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Sgt Willis Havemeier, 843rd Engineer Aviation Battalion (EAB)

Sgt Willis Havemeier

843rd Engineer Aviation Battalion (EAB)
Photos

Remembering D-Day: Article in New Ulm Journal

Sacrifice ensures freedom: Article in New Ulm Journal


Sgt Willis Havemeier wrote this memoir of his time in the 843rd EAB.

The 843rd had to move out of our barracks three weeks before we left McChord Field to make room for new recruits that were coming into this camp. When we moved out, we had to take all beds back to a warehouse for storage and then scrub and clean the barracks before we left. We were put on alert for overseas duty December 6, 1942 but we left five months later. This was a big lie, this was done so nobody would get a furlough home before we shipped out for overseas. Our heavy equipment was shipped out by rail to the port of embarkation the last part of January 1943. Two hundred fifty men also went along for guard duty on this train to protect our equipment against sabotage. The rest of the battalion moved out of our barracks into tents (commonly called tent city). We had no bunks or beds in these tents. We slept on the wood floors. All you had is one army blanket to lay on and one to cover up and for a pillow you doubled a jacket in a bunch and that was it. We lived this way for the last three weeks before we shipped out of McChord, some deal that was. Being we had no equipment, all we did is go on hikes day and night time or go to the rifle range and shoot at a target or did our best to kill one another at calisthenics.

The 843rd left McChord Field May 7, 1943, we boarded a passenger train at Tacoma, Washington and left there with one thousand men. This train was pulled by two steam driven locomotives. We went all the way across the country to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey which was close to New York City. We arrived there May 11, 1943. On May 22, 1943 we boarded a troop ship for overseas duty. But before we left Camp Kilmer, some of us went into the Big City and saw some iteresting places. We were up on top of the Empire State building, went into Jack Demsey’s bar and had a glass of beer. The beer was one dollar and seventy five cents a glass, remember this was in May 1943. We wanted to go into the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and see Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians Dance Band, but the door man would not let us in. It was off limits to service men at that time, later on they were let in so we missed that deal.

courtesy offshore-radio.de
courtesy offshore-radio.de
The troop ship that we were on was called the Mariposa. It was a luxury liner converted to a military transport. We were told that this ship could accommodate six thousand people for cruises, but we had nine thousand men on board for the military. Nobody did any counting, all I know is it was very crowded. We were not told as to where we would be going, nor were we allowed to write home about any military movement. Everything was kept a secret. We ate two meals a day. You ate in shifts, certain times of the day. We went across the Atlantic Ocean, without any convoy of ships for protection from enemy submarines, we were on our own. This was a fast ship and it would change course every twenty minutes, in other words zig zag all the way across the ocean.

We left the U.S. May 11, 1943 and arrived at Livepool, England June 1, 1943. We were glad to get off the ship as a lot of men were weak from being sea sick, me included. We then boarded a passenger train and traveled towards London, but got off the train at a small town called Braintree. From there we were taken by army trucks to a small village called Gosfield. There we were to build an air base for the U.S. Air Force along with another engineer Battalion. We were at this base for five months, it then became fully operational.

Chelmsford
Chelmsford
We then moved to another location near a small town called Chelmsford, also completed this field for the B 26 Bomber of U.S. Air Force. This was done in about five months along with another engineer Battalion. Most of the air bases had ninety planes at any one time. We did all the cement work on these bases and constructed many buildings for the Air Force. The engineers slept in tents most of the time. All electrical and plumbing was done by English personnel. These air bases all had two runways on them. They were one mile long, one hundred fifty feet wide, and ten inches thick. The engineers worked twenty hours a day. There were two ten hour shifts. Half of the Battalion would work one shift while the other half were off duty, four hours a day were used to service equipment. The runways and taxiways were all built out of cement.
Laying concrete
Laying concrete
Being in the engineers, you worked where you were needed. I was a cement finisher, working in back of a paving machine. I worked with bull float to make the cement smooth for the planes. I installed anchors in fresh cement in Hardstands (this is a military term where planes are parked when not on a mission). The anchors were used by the air force during heavy windstorms to secure the planes. There were usually thirty hard stands on these air bases, each would hold three bombers so you see that’s ninety planes. I did not do this work alone, many other guys did the same thing. It takes a lot of man power to do different jobs. I also did some construction work, such as laying brick to close in the end of Nissen Huts and different buildings. I had one job where I had to lay out the drainage system in shower rooms. These showers were used by all men on the base where we were. There were four different rooms in one building. Each room had eight showers, that is thirty two showers.

