Second World War: Our Family in the Service

Nebraska woman recalls her relatives in the service during the Second World War

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Our family was hit hard in the Second World War. I felt so sorry for my poor mother, she had two sons and two in-laws in the service. Brother Alvin was a veterinarian in the Army Air Corps in West-over Field, Massachusetts, and he didn't leave the States. 

Brother Bill had to leave college and join the Army, working with a supply division of the 902nd Air Engineering Squadron in Erding, Germany.

One day while he and his buddy were unloading ammunition from their truck, the truck was bombed. It was his buddy's turn in the truck while Bill was outside. His buddy was killed instantly, and Bill was hit, so his clothing caught fire. He rolled into a ditch. His sergeant figured they were both killed and didn't check until he heard Bill groan.

They found him unconscious and rushed him to the hospital. He was badly burned on his body, so the Army wrote home to my folks that he was "slightly injured." Today, at the age of 71, he still has health problems from this injury.

One son-in-law, Alfred Pollman, served in the Air Force at Westover Field, and he didn't leave the States. Another son-in-law, Walter Opfer, wasn't so lucky. He was in the Army in Germany with the 9th Armored Division in the final days of the War.

It so happened that his wife, Marybelle, was staying with my family in Norton, Kansas, while Walt was overseas. Their little son David was born on December 17. We hadn't heard from Walt for awhile, so I called the Red Cross to get word to him about his new son.

It took nearly two weeks, but finally the phone rang one Sunday noon, and they wanted to talk to Marybelle. We both were frightened about what we would hear, but it turned out to be a telegram from Germany from Walter saying, "Glad to hear we have a son. Hope you are both OK."

She hung up the telephone, and we both had a good cry just knowing he was OK.

Emilie A. Bird
Beatrice, Nebraska

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.