The Museum of the American Military Family is compiling stories for a book reflecting on war…

 Attention New Mexicans, who are serving in the military, are military veterans, are members of a military family, and would like to write about your experience in that capacity…

 Paul Zolbrod, Writer-in-Residence for the Albuquerque-based Museum of the American Military Family is seeking stories for its anthology “From the Front Line to the Home Front: New Mexicans Reflect on War.”

This anthology will include first-hand stories from all perspectives—service members, family members and friends who share their perspectives and experiences. Submissions can be about the recent Middle East campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era or World War II—and everything in between. All branches and ranks of the military should be represented.

How you can contribute:

Your story can be as long or as short as you choose. Just make it heartfelt, honest and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss, stories that demonstrate the warmth and humor of military family life along with its inevitable tensions, offbeat stories that illustrate the variety that accompanies military life in war times–in other words– anything you want to tell of.

You don’t have to consider yourself an accomplished writer to participate. We will provide editorial services to sharpen your contribution.

The book will be arranged by stories of:

  • Pre-deployment,
  • Deployment
  • Post-deployment
  • Legacy & Aftermath

For more information or to submit a story, please e-mail Writer-in-Residence Paul Zolbrod at mamfwriter@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2016. Tentative publication date is scheduled for the fall. All stories become part of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collection Library.

 

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N. Rollins, Luzern 1947

This postcard was part of the original “Operation Footlocker” started by a group of military dependents. We assume this is one of their parents writing home to family in Ohio.

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5/19-47  10:30 A.M. Lucerne

Leaving by boat for  (unclear) 31/2 hour lake trip, lunch on board. Flew from (unclear). We took the electric train thru the Alps–one tunnel 10 miles long. This is a very lovely old town, beautiful shops etc. And such well dressed people. Have walked so much I’m beginning to think I’m back in N.Y.

Love,

N


PFC Allen D. Olson, May 1955

Excerpts from a letter written in May 1955 by PFC Allen Dale Olson, trombonist in the First Infantry Division Band which played a parade and royal concert in Holland to commemorate the 10th anniversary of that nation’s liberation from Nazi Germany

 

 

Corporal Allen Dale Olson

 

Dear Parents,

We left the billets on Monday evening by bus to the Bahnhof (that’s German for train station) in Wurzburg complete with luggage, instruments, and 250 infantry soldiers. There was a special train waiting for us, and in less than an hour we had it loaded. In all, our Honor Guard consisted of 300 men, including representatives of the Navy, Marine, and Air Force contingents here in Europe plus most of our 1st Infantry Division Band known as the Band of the Big Red One….

…From my sleeper on the train I awoke in Koblenz and got my first view of the Rhine. The track north of this city sits almost on the edge of this famed river and gives rail passengers a fine look at the high slopes rising away from the river. The Rhine here is about as wide as the Ohio at Louisville except that it appears to be cleaner (though I doubt it). I wonder if eating breakfast while passing through Bonn counts as “having eaten in Bonn.

Holland is instantly different from Germany. The land is absolutely flat. There are fences, healthy dairy cows, irrigation canals, and wind mills. Many windmills. And the folks – over half of them – do wear wooden shoes. The homes are modern in appearance although many of them are hundreds of years old. … In the rural areas, roofs are thatched. In the cities they are usually tiled, sometimes thatched. But now we’ve stopped in Arnhem, and it’s time to unload….

… By bus we went to an encampment of Dutch soldiers at Harskamp. Billets were provided for us in dormitory style… Beds consisted of straw mattresses, woolen blankets, and one sheet. The rooms were unheated and showed no signs of ever having been heated, and there was no sign of hot water. However, the place was clean and the liaison officers were extremely kind, polite, and helpful.