37 mm anti-tank cannon
37 mm anti-tank cannon

My rank was Weapon Sergeant in Company C of the 843rd Engineers. I was in charge of all weapons in the Company and had the responsibility to keep all weapons in top working condition. I had three other men assigned to me for maintenance. The weapons included: one hundred seventy five m 1 rifles, four fifty caliber water cooled machine guns, one thirty caliber machine guns, six forty five caliber pistols, and a thirty millimeter anti tank gun. This gun would fire a bullet one and three quarter inch in diameter and was effective for three miles. Each shot cost five dollars. All other companies did this same thing. Every company had their own Weapons Sergeant.

At 50 cal AA machine gun
At 50 cal AA machine gun

While I was stationed in England, I was ordered to go to Kilkeel, Ireland for advanced machine gun training. There were four men, one from each Company of the 843rd assigned to go to this location. We went from London north to Carlisle, England by civilian passenger train and then got on board a civilian ferry boat to go to Ireland. This was rather a small ship compared to ocean going ships. There were a lot of people on board, it was very crowded. We were at Kilkeel which is close to the seashore for two weeks. The guns we fired were fifty caliber water cooled machine guns. We would shoot at a towed target which was pulled by a fighter plane. This was a wind sock bright red in color, the same kind one sees at an airport. This target was three hundred feet behind the plane. There were twenty guns firing at this target. You could not hear your own words. I was around explosive noise while in service, but it did not affect my hearing. This deal of going to Ireland was in February 1944. I forgot to mention that in September 1943 I was able to get a four day pass along with a buddy of mine to go to Edinburgh, Scotland which is about four hundred miles north of London. We got on a passenger train at this city and traveled to Edinburgh. This was a high speed train pulled by a steam driven locomotive. It went seventy miles per hour. This train was known as the London to Edinburgh Express Limited. While in Edinburgh, we stayed at a hotel which was operated by English and American Red Cross for service men. We saw all kinds of sites including the Edinburgh castle. This castle took two hundred years to build. It was started in the year One Thousand and completed in Twelve Hundred. It is a great tourist attraction even to this very day. This city is very old with narrow crooked streets but we had a good time there. While stationed on different bases in England, we did have movies to go to about once a week in the evening so we did have some entertainment. We also seen some U.S. shows which were enjoyable. The one I enjoyed the most was the Bob Hope show along with his friends namely Frances Langford who was a great singer and Tony Romano who played guitar for Langford. I met Bob Hope personally and have his autograph along with the other two persons mentioned. This was in July 1943 at the first base that the 843rd was building. The 843rd was in England from June 1, 1943 until June 30, 1944, when the invasion started at Normandy, France June 6, 1944. The 843rd was alerted to be at the Port of Embarkation Marshaling area to prepare to go to this destination.

I must mention that when the invasion of France was under way, the German military left loose with the V one Bomb, commonly known as the Buzz Bomb. This thing was launched from a steam catapult. When it became airborne, it was guided by radio beam. To get to a designated target, it was figured out how much fuel it would take to reach a certain target. This bomb was a five hundred pound bomb. It was built like a plane, it had a jet motor on it and wings. They were trying to hit the area in southern England where troops were assembling. Several of these things did come fairly close to where we were but did not do much damage. This thing would explode on impact, it is like a concussion bomb. Germany must have had a lot of them because they would fire these things day and night. During daytime, our air force was trying to shoot these buzz bombs down with the P38 fighter plane. You would see hundreds of these planes flying about fifteen hundred feet above ground, wing to wing as far as one could see to the left and to the right they would make an aerial sweep all over southern England. What a sight that was!

