WWII Vets to Share Stories on Upcoming Radio Interview

Bob Foster fought with the US Army in WWII.

Bob Foster fought with the US Army in WWII.

On Sat 2/28 my husband John & I will accompany 2 World War II vets from my book — World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans — to University of Indianapolis to be featured on a Hoosier History Live radio show. It airs each Saturday, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM. You can listen live on WICR Online.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady was a pre-med major at Indiana University before enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He co-piloted a C-47 in Allied attacks on Germans, then at war’s end his crew transported Polish prisoners of war who had been liberated back to their homeland from German-held territory.

Bob Foster (pictured at top of this post) of Fort Wayne was among the thousands of Allied troops who arrived in Normandy, France, in mid-June 1944 for the Battle of Cherbourg. Six months later, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the war’s most brutal conflicts.
Please show your support of our World War II vets by listening in and maybe even placing a call of support during the show! 317) 927-9101 Thanks!

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

Our host, Nelson Price, has conducted this weekly show for many years. Please tune in and call with a question and thanks to these vets who served our country so well!
WWII Legacies: Stories of NE IN Veterans can be purchased by clicking the Paypal button on this site’s homepage ($20+$4.95 P/H).
Thank a vet today for his/her service!

Vernon ‘Bun’ Affolder served at D-Day and Battle of the Bulge

Vernon 'Bun' Affolder served at D-Day and Battle of the Bulge.

Vernon ‘Bun’ Affolder served at D-Day and Battle of the Bulge.

My Vet of the Week is Vernon W. ‘Bun’ William Affolder of Decatur, IN. Mr. Affolder died on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. His birthday would have been tomorrow.


I interviewed him in his home three years ago. He became emotional about several parts of the war that were still very real to him. That taught me decades of time doesn’t erase memories of the horrors of war.

We need to support our vets with patience and understanding.

Thanks, Mr. Affolder, for your service. Rest in peace.

Note: This story is similar to those found in my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans


As part of the first group of soldiers who left Decatur, Indiana, to serve as soldiers in WWII, Vernon ‘Bun’ Affolder never dreamed his military career would be so eventful.


Affolder was born in Van Wert, Ohio. He moved with his family to Decatur in 1927, graduating from Decatur High School in 1937. He worked at a local hardware store until 1941 when he got a notice from the United States Army. “They drafted me, then told me to go home,” he said. The Army did not forget Affolder. In January 1942 he and other young men from Adams County were sworn in as American soldiers.


Assigned to the infantry, Affolder completed basic training at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He and thousands of other troops learned to shoot and hike through miles of poison ivy-infested weeds carrying heavy packs. Affolder was so sunburned by the time his parents visited him in 1942, they didn’t recognize him.


Affolder transferred to Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana, where he worked in the supply room. Thanks to his proficiency at typing due to a course in high school, he was sent to the Army surgeon’s office. “Because I worked for the Army surgeon, I wore a red band on my arm and a red cross on my helmet,” he said. “But I did not administer medical aid. My only job was to distribute supplies from the Surgeon’s office.”


Within months Affolder was aboard the Queen Elizabeth, along with thousands of other American soldiers, bound for Europe. “At the back of the boat were 52-gallon drums,” he said. “They hid depth bombs which were designed to go underwater and sink German submarines.”


Staff Sergeant Affolder spent 13 months in Bristol, England, working in the 5th Corps Headquarters. His commander was in charge of all field hospitals and aide stations. Affolder liked record keeping and working with the four officers and six enlisted men assigned to his office.


Living among the British was educational. “A bulletin board in the city park listed announcements about the war,” he said. “Despite the ‘loose lips sink ships’ saying, we knew if you wanted to know something about the war, ask a Brit!”


In June 1944, Affolder’s unit traveled to a place in France called Omaha Beach. At 0900 hours on June 6 (a day later than originally planned, due to inclement weather), thousands of Allied landing crafts dropped American and British soldiers into the waters near the edge of the shore. The intent of the Allies was to storm the beach and run off the firing Germans.


