Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

26 Oct 1944





Miles Interviews Men With 5th Army, Italy

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy(IDPA) -- A 22 year old nazi soldier captured in north Italy told an American officer his father lived in Iowa for 10 years before he was born and left because he did not like that state or any other part of the United States.

The officer who wasn't an Iowan said he could have given the prisoner an argument on behalf of Iowa or any states but that it wasn't his job to vocally take issue with captives. A friend of mine, did have a lot of fun kidding me about the incident.

I could have told the young German and his father, too, that Iowa was the greatest state in the country, which they will eventually learn is the greatest in the world, that thousands of Iowans of German extraction are among our best citizens, and hundreds of their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers are doing their full share in the American forces helping exterminate everything Germany stands for under Adolf Hitler.

Most of the young nazis captured wholly are inoculated with Hitlerism. Some are cocky and defiant. Most of the older ones have more sense. Men of all ages were giving themselves up when this was written under the Gothic line.

Lt. Col. Paul W. Brecher, of Storm Lake, a medical officer, greeted me cordially when I visited him at the station where he was on duty. Born in Alta, he was graduated from the University of Iowa in 1938. He practiced in Storm Lake until he entered the army as a first lieutenant in January of 1941. His wife and 4 year old son are in Iowa City.

"I am going back to Storm Lake to pursue my profession when the war is over", he said. "It's the finest place in the world to me."

The colonel has seen a lot of war and thousands of casualties in his services in the 5th army.

He introduced me to Cpl. Thomas Willis, of Dallas, a clean cut, 22 year old youth, who worked on the U.S. Veterans hospital at Knoxville before entering the military.

"Willis is our very able mail orderly and one of our best horseshoe pitchers," Colonel Brecher declared. The corporal asserted he planned after the war to return to his old civilian job, then to take the civil service examination to be a mail clerk.

On that trip to where American division units were blasting the Boche toward Berlin, I jeeped in a cold, needling rain over slippery roads. Knowledge that infantry men were pushing forward through wet, dense woods in muddy mountains made me marvel at their fortitude. Constant din of artillery let me know of a determined attack. Articles of German equipment strewn around proved the Yankee advance was succeeding.

En route, among scores of GI's eating doughnuts and drinking coffee at a Red Cross club mobile, I found T/5 Melvin Athay, of Estherville, a signal corpsman, and T/5 Edward Anderson, of Ft. Madison, of ordnance. Athay has been overseas 25 months, Anderson 18 months. Both had been in Africa before coming to Italy. Anderson's father, C.M. Anderson, was a guard at the state penitentiary, Ft. Madison, 15 years until last year when ill health forced him to resign.

After arriving I found Pvt. Jack Dorsey, 22 Mason City, who was graduated from high school and junior college there. He has a brother Leo, in the navy.

Recently, I learned that Iowans among the soldiers doing salvage work in the 5th army at a $20,000 daily saving to the federal government were: S/Sgt Nick J. De Francisso, of Des Moines, a mobile shoe repairman, born in Marshalltown and who parents are natives of Italy: Cpls. Dean I. Lown, North English, and Charles A. Hawkins, Hawarden, farmers before they were inducted; T/4 Charles H. Craig, of Davenport, and Pfc. Clifford W. Cross, Des Moines.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, October 26, 1944

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