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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

In honor of Dick Gelbmann, US Army - Served in World War II
(Submitted August 11, 2008 by Jim Gelbmann)

On Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941, Dick Gelbmann and his high school friends were playing cards when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Although only 17-years-old, these young men decided that they would drop out of school and enlist in the Army the following morning.  With his Grandparent's permission (his legal guardians), Dick arrived at the Army offices in St. Paul early Monday morning. 

Dick eventually was sent to Europe to fight under the command of General Patton.  Although he saw significant combat during the Battle of the Bulge and was holed up for weeks at a time in fox holes on the front lines, Dick rarely talked about his combat experiences.  Instead he focused on the more humane experiences, such as the ride across the Atlantic in a captured Italian freighter - where each man was allowed to spend only 15 minutes each day on deck breathing fresh air.  He raved about the quality of the Army food - one of the few soldiers who actually liked the food.  And he spoke about the ride back to the states on the Queen Mary after Germany surrendered.   

It was only after my dad's death in 2003 that I discovered his Army medals - including a bronze star, awarded to soldiers who distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service.  My dad answered the call to service, but was one of many soldiers who opted to not share the horrific experiences of war with his family.

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Last updated: 7/20/2009 9:36:51 AM