The Germans had placed big logs on the shore close to the edge to prevent Allied landings. “They shot big 88 shells at us,” said Affolder. Chaos reigned for hours as the Allies struggled to take the beach. Affolder and thousands of other American soldiers were thrust into a battle they had been ill-prepared for, but they fought valiantly.


When a shell blew off the leg of an American soldier, Affolder, standing nearby, was placed in a dilemma. As an aide to the Army surgeon, he wore an arm band indicating his connection with the medical office, but he had no authorization or training to administer aid.


“The other soldiers standing there thought I should try to help the wounded soldier,” he said, “but I was only a supply clerk. I had not even been issued a gun.”


Affolder helped load fallen soldiers to the safety of the landing crafts. “They were mostly young guys around age 21,” he said. “They lay with their eyes open and arms outspread. I still have flashbacks of that time.”


By the following day, the Americans had gained a foothold of Omaha Beach. After the Germans retreated, Affolder resumed his work in the surgeon’s office. There he met General and future United States president Ike Eisenhower. “He was a wonderful guy,” said Affolder. “He talked to us about our work at Omaha Beach.”


For Affolder the tragedies of war were not over. In December 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, he and other American soldiers nearly lost their lives as part of what became known as the Malmedy Massacre. “We pulled out of Malmedy, France, on December 16, the night before a German combat unit captured 84 American soldiers and shot them,” he said. “I think that was the scariest part of the war for me.”


Later that spring, Affolder saw the atrocities of Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar, Germany, just weeks after its liberation in April 1945. “We saw the butcher block where German dentists had removed gold from prisoners’ teeth,” he said. “We also saw a guy with a wheelbarrow carrying the body of a dead soldier.”


By summer 1945, the Japanese had surrendered and the war was over. Due to the number of battles he had fought and length of time of service, Affolder was one of the first to be discharged. American soldiers were flown back to the States in C47’s planes. “There were no seats inside, but that left room for more of us GIs to get home,” he said. (Note: GI is abbreviation for ‘Government Issue’ and was a common nickname for American soldiers.)


Back in Decatur, Affolder resumed working at the hardware store before choosing to sell life insurance, a career he continued until age 85. He and his wife Phyllis met in 1941 while Bun was on furlough. Phyllis died in 1992. Affolder remarried Alice in 1995.


For his contribution to the war Affolder was issued a Bronze Star for bravery and acts of  meritorious service. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the United States Armed Forces.


Arrangements by Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home, Decatur, Ind. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/fortwayne/obituary.aspx?pid=169212673#sthash.CW2SFZSQ.dpuf

The End

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

I’d like to recognize a vet who passed away last year. Elmo Rieddle was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1943. He worked two years as a mechanic for the 486th Bomb Squadron at Sudbury England. After he was discharged at the war’s end, he was a member of the Army National Guard for many years. “I was glad to have served,” he told me. “I would have hated to have not served.”

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

I get excited each time it works out for me to interview another World War II vet. At this point the total number of World War II vets I’ve interviewed over the past few years is 75.


I’m trying to average two per week, but the wintry weather is making it a challenge.


This week I’m averaging three interviews. If all goes well this weekend, I’ll interview a man who has been on an Honor Flight for Northeast Indiana but that is all I know of him. Can’t wait to pick his brain tonight!

His daughter will be there to also hear the stories.


Tomorrow I plan to interview a female who is 101 years old! She served as a nurse during the war. Her two children will be there to help with stories she has told them. She will be only the second person I’ve ever interviewed who is a centenarian! I’m looking forward to each of these interviews. My goal is to interview as many World War II vets as possible.


What are you doing to keep history alive? We all can do something!

In the same vein what are you doing to thank our nation’s vets of all ages/ eras for their service? I’ll say it again—THANK YOU! We appreciate your service on our behalf!

Tell a vet thank you today!


WWII Navy Vet Aided at Pearl Harbor, Attu

Seaman 2nd Class Richard Vanderwall served US Navy during WWII.

Seaman 2nd Class Richard Vanderwall was assigned to 120 Company G in the US Navy during WWII.


