Personal Stories


Biography of Benjamin Finesmith(added 4/10)

This story includes tremendous pictures of Ohdruf and life in the 89th!

Benjamin Finesmith was born in Wilmington Delaware, to his orthodox, Jewish parents, Sarah and Louis Finesmith. Both his parents were immigrants from Warsaw, Poland. He was second youngest of 5 children, the oldest of whom was born in Poland.



Norman Spivock: The First Time I Saw Paris (added 9/09)

I won a fifteen-month, all expenses paid trip to Europe because my number was called in a lottery. It included all travel, meals, lodging, clothes, pocket money, and many activities. All this, and I was only eighteen years old. Unfortunately the activities were compulsory, as the lottery was the draft.



James Jochen: Military Service (added 6/08)

Combat in Company K of the 355th Infantry Regiment



Ed quick: Memories of an Old Artilleryman (added 5/04)

Ed Quick's memories of the 34oth Field Artillery



John Sherman: Chateau Limsey (added 12/03)

The story of the 89th Infantry Division Artillery Headquarters Battery at Chateau Limsey in France, after the end of WWII.



...And a Cast of Characters by Gerry Stearns (added 1/04)

Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage and all the men and women are merely players." You know, characters. Some of the guys I speak about here are what we think of as "characters", but all of them are individuals I remember. You decide whether they're also "characters".



Drilling By Numbers, Eating by Letters by Gerry Stearns (added 1/04)

I think most of us, when we joined the Army, had to make some kind of adjustment to different kinds of food, different ways of being served and different ways to help prepare it. In the regular rotation for KP, who can forget the joys of cleaning the stinking, slimy grease trap? Or getting those fatigues clean again?



This is the story of Larry Coppock's quest to find out more about his father's wartime history. His efforts are divided into three parts:

Rabbittown: The origins of Benjamin Floyd Coppock

Getting Organized

Results: A Letter to My Sisters, About Dad



Sol R. Brandell: Recollections of a World War II Infantryman (added 5/03)

An autobiographic account from 1st December, 1942, through 31st March, 1946 in the European Theater of Operations.



Albert Hirsch: Memories of Things and Wings (added 8/03)

A brilliant account of combat with 355th in the last two months of World War II.



Darrel Carnell: Reply to Ripley Questionairre (added 9/03)

Darrel recounts some interesting details of his wartime experiences.



Henry Keyser:The 89th Infantry Band (added 8/03)

Did you know that there was an 89th Division Band? Do you know what Bands do?



Ed Bean: A Wish of a Lifetime Fulfilled (added 8/03)

The touching story of Stanley Trochonowicz, a former Polish refuge who became a member of the 89th.



Wes Brown: Reconnaissance (added 8/03)

A gripping account of combat on April 21st, 1945.



Raymond Kitchell: Memoirs of a Private First Class (added 10/02)

The detailed story of your webmaster Scotty Kitchell, from December 7th ASTP at Oregon State, to Camp Lucky Strike, combat and beyond.



Carthell B. Atkins-My Ambulance Ride (How the War Ended for Me) (added 03/03)

I had a fractured foot, which I continued to walk on for about a month before our medic examined me, sending me back to the field hospital. I was placed in an ambulance along with 8 or 9 GI's.



Clyde Solomon: Lost at the Front (added 03/03)

How does one get lost at the front? It's very easy unless you have all the information on battle results.



Larry Dunlap-Who's A Hero (added 03/03)

Tom Brokaw, in his book, "The Greatest Generation", cites the heroism of the men and women who served in the military in WWII. I got to wondering, "What makes a hero?"



David Dunn-WWII Memories (added 03/03)

Someone had to do it and you did. I have just completed a tour of the most interesting stories of our participation in WW2.



James Hahs-Sailors Inside Germany (added 03/03)

Our Service Company had established a temporary pause area in a meadow after we had passed a stone cliff corner by many miles. As we pulled off the blacktop road into a large grassy meadow, I noted a small arched stone bridge spanning a small stream with no roadway crossing it. For some strange reason I recalled my 9th grade English teacher drumming "The Canterbury Tales" into our nonchalant heads.



