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Cpl Richard M. RothenheberPhotos
Richard M. Rothenheber
Born in Lorsch, Germany in 1922, Richard immigrated to Troy, New York in 1928 at age 5, along with his parents, and two brothers. Little did they know at the time that 15 years later those 3 young boys would re-cross the Atlantic Ocean to help their new country-the United States-in its involvement in the European Theatre of Operations in World War II.
|These boys are future members of the U.S. Armed Forces|
After graduating from Catholic Central High School in 1941, Richard worked at a local business until he was drafted by the U.S. military.
|Cpl Richard Rothenheber|
I interviewed my dad in Feb. 2003 regarding his military service. The following information comes from my notes of that conversation.
Richard entered into active service December 19, 1942 and was assigned to the 832nd Engineer Aviation Battalion.
Richard received extensive training at several locations: Fort Crailo in Rensselaer NY, Camp Upton in Long Island, Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri, Holibird Ordance Depot in Maryland (for automotive mechanic training), Camp Shango in Pennsylvania, and finally Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Richard traveled to Scotland on the Queen Elizabeth Steam Liner. Next he spent two weeks at the British Camp Ten Replacement Depot, located between Tamworth and Huntington.
After that, Richard and fellow soldiers built a bomber base at Aukenbery Airdrome which was located near the center of England.
He then attended 50-caliber machine gun school in Northern Ireland, near Kilkeel, and later worked in Eastern England near the English Channel.
Richard went to Omaha Beach on July 4, 1944, one month after the Normandy Beach invasion. He worked on building an airfield near the top of Omaha Beach hill, Querqueville airfield (A-32)--completed Aug. 8.
His next assignment was near Saint Lô, France, building an advanced fighter airbase for P38 Lightening Fighters (propeller-driven fighter planes).
|Taking a Break (Richard in center)|
For the next month or two, he repaired airfields damaged from bomb attacks near Rennes, France. While in France, he repaired airfields near Verdun.
|Richard’s Grandmother in Lorsch, Germany|
Again on the move, Richard was sent to Germany to repair airfields near Hanau.
While in Germany, Richard obtained a leave and traveled to Lorsch to visit his grandmother, Mary Magdalena (Stahl) Appel, who he had not seen in more than 16 years! What a treat it was for both of them the have this short time to visit-and it would be the last time they would ever see each other.
Then it was back to work in Germany to repair airfields in Langendebach.
In August 1945 the war was declared over. On September 11, 1945, Richard signed a statement that he received 70 prisoners of war from Prisoner of War Enclosure 157 at Ipsheim, Germany, and assumed responsibility of guarding and working the prisoners until they were returned to the enclosure.
(My dad once told me that one time he felt sorry for one of the prisoners and gave him a cigarette. Someone reported him and he spent the night in the "brig".)
|Relaxing in Nice, France with Lou Marino (left)|
|R&R by the sea in France, Sept. 1945|
Soon after, Richard took a one week furlough with some buddies (including Louis Marino) to Nice in Southern France. He relaxed by sight-seeing and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
The voyage back to the United State consisted of a train ride to Southern France, near Marsaille, and sailing to the New York harbor on a steamboat named Costa Rica.
Cpl. Rothenheber, Foreman of Construction, received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on December 3, 1945. He was awarded 3 medals for his service:
- the Good Conduct Medal
- Victory Medal WWII
- European-African Middle Eastern (EAME) Campaign Medal.
Richard passed away peacefully on June 28, 2004 and was buried in Troy, NY. Today, his wife, children and grandchildren are extremely proud of his service in the U.S. Army Air Force's 832nd Engineer Aviation Battalion during World War II. His grave marker reminds us that he was just one of the many hard-working, dedicated men and woman who selflessly answered their country's call-and made an important contribution to the victory enjoyed by the United States.
Joan Rothenheber Howe
West Des Moines, Iowa