Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Son Shares Photo of Captain Arthur John Klippen, M.D.

Those of you who have read Guests Behind the Barbed Wire probably remember the army captain who came to Camp Aliceville in December 1942 to set up the medical service for the POW camp. He took a room in the home of Miss Annie Mae Coleman over in Carrollton and began hiring hospital employees. One of the first was Elma Henders, who left college to become the Station Hospital dietician.

By mid-April 1943, Captain Arthur John Klippen, M. D., had the Station Hospital open and ready for patients. It was a 250-bed facility designed to treat American military personnel as well as POWs. In emergencies, it even treated local Aliceville residents.

Captain Klippen supervised the treatment of many war-weary and disillusioned German soldiers who arrived at Camp Aliceville in the coming months. One of them was Horst Uhse who had battled jaundice and malaria in makeshift transfer camps in North Africa. In later years, Uhse expressed his appreciation for the professionalism of Captain Klippen and his staff who nursed him back to health before transferring him to Compound B of Camp Aliceville.

One German POW was not so lucky. Otto Ulrich cut his leg on a piece of wire fencing at a compound athletic field and waited too long to report his injury It became infected and developed gangrene. When Ulrich finally entered the camp hospital, Captain Klippen recommended amputation, but the POW refused and died.

The photo at upper left was sent by Captain Klippen's son Chris who recently discovered the existence of the Aliceville Museum http://www.cityofaliceville.com (Click on POW Museum). The photo shows Captain Klippen with his older son Art (Arthur G. Klippen) and was taken in Aliceville in May 1944. The photo was given to Chris by his sister Nina.

Captain Klippen was born in 1909 in Duluth, MN to immigrant parents from Norway. He earned a Master's degree in chemistry and taught at a junior college before deciding to study medicine. He received his degree from the medical school at St. Louis University in 1938 and, like many medical students at the time, accepted a commission in the Armed Forces.

Captain Klippen's first duty was to sit on a medical draft board. He traveled throughout the south and met his wife, Zora Grijack, at Fort Benning, GA in 1940. Zora was a lieutenant in the Army Nursing Corps and scheduled to go to the Phillipines when she resigned her commission to marry Klippen. Many of her nursing friends who did go on to be stationed in the Philippines were there when the island fell to the Japanese and were held in brutal POW camps until the American liberation later in the war.

Following Captain Klippen's service as Medical Officer at Camp Aliceville, he received orders to the Pacific in anticipation of the invasion of Japan. He was on a ship headed to the Pacific Theater when the atom bombs were dropped and the war ended.

After the war, Klippen was in private practice as a family physician in Michigan. In 1955, he began work for the VA medical centers, working in the Central Office in Washington, D.C. and then serving as Hospital Director for the Ann Arbor (Michigan) VA. In 1969, he transferred to the Minnesota VA and retired there as Hospital Director in 1977. He and Zora lived in Maple Lake, MN until his death in October 1997. Zora died in 2001.

The child in the photograph above, Arthur G. klippen, served in the US Army as a second lieutenant in Vietnam. He was killed in action on August 25, 1966 and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for "gallantry in combat." It is fitting that he and his parents, who served their country well, are buried together in the same plot in Arlington National Cemetery.

Chris Klippen is donating an oil painting to the Aliceville Museum. It was created by one of the German POWs and given to his father. The painting, done on the back of a piece of military posterboard, shows the recreation area and barracks of Camp Aliceville.

A SIDE NOTE: Chris Klippen, Mary Bess Paluzzi (Director of the Aliceville Museum), and I share a common bond. All three of our fathers were scheduled to be involved in the invasion of Japan at the time the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mary Bess's father had been badly wounded in Europe in November 1944 and was just being released again for active duty when he expected to be reassigned to the Pacific. Chris's father was on a ship headed to the South Pacific for the invasion of Japan, and my father (see Introduction to Guests Behind the Barbed Wire) was already stationed at Okinawa and training for that invasion.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Aliceville Museum Director Adds to Information About Mayhall Photos

Aliceville Museum Director Mary Bess Paluzzi was fascinated with the photos of WWII Aliceville posted to this blog by Bruce Mayhall. She noted that Billie Frances Pate worked at the soda fountain in Jones Drugstore at that time. "I always heard that she was a very beautiful young woman," Mary Bess wrote in an e-mail, "and this photo proves it."

