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Jim Weger Army

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Jim Weger - 1607 Views
honored by Michael Ford

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Location of Service: Germany
Gender: male
Basic Training: Fort Knox, Kentucky
From City: Delphos
From State: Ohio
Current City: Delphos
Current State: Ohio
My War Stories
  1954 (Courtesy Michael Ford, Delphos Herald). Firebombed office buildings. Devastated houses of worship. Orphaned children and destroyed lives. Such are the effects of war. Most European nations had much work to accomplish if they were to heal when World War II ended. Nearly nine years later, the Korean War was in a state of ceasefire and the Cold War had begun. Delphos resident Jim Weger was fortunate to miss seeing Germany’s shredded infrastructure, instead laying eyes on its rebuilt landscape. “I noticed the cities had empty spaces but all the rubble had been cleaned up, so everything was neat. The war had ended in ‘45 and I was there in ‘54. A lot of stuff had been rebuilt but looked the same because they rebuilt it with the same architecture. So, they just filled in the gaps, he said. “I also noticed that their weren’t very many men my age around; most of them had been in the war.” Weger was attending the University of Dayton when the draft board, more or less, knocked on his dorm room entrance. Uncle Sam was gracious enough to permit the 1949 St. John’s High School graduate to finish his degree before sending him to basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. Then the Army revealed why Weger was allowed to finish college. “I was assigned to an Army Finance School at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis and trained to be a dispersing specialist, which was Army payroll — keeping the pay records. My draft had been deferred and my degree is in business and economics, so that probably helped me get in to the Army Finance School,” he said. After two months of class, assignments were issued and many who did not have higher education were stationed closer to the 38th Parallel than to the Cold War’s European front. “The only places it seemed like they assigned people was to either Germany or Korea. Everyone held their breath; a lot of them got sent to Korea. Even though the shooting was over, it was just a dirty, messy place. I had friends who went there and came back with a lot of bad stories,” he said. “I drew a trip to Germany and that made me feel very good.” Weger was sent to New Jersey where he boarded a ship for a north German port. He then boarded a train for the German interior. He worked in payroll at Army camps in Augsburg and Munich for 15 months before being discharged. The whole time was spent under a new threat posed by the Soviets. “Because the Cold War was going on, we had training once a month. See, the Russians provided the MiGs and pilots in Korea, while China did the ground fighting. The recent bomber was the B-29 and we had given the Russians some when we still thought they were our friends; they copied them and made about 900 of their version. We knew they had them and could travel long distance. So, we had an alert once a month and went out into the woods. We ate at least one meal and they’d get the word to come back. That was the most Army business I did because I spent my time in an office just like it could have been anywhere. We had our guns under the counter and didn’t see them until we got called out on alert,” he said. Weger said the train system had been rebuilt, as had German streetcars. He lived in a large former German barracks in Munich that was built in a rectangle with an interior courtyard. On one occasion, he visited the infamous Dachau concentration camp. It had been swept clean but the ovens remained. “When I was there, it was all cleaned up and was like a big cemetery. They had a shower room. People were taken off the train; some were sent to work. The conditions they arrived in probably varied but they were all filthy because they rode in box cars. They got them to take off all their clothes - they were supposedly going to be issued new ones. They had this great big shower room with shower nozzles all over. That was where they put the cyanide gas, so they just had naked dead bodies to put in the oven,” Weger said. Ten years after the Holocaust, occupation in Germany ended and Americans stationed there were confined in light of security concerns. “In 1955, Germany got its sovereignty back. We were restricted to quarters because they thought there might be some celebrating by the Germans and we stayed in our barracks. Nothing really happened and the Germans controlled their own country,” he said. Weger was discharged in August 1955. He returned to Delphos to become the municipality’s first city tax administrator. He has been retired for 14 years and has been married to Joan for 48 years. The couple have three grown children and seven grandchildren.