Our building was in a quadrangle over which, side by side, flew flags of Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the USA.  To our right was a similar building with flags from Great Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands. Straight across were detachments from France and Belgium…

… Our hosts invited us to a canteen, which turned out to be a counterpart to our PX and service club. Dutch beer and sandwiches comprised the food offerings and ping pong provided recreation…

Next night Ray Bruce and I went into Arnhem. None of the shops were open but from the outside they looked absolutely charming. We finished off the evening by eating out in one of the most modernistic restaurants I have ever set foot in – a place called Rembrandt Lounge. Steaks, not cut thick, but thin and tender cost us seven Guilden (about $2.00).

Wednesday morning was spent going over the parade route and rehearsing our honors to the Queen. Actually, it amounted to more of an orientation of alignment in accordance to other nations and discussing possible bottlenecks during the performance. The whole parade would see us marching over six miles and for about four hours. The reason for the parade? On May 6, 1945, the Germans surrendered Holland to the Allies and received for the Dutch their first liberation since 1939….

… Three of us went that afternoon to Amsterdam… This great old Dutch city did not let us down… There are canals, not like Venice, but it isn’t surprising to see barges waiting for traffic lights. Because it was May 5, the museums were all closed, but we did see the State Museum, Rembrandt’s House, and the House of the Sculptured Heads from the outside…. At 8:00 p.m. all Amsterdam rose to its feet for two minutes of silence to honor the war dead…

Thursday, May 6, 1955, is one day I shall never forget…. We were in parade formation at 6:30 a.m. Buses took us to Wageningen where we still had to stand in place for over an hour while the troops from the other countries marched to their inspection stations. How immaculate they looked when compared to the simple uniform the USA gives us. Most of them had tall plumes of many bright colors and all of them marched with variations of the goose step and arm swinging that was very showy….

… When all the troops were in line along the street, we pulled out and marched past them on the way to our station. We were to be last in the parade, just behind the British troops. For nearly an our we stood in the ranks with the sun getting hotter and hotter. Finally she came. In a black coach, drawn by six huge black horses driven by red-cloaked livery men, sat Queen Juliana, who rode by slowly, within six feet of me. With her was Prince Bernhard. Behind her, in a smaller coach, was General Foulkes, the man who had accepted the surrender from the German forces in the Netherlands. When they had gone, the parade began.

It didn’t take me long to become proud of the uniform, of America, and of myself. The thousands of Hollanders out to watch the goings-on (and there was an estimated 40,000) stood silently by as all the troops strutted by.  Then they would notice that the Americans were coming. If they were sitting they would stand. They would cheer, they would run into the street and applaud. They would take pictures. Some even cried. Children would sing “God Bless America” when we stopped. An old man grabbed me by the arm during one halt – “May God forever richly bless America,” he said.  Don’t think it wasn’t an honor and a thrill to be leading the United States of America down the main streets of Wageningen, Holland… I finally realized how much American power, might, and benevolence meant to the Dutch. We were few in number. We were simply clad. ..

… We had stepped off playing “Colonel Bogey.” We marched to a simple 4-stroke drum roll. Nothing showy. Just steady, patternlike rhythm. We marched on to “Them Basses,” a moving, stirring march played by a trombone section called the best in Europe by our commanding officer…. It rained a little, but the sun shone on.

It got hotter and the crowd got thicker as we approached the reviewing stand and the Queen. With her was the Prince, our Ambassador, and the ambassadors of all the other nations as well as a representative from the Soviet Union, and our own Chief of Staff….

… I’ll never forget that drum beat. Simple, perfect, increasing in fervor until it became deafening.  I can still hear the anxious, cheering crowd, wondering, waiting for us to play or do something fancy. I can hear the roars and blessings and applause hurled on us. I can still see the reviewing stand looming ahead and the throngs peering toward us….

… We played “The Spirit of the First Infantry Division” like it had never been played before. The Queen came to her feet. Our band countermarched before her and played our simply clad honor guard past her. We saluted her with our “Ruffles and Flourishes,” then moved by behind our Army. A signal cut the band and the drum cadence. We proceeded quietly down the street but the cheers and tributes of the Wageningen natives will live forever in my memories.

The work of the band was not over, however, We were asked by the Queen to come to her palace at Apeldorn to play a concert that night.

The rest of the letter has been lost so we have no contemporary description of the concert.