Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

09 Jan 1945





Return to Italy After Furloughs in States

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy (IDPA) -- About 300 GI's "marking time" on a muddy hillside near the 5th army front watched 4 heavy American planes fly over them, then as they heard bomb explosions and saw black flak puffs in the sky they knew a nazi position had been attacked from the air.

"I am not used to such sights and sounds -- they scare me," grinned a tall, personable staff sergeant, whose manner despite his neat, new uniform showed him to be a veterans soldier.

He was Wesley Rasmussen, Harlan, returning to his combat outfit after nearly 4 months absence from February 1942, until last August. Rasmussen and the other soldiers there had come back across the Atlantic together on an army transport.

Upon learning my identity, he rounded up other Hawkeyes, among whom were Master Sgt. Ernest Phillips and Staff Sgt. Calvin Stogsdill, both of Jefferson; Staff Sgt. George Young, Council Bluffs; Sgt. George Green, Des Moines; Staff Sgt. John Calisest, Ft. Dodge, and Pfc. Paul Klindt, Davenport.

"Two of these guys got married while we were home," Rasmussen grinned, indicating Sgt. Stogsdill and Young.

"Brave men," I remarked.

"Braver girls," a Kentucky comrade rejoined.

Sergeant Stodgsdill and Miss Vera Washam, Bagley, were wed Sept. 16, and Sergeant Young and Miss Maxine Bain, Council Bluffs, on Oct 1.

"It was great to be back in the states and it was tough to have to come back," the Iowans and a number of others whom I talked declared.

"Of course I love my home people," one Hawkeye said, "but some of them griped me -- those, who apparently don't know the war was on or thought it was all over and those who bragged about how much money they were making."

"I really got mad at a fellow in my home town who professed to be a friend of mine," grinned Private Klindt, a handsome, clean cut youngster. "He said that while, of course, he was very sorry for me and others who had to fight that so far as he personally was concerned the war could go on the rest of his life because he was pulling down so much dough in his business. I suppose I should have smacked him but I let him off with some straight talk."

"What burns me is the soft treatment given Italian and German prisoners back there," the Kentuckian said. "I don't think they should be handled cruelly, but I saw a group of girls going into an Italian camp to stage a party for the guys there, I saw some of the Italians allowed almost as much freedom outside as if they had been citizens, and I saw jerries on jobs much nicer and more comfortable than we give our own men when they are made prisoners for violating military regulations.

"The Italians should either be treated as prisoners or sent home; the Germans should be dealt with fairly but that could be done by keeping them impressed with the fact that they have fought against us and killed and wounded many American boys."

Every one of the Iowans and a dozen others who had come into the conversation circle agreed with the Southerner whose words, though soft, cracked with emphasis. He had won 3 decorations for valor.

At intervals a truck from a regiment would drive up and a group from it would climb aboard to be taken to its place in the fighting lines.

By dark I knew that every one of the 300 would again be "up there" in the slog, doing his part in the American assault on Kessering's forces. The war was not over for them and no matter what anyone might do, it wouldn't make him rich. I know too, that some of them had seen home for the last time.

An ambulance brought 4 wounded doughboys to a field hospital on the edge of a town nearby just as I arrived there. A jerry plane had dropped a bomb in the town that killed 7 American soldiers that night before.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 9, 1945

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