If any of my readers visit the Aliceville Museum, they will see a beautiful display case that contains the Marine Corps uniform of Sergeant Major Albert Thomas Kirk, who became Billie's husband. In additiion to the large collection of memorabilia from Camp Aliceville, the museum also houses numerous displays of American military memorabilia from World War II.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pete Mayhall's Aliceville Experiences IV

Above are the final three Aliceville photographs from Bruce Mayhall. They definitely capture the mood and setting of the time. Above left are a couple named Dot and Hugh in front of Jones Drugs. Above right are Billy Mouchette and Olga Gibson out for a bike ride, and bottom right is Mr. McDaniel, the owner of the bowling alley where many MPEG guards took their dates for fun on weekends.
When WWII ended in Europe, Pete Mayhall was able to combine his quartermaster experience and his experience with POWs to qualify for a position involved in disassembling the huge Allied quartermaster service in Cherbourg. In this effort, he used German POWs captured in France as his work force. This process took until approximately September 1945. He returned to the US on January 5, 1946.
After the war, Pete and Ruth Mayhall lived with his parents in Phil Campbell, Alabama for about three months before moving to Florence, Alabama. When their son Bruce wrote about their experiences in May 2008, they had been happily married for 64 years.
My thanks again to Bruce Mayhall for sharing his father's story and these special photographs.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pete Mayhall's Aliceville Experiences III.

Jones Drugstore was a familiar gathering place in Aliceville during WWII. The first photo in this blog entry shows Billie Frances Pate standing in front of the drugstore which had a soda fountain.

This second photo shows Pete Mayhall's sister Bernice and her husband Hiram in front of the MPEG barracks at Camp Aliceville in 1944.
The stockade office inside the prison compound at Camp Aliceville was the storage location for money and personal items taken from German POWs when they arrived at the camp. These possessions were carefully recorded so they could be returned to the POWs at the end of the war.
Pete Mayhall has said that he didn't find it necessary to speak or understand German while at Camp Aliceville because many of the POWs spoke English. Before the war, they had been teachers or actors or had held other jobs requiring education.
Pete and Ruth Mayhall were with his sister Bernice and her husband at their home near the compound on the night of an attempted prisoner escape. They heard the sirens and the shots, and Pete recalls that the camp authorities had gotten intelligence that a break would be tried. His memory is that three or four prisoners were involved, and that guards in the towers fired on all of them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pete Mayhall's Camp Aliceville Experiences II.

Pete Mayhall married Ruth Clement on February 15, 1944 at the Sandusky, Alabama home of one of her former high school teachers. She joined him in Aliceville, and he then moved with her from his quarters in the camp compound to upstairs rooms in a house owned by the man who ran the bowling alley in Aliceville.

Ruth Clement Mayhall is seen at left. Her ID pass for Camp Aliceville is dated 6 March 1944. They shared a downstairs bathroom with another couple who rented rooms downstairs in the McDaniel house.

During the next three months, Pete and Ruth enjoyed picnics and travels through the Alabama countryside with other young military couples, including Pete's sister Bernice and her husband Hiram who was also stationed at Camp Aliceville.

Then came the secret plans for D-Day. Pete was on a ship crossing the Atlantic on June 6, 1944 when the invasion occurred http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/normandy/nor-pam.htm. His ship was constantly zigzagging to avoid German U-boats and their torpedoes. Once in Europe, he was part of the second wave of American troops to land, and he remained in Europe until the fall of 1945. His brother-in-law Hiram was shipped to Europe shortly after Pete. Both men survived the war, and Hiram remained in the Army after the end of the war.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pete Mayhall's Camp Aliceville Experiences I.

Bruce Mayhall recently shared some of his father's experiences at Camp Aliceville during World War II, and I am happy to post these for my readers. Bruce wrote about these experiences in May 2008.

After enlisting in the Army in May 1942, Glen Howard "Pete" Mayhall was assigned to the Induction Center at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama, where he interviewed draftees until April 1943 http://www.mcclellan.army.mil/Info.asp. Then his brother-in-law Hiram Duncan, who was an Army private, told Pete about a new company being formed for Camp Aliceville. Both men were promoted and sent to Aliceville, arriving before the first group of prisoners did in June 1943.

Pete was assigned to work in the company office, but after the German POWs began to arrive, he was moved into the compound and worked for the officer in charge, Captain Scott C. Strohecker. They worked with a First Lieutenant (possibly Nat Aicklen) as well as one or two secretaries who were civilian employees of the camp.

Pete's brother-in-law Hiram worked in the American section of the camp, and he and Bernice (Pete's sister) rented a house across the road from the camp.

