TOLEDO CHRONICLE- The occasion of a WW II traveling museum stop at the Toledo Public Library on April 13 provided the backdrop to gather a group of veterans of that war and others who remember the era.
The 'Bus-eum' exhibit focused on midwest prisoner of war camps of which one existed for a short time at Toledo Heights.
Gilbert Chantland, rural Tama native, remembered some of the German prisoners of war held in Toledo were brought to his family farm to pick sweet corn. He said they were a very docile group.
Some of the local veterans of World War II who were invited to the Toledo Public Library for the stop of a travelling World War II exhibit about midwestern Prisoner of War camps on Monday, April 13 are shown above.- (seated l-r) Robert Scudder and Arnold Vileta, both of Toledo. (Standing l-r) R. Dale Bratton,Toledo, Louis Paustian, rural Toledo, and Norbert Caloud, rural Clutier.
With his sharp memory, Chantland told of some humor from the time. He said a group of POWs were taken to Belle Plaine to work. They were always accompanied by an armed guard.
Upon their return to their Toledo prison camp one day, the prisoners were literally supporting their guard who was drunk. A prisoner was carrying the guard's rifle, Chantland said.
Veterans from WWII recalled their World War II experiences during the museum stop and related some of them to The Chronicle.
Robert Scudder, Toledo. Served as a Signalman in the U.S. Navy from 1942-46. Scudder was stationed in the South Pacific. After boot camp and Quartermaster School, he was assigned to the USS Revenge, one of three ships he would serve on during the war. He said this ship was the first of three minesweepers deployed during the war and was "the best ship in the Navy for its size."
Scudder said "it figured" he would be in the Navy and have "chronic seasickness."
He said, "You make tremendous friends in the service" - one of them for him was Bill Otterman who was from Traer.
R. Dale "Poody" Bratton, Toledo. -Drafted into U.S. Army in 1943 and went to boot camp at Camp Sibert, Ala. He said he had been working in Baltimore, Md., in a B-25 aircraft plant. After boot camp, Bratton was sent to New Guinea with the 894th Chemical Company which was attached to the 5th Air Force.
He recalled the company used napalm to drive Japanese soldiers from caves in which they hid.
Bratton said he was in Biack and he was walking toward the air strip when a jeep stopped to give him a ride. It provided a chance meeting with another Toledo resident- the jeep was driven by Edward Flynn.
Bratton said his company went to Tokyo after the bombing of Hiroshima. He said the Tokyo experience, with the war over, was "wonderful."
Louis Junior Paustian, rural Toledo. - Enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in aboard ship, 1942-45. Paustian was farming at Traer when he enlisted. He was a gunners mate.
When asked about a memorable experience, Paustian recalled immediately the date of July 6, 1943. On that day his ship "was hit by a torpedo which blew 150 ft. off the front, but we didn't lose a single person."
Paustian was cited for his service by Rear Admiral W.L. Ainsworth in a commendation recognizing his participation in campaigns of 1943-44 "from Guadalcanal through Kula Gulf, Bogainville, and the Bismarcks, Saipan, Guam, Palau and to the Phillipines.
Arnold Vileta, Toledo. - The "dean" of those present at the Toledo Public Library, Vileta, age 99, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and served with the Army Combat Engineers in the European Theatre for 2 1/2 years. When he signed up, Arnold was working for Sp[ahn and Rose Lumber Company in Tama.
He drove a weapons carrier during much of the time and landed at Utah Beach in Normandy France and took part in the Battle of the Bulge. While in France, Arnold recalled meeting up with a fellow Clutier-area resident, Milvoy Chaslavska.
He recalled being in Austria as the war ended in Europe.
Norbert Caloud, rural Clutier. - Entered the U.S. Army in February, 1945 and took basic training at Ft. Hood, Texas.
Caloud was sent overseas on the first boatload of replacements following the war. He was stationed in Hawaii at the Central Records Depot # 3 located at the mouth of Pearl Harbor.
Caloud saw lots of area servicemen he knew as his unit processed returning soldiers.
The first one he saw was Lyle Sienknecht, also from Clutier. They had earlier corresponded about meeting up, Caloud said.
After obtaining a pass, they went together to Honolulu which Caloud recalled as not being a paradise at the time, but rather "a slum."
Loren Emke, rural Toledo. - Entered U.S. Army on Feb. 14, 1941. In the fall of 1943, Emke was sent to Hawaii to join the Hdq. Co. 115th Engineers, 40th Division. He was one of 10 selected for underwater demolition of coral reefs. This was done to enable landing ships to get closer to shore for island invasions. Emke landed on Gadacanal on New Years Eve.
Asked his memorable moments he recalled having dinner at the same table with actor Ray Milland who was on a U.S.O. tour.
(Emke's account is compiled from an earlier profile he provided.)