How wonderful it must have been to these two weary World War II soldiers. They had been trying to get home for months from overseas.
Today's story is of the end of the war. Daddy & Jimmie Wheeler's Coming Home!
Jimmie Wheeler on left and Carl Johnson on the right. This was taken in a happy time, the two of them cutting up and who should catch them but General Patton. You can read about this on an earlier post here.
THE END OF THE WAR
by Jimmie Wheeler
In his own words
Well, we was sitting on a big river, I forgot the name of it. On the banks of the river, and that's where we got up on the mountain ski rides right there in tent city.
We weren't five blocks from where the war ended. We didn't know it at the time where it ended, nor when.
We were in Austria. We were convoying from South Germany over to Italy through the Alp mountains. We were headed over there to stop the Germans from going through the Alp Mountains back into Italy.
We was convoying over there and here was the Germans showing us which way to go. We knew something was up, but that's when the war ended and them Germans was there and they showed us which way the truck went!
They shut us down there in that town and we was on that river and that's where they pitched tents and there were eight men to a tent. There was oh, I don't know there was a whole two companies down there about four hundred men in these tents. We were waiting on transportation and we didn't know what we was gonna do. We was gonna go home, I guess. It was two or three months before we got on boats to come home.
I remember daddy saying he was not coming home on an airplane, because he had seen way too many of them crash. I thought to myself, well you yourself had been in one major ship sinking. I guess he figured he could survive that because he had, better than crashing in a plane.
by Jimmie Wheeler
"In his own words"
We were waiting on transportation we knew we was going home later. Both Carl and me volunteered to go later by ship and it was 2 or 3 months before we were able to go home. They found the ones in the hospital and planned to fly us home, but we chose not to fly.
Yeah, we fell out at reveille that morning and they said, "Any of you boys want to volunteer to ride a ship home fall out over here." Well, too many didn't fall out then me and Carl fell out. A bunch did after awhile.
They trucked us up to Paris and we stayed in Paris for about a week.
They put us on a forty and eight box car on trains. Those hold forty men or eight cows. We was bout two days getting down to the south coast. They gave us sea rations. Some of them said, "What'd you do if you had to go to the bathroom? "We wait on that train on a grade, we'd get off do what we had to do and then catch up with that train. Some of them went kinda slow. They hauled us to the coast and had tents down there, where the sand blows. They hauled us to the beach. Sand was in your bed, in your grub when you eat.
Anyway, we stayed there. We'd fall out for reveille they didn't care where we was on retreat. They didn't care where you was that evening. There ain't no telling where me and Carl was.
Officer told us, "Now boys ya'll going home on a boat so and so. It is in New York City. The Merchant Marines has struck and as soon as the strike is over with that's the boat y'all will be going home."
That's the darn boat we come home on. A month or two when we got to New York. It was about 3 or 3:30 in the evening, we got to the end of the Hudson River. They shut us down there before we got to the Stature of Liberty. They said, " Y'all going to spend the night and in the morning y'all gonna see the sun rise behind you and the Statue of Liberty in front of you!"
We spent the afternoon and all night and that didn't suit me at all. We got off at a Camp, it was right on the banks of the river. Some of them said it wasn't nothing but a boat transport, but it was river, that Hudson River comes in there.
They were home finally, stateside, after many years of some of the most heroic fighting in WWII. Humble as they were the families didn't hear much about their fighting. We had to wait until, well with my daddy he had passed away when I found out some information. Mr. Wheeler helped to glue all of the information together in a personal way. He actually knew and loved my daddy. After the war, he would come to live around daddy and the family in South Carolina for awhile.
More to come later....
I hope you enjoyed the end of WWII through the eyes of Jimmie Wheeler and the stories that make it real about he and daddy. He certainly gave me a personal insight into the war and what they went through.
I miss him now that he has passed away, but am so very grateful to have met and loved this man and his family.
READ MORE ABOUT IT:
What are the Odds? The story of meeting my dad's WWII Army BuddyTouring Texas: Frontier Texas with Mr. Wheeler in his Howard Hughes Cadillac!Touring Texas: Meeting the WheelersTouring Texas: Let's Go to Buffalo GapTouring Texas: Jimmie Ray & Susie's Farm Part OneTouring Texas: Jimmie Ray's AppaloosasTouring Texas: Randall The Cowboy PoetTouring Texas: On The Road In Texas Touring Texas: Fort Griffin Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp Big Nosed Kate and More
WWII Sinking Ship, Leaky Life Vest, Two Men Hanging On