The compound office, where Pete worked, was located in a building that sat between the housing for American soldiers and the compounds occupied by the German POWs. In the early years of Camp Aliceville, the prisoners organized much of their own lives inside the compounds, and the three Americans in the stockade office (Strohecker, the first lieutenant, and Mayhall) were among the few Americans who had access to the compound. Pete remembers that, when hard-core Nazis caused trouble with other prisoners, they were shipped out to other camps.

Pete remembers that the 1929 Geneva convention requirements about equal food and housing for prisoners were followed carefully, and that this caused considerable resentment among local citizens. On one occasion, a POW spokesman came to Pete and complained about the amount of bread the prisoners were receiving. Pete told him they were getting the same amount as the American guards, but Captain Strohecker, who was of German descent, understood the cultural differences and allowed more bread.

Prisoners often came to the stockade office with requests for materials they could use for creative projects to ward off boredom. Once, a prisoner named W. Reissig, who was an artist, asked for help in locating things he could paint. Later, Reissig gave Pete a painting he had created on mattress ticking with improvised colors found in the infirmary. The scene, Life on the Mississippi, reproduces a postcard Reissig obtained. This painting still hangs on the wall of the bedroom Bruce Mayhall sleeps in when he visits his parents' home in Florence, Alabama.

More of Pete Mayhall's recollections and photos of Alicevile during WWII will appear in subsequent blog entries.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Father of Heidelberg Waitress Spent Most of War at Camp Aliceville

I had an interesting e-mail recently from a man named John Coon, who is retired from the US Air Force. He spent the years 2000 to 2008 working for the US military near Heidelberg, Germany.

Shortly before returning to the United States, Mr. Coon was having dinner in a restaurant near Heidelberg when the English-speaking German waitress commented on his Southern drawl. During their subsequent conversation, she told him that her father had spent most of WWII at Camp Aliceville, and she knew many things about the former POW camp.

Mr. Coon plans to return to Germany and will try to find out more about her memories. If he does, I will post the information here.

He also reported the sad news that John Michael Parrish, son of Wendell Parrish, passed away near the end of September at the age of 61. Those of you who have read Guests Behind the Barbed Wire will remember that Wendell Parrish was the American airman who was interned at Stalag Luft IV and provided the contrasts for me between American POW experiences in Germany and those of German POWs at Camp Aliceville. We offer our sincere condolences to Wendell and his family.
PLEASE NOTE: The photos in this blog entry were provided by John D. Coon and are used with his permission.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mobile, AL Newspaper Shares German POW Story

A friend in south Alabama recently sent me a clipping from the Press-Register in Mobile. It was about a 74-year-old woman who remembered being a 10-year-old when her father supervised a work force of German POWs who were transported from Loxley to the Hallett Lumber Company in Mobile during WWII.

Shirley Mosley's father was made a deputy sheriff and was authorized to carry a gun so he could guard the prisoners who worked in the lumberyard. Loxley (in Baldwin County) was one of 20 satellite labor camps in Alabama that housed German POWs on temporary work details. One of the Germans told Mosley's father that he was not a Nazi and had been a college professor in Germany before the war.

Sometimes, the POWs were given scraps of wood, and at one point, the former college professor built and stained a wooden jewelry box that he gave to Mosley's father as a gift for her teenage sister. The box contained an inscription burned into the inside of the lid. It read as follows:

German soldat - Wilhelm Lisicky, Berliner. P. W. Camp Loxley - 1945, War 1939-1945.

If anyone reading this column has additional information about Wilhelm Lisicky, it would be interesting to know what happened to him after the war and what he did with his life. You can send a comment to me at this blog and/or contact newspaper reporter Hope Northington at PO Box 2488, Mobile, AL 36652.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Independence Day Claims Judge Robert Hugh Kirksey

