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About noon on March 9, 1945 we boarded a troop train and headed east. It consisted of several cars, that would be dispersed thruout the country. I was on one headed for Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, being the closest one to Watertown. It probably wasn't, but seemed to me to be the slowest train I was ever on. Seems like we got sidetracked for every milk-run coming down the track.

Salt Lake City was our first stop where they disconnected cars, tho I couldn't tell you how many. While in the station we were allowed to get off and stretch out legs for a spell. With our ill-fitting new uniforms with no insignia or anything, we did make a motley looking bunch. Heard one civilian make the remark that it was another bunch of recruits heading for basic training. Considering the over-seas time of all of us, we just laughed and didn't bother to correct the guys misconception.

Late afternoon March 12, (my 22nd birthday) we arrived at the Union Station in Omaha, Nebr. Our car was disconnected and pulled to the side. The officer in charge of our car informed us that we would have about a 6 hour delay waiting for a regular train heading for Minneapolis. We were free to go into the station to get something to eat or what ever. Just keep in mind that we didn't have any leave papers, so don't wander off, don't get in trouble and be on this car when it pulls out about midnite. I told him I had two sisters and a mother living in Omaha and it was my 22nd birthday. Would be allright to call them and maybe go out and have a birthday dinner with them, as I hadn't seen them in 3-1/2 years. His reply, "just be on this car at midnite"

I made a phone call to Shirley, who had acquired a husband in my absence. After recovering from her initial shock, she said they would go pick up Mom, Sis and Pappy and be down within the hour. That nite we had one hell of a reunion in Omaha's Union Station. My memory of my Mom crying is limited to when her Dad died, the first time Maynard got busted and when her Mother died. But there were tears in her eyes that nite -- might have been some in mine too -- it had been a long time. Met my new brother-in-law, Bob Kelley, for the first time. He was working in the claim dept. of an insurance company. Seems he had graduated from Creighton Law School in 1938, went back to his home in Grand Island and hung out his shingle. Says he practiced law until he got good and hungry, then he went to work. I don't remember the name of the resturant but we did go out and have a birthday dinner. Don't remember what I ordered but you can bet it was the best birthday party I ever. They delivered me back to the station in time, and about midnite we pulled out for Ft. Snelling.

Arrived at Snelling the next morning and reported to the proper authorities. One more time we were issued new uniforms, had our medical records checked for shots, etc. Had time to get a couple shirts and the blouse to the base tailor and have them fitted and all appropriate chevrons and hash marks sewed on. Was issued the ribbons our records showed we were authorized to wear -- in my case strickly service and campaign ribbons, no above and beyond the call medals, I was a survivor not a hero. Were paid up to date, that would come in very handy the next three weeks. Finally on about the 2nd or 3rd morning I was handed orders to report to the Air Force Redistribution Center at Santa Anna, Calif., 21 days from this date. More commonly known as a delay in route. Went and found me a cab and start 21 glorious day of freeedom.


Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story


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This page first produced 1 January 2001

This page last updated 08 December 2017