|Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community|
|Paynesville Press - June 22, 2005|
WWII vets: 60 years after securing victory
(Editor's Note: On Memorial Day this year, surviving World War II veterans - 60 years after securing victory over Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire - gathered for a group picture at the Paynesville American Legion Post #271 and at the Othmar Braun American Legion Post #612 in Lake Henry. |
The Press editorial staff, over the past few weeks, has gathered details about their wartime service and has compiled this record of the men in the photographs. Last week, we published the WWII veterans from Paynesville. This week, we present the picture and profiles from the Lake Henry post.)
World War II veterans belonging to the Othmar Braun American Legion in Lake Henry gathered for a picture on Memorial Day. They are: (front) Jon Heinen, Elmer Zirbes, Cyril Winters, and Marvin Lensing; (back) Hugo Kuhl, John Ohmann, and Urban Spanier.
Heinen, who farmed near Spring Hill until retiring to Melrose, said that he was told one morning: "Pack your bags. You're going home."
"It was a surprise," he remembered, "but a happy surprise," and he left Casablanca that same day.
Only six weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Zirbes walked on that site. Everything was "just blown apart" for miles, he said.
Lensing, who is now retired in Belgrade, grew up on a farm in Spring Hill Township. When drafted into the army in 1940, he spent over four years at an air base in Arizona, never leaving the country, though he volunteered twice to go to Japan. He lost his wife when the youngest of his seven children was only six months old and raised the family on the farm with the help of neighbors.
The ship found floating mines and detonated them with gunfire. Though the war was over, this was dangerous work, Kuhl said. He recalled a time when 21 mines surrounded his ship, and had to be avoided, and another time when he saw the ship miss a mine by only five or ten feet.
He recalled a typhoon that literally stopped the war for a short time, which he said was "a lot scarier than the war itself." Along with his crewmates, he attends the ship's annual reunions and said that his comrades were great men.
His ship faced enemy fire often and lost its sister ship in battle. "I don't know if there was a best part" of the war, Spanier said, though the traveling was fun for this lifetime resident of Spring Hill.
As an engineer and electrician on a destroyer, Nietfeld worked with the onboard motors and lighting, serving for two years. He is now settled down south of Sauk Centre on a farm he took over "on a trial basis" almost 57 years ago, he said.
Contact the author at email@example.com Return to News Menu