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WWII 32nd Station Hospital | WWII Africa to Caserta Italy | Willard O. Havemeier WWII
FINAL DAYS IN ITALY



 

FINAL DAYS IN ITALY

In August we began packing up the hospital.  Boxes were sent to Naples to be loaded on ships. I spent a week in Switzerland on R and R, and on my return was sent to a staging area in Naples.  When I came back, Sara had already been sent to a different staging area.  I frantically tried to find her, but was unable to. 

Word came down that we were going to the Pacific Theatre of Operations by way of the  Cape of Good Hope. While I was in Switzerland news had come of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, but this meant little to us.  Waiting in Naples, we received word of the Japanese surrender on August 14. All of our equipment and personal effects ( which, incidentally, I was later to learn, were lost) had already been shipped out on the way to the Pacific.  A week later we boarded a converted cargo ship; it was then that we learned that we were going home.  I had been separated from my friend, Bud Needles, when he was assigned to Bari, on the Adriatic, but to my surprise, there he was on the same ship!  By September most of the Fifth Army units had left Italy.  On September 9, Headquarters was closed.

During the trip home I began to wonder what I was going to do next.  I figured that I'd better head for Minnesota and look for some kind of job. Needles told me that he and his wife already had an apartment in Philadelphia, and that he was going to college. I was really impressed.  He suggested that I do the same, and told me about the GI Bill.   This was news to me, but it sounded like a possible alternative. He invited me to stay with him until I got settled. When we got to the States, we went to a military separation center near Boston, where I received my back pay and had my personnel file brought up to date. From there I went by train to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, where I was discharged. Another train took me back to Minnesota.

  LEAVING HOME AGAIN

After two weeks at home, I decided to take the money I had saved and go to Philadelphia.  When I got there, I rented a room. Later I moved in with Needles and his wife, applied to three local colleges and was accepted at Temple University, although I had to wait a year to get in. During that year, I took English and math courses so that I would be prepared for college, and worked at an assortment of jobs, including teaching people to drive.  The government gave me twenty dollars a week for fifty-two weeks. When I started Temple I received seventy-five dollars per month as along as I kept up my grades. I graduated with a BS in Business.

 In February of 1946 I sent Sara a birthday card, assuming that she was now at home. She replied and we corresponded.  Before too long, she married, and we were reduced to sending each other Christmas cards every year. After some years, the Thirty  Second Station Hospital began having reunions, but Sara never came.  Sara died in 1986.  I remember her every night in my prayers.

 A year after my discharge I joined the US Army Reserve and eventually retired with thirty-six years total service as a Chief Warrant Officer  (CW-4).  In 1953 I married Seonaid Grant, a native of Scotland, who had spent the war years on an island off the coast of Scotland with other children who had been evacuated because of the bombing of Britain. I  had a career in the insurance business, and believe it or not, bought a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

After retiring, I took courses  in the Computer Science Department of Millersville University where at present, I have been employed part time for the past twenty years. I work out every morning at the school gym before going to work. My wife died in 1993, and I remarried two years later. Catherine, my present wife, and I now live in a suburb of  Lancaster.   Catherine is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has four children and four grandchildren. We enjoy spending our spare time traveling, especially to Italy, and visiting with the family.   

The years I spent with the 32nd Station Hospital are irreplaceable years; the impression they made on me will never go away.   Being part of that close-knit group was like living in a story-book world where the past and future were both far removed. We were all changed forever and were reluctant at the last to say goodbye. Very few picked up where they left off.  



Copyright 2002    Willard O. Havemeier    All rights reserved
Web Page Last Updated On : Decembere 24, 2003


 


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WWII 32nd Station Hospital | WWII Africa to Caserta Italy | Willard O. Havemeier WWII
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