On June 30, 1944, we boarded a L.S.T. (Landing, Ship, Tank) which was a troop and equipment transport ship. We left from Southampton, England to go to France across the English Channel. We arrived at Omaha Beach, Normandy July 1, 1944. With all men of the 843rd and equipment, it took two ships to get there. There was no pier to unload. The ships went directly to shore as close as they could. On these ships the bow was designed to swing open and then a huge ramp was lowered so we could get off the ship. This ramp was twenty feet long and ten feet wide. We drove through six feet of water to get on shore. We were part of the invasion force, things were still not very secure because we were in a combat area. The 843rd started to construct an air strip for U.S. fighter planes the same day we got off the ship. Before work could begin, the area had to be cleared of unexploded ammunition, such as hand grenades, mines, live rifle shells, and many other types of explosives, German as well as American. One had to be very careful when handling these explosives. That was the dangerous part of this job. After this was cleared, then heavy equipment was brought to clear trees, hedge rows, brush, and things like that.

Offset Stamp Lickers -- laying mat
Offset Stamp Lickers -- laying mat

This air strip that was being built was one mile long, seventy feet wide, with taxiways around the main runway. This would take care of fifty fighter planes. These were the P51 Mustangs and the P47 Grumman which were single engine planes, also had a few P38 fighter planes which is a two motor plane. These fighter strips were not built out of cement, the area was cleared of all obstacles (trees, brush, hedge rows, etc.) where the field was to be built. The land was made level by bulldozers, carry alls, road graders, and packers until the ground was smooth and level. Then the runway was water proofed with heavy roofing material, this stuff was in four hundred pound rolls. These were mounted on the truck box of a GI truck then it fed into a machine which was pulled behind the truck containing diesel fuel and tar. After going through this process, it was laid down on the hard surfaced ground. This stuff was four feet wide and sixty feet long on a roll. When one was used up, another had to be put on it's place, this is where heavy lifting took place and a lot of men got hurt this way; because of the lack of equipment. This was laid down like half lap roofing, just like it is done on a flat roof. After the entire runway was covered, hot tar had to be put on all the lap seams. We had to get this job done because of the war and the planes were to come into this field as soon as it was ready. This fighter base was completed in just twenty one days and it was started from nothing. After we were in Normandy five days at this air strip, I was Sergeant of Arms for guard duty and had eight men from Company C under my guard detail. Other companies did the same thing, men were stationed all around this air strip for protection.

Bivouc in Normandy
Bivouc in Normandy

When one is Sergeant of Arms, you must keep check on your men. One must be familiar with the area where guards are to be posted. That is alright in day time, but a night when it is pitch black, that is another story. At night you do not dare use any lights because you are in a combat zone. Also you had to use some kind of signal to let the person who is on guard know who you are when you are checking on your men, otherwise you may get shot. I had guard duty several different times at bases in this part of France. These duties would be twenty four hours for one day, then someone else would take over.

After being two weeks in Normandy, I was assigned a six ton truck plus a driver. We then went to an ammunition dump and got four tons of tank mines cases and cases of ammo for M1 rifles and thirty caliber machine guns, fifty caliber machine guns, and forty five caliber pistols. Also missiles for bazooka shoulder fired tank weapon. Also had a two wheeled trailer behind the truck which was fully loaded with hand grenades and mine detonators (mine caps). Whenever we moved to another location, we were always three quarter of a mile or more behind the rest of the Company. Other companies of the 843rd did the same thing. If my truck would have been hit by enemy action, I would not be here to tell this true story.

