey and, before that, Brooklyn! I love his sense of humor.

  2. What a treasure to have. Our parents’ generation for the most part were toughened by their parent’s experience with WW1 and again with WW2. From the outside it made them appear that they could handle anything. But underneath it all they were, I am sure, harbouring many fears and questions.
    Funny, eh, how the women really ‘wore the pants’ in most families. My Mom did.

    1. Jim:
      My father was definitely boss most of the time, but you really didn’t want The Dowager Duchess to be unhappy.

    1. Bob:
      SG reminded me that he had already transcribed my father’s diaries. So, I’ll have to give them another read. I remember some parts were blacked out. My mother was convinced he had written about a girlfriend but SG and I thought it looked like there was confidential info about locations and troop movements.

  3. So good to have your father’s words, photos and clippings of his WWII service to catch that glimpse of him as a young man living in the most challenging of circumstances–and the bond he clearly felt with his unit..

    During WWII, my Dad served three years in the UK with a B-17 BG. There, he met my British mother. Since she drove an ambulance during the war–including all through the London Blitz–in addition to holding two other jobs, had her home bombed by the Luftwaffe, lost her Royal Navy brother to a U-boat in the Atlantic–well, she understood what it meant to serve in a way many in the US might not have been able to comprehend. My Dad spent more than 30+ years in the Air Force–with multiple tours in the UK, Europe and US. Unlike your mom, my mother fully supported his career. She was disappointed when he retired because she loved the travel and would have happily made another move. Never tried to boss anyone, but was the strongest woman I’ve ever known.

    1. Mary:
      Thanks for sharing some of your story. Your mother sounds truly exceptional. What an inspiration and role model.

  4. my sperm donor was in italy in WWII. don’t know any more than that, as this was NEVER to be discussed in the family.

    notice your mother is not addressed by HER name, but your father’s. and your mom outlived your dad by almost 30 years.

    may you be written in the book of life tonight at sundown.

    1. anne marie:
      Yep, my mother didn’t have a name of her own in this days. Mrs. David Block. So strange. My mother was 59 when my father died and 89 when she died. She lived another life time.

  5. Very interesting! My father was in the Canadian army in WW2 and served in the Italian campaign. He came back with a terrible, lifelong case of PTSD. In 1950, he wanted to re-enlist to fight in the Korean War. My mother, whom he had married and had a child with in the interim, put her foot down about that. I doubt he wanted to re-enlist out of any sense of patriotism but probably saw it as a way to escape family responsibilities and perhaps get himself killed. He was often suicidal when depressed.

    1. Debra:
      Wow. Tragic about your father following WW2. I don’t know how it affected my father other than that my mother told me she once, shortly after his return, put her hands around his neck jokingly and he panicked. He never told stories about his army years. The only reference to that time was when we went to Germany as a family (to visit my sister who was living there at the time right near the Belgian border). My father was excited to some of the places he remembered in Holland and Belgium. But he still didn’t talk about his memories when we were there. I know his division saw a lot of combat (hand-to-hand, too) and death.

  6. A treasure trove, Mitchell. My father was a career army officer. It was a good life for a family at that time just after WWII. He retired after 20 years of service and in poor health, dying at the age of 54.

    1. Judy C:
      My father was a good archivist. Captions, names, labels. It’s a treasure trove and could be a really good education. SG reminded me that he had transcribed my father’s diaries. I’ll have to read them again (censors and all).

  7. As a history teacher, I love this stuff. I am having my students work on a family tree type of project. I think it is important to know and understand from where we came. Loved the photos.

    1. mcpersonalspace54:
      Jerry is working on a color graphic version of his family tree (one family only) from 1288 to now, as part of his book on family history. It’s amazing… and enormous. He just helped our great niece with a school project. He’s been able to go a few more generous back in my family, but HIS family is a glimpse into history. It makes so much so much more real to us when we travel.

    1. Jennifer,
      And when I was with my mother I was told I looked just lIke her. I’m a mix, but I think I look more like my father!

Please share your thoughts...