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Inside the Dozer...
What will be remembered of our lives? We lived through one of history’s most dramatic centuries. And one event, World War II, still draws us together today. Individually we remember our experiences. We have imparted some of those memories to our friends and loved ones. Nevertheless, that day will come when we are among the departed. Those memories will live for a time with our contemporaries. Finally, with the exception of a few scattered family albums, our memories will vanish into the mists of time.
It is a fact that World War II will be remembered and there will be a sentence or two relating to the contribution of the construction engineers. But the small intimate details will have been erased. We can prevent our lives and our accomplishments from become mere footnotes in histories. We can provide the venue for posterity to relive our times by placing those memories into the safekeeping of The Army Engineer Memorabilia Division of The Scott Saewert War Museum.
There are many fine museums that commemorate America’s participation in wars. There is the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison. It covers all the conflicts from the Civil War through the Gulf War. The National D-Day Museum in New Orleans covers in detail the most momentous day of World War II. The Cantigny Foundation set up by Colonel Robert McCormick honors his World War I Division. These are all fine museums. They are visited by the general public, students, aficionados, scholars, historians and writers searching for information.
The closest to what we wish to achieve is represented by Florida State University’s Institute on World War II & the Human Experience. Quoting from the February 2000 issue of the VFW magazine, "As we all know, so much in the way of veterans’ letters, diaries, photos and the like are being misplaced, lost or even destroyed. The sad fact is that more of this irreplaceable material is ending up in the county dumps than in educational institutions. These are the places where it might be used to enlighten future generations to the sacrifices made in the 1940s by a truly remarkable generation of Americans." The Florida University collection covers all branches of service and all the theaters of operations.
What will not be found is how a young man was drafted, sent to a camp, trained to become a soldier and an engineer, then sent to an island in the Pacific where he participated in the construction of roads, bridges, hospitals, depots and anything else that made the war effort move forward. Nowhere will there be a recounting of the daily life, the good mess halls, the bad mess halls, the endless parade formations, the occasional R&R and the celebration that took place on V-J Day. That is the purpose of our Army Engineer Memorabilia Division.
We already have a head start in Scott Saewert’s collection. Scott’s basement has become a treasure trove of World War II artifacts. He is now accumulating items pertaining to our engineer regiments, to our group and to our battalions. For example: If Robert S. Maack’s daughter and Roman F. Klick’s sons are not interested in keeping the tons of records and photos each has accumulated, they will be turned over to Scott. Mansel Johns has indicated that he will bring certain memorabilia to Reunion2000 in September for display and then for safekeeping with Scott. One comrade has the letters he sent home throughout the War. He is putting them in plastic holders, putting them in chronological order and will give them in three ring binders as his contribution to the Memorabilia.
What memories can you place into these archives? Has any one saved every issue of The Dozer that was published by the regiments, the group and the battalions? We have been given some of the menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Are there any more that could enhance the collection? We have a copy of the 353rd Engineer song signed by Colonel Trower, Milton Perkins and William Stilwell. Has any comrade saved the various service patches we wore on our left sleeves that signified the command our unit was assigned to? Do you have your old uniform still hanging in the back closet or stored in the attic? Do you still have your last pair of GI shoes? To complete this list of memorabilia please search for these long forgotten treasures. Bring them for display at Reunion2000. After these keepsakes have been shown you can take them home or leave them for a new home in the Memorabilia Division.
Paul J. Dieter (353R/353B A/A) has sent in a complete record of dates and places as he moved from induction in 1942 to discharge in 1946. Has anyone else kept such a record? Several comrades have sent in rosters of their companies. These rosters and Paul’s itinerary will be on display and become part of the Memorabilia Division.
The late Lloyd B. Patterson (1305R/1177Gp C/HQ) was the official photographer. Several years ago he sent us two boxes of miscellaneous snapshots taken on Guadalcanal. There are pictures of project sites, campsites and many of the islanders. These pictures will be sorted and on display. The extra copies are yours for the taking. Pat also enlarged an aerial view of the campsites on the Canal. It has been framed and will be part of our Engineer’s history. All snapshots and albums can be put on display. The company pictures of the 353rd Regiment have been reproduced and printed in book form by the late R. L. "Dock" Haley, Jr. These company pictures were part of training camp agenda. The 1305th and the 369th Regiments are not represented. Are any of those company pictures still extant?