B-26 Marauder
B-26 Marauder

When we were at a location at some air base, I would work with the rest of the men in the company. You worked where you were needed. We had to contend with these explosives for two months, being the war moved so fast for a time we had no use for mines, hand grenades, and things like that. We kept ammunition for our rifles and machine guns. The rest was turned into an Ordinance Depot. The towns that we were close to in France were Bruchville, Insigny, St. Marie Du Mont, St Jean De Day, St. Lo, Avranches, LeMans, Chartres, Bouvais, Nancy, Loul. Balone, Couveron, Le On, Orly, Paris, and Tontonville. At some of these towns, other engineer Battalions built these fighter bases while the 843rd was constructing this first air strip in Normandy. General Patton’s third army was trying to break through German defenses at St. Lo. The resistance was so great that air strikes were called in and three hundred B26 bombers came from bases in England that the engineers had built there. These bombers completely destroyed this town. There were no buildings left standing. The 843rd were two miles away from St. Lo and we could hear the bombs exploding and the ground shook like an earthquake. This first fighter base that 843rd built was completed in just twenty one long days (sixteen to eighteen hour days). Not much rest and not much food. We slept in pup tents in this part of France. It took two shelter halves to make a tent. You paired with another soldier, you slept with your clothes on and you slept with your best buddy (your M1 rifle) which was always fully loaded with live ammunition. You laid on the ground. We lived this way until we got to Paris. Then we were able to get into some sort of buildings. The only food we had to eat the first four days were K rations (that is food in a card board box), restroom facilities were not good, a slit trench was built, which was a trench dug one foot wide four feet deep and thirty feet long. You straddled this trench to do your morning duties. Sanitation was very poor, no water to wash your hands, you just lived this way. Remember you are in no man’s land, it is another part of being in war. We were lucky to get drinking water, you took a bath out of your helmet if you could find some water. Also you washed your clothes this way. Later on, shower facilities were built but you were still out in the open air, there was no privacy for anyone.

Le Bourget Administration Building
Le Bourget Administration Building

When the 843rd got to Paris, we were the first Americans on the air field called Le Bourget. There were enemy troops still there. A battle was going on between the free French army and the German army. When we arrived, the Germans soon pulled out, they must have seen all the machine guns we were putting in place. This is the air field where Charles Lindberg landed in 1927 when he crossed the Atlantic Ocean alone in a single engine plane from New York to Paris. All that was done to make this operational was to repair the main runway and taxiway. Other buildings were repaired later. This field was urgently needed to bring in supplies for the military and take wounded soldiers back to England for treatment.

It must be understood that the entire Battalion was not always at one location. There were four Companies in the 843rd but each Company would be working at different bases for repairs. One very important fighter base the Battalion built was at a small town by the name Tontonville, France. This field was heavily used by our air force when the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium was going on. This is where I got my appendicitis attack, I was rushed by ambulance to a field hospital for surgery by Nancy, France. There were many casualties that came into this hospital as a result of combat, they came directly from a fighting area. There were thousands of men that went through much more hell of war than I did. Many thousands of men were captured and put into prisoner of war camps. Many were mistreated especially by the Japanese. For them I am extremely grateful for the sacrifices they made for the Freedom of America. After my surgery, I laid on an army cot for two days and then laid on a stretcher for four days, on the ground, in a tent. This was in October, 1944 and it was cold, windy, and rainy.