Chick Cecchini--Baseball, Spaghetti and Scotch Wiskey (added 3/03)

Right now, I find that I have reached the time in my life (as I suspect with most of us) that I'm doing some reminiscing about certain seemingly insignificant, and maybe even ludicrous, events in my life which became pivotal points sending me off in totally new and unexpected directions...opening new doors to my personal and military life.



Charles Deen: On The Way to WWII (added 9/02)

I am going to stretch my brittle memory back to autumn, 1939, when I was an East Texas farm boy and a senior in high school. Everyone knew that the war in Europe was tugging at the U.S.



Ed Quick: Rhine Crossing (added 9/02)

"B" Battery left its last position west of the Rhine, near the village of Damscheid, on the morning of March 27, 1945. The convoy moved slowly along the twisting road leading to the riverside town of Oberwesel. As we reached the crest of the hill and looked down into the Rhine valley, I saw a crudely printed sign, painted with a whitewash brush, on the side of a building. "SEE THE RHINE AND LEAVE YOUR SKULL THERE," it said, and a skull and crossed bones were painted beneath the words to magnify the unsettling message.



Wes Brown: Appraoch to Zwickau (added 4/02)

We moved rapidly in the early morning across open, rolling country in pursuit of the enemy. I looked back at my platoon minutes after going over a rise. The squads, in diamond formation, were dispersed, as were the men within the squads. The dispersed formation seemed larger than a platoon. They looked like veterans and I was proud of them. Somewhat later, I saw a German position on a knoll. I hollered to the enemy, "Kommen sie hier," and waved them toward me. Pfc Ralph Elhard, one of my German-speaking soldiers, repeated my actions. They came running toward us with their hands in the air. Shortly thereafter, I saw a German soldier standing in a shallow foxhole with his hands on his hips. He accepted my invitation readily.



Geary Stearns: Unbidden Memories (added 4/02)

Geary's moving poem about his memories of the War.



Ernie Crowther: 2nd Batallion Medics - 354th Infantry (added 4/02)

I haven't told this story because I neither remembered exactly where the event took place nor remembered the names of the Medics who went with me. However, at the Tacoma reunion I discussed it with Wally Brake, officer from E Co who suggested the place could have been Friedrichroda.



Ralph W. Hotchkiss: The Infantry Replacement System (added 4/02)

The effort and sacrifice of the infantry replacement men in the war effort was huge. The only thing many lacked were belonging to and training with established combat units. I believe the survival rate was low and more should be said about the system good or bad. As for myself, my experience was not that of some heroic infantry replacement, but some one who seemed to have an angel protecting him throughout this time.



Clyde Solmon: A Three Day Pass (added 4/02)

In the early part of November 1944, when I was stationed at Camp Butner North Carolina, I received a letter from my mother stating that she had received a notice from the Navy that my young brother, 19 years of age, was in a Brooklyn Naval Hospital recovering from injuries received while landing troops at Anzio Beach in Italy. The letter didn't stay how bad the injuries were or if they were life threatening, She asked me to drop him a card or letter to help cheer him up and enclosed the address of the hospital.



Earl Ott: A Day's Work (added 4/02)

It was three am when the order came down for the movement. The day before was rough, the night short, but another river has to be crossed, like the Mosel and the mighty Rhine, under fire. This next was to be the Saale River, the opposite bank of the river being held by strong enemy forces.



Geary Stearns: Souvenirs and Memorabilla (added 4/02)

"Looting" seems like too harsh a word for the souvenir hunting we GI's indulged in, and what we did was not part of a political design like the wholesale looting done by German and Russian troops.



John Hebert--A Silver Star Story and Award (added 4/02)

Private First, Class JOHN A. HEBERT 11058178; Infantry, United States Army, distinguished, himself by gallantry in action as a scout of Company "F", 353d Infantry on two occasions in Germany.