All who attend Reunion2000 and the inception of our Memorabilia Division will be honored in perpetuity. Their names will be listed as the founders of the Division. And to those who are to be the founders, we ask that you bring your thoughts, ideas and suggestions to the Midway Hotel this September. Help make our memories, our records and our achievements as World War II Engineers available for future generations.
Many of us are no longer able to be present at our get-togethers because of illness, infirmities or previous commitments. You are not forgotten. We miss your presence. But do not let your physical absence prevent your participation in the creation of our Memorial. Send us your thoughts, your ideas and your suggestions to bring up at Reunion2000. Items that you wish to have displayed and placed with the Division can be sent in. If the cost or packaging is a problem, Scott Saewert will make those arrangements for you at his expense. (207 Elm Street, Prospect Heights, IL 60070 Telephone: 847-632-1733)Back to Top
WALTER T. CULLEN (353R/1393B) and his wife, Rose Marie, will not be attending Reunion2000 but send their wishes that it will be a great success and that they will miss seeing and visiting with all their friends. Walter and Rose Marie are a peripatetic couple. They end this summer of travel with a two-week sojourn in Hawaii.
WARREN G. JOHNSON (369R/1394B HS/HS) e-mailed "Can not make it to the reunion this year for I will be out of the country. Last summer I went on a cruise out of Sydney, Australia to some WW2 battle sites. Got to New Caledonia and New Hebrides but could not land on the Canal. They had a local uprising. It was a very nice trip. Will be going to Brisbane, Australia this year and spend about a month and some money. The U.S. dollar goes a long way in Australia."
FRANK T. KASTORY (369R/1394B C/HS) writes, "My vision has come to the point where it is not safe for me to operate a motor vehicle without a visual aid. I am endeavoring to become proficient with a new accessory to place on my face to see the distant scenery more clearly. Otherwise, I am in good health." [Editor’s Note: Frank deserves our everlasting debt of gratitude for having saved the history of the 369th Special Services Regiment.]
GEORGE M. KOZLICA (353R/1393B A/HS) is ill. Kay writes "Sorry to say we will not be able to make the Reunion. George has been very ill. He had all kinds of ailments since last summer. We didn’t recognize the many symptoms of kidney failure. He was diagnosed the day before his 78th birthday February 16th, a sad day. He has been on dialysis for 6 weeks. It’s been tough for both of us but he manages to keep his spirits high. Too bad his family doctor failed to send him to a kidney specialist."
[Editor’s note: Please send in your bios and letters for our next edition]Back to Top
When: Friday and Saturday, September 15th - 16th
Where: Midway Hotel, 1600 Oakton Street, Elk Grove Village, IL
Rates: $69.00 per night plus 11% sales tax (Continental breakfast coupons included)
Call: 847 981-9000 for reservations (World War II Engineers Group Code: WOR0915)
Check In: 1500 hours
Check Out: 1100 hours
Meetings: Friday and Saturday in Grove and Village rooms
Banquet: 1900 hours in Grove and Village rooms, $35.00/person
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Our thanks to all who have contributed towards the operation of The Dozer since the last issue.
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Who is GEORGE C. SAEWERT (353R/353B A/HS) other than a mainstay in organizing our reunions and with his wife, Lillian, doing everything in their power to make things go right at our get-togethers? Here is his profile printed in the September 1999 newsletter of Illinois VFW Post 2992. "George Saewert, Officer of the Day, has been retired from the Doall Company of Des Plaines, IL for the last 15 years. Prior to retirement, he was employed by Doall as a Regional Service Manager and remained with the company for 45 years. A resident of Park Ridge, IL - George is married to Lillian for the last 53 years and a father of two: Sandy Gallagher and Scott. Also, he is proud to be the grandfather of three. After graduating from high school and attending technical school, he entered the military Nov. 14, 1942. While serving in the Army, George’s foreign service was in the South Pacific where he was awarded a number of military ribbons. Discharged December 31, 1945 he joined the Des Plaines, VFW Post 2992 the same year. George has been Post Commander for 2 years, Officer of the Day, and has served as President of Post 2992 Board of Directors since 1983."Back to Top
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