C-47 transport
C-47 transport

There were men in very serious condition in this same tent. There was a soldier next to me who had lost both arms and another did not have any legs left. Three stretchers over to my left, a soldier was dying as a result of combat. Men get wounded in all parts of the body, this is the hell of war. When you see these things, you don't complain about anything. This hospital became so overcrowded with casualties that two hundred patients, me included, were put on a French hospital train, everybody was on a stretcher. We were stacked four high on each side of the rail car, twelve stretchers on each side. These were supported like shelf brackets, these rail cars were baggage cars converted for hospital use. We went to a hospital in Paris, France. This was a civilian hospital; it would accommodate twenty four patients in peace time in the wards that were there, but we had fifty beds in these same wards for the military. This hospital was also overcrowded with casualties, that two hundred patients, me included, were taken by C47 transport planes to England for treatment. We left Paris from the very same field that my unit had repaired several months earlier which was Le Bourget. There must have been ten planes to take all these men as some were still on stretchers. We landed close to a city called Manchester; it is in the Northwestern part of England. This was a large hospital to take care of all patients. While being at this hospital, a special day was set aside for soldiers that were wounded as a result of enemy action and were awarded the Purple Heart, medals for bravery, and other medals. Some were so severely wounded they were unable to stand. I never got to know them as to who they were or where they were from, you just do what you are told to do. That is part of being in service.

I was away from Company C of the 843rd Engineers for three months. I was in several rehabilitation camps before I got back to my outfit. You see hundreds of men at these camps but nobody that you would know. Again, I was flown back to Paris in a C47 transport and again landed at Le Bourget airfield. So I was in England twice during my military service, went across the English Channel three times. When I did get back, my outfit was still in France and were doing repairs on former German airfields. The German air force ceased to exist because they had no more fuel for their planes, whatever they had left. The closer we came to Germany we were met with very little resistance. The towns we went through in Germany were Stuttgart, Ulm, Munich, Augsburg, Landsburg, Kaufring, Geltendorf, and many other small villages. In Austria there was Garmish, Partenkirchen, Insbruck, and Obcramergau. I also was on boarder line between Italy and Austria at Brenner Pass.

It must be understood that one hundred seventy nine men besides myself all did their work to which they were assigned, just as well as I did. It takes team work by all men to do jobs of all kinds, that is the way it is. In the military everything works by time, every unit is to be at a certain point at the appointed hour and you will be there without fail. This is all planned out by high ranking military officers, that is the way it is.

The 843rd was in Munich, Germany when the war ended, which was May 9, 1945. We were at a German airfield for a very short time. We did not do any repairs at this field. We were then ordered to go to an airfield at Landsberg, Germany. It was close to a small village called Penzing. This airfield was known as Airfield Penzing. In German it was called Flugeplatz Penzing.

The 843rd Aviation Engineers were around airplanes all the time. While we were in service we had nothing to do with the planes what so ever, this was strictly for the air force personnel. We did witness many accidents, planes coming back from missions with damaged landing gear, holes in the wings, and fuselodge, very little control of their planes. Many would crash when landing, a lot of men died this way. We saw planes collide into one another when they were circling the air base. We seen two B-26 bombers collide close to the C Company area, these planes were fully loaded with fuel, bombs, ammunition, plus eight men in each plane. They exploded on impact and all men were killed. There was a great fire because of all the fuel. Everything burned up including the men, that is the hazard of war.

It must be understood that Germany and Japan were not too far from taking over all Nations in the World. At that time in World War II, they were well advanced in missiles, rocketry, jet propulsion, chemical warfare, even the development of the atomic bomb. Thanks to spies and intelligence, these things were destroyed by the U.S. Air Force. The German government was very wicked to its own people during Hitler’s time. They forced people into Concentration Camps. Millions of people were put to death, these were not only Jews but Lutherans, Catholic, and others as well. If one spoke out against Hitler and his regime, this is where they were placed. I have pictures of the Concentration Camp at Dachau, Germany which was North of Munich. Wherever there is a dictator government, these people will kill anyone that is opposed to them. This has been going on for centuries and will continue until Judgment Day. Just look at history, Chinese kills four thousand people a year just because the people oppose the communist system.

