Lind: North Dakota memories from the day WWII ended
In today's "Neighbors" column, readers recall their family's reactions on Aug. 15, 1945.
“I was 11 years old, and along with my dad and my brothers David and Gene, I was pulling nails out of old boards in the barnyard,” Jay Rice, Maddock, N.D., wrote “Neighbors.”
“Ma came out on the porch of the house and yelled to us, ‘The war is over!’”
It was Aug. 15, 1945 — 75 years ago — the day it was announced that Japan had surrendered, ending World War II.
Jay is one of several who wrote in about that historical day after this column ran a letter a reader had sent concerning it .
“Ma and Pa had four sons in the war,” Jay writes; “three in the South Pacific and one in Europe. They all came home unscathed!”
This letter came from Arnold Jordheim, Walcott, N.D.
“I was 8 years old and playing in our farmyard 3 miles west of Walcott when my mother, Olga, called me in to say that the radio news had reported that the war was ended with the Japanese surrender,” he writes. “I was told to run out to the field a half mile south where a neighbor was shocking in the wheat field and tell him. That was Parnell Thue, who was about to turn 18 and would have been drafted to go fight the Japanese, so he was very happy! His brother Harold was a paratrooper fighting in Europe.”
Arnold says you never know who will be sent to fight in wars.
“My dad, Ole Jordheim, was too young for World War I and too old for World War II,” he says. “I was too young for World War II and just young enough to miss the fighting in Korea. However, I did get sent to Germany as part of the occupation forces. And then I was too old to get sent to Vietnam.
“For the men who were the right age to get sent into battle, I have the utmost respect, and can only thank God that by the timing of my birth, I avoided that. But my wife, Gerda, and I have a son, Chris, who served over 17 years in the Air Force as an Arabic and Russian linguist during the Gulf War and in Afghanistan. Many times his surveillance plane could easily have been shot down.
“Now we have a grandson who is serving in the Air Force. We hope and pray that there won’t be any hostilities that he might get involved in. But it’s in the hands of God!”
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Back from Vietnam
Shifting gears and wars, here’s a 54-year-old memory that 2019 column brought back for F.C. “Chuck” Humphrey, Pocatello, Idaho, and formerly of Verona, N.D.
“I returned from the Vietnam War Sept. 30, 1966,” he writes. “My then-wife Judy, her parents Richard and Ruth Schulz, my mother Alice Humphrey, and my sister Faye, 15, were waiting for me at the Fargo airport, at the old air terminal. All of them took time off from their jobs (my sister from high school) to welcome me home after one year away.
“In Vietnam I served with the 1st Infantry Division’s combat engineer battalion at a base camp near Ben Cat and Lai Khe, villages about 40 miles northwest of Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City).
“My wife, Jane, and I attend a reunion of an association of veterans of the combat engineer battalion every year.” Chuck says that reunion was in Deadwood, S.D., in 2019.
Going back to VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, here’s a letter from Virginia Trom, Ulen, Minn., who writes, “I was 7 years old. We lived at 1604 Fourth St. N. in Fargo.
“I and my younger sister, Peggy, and other kids were playing outside when our neighbor man was walking by on his way home from work. I believe he got off the bus on the corner of 16th Avenue and Broadway.
“He came walking down the street swinging his lunch pail when the lady across the street (I think her name was Mrs. Hamm) stepped out on her front porch and announced (the Japanese had surrendered).
“He replied, ‘The h___ you say!’
“I was just aghast, shocked, that this man said a swear word. How awful!
“Well, he kept walking down the street, the lady went back into her house and we continued playing.
“That’s my memory of Aug. 15, 1945.
“I had five uncles in World War II and they all came home. Two were injured and one was a prisoner of war.
“I am now 81 years old,” Viriginia wrote last year, “and I can still hear that neighbor man’s voice.”
And then here’s a letter from Ron Anderson, Fargo, who says a Forum story last year about the end of World War II “brought back an embarrassing memory.
“I was a 15-year-old farm boy near Clarkfield, Minn.,” Ron writes.
“We received our mail in town, and that day I drove in to pick it up.
“On the way home, I glanced at the paper beside me and saw the headline reading ‘Japan surrenders!’
“I was so excited reading the rest of the headline that I drove off the highway and into the ditch.
“Thank goodness the ditch was level and wide!
“I continued on to the next driveway and on to home to spread the good news.”
And it was very good news indeed, that day 75 years ago.
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