Written by Charles “Chuck” Yunghans, 1924-2004:
“I graduated from Vincennes High School in Vincennes, Ind., in 1942. I worked at the Vincennes steel plant under the supervision of my Dad until I was drafted the following year in 1943. It was the first time I had ever been out of Indiana.
I served as an infantry recruit in the newly formed 66th Infantry Panther Division in Camp Blanding, Fla. Miserably hot and muggy.
A year later I was shipped to England as an infantry replacement. Shortly after, I volunteered to serve in Company F of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. We were sent to Belgium with the 17th Airborne Division in December 1944 to engage in the Battle of the Bulge.
I spent six weeks of the most miserable winter of my life, bar none. We hunkered down in deep German woods, sleeping on frozen ground on beds of pine needles. We wore the same clothes for the entire six weeks, never taking a bath or shower. It was extremely cold. In spite of constantly changing wet socks for dry ones, I lost the battle and my toes froze. Christmas dinner consisted of dehydrated potatoes and Spam. To this day, I can eat neither.
On March 24, 1945, our division invaded Germany with the Rhine River jump at the town of Wesel. Another scary endeavor. Even though our jump was at night, there was still artillery fire from the enemy and I prayed that I wouldn’t be shot down in the air or taken prisoner on the ground. Casualties were heavy, but thank God my life was spared.
Shortly after the Rhine jump, Germany surrendered. I was assigned to occupation duty in Berlin for two months. I returned to the USA on the Queen Mary and joined the ticker-tape parade in New York City with the 82nd Airborne Division. I was discharged from Camp Atterbury (Indiana) on Jan. 17, 1946.”
(Pfc. Yunghans received the American Theater Ribbon, three Bronze stars, a Good Conduct Medal, a Victory Medal and a bronze arrowhead. Although Yunghans rarely spoke of his military service, he was extremely proud to have served his country.)