This German military air base was quite large, it had two main runaways. It also had five large air plane hangers and all the necessary buildings that are on a base. This field was self sufficient, it had its own electrical power plant, its own deep wells for water supply, and central heating plants to heat all buildings. This air base was severely damaged by our air force but Company C of 843rd had the job of repairing this base and make it operational. We were here from May 15 until November 1st 1945, this field is still being used after all these years. We were at this base for about a week when my First Sergeant told me to report to the Company Commander immediately. I did not have any idea of what was up. I reported to the CO in a military manner and he gave a large order. He said, “Havemeier, you speak German, you see to it that rail system is put back in operation!” He said this with a stern voice, “That's an order, it is your responsibility that this is done!” Back in World War II, when an order was given, you carried them out that is it. Back in those days, all material that was needed on this base was brought in by rail service, there were no semis at that time. As I have never been in Germany before this, it was quite a challenge for me to carry out this order. From then on, all conversations were done in German. I went to the closest depot rail station and had a talk with the depot agent. I told him what had to be done and that was to repair the rail line from the service line into the air field. First this agent contacted the Rail Yard Master, this is a person who has charge of all material to build and repair the track system, also to provide section crews to do the work. These people were glad to have work and were paid by American Occupational Government. These people worked hard long days. I got along with these people very well as I gave them tobacco and some other things like oranges and apples and things like that. This rail system was severely damaged but by having good cooperation with these people, this rail system was back in full operation in two weeks time period. I received great comments from my Commander for carrying out this order.

After we were at this base for a month, we had no use for our weapons. There was absolutely no resistance from any of the civilians that we encountered. They were mighty thankful that the war was ended, besides Germany was completely disarmed by an order from the American Occupational Government. All our weapons were returned to an Ordnance Depot, every soldier who had a rank kept that until our discharge from the military. When this rail system was completed and service restored, supplies were being shipped into this base for reconstruction purposes. I was assigned by my Commander to be the interpreter to get and bring in certain kind of supplies and building materials such as sand, gravel, cement, fuel for all kinds of equipment, and also I had to get a lot of box cars to ship out men that were being discharged from other units in the military. When I received an order from my Commander, I would go to the nearest rail station to get certain material. I would tell the depot agent what was needed and he would order a steam locomotive for this purpose and I would get on board this engine and away we would go. Remember I was dealing with complete strangers in a foreign land, this is not easy. I got along real good as I could speak German just like they did, besides I would give them some tobacco, some hard chocolate, and some fruit. This would help me. I did not know anything about the operation of a train, I was just an interpreter. This sort of thing went on for the rest of the time C Company was at this base.

By November 1st 1945, we left this base. We were taken by army trucks to Augsburg, Germany and joined the rest of the 843rd battalion, there we got on board a train which was all box cars pulled by a steam locomotive. We rode this train for four hundred miles from Augsburg, Germany to Marseilles, France. This train only traveled about twenty miles per hour. Remember, you are on a freight train, all railroad box cars. All we had to sit on and sleep on were army cots; there were no rest room facilities what so ever. This train would stop at a U.S. military camp every one hundred miles. These camps were temporary to accommodate troops being transported. There one could take a shower, get a hot meal, and just relax a bit. These stops would last two hours, we did this four times on this journey to Marseilles, France. All we had to eat while on this train were K rations (that is food in a cardboard box), all we had to drink was water from a canteen. When we got to our destination, we just laid around for a few days because the ship we were to sail on was not ready for us to go on board. This was a cargo ship called the Costa Rica Victory, remember this was a ship built for cargo, but had quickly been converted for troop transport. When we left Marseilles, France we went on the Mediterranean Sea, we went through the Straits of Gibraltar, then onto the Atlantic Ocean. The passage way through the Straits is only about a mile wide. We saw the Rock of Gibraltar which is a high mountain of solid rock. We were in the cargo hold of the ship, ventilation was very poor and it was very crowded with soldiers. Restroom facilities were not good, sanitations was not good either. For your morning duties, you had to go on the top deck of the ship, you are out in the open air, no privacy what so ever. If you had to go rain or shine, no protection from the weather. What was had for this purpose were round toilet bowels fixed to a sewer pipe, there were thirty bowels on this pipe which was located across the deck about twenty feet from the bow of the ship. A large pump had been fixed on the outside of the ship. Sea water would flow continuously through this sewer pipe and raw sewage would go into the ocean. This is the way we lived for twelve days, nobody had a bath all this while. You did not notice this because everyone smelled the same, what a deal that was. There were eighteen hundred soldiers on board plus the ship's crew. This cargo ship was very small compared to other ocean going vessels. We ate in shifts, two meals a day and not every day at the same time.

