Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

25 Jan 1945




Yanks Dig in for Winter in Italy

By Frank Miles

With the 5th Army in Italy, Jan. 22 (IDPA) -- A page of pictures and a story in the The Stars and Stripes describing army life in north Italy makes you think how much the picture would change if the war in Europe should end suddenly.

Fifth army leaders rightly believe that one way to win quick victory is to prepare for a long fight. The war might have been over if all American civilians had acted on that idea since Pearl Harbor.

German bombers were aloft in this area shortly before I wrote this article. At such times I am always homesick.

The Stars and Stripes article appear under the headline -- "Shackin' Up for the Winter."

"Yankee ingenuity will spell the difference between comparative comfort and complete misery for many a 5th army soldier this winter," said the writer.

"The 1st armored division, the 34th infantry division and many other outfit is tasting for the 3rd time the devil's brew, which passes for winter in Italy and Tunisia. More recent arrivals have needed the experience of winter-wise veterans.

"As a result, the front today is a patchwork of jim handy houses. With only a shelter half and his wits, the GI has burrowed and built until he achieved some degree of protection from the mud, snow, rain and cruel wind. Some dwellings are caves slanting into cliff sides. Others are dug into hill soil. Facile hands have converted abandoned packing cases into boarded tent sides. Floors are built up and paved with empty shells or carpeted with straw. Mud plasters draughty cracks. Lard cases become stoves.

"These ersatz dwellings are not handsome nor do they make life in the field comfortable. The serve only to temper the discomforts. But these practical demonstrations of Yank ingenuity are destined to play a major role in carrying the 5th army through its 2nd winter."

Cpl. Gerald L. Buckles, Des Moines, holds the silver star for gallantry in action at Tunisia, North Africa, in February, 1943. The Iowan, in the 34th division, repeatedly crawled through hostile fire to help wounded comrades in his duties as a rifle company aid man in the terrific fight for Sened Station

Staff Sgt. John E. Sellers, Boone, of the 91st "Powder River" division, has received the bronze star for heroic achievement in action with the 5th army in north Italy.

Sgt. William J. Fenske, Cresco, has been cited for exceptionally meritorious conduct when he and 3 comrades repaired and evacuated a badly needed equipment truck in an area under heavy enemy shell fire. He is of the 34th division.

Second Lt. Robert C. Burdick, Sioux City, received his commission as a battlefield promotion from reconnaissance sergeant after he had shown outstanding valor.

Given 5th army 30-day furloughs:

Pfc. Frank J. Trenkamp, Preston; Pfc. Joe W. Hazher, Des Moines; First Sgt. Clifford W. Benedict, Council Bluffs; Sgt. Wilmer J.C. Jens, Glenwood; Sgt. Clifford H. Keeton, Council Bluffs; Sgt. Glenn A. Carlson, Elk Horn; Sgt. Robert R. Jorgenson, Audubon; and Pfc. Charles White, Muscatine, all of the 34th division.

Trenkamp wears the purple heart for wounds at Cassino, the European theater ribbon with 4 campaign stars and the combat infantryman badge. Hazher has the silver star, the European theater ribbon with 4 campaign stars and division citations. He has 3 brothers in service: Leo, a navy seaman in the states; Abraham, a corporal in the air forces, and Bernard Hazher, a tank corps private, both in France. Benedict has the purple heart and the the combat infantryman badge. Jens has the same decoration and the European theater ribbon with 4 stars. Keeton, Carlson, Jorgenson and White have the ribbon and badge.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 25, 1945

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