|Veteran shares experiences|
|Written by Isaac Kreider|
World War II veteran Tech. Sgt. Glen Michael looked out upon the crowd and addressed the students first during the annual Veterans Day program at the HHS auditorium Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 11.
“My high school days were a little different than yours,” Michael said. “Mine were war days.”
He spoke about many things being rationed in those years, such as sugar, coffee and tires, to name a few. He also said his family raised many different animals including chickens, rabbits and pygmies — “Whatever we could to make a living.”
Michael said he was drafted into the Army Nov. 17, 1944, and served for a little over two years. After training in Texas and Chicago — the biggest place he’d ever been — he and a fellow soldier he knew from Chappell, Neb., followed their assignments to the east coast for further training.
In New York, Michael said he was transferred into the motor pool where he worked on tanks. The troops still in the United States were always anxious to learn how things were going overseas.
“We really enjoyed having the radio, since we were late getting into the war,” Michael said. “We always rushed to the mess hall so we could hear how our boys had advanced each day.”
Eventually, he and 6,000 other troops boarded a ship that had been captured earlier in the war and departed from Massachusetts to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.
“We were amazed that there was enough food stored up for everyone for that long, but it was a massive ship.”
He said their sleeping bunks were stacked six high and were only about as wide as the podium that he was currently standing behind.
Michael described how the trip lasted 14 days. They had to travel through several bad storms, and they constantly worried about the other ships in their convoy. Eventually, they landed in the heart of France.
“War is never a good thing,” was a message Michael continually stressed during his speech. “It never helps.”
Just shortly after they arrived, a general came to their base and informed them that the war was over.
“I was just about the happiest guy out there,” Michael said. “I didn’t want to have to go shoot anyone anyway.”
Even though the war itself was over, military work was still being conducted overseas. Michael said he stayed in Europe for several more months and worked with the Stars and Stripes newspaper for the Allied soldiers.
He read an excerpt from the newspaper that highlighted General George S. Patton’s strength and command of the military during the war.
Michael quoted Ephesians 2:8-10 from the Bible, which begins, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves ... ”
“The national news portrays that ever-present possibility of us heading into another major war,” Michael stated. “I don’t know why anyone would ever want to do that.”
Other readings Michael chose to share included a letter from President Harry Truman that was sent to every member of the armed forces during WWII, thanking them for their commitment and encouraging them in their efforts.
He also read several passages from old army encyclopedias that gave accounts by both the Allied and Axis forces of the numbers of soldiers killed and injured and houses struck, as well as the total weight of bombs dropped by the Allies.
To sum up his speech, Michael made a simple statement.
“Thank you for listening, and stay out of the war.”
VOD speeches show relevance of veterans
Four HHS students shared their Voice of Democracy speeches during Tuesday’s program. The theme for this year’s essay contest is “Why veterans are important in our nation’s history and future.”
Winners in this year’s contest were freshman Luke Krogmeier, first; senior Anastasia Conklin, second; junior Tyler Loutensock, third; and junior Dominic Krogmeier, fourth. Winning speeches can be found elsewhere in this week’s paper.
The HHS band began the program by performing the national anthem after students acting as the color guard brought in the various flags to be posted on the stage. The band also performed “God Bless America,” and the student chorus group Sound Check sang “On Veterans Day.”
Holyoke Enterprise November 20, 2014