We were out in the ocean on board ship for a few days, well then it was Thanksgiving so turkey was served that day and most men ate this stuff. The trouble was the turkey meat was old and spoiled (I could smell this as we got to the eating area so I did not eat any meat at that time). After eating this turkey, many men became very sick, they got dysentery along with being sea sick. They were relieving themselves in all areas on top deck (what a terrible mess that was). The ship's deck hands used fire hoses to wash the ship down. A few days later after Thanksgiving, we got into a terrible storm. It lasted for five days and nights. The ship would roll from side to side and up and down, I did not think at that time we would survive. It was so severe that nobody was allowed on top deck, not even the ship's crew. it would have been a terrible ordeal to lose one's life after going through the hell of war and die in the ocean. The Atlantic Ocean is very rough in the winter months, lots of storms. About two days after the storm passed the sea became more calm and things were better, the closer we came to land.

Finally when were about two miles out from the U.S. we could see the sky line of New York City. As we approached the Harbor we went passed the Statue of Liberty. This was a great site to see after being overseas for two and half years. I can't remember what camp it was where we went to after we got off the ship. All I know was that we were able to clean up and get a good meal. We were able to make free telephone calls to any where in the country. After a few days at this camp, everybody was sent to the nearest camp close to their home state to be discharged from the military. I was discharged at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

I forgot to mention that in the battalion that I was with, we had professional men, we had two medical doctors, one dentist, men who were well learned in construction work and knew how to design an airfield, buildings of all kinds, such as hangers, medical facilities, theaters, things that were necessary on an airfield. These were mainly built when we were in England. When we got to France, no more buildings were being built, all that was done was to build fighter bases and repair former German airfields.

There were twelve hundred fifty men in the battalion of the 843rd Engineers including the 0fficers. There were four companies in this unit namely Headquarters, A Company, B Company, C Company, plus a medical unit. The medals that most men received were the Good Conduct Medal, The European Medal with four battle stars, The Victory Medal with one battle star, and The Medal of Jubilee of Liberty given by the French Government. The Medal of Jubilee represents Normandy, for being in the invasion force June 6, 1944 to restore freedom to the French people. I was assigned to C Company and remained this way all the time I was in Service. This is the true story of my experience while I was in the military.

Now for some information about myself I was born and raised on a farm. I lived with my parents, brothers, and sister until I was twenty one years old. I had worked around area farms as there was no such thing as getting a job in town. Times were hard and the work was hard. I have only an eighth grade education but have a lot of experience in many things and am able to fix most things that need to be. I was drafted into military (army) reported for duty in August 1942. I was in service in World War II for three years, two months, and twenty five days. After the war, I got married to Laneta Meyer in 1946, bought a farm in 1948, and paid for it, and made all kinds of improvements. My wife and I worked very hard on this farm, made a success out of farming. We raised a family of one girl and two boys. They all have a good education and have good paying jobs. We sold the farm in nineteen ninety three after living there for forty five years. We now live in New Ulm, Minnesota in a small ranch style house. We have been married to each other for fifty eight years. We are both eighty three years old and in fairly good health. We love to travel and we have been attending reunions of the 843rd Aviation Engineers for the past thirty four years. These reunions take place in different cities all over the United States. We enjoy life!

Copyright © Willis Havemeier
Willis Havemeier's Certificate for the Medal of the Julibee of Liberty
Willis Havemeier's Certificate for the Medal of the Julibee of Liberty

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