Aliceville, Alabama native Robert Hugh Kirksey passed away on Saturday, July 4, after a fall at his home on July 1. He was 87. Appropriately, this Alabama patriot shares his date of passing with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who also left this world on July 4.
The photo at left, which appears in Kirksey's memoir, With Me: Growing Up in the Faith, shows him with his grandson, Richard Kirksey Heard, on the day the Aliceville "Avenue of Flags" was dedicated in about 1987.
I did not know Judge Kirksey well, but his memoir, along with a series of historical articles for the Pickens County newspaper, was a huge source of information and inspiration as I worked to recreate Aliceville during WWII in my book, Guests Behind the Barbed Wire. He brought the town that hosted Camp Aliceville to life on the page, and his daughter Mary Bess (Paluzzi) became one of my favorite friends as she read my manuscript chapter by chapter and pointed me in so many good directions. My prayers are with her and her family as they remember a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather.
Those of you who have read Guests Behind the Barbed Wire will remember the wartime stories of Robert Hugh Kirksey who was home on leave when the first German prisoners came into Aliceville on the Frisco in early June 1943. Kirksey served as a First Lieutenant in the 333rd Regiment of the 84th Infantry Division. He was awarded several medals, including the Purple Heart, for an injury suffered in Germany.
One of the images from his memoir that stands out in my mind is a story on page 158 that describes his troop train pulling into the railway station in Birmingham, England as he was headed for the front in Europe. "As we sat in our train in that station, another train, headed North, back toward Scotland, stopped on the track just opposite us," he wrote. "We pressed our faces against the windows and looked across at that train. Its passengers had their faces similarly pressed to their windows. 'Look!' some soldier said in a loud voice. "They're German prisoners!'
"That startling coincidence probably stunned me more than anyone else on our train, for immediately the thought flashed in my mind, 'What if they are going to the German Prisoner of War Camp in Aliceville, Alabama. Here we are, reluctantly headed for their homeland; and there they are reluctantly headed, perhaps, for ours.'...The pathos of war was etched in my mind and I can see those German faces clearly in my mind, even today."
That simple story said it so well.
When I pulled my copy of With Me from the shelf this afternoon to find that story, I came across the inscription Judge Kirksey wrote on the title page on March 1, 2005. "To Ruth Cook--Thank you. May God continue with you, as he has with me!"
May God Bless and Keep Robert Hugh Kirksey.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Winter Family Further Identifies Track Meet Photo

I had an e-mail last week from the father of Philipp Winter who told me that he has a photo very similar to the one at the right that appeared in my book. The information written on the back of the photo adds a little to the story:

This track meet, at Camp Aliceville, was held on October 28, 1945. The race shown in the photo was the 100 meter dash, and the three men in the photo, left to right, are:

1st Place--Hartmann, from Compound C, 11.9 seconds.

2nd Place--Winter, from Compound F, 12.2 seconds.

3rd Place--Esser, from Compound A, 12.4 seconds.

If anyone has information about the other two runners (Hartmann and Esser), please send me a comment.
I love the serendipity of life--even after many years. I was amazed to discover that the grandson of the man named Winter who won 2nd Place in the hundred meter dash is an American Field Service exchange student studying in Idaho this year. The reason this amazed me is that I was once an American Field Service exchange student myself--representing Bedford, Ohio and living with a family named Ott in Ravensburg, Germany during the summer of 1961. AFS is a wonderful organization.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A POW Story from Stalag Luft III

The two photos above are from the book, 33 Months as a POW in Stalag Luft III by Albert P. Clark, a retired general of the United States Air Force. They are used with permission of the USAFA McDermott Library Stalag Luft III collection in USAF Academy, Colorado.

This book offers fascinating insight into the experiences of American Army Air Force officers who were captured by Germany during World War II. Their ordeal is a poignant contrast to the experiences of German POWs at Camp Aliceville. Clark describes day to day camp life and numerous efforts to build escape tunnels while distracting the Germans from what was going on. The book culminates with a brutal forced march, as Russian liberators approached, through Bavaria to Stammlager VIIA at Moosburg.

The photo above, of the Luft Bandsters band/orchestra that was formed within the South Camp at Stalag Luft III, is eerily similar to one that can be found in Guests Behind the Barbed Wire depicting a German POW dance band playing for an Officers Club event at Camp Aliceville. In POW camps on both sides of the war, individual men coped with boredom and loneliness while striving to maintain their integrity as soldiers for their country.

Stalag Luft III is the POW camp made internationally famous by the book and movie that portrayed the Great Escape from this camp. Clark's book offers a unique perspective on this event, which took place on March 24, 1944. Escapees from this and other German camps were routinely returned to POW camps when captured, and the episodes often appeared almost like playful cat and mouse games between captors and prisoners.

In this instance, however, the Luftwaffe guards who tolerated the antics of many prisoners were not in charge. Of the 76 men who escaped through a tunnel, 73 were recaptured by early April. Of those, 50 were executed by a shot to the back of the head by the Gestapo, ostensibly because they resisted arrest or attempted to escape again after their capture.

