Henry (Hank) Saddoris was born February 22, 1906 to Pearl and May Saddoris who lived in the Lacelle area in Iowa. After finishing elementary school, he farmed with his father. After the death of his father, he continued to live with his mother and do the farming.

After Henry was discharged in 1945, he married Nellie Reynolds and continued to farm until his death in 1977.

Hank was 38 years of age when he went into the Army July 11, 1942, and was Honorably Discharged November 7, 1945.

The following information was taken from a detailed, dated account titled: "History of Co. A. 850th Engineer Aviation Battalion". The Co. A. motto was: "The Difficult We Do Now; The Impossible Takes A Little Longer."

Henry went from Des Moines to Camp Roberts, California for infantry training. At the time Company A was being formed with men from all over the U.S.A. A comment was made over and over; the usual Army routine, "Waiting for something to happen". Finally on "alert," which means no passes, no talking to anyone on the outside.

From Camp Roberts, the 850th Engineer Aviation Battalion was fainted at Hammer Field Fresno, California. More training was done for the big move. The move began, covering many states — this group even went through Des Moines, Iowa, on their way east to "Camp Shanks," Orangeburg, New York. After 6 days they were on their "boat," the Normandy.

May 10, 1942, began the long ride, not pleasant because of foul weather and duties to perform aboard ship. On May 18th, land was sighted — the Northern Coast of Ireland. The ship was docked at Gort, Scotland. Land felt good, and the guys were introduced to their first "C" rations. Now they found out what job the 850th would be doing. They were to build airfields, concrete runways, buildings and hangers down through Scotland and England.

Another alert was sounded when they would cross the channel to "Utah Beach," one of the invasion points where many men lost their lives. They were met with rough seas, sea sickness, bodies floating in the sea and wrecked gliders. Co. A continued to move through cities in France, such as: Cherbourg and Paris, building as they went towards Germany.

Early in 1945, the 850th moved into Germany crossing the Rhine River. In Bibdis, Germany, they built the first airfield east of the Rhine River. After this they moved onto Ballilbem and built the second airfield. The third and fourth were built at Neustadt.

On V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day, May 8,1945, Hank's company was moved to Hessdorf and to Straubing to build the fifth airfield. The company went back to Furth for more work. It was then the big news came — September 2, "V.J. (Victory in Japan) Day!" Now that, VE and VJ were over, the guys knew that they would be going home.

After the war was over, they were to be part of the Army of Occupation. More than 200 were to go home, and about 40, men with less time in the armed forces, were assigned to the Occupation..

The guys, in Henry's company, saw many new and interesting sights overseas, but the over-all feeling was that the best sight to them would be to see the "Grand Old Lady, The Statue of Liberty."

Henry came back to the USA, November 7, 1945. His mother, with the help of his brothers George (Dick) and Richard (Tom), who had not been in the Armed Forces were able to keep his farm machinery and livestock while he was overseas.

Henry (Hank) Eugene Saddoris passed away in 1977.



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Last Revised June 13, 2015