Ed Quick: Hill 501 (added 4/02)

Ernie Pyle once said that an individual G I' s knowledge of the war covered no more ground than the few yards on either side of him. Years after our combat days in the 89th Division, several of us wondered whether we could pool our recollections to build a more complete picture of some memorable event we had all experienced.



Robert Woodrum: Recollections of WWII (added 3/02)

A detailed account of Robert's days from 1941 to 1946.



Gregory E Bandlow (son of Darrel Carnell)--Rhine Revisited (added 2/02)

Darrel Carnell's son revisits the Rhine River crossing of the 89th.



Eugene Berkoff--Army Buglers (added 1/02)

An 89th veteran's story of his bugle...from Camp Butner to Luxembourg.



Joesph E. Halleman--1st Battalion (354th) Exective Officer (added 1/02)

The story of Major F.S. Willis, the XO of the 1st Battalion, 354th Infantry .



Ralph N. Cole--Cancel Attack...war is Over (added 1/02)

A riveting account of the last few days of the war, and the terrible battle that could have been for the 89th.



Clyde Solmon--Flashbacks to Camp Butner (added 1/02)

Clyde talks about training at Camp Butner.



A Close Call: Raymond Kitchell (added 1/02)

Webmaster Raymond Kitchell recounts his experiences as an MP in Rouen.



Gerry Stearns: More Souvenirs (added 1/02)

Gerry Stearns talks about the pistol that got away.



Reunited: Friendship Remains (added 9/01)

Mary-Louise Vincent and Warren Bailey knew each other for a brief two weeks. And if it hadnít been for a little black-and-white school picture 12-year old Marie-Louise gave to Bailey more than 50 years ago, the two probably never have met again.



Flashbacks to Camp Butner: Clyde Solmon (added 2/01)

The title says it all. The life of an 89ther in North Carolina.



On and Off the Jeep with the 89th: Geary Stearns (added 2/01)

A fascinating look at the three major "Light" Divisions, the 10th Mountain, the 71st, and of course the 89th.



After the War: Robert Kurlander (added 2/01)

Robert Kurlander tells of his last days in Europe and a close call with a much longer stay in Europe!



Men and Boys--Coming of Age in the Army: Edwin Quick (added 2/01)

Looking back on them today, the three years I spent in the United States Army were probably the greatest adventure of my life. Just out of high school in 1942, I planned to spend my next four years in college. I certainly never expected to celebrate my twenty first birthday in a foxhole in eastern Germany.



The First Sergeant: Al Rush (added 8/00)

There is no more important man to the Infantry rifle company than The First Sergeant. This includes not only Pvt. Joe Smith, but also Captain John Brown, the Company Commander. That's somewhat stretching the truth, you may think. However, when you consider dawn to dusk duties, the First Sergeant is on duty from reviled to taps and many times beyond.



Remembrances: Darrel Carnell (added 8/00)

My remembrances of our voyage on the S.S. Bienville are scant. The only things that stick in my mind were the awful chow, my seasickness and the stench of overflowing urinals deep in the bowels of the ship. The urinals were long galvanized troughs that slopped over with every pitch and roll of the ship. Ditto for the mess hall, if one could call it that. The tables were stainless steel affairs bolted to the deck and as the food was placed in one's mess kit it was taken to the tables and was consumed standing up.



From the Rhine to VE Day: Al Rust (added 8/00)

On March 4th, 1945, the 89th Infantry Division was ordered to move up to the front battle lines in Luxembourg, to take up positions formerly occupied by forward elements of other divisions, and go forward to "Kill Germans". This was the edict given by our notorious 3rd Army Commander General George S. Patton



I Remember: 1944-1946: Russell J. Fay (added 8/00)

Russ gives the "Rolling W" a new editorial style. He writes in bursts of memory in no special time sequence, but as he remembers it. Why not?