Clark offers an interesting analysis of the Geneva Convention stipulations as they applied to his captivity and to issues of treatment and the right to attempt escape.

33 Months as a POW in Stalag Luft III was published in 2004 by Fulcrum Publishing in Golden, Colorado

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grandson Identifies Heinrich Winter in Camp Aliceville Photo

Recently, Mary Bess Paluzzi, Executive Director of the Aliceville Museum, recommended my book, Guests Behind the Barbed Wire, to Philipp Winter who has been an exchange student in Idaho this summer. Philipp discovered Camp Aliceville on the Internet and made inquiries about the camp because his grandfather, Heinrich Winter, had been interned there.

When Philipp told his parents about the book, they bought a copy and were amazed to see the Plate 15 photograph (displayed above) in the center of the book. It shows Heinrich Winter, the middle runner, with the number 154 on his shorts during a running event at Camp Aliceville during World War II.

"A little wonder," Philipp wrote to Mary Bess Paluzzi. "That is so amazing. Thank you so much."

Mary Bess is also excited because this information identifies by name someone in the collection of Army photos of Camp Aliceville. I am excited, too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Ironic Juxtaposition

The April 13, 2009 issue of The New Yorker magazine contains a review of new books that celebrate the life of contralto Marian Anderson who sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday in 1939. She sang there because the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow her to appear at Washington's largest concert venue, Constitution Hall.

When the DAR made its decision, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the organization, and President Roosevelt gave permission for the concert on the Mall. The Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, introduced Anderson saying, "In this great auditorium under the sky, all of us are free."

Marian Anderson was free to sing on the Mall in Washington, D. C., but during World War II, she was not free to do as she pleased in the South. In his book, The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America (Bloomsbury)," historian Raymond Arsenault relates a story I had not heard before:

Anderson was often the victim of humiliation related to segregation, yet as Arsenault writes, "Throughout her life, she preferred not to make a scene." One of those instances occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, where Marian Anderson had to wait outside the waiting room in a train station while her German piano accompanist, Franz Rupp, went inside to get a sandwich for her.

Sitting INSIDE the waiting room was a group of German prisoners of war (most likely headed for Camp Aliceville).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Descendants of "Kriegies" Retrace Steps

The current issue of Museum News from the Aliceville Museum carries a story about an unusual reenactment that took place in Poland and eastern Germany this past January. Beginning at 11:00 p.m. on January 27, a group of "Kriegie Kids" set out to cover a 60 mile journey in four days. They were honoring and remembering a forced journey made by their fathers and grandfathers in 1945, as World War II was grinding to a close.

"Kriegies" refers to American soldiers who were prisoners of war in Germany. (The German word Krieg means "war" in English.) When word reached Poland that the Russians were advancing into German territory, Adolf Hitler ordered the evacuation of thousands of Allied prisoners from camps like Stalag Luft III so he could continue to hold them as hostages and bargaining chips. These prisoners were ordered on a forced march in sub-freezing weather.

During the reenactment, the "Kriegie Kids" met a man named Hans Burkhardt in the town of Spremberg. Burkhardt, who was eleven at the time of the original march, remembered seeing tired, mostly barehanded men marching in the freezing weather. He says his family offered food and water to several of them.

Borkhardt had a watch and a carved placque that belonged to a deceased friend who had been a German POW at a camp in Arkansas. This friend, Ervin Vorssatz, had carved the placque during his POW time in Arkansas. Borkhardt presented these items to the Kriegie Kids.

On March 17, 2009, former Allied POW Lieutenant Colonel Edward M. Bender (USAAFR, retired) and his daughter Miriam Larson, presented the watch and the placque to the Aliceville Museum. They are now on display.

For more information about the Kriegie Kids and their experience, please visit the website http://cloudcorridor.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aliceville Veterans Wendell Parrish and Robert Kirksey Meet with Blue Star Foundation

My book, GUESTS BEHIND THE BARBED WIRE, uses the experiences of former Allied POW Wendell Parrish (at left in photograph) at Stalag Luft IV to contrast German POW camps for Americans with American POW camps for Germans (like Camp Aliceville).

Recently, the Alabama Blue Star Foundation visited Aliceville and toured the museum. Aliceville World War II veterans Wendell Parrish and Robert Hugh Kirksey met with the group over lunch.

