Friday afternoon, October 2, at approximately 5:00pm, an American Hero was called home. He is my Great Uncle Bruce. Born in a small farming community in central Iowa, Bruce was a boy when the United States was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. His father had taken him, his sister (my grandmother), and several other kids sledding that morning after Sunday School. At the age of 17, he wanted to enlist in the Marines, but great-grandma wouldn't have it.
So Bruce was drafted into the Army, in a delayed deployment program that was going to send him to college prior to deployment and then bring him in as a 2nd Lieutenant. But just a couple of days before Bruce was to begin classes at the University of Oklahoma, the whole program was cancelled, and he was on his way to Europe.
When he crossed the Channel, he landed at Utah Beach (not on D-Day) and began the move through. He was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and taken to Stalag 12A in Germany as a P.O.W. On April 12, 1945, the Stalag was liberated by the English 7th Armoured Division. Until his passing, Bruce still had the boots and uniform that were provided by the 7th upon liberation-the first change of cloths or shoes since early January at his capture.
Bruce was awarded 2 purple hearts and 2 bronze stars for his service.
After returning home, he met a wonderful woman, who would become his wife for over 52 years. They had one son, and two grand-daughters; the oldest of which was married two weeks ago. Bruce was at the wedding. The next morning, he began a two weeks of illnes, which ultimately took him home. He was coherent, giving orders all the way to the end, and told his son on Friday that he was ready to go home. His wife passed a couple of years ago, and Saturday, October 3rd, was their wedding anniversary, for which they are back together.
It took Bruce over 40 years to talk about his experiences in World War II. He was an ardent advocate for Veterans, especially in the Des Moines area. He served on the committee for the first state or national World War II Memorial, which is located on the state capital grounds in Des Moines. He served as Master of Ceremonies at its dedication. Follow this link to see pictures of Veterans Day Services at the Memorial. Bruce is the 3rd from the right in the first two pictures, and 2nd from the right in the third picture.
It is always sad to lose a dearly loved family member, but our entire family takes comfort in knowing he has gone home to his Savior, and is reunited with his loving wife. We take pride in know that he was a great man, and that we had the honor of being his family.
Bruce you will be greatly missed in this life, but we will see you again, soon.
11 years ago