I read today about the death of another veteran from my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans. Arnold Keuneke served with the US Army in Africa and Europe. He was the first veteran I interviewed who had served in Africa and with radar.
Here are excerpts from his story in my book:
“In February 1942 Keuneke was drafted into the U.S. Army. After completing basic training at Camp Crowder in Joplin, Missouri, Keuneke was sent to Midland Radio School in Kansas City, Missouri and radar school at Camp Murphy in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Drew Field in Tampa.
In January 1943, he and other American troops left on a boat from New York City for the African country of Ouran.
Tech Sergeant Keuneke was attached to the 12th Air Force in the Signal Corps. “We were in charge of maintaining a 588- radar unit,” he said. Radar systems used 300-foot steel masts to emit radio signals. The radar helped Allied pilots receive signals to alert them about enemy aircraft in the area. Located on a hill over the Mediterranean Sea in the South Tibesa desert, the unit operated solely under Keuneke’s expertise.
Part of his tasks required climbing the unit for repairs and working around wiring for bombs. “I had no fear of heights,” he said. “We were careful.”
Keuneke was often in the line of fire on the front line but miraculously always escaped injury. “Those bullets didn’t have my name on them,” he said.
Malaria was a constant threat for the troops in Africa. When Keuneke and his assistant were advised to swallow pills to prevent the dreaded illness, they did so but within hours, Keuneke felt sick. He quit taking the medicine and felt better, never contracting the dreaded disease. Unfortunately, his assistant developed malaria. As there was no hospital around Constantine where they were stationed, the assistant had to endure the illness on his own. Though he survived, he died of malarial symptoms five years after the war.
From Africa, Keuneke was sent to Pisa and Corsica in Italy. While there, he befriended an Italian family. When he offered candy to their two little boys, the parents begged Keuneke to adopt the boys. “They were so poor and hungry and they thought I could provide a better home for their sons in America,” he said. Keuneke had to refuse the offer but was moved by their plight.
When the war was over, Keuneke, who had served his country for three years, returned to Indiana. He farmed and raised a family while working at Dana Corporation in Fort Wayne as an electrician.”
Arnold Keuneke was proud of his work while serving as a soldier. Rest in peace Mr. Keuneke and thanks for your service.
I’m proud of all of our vets. Thank a veteran today!
This is 1 of 28 stories in my book which is available for purchase at this site on the home page.