This federation sponsors the Blue Star Salute, which is a concerted effort by caring citizens and organizations to set aside a day to honor military service. At 9:00 a.m. on May 25, 2009, a memorial wreath-laying ceremony will be held at Alabama's National Cemetery. This new cemetery is located next to the American Village on Highway 119 just outside Montevallo. On that same day, Alabama's Fifth Annual Blue Star Salute will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at American village. Events will include a recognition of wounded waqrrios, a Gold State Salute to Alabama's fallen heroes, a re-enactment of Douglas MacArthur's "Duty, Honor, Country" oration, and other activities.

For more information on this event, please go to http://www.bluestarsalute.org/.

Please see the next upcoming post to this blog for the story of Wendell Parrish's experiences in the forced march of American POWs in Poland and Germany near the end of World War II.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mary Bess Paluzzi Returns to the Aliceville Museum

Health concerns have caused Aliceville Museum Director Ann Kirksey to leave the museum, and we wish her well with her recovery. Her winning smile has welcomed many visitors in the past few years--many of them readers of this blog.

We'd like to welcome back her sister Mary Bess Paluzzi, who was the original director of the Aliceville Museum. She now returns to this post after serving several years as Clerk/Manager for the City of Aliceville.

It was Mary Bess who first welcomed me to Aliceville when I expressed an interest in writing about the German POW camp there during World War II. Her initial reaction to me was one of definite skepticism. "You know," she said, "a lot of people have come down here and said they wanted to write a book, but none of them ever followed through." She tried to put me off by giving me a long list of reference books to consult before contacting her again.

I found the reference books fascinating, and they spiced up my interest in the project. In the end, Mary Bess and I became great friends, and my book GUESTS BEHIND THE BARBED WIRE is dedicated to her and her dedication to the museum.

Welcome back, Mary Bess!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Former 442nd POW Guard Sends Greetings

When I sent Mr. Genro Kashiwa a copy of the photo showing a Japanese American soldier guarding German POWs during WWII (see "Alabama Mosaic....October 10, 2008 and "Peanuts, POWs....August 30, 2007)), he sent along this Christmas photo of himself with his wife and grandsons in Honolulu. He also sent a copy of their family Christmas letter for 2008, which mentioned his activities with other members of the 442nd company he once belonged to.
The 442nd is the most decorated regimental combat team in United States military history and was composed primarily of Japanese-Americans from Hawaii and the mainland. Their courageous service to our country continues to be an example of patriotism against great odds.

The newsletter notes that the Honolulu contingent of these World War II veterans still gather for monthly meetings, but everyone in their group is now in their 80s, and many have passed away. "As the group grows smaller," Mr. Kashiwa writes, "the close friends who remain are all the more precious to us, and we look forward to visiting with them every month."

The Kashiwas live with their daughter and her husband and their grandsons, Jason, Bradley, and Kevin. Jason's marching band recently went to Washington, D. C. to participate in the inauguration of President Obama.
What an amazingly varied history this wonderful country has!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Daughter of Aliceville Guard Reviews Book

This is what downtown Aliceville looked like when twenty-year-old Stanley Pendrak arrived in May 1943 to help guard German POWs. Stan was a native of New York state who, before World War II, had never left the northern town where he was born.

As an army sergeant at Camp Aliceville, Stan was in a company that escorted POWs from the train in June 1943. He worked in the camp mess hall as first cook until late in the war.

One day, Jeanne Holliday took a break from her job at the Aliceville Hotel beauty shop to get a cup of coffee. "I just followed her," Stan told me in an interview. "I started talking to her and invited her to the bowling alley. We just went together from that."

After the war, Stan and Jeanne made their home in Aliceville and raised their family there. This week, I was delighted to discover a review of Guests Behind the Barbed Wire written by the Pendraks' daughter for amazon.com. She writes that, as a child, she was sheltered enough not to be greatly aware of the German POW story unfolding around her. She also notes that, when her father passed away in October 2007, he was the last living Aliceville resident who had served at Camp Aliceville.

"I feel so honored to have been raised in a town that truly embodies 'a slice of Americana,'" she writes. She describes her father as a 'misplaced Yankee' who ended up in the South and embraced Aliceville after meeting the love of his life there. She is grateful to have the legacy of her parents' story, as told in Guests, to share with her own grandchildren.

Pendrak's daughter notes that the book has enriched her knowledge of just how special Aliceville was and still is today, "...one small town that shone brightly through its caring residents, its contribution to the basic values that have made our country great, and service to our nation during 'the war to end all wars.'"
Thanks so much to this proud daughter of Aliceville for sharing her thoughts.