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Earl Gerdeman Army

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Earl Gerdeman - 801 Views
honored by Michael Ford


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Gender: male
Basic Training: Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland
From City: Middle Point
From State: Ohio
Current City: Delphos
Current State: Ohio
My War Stories
  
  1952 (Courtesy Michael Ford, Delphos Herald). The call of duty has been issued to men from various walks of life throughout our nation’s history. Men from cities and small towns; those with wives and those still searching with a twinkle in their eyes, as well as hard-workers from professional and industrial environments. Earl Gerdeman, 77, of rural Delphos, grew up on a farm near Middle Point. He held a bachelor degree from Ohio State University and was teaching agriculture at the former Payne High School in 1952. He had only been there for six weeks when he had an unexpected job change. Van Wert County decided its resident needed to help fill its draft quota during the Korean War. “My whole outfit went to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. We had basic training there and we stayed there. It was an ordinance program, not infantry so we had 8 weeks of basic. They had 16 weeks,” he said. When given a choice of what school to attend after boot camp, the 1948 Middle Point High School graduate considered his future. “I chose blacksmith school. I didn’t want to shoot those big guns because I didn’t figure I would have much use for that. I was a teacher and they needed teachers real bad, so I went through blacksmith school and then taught it; I got a new class every fourth Monday. Everybody else was shipped to Korea. They needed men because we were being pushed south. They took 300 men but I got to stay. I have wondered if I would be here today if not for my education because a lot of them got killed. My education may have saved my life,” he said. Gerdeman stayed in this teaching job until his discharge in 1954. He spend a lot of time with those whom he taught to swing a hammer at hot steel. “We had parades and marched a lot. We had to march to school from our barracks and we heated our lunch with a torch. You could go to the mess hall if you wanted to sometimes, we didn’t want what they were serving so we went and got a loaf of bread and some baloney or something,” he said. Gerdeman said his activities were tedious but safe. “We got sick of inspections but were never in any danger,” he said. The most exciting of his experiences was in hitch hiking home to help his father farm for the weekend. On one occasion he got some rest riding with a man en route to the Indianapolis 500. “He said ‘I picked you up for your company and you slept the whole way’,” he said. Another time, he got picked up by a crew that decided their evening was too dry after Gerdeman had joined them. “They were drinking strait from the whiskey bottle and when they ran out of gas, I jumped out and called home from the next town,” he said. When Gerdeman was discharged, he wanted to take a break from teaching, so he used his G.I. Bill money to begin work on his master’s degree at OSU. His next assignment was at the former Van Del High School, which became Lincolnview, where he taught agriculture for 35 years until his retirement in 1989. His Army experience stayed with him throughout his career. Over seven summers, he taught blacksmithing to other ag teachers from around Ohio for the state board of education. He credits the military and his parents with his success in life and in teaching. “My Army experiences sure helped me in my teaching. I matured and learned to live with all kinds of people. My success was from having good and caring parents who taught me right from wrong,” he said. After the Army, he later married his wife of 52 years, Doris, who taught at St. John’s Elementary School for 27 years.