15.6.05

SIXTY YEARS AGO. Sgt. Karlson's unit will soon finish its occupation duties in Saalfeld and return to Paris. The Pacific War is still in progress, with Iwo Jima serving as an air base, Okinawa still being contested, and the 87th among the European Theater divisions intended to stage to Okinawa in preparation for the invation of Japan.

By now, the men have managed to bring cameras into theater and here are a few pictures.

The Germans did fight hard.


Here two GIs take a break from recovering plane pieces. I don't know what we're looking at, but credit the pilot for keeping most of the crew accommodation intact in the crash landing.

Bernie and Willy

In the background is the house Sgt. Karlson's unit, the Headquarters Battery of the 912th Field Artillery appropriated (in Belgium they asked permission first, in Germany they simply evicted the occupants.)

Here's the observer and radio group for Headquarters Battery.

Saalfeld, June 1945
Back row: PFC Frank G. Roberts, radio operator, Swannoa, N.C.; T/5 Clarence C. Van Fleet, fire director, Middletown, N.Y.; PFC Robert Crook, bugler, Meridian, Miss.; T/4 Louis N. Fasula, radio operator, Rotterdam Junction, N.Y.; T/5 Henry E. Gemino, radio operator, Elmont, Long Island, N.Y.; T/5 John F. Reckus, radio operator, Wilkes-Barre, Penn.; T/4 Charles Yesline, radio operator, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Center: T/5 Lawrence J. Eckenberger, radio operator, Long Island, N.Y.
Front: T/5 Anthony J. Trapino, radio operator, Madison, Wis.; T/5 Tony Turner, driver, Virginia; Cpl. Douglas R. Cuthbert, radio operator, Coal City, W.V.; Cpl. Frank G. Lunsford, liaison, Ohio; T/5 Elvin A. Dittberner, radio operator, Lodi, Wis.; T/4 Bernard E. Wielechowski, radio operator, Ambridge, Penn.

Sgt. Karlson took the pictures. Some of the other information comes from a notebook his mother maintained for the duration of his hitch. The notebook makes interesting reading in that it lists the contents of assorted care packages (to use a term not yet invented), the dates they were mailed from Milwaukee, and the dates and locations they were delivered. Many did arrive at the front lines before the Germans packed it in.

Stars and Stripes published this abstract of the 87th's work in Europe.

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