May 8, 1921-Jan 17, 2015

It is with sadness that I tell of the passing of Richard Vanderwall  whose story was included in my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

I met Richard Marvin Vanderwall, Sr. when my mother introduced me to him at the location where they both lived at the time. Mr. Vanderwall was one of the first World War II vets I had ever interviewed so I realize now I was not properly impressed when he told me all of his exploits as a sailor. One of his stories that I included in the book spoke of nearly being involved in the invasion of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This excerpt is from the book:

“By the time our ship reached Pearl Harbor on December 12, 1941, oil from the explosions of American ships was three inches thick on the water,” said Richard Vanderwall of Fort Wayne.


Vanderwall was a Seaman 2nd Class assigned to the cruiser USS Indianapolis in the U.S. Navy. His duties included keeping the ship’s log and being stationed on the bridge above two batteries of 8-inch guns. Such a position would result in permanent hearing loss in one ear.


The USS Indianapolis was on its way to Johnston Island, 700 miles southwest of Honolulu when the attack occurred Pearl Harbor on December 7. Upon hearing of the Japanese attack, the ship turned toward the island to aid where needed. The battle was nearly over, but the ship was not out of danger. At 1800 hours on December 12, a Japanese sub fired on the Indianapolis. Thankfully, it missed. “One of our destroyers blew him out of the water,” said Vanderwall.


He was also involved with the Battle of Attu in the Aleutian Islands in 1943. Vanderwall and other sailors involved in the skirmish earned a battle star for the endeavor.


Richard Vanderwall being presented with his copy of my book which includes his WWII story.

Richard Vanderwall being presented with his copy of my book which includes his WWII story.

It was thrilling to present Mr. Vanderwall with a copy of the book with his story in it last fall when it was printed. Here’s a photo that shows our excitement!


Mr. Vanderwall was always patient and had a ready smile. He was blessed with a loving family and I’m sure they miss him greatly.


Rest in peace, Mr. Vanderwall. You definitely blessed my life and many others.

Wish a WWII Vet Happy Birthday!

My wonderful family! Husband John, 3 children-- Mandy, Lindsay, Chris

My wonderful family! Husband John, 3 children– Mandy, Lindsay, Chris

Today is my birthday. I live in the Midwest of the US and have sworn to myself that someday I’m going to be somewhere warm for my birthday! Right now it is 30 degrees so I know it could be worse. But I’m definitely thinking ‘beach’ is in a future birthday!

Anyway, I have nothing to complain about for my Big Day! God has blessed me with a loving family, great health, fun job and lots of writing opportunities. My latest mission of interviewing World War II vets has led me to meet loads of interesting people who served our country in 1941-1946!

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans


I began interviewing them a few years ago and found each one fascinating! I put 28 of their stories into this book:

World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans. It covers Allen, Adams, Wells, Whitley, Huntington counties. You can purchase it using the Buy Now button on this site’s home page with Paypal.


I’ve made it a practice to send birthday cards to the vets from the book and others I’ve met. Now I’d like to extend birthday wishes to as many of them as possible via cards. Even though I may never get to meet vets outside of my immediate area, I’d love to let them know that someone cares about them enough to send a birthday card. I have stacks of cards waiting to be sent!


If you know of a World War II vet who could use a birthday card sent with well wishes, please email me their address. You could also send it via private message on Facebook (same name) or Twitter (@kjreusser). I check both accounts regularly.


Emery 'Bud' Gates served in the US Navy during WWII.

Emery ‘Bud’ Gates served in the US Navy during WWII.

I’m also planning to honor the vets whose photos I’ve taken during interviews on my blog on their birthdays. I may miss them by a day or two, but I’ll try to keep up!


Bud's birthday and mine are a day apart! Happy birthday Bud!

Bud’s birthday and mine are a day apart! Happy birthday Bud!

Here is a vet whose birthday was yesterday—Emery Gates. He enlisted in the Navy in early 1945 and served on a Destroyer until mid-1946. Thanks for your service, Mr. Gates! If you leave a comment for Mr. Gates, he’ll read it here.


Thanks for your help in sending me addresses of World War II vets who could use birthday cards! This is my mission until the last World War II vet is gone. Let’s treasure our nation’s oldest vets while we can!