I got a wonderful letter from Nancy Hoedel, Robert's daughter a while back and we hit it off immediately. Seems we are both very proud daughters of engineers and also have an avid interest in the 40's and WWII.
Nancy has an extensive collection that includes her father's unit history, photos, letters, postcards, engineering documents, manuals and more. I must admit that it's one of the most comprehensive collections I have seen to date.
I received well over 100 individual pages, most of them originals and certainly not replaceable. Thank you Nancy for entrusting me with your father's personal documents and for letting me have the honor of creating a page for him. I believe this page will be beneficial to many and I hope this will enable you to make contact with some of the men of the 359th and/or their families.
My name is Nancy and like you, I've been looking for information on my Dad....WWll vet. He was with Co A 359th Regt in England, (combat engineers), then ended up with the 160th when he was discharged. Do you know where I can find someone in that Regt? I have pictures of him with guys and pictures of other soldiers, but only 2 have their names on them! He was on Omaha Beach....
I want to thank you for this site and I would like to join so that I might be able to find more info on Dad. Most of all thanks for your interest in the vets, I feel the same way you do.....proud to be a daughter of one. I've found out that a lot of them didn't talk to much about their experiences, they just went in there and got the job done.
I won't take up any more of your time now, but would love to hear from you. I can send these pictures if you would like. I also have an Engineer Book Dad had in his trunk. It has the company's and who was in charge at that time. So many of the units changed when they went into battle.......it seems like they were always changing to what ever unit was close to them. Does that make sense to you? Here I am rattling on again!
This is a little of what I know about my dad, and where he was. I’m not sure if it’s accurate or not, but it’s a start. Maybe someone can fill in the blanks.........let’s hope!
Robert (Bob) Hoedel PFC - #37343233
Entered in to service 12 March 1943, at Denver, Colorado
Boot camp - Fort Logan, CO, then Fort Leonard Wood, MO
Continental service 4 mos, 20 days
Foreign service 2 yrs, 4 mos, 2 days
Arm of Service Army Combat Engineer (CE)
359th Engr Gen Serv Regt -
Date of departure 25 July 1943 for European Theater
Date of arrival 30 July 1943 Glasgow, Scotland
Now, I’m not sure what was taken place the 4 mos and 20 days before he left to go to Scotland on the Queen Mary, I think it was boot camp, but I don’t know if it was all boot camp! From Scotland I found him in Nottingham, England where he must have been in training and setting up things.....I’m not sure if Nottingham was just a 1-time thing, or if he actually stayed there the whole time he was in England. I do have letters and his Regt Booklet enclosed for you to look at. From there on D-Day it gets tricky. My uncle said dad landed on Omaha Beach, but I have a book and I’ve enclosed a picture of what I think is the 359th landing on Utah Beach...they were a little to far down from where they were suppose to actually land, so maybe this is why there was some confusion as to which beach dad landed on. I do know there were some of the guys dad was with that died then.
My older brother was named after dad’s Capt, his name was Sidney.........again I read (in the little Engineer Booklet) where there was a Sidney Smith, but he was with Co B, CO with the 121st.....So it gets confusing to me. If you want me to send the little booklet I will. I made a copy of the Front of the Booklet for you. I did see where you have the centerfold of this booklet as a colored picture in your photo section.
I have a few names of places he was at.......probably not in the proper order......... He did spend a bit of time in Brussels; I have a number of picture post cards from there.
Florange Pres Clyioyville
Poix St Hubert
Now, I couldn’t understand after wearing the Army patch on his shoulder why his uniform has the Amphibian patch on it when he was discharged.....I now know, because they were going over to the South Pacific to fight over there, but the bomb was dropped and the war was over. He has a couple other patches with his stuff, plus his medals. I’ll enclose a copy of the patches.
Anyway, I remember a few stories he told..... He said his feet were never warm, or dry in Europe. It was my job, as a little girl to file and clean his toenails (sounds gross huh?) He frostbit his feet over there. My mum said she remembers him telling her that once during the winter, in some village over there, all the folks gathered up their white sheets to cover the GI’s up so the Germans couldn’t see them. There are other stories that he told.........
I’m not sure where all this is going. I hope somebody can tell me that they knew dad, or at least tell me about his Unit, Company or something.
If you need more information, I’ll see what I can send down. I do have Yank magazines and newspapers. I know why he saved the newspapers, but not sure why he saved the Yank’s. The newspapers tell about some of the battles, and when the 359th was 1 year old. It’s the same article as the 359th 1-year-old booklet, but without saying the numbers and who was the CO.
After he got to Le Havre, he boarded the Victory ship and came back to the good ole USA... Was discharged at Fort Logan. He worked in Colorado for less then a year, and then came to Alaska. He turned 24 the day he flew into Anchorage, Alaska.
Would you believe he made his living building bridges! He was the foreman on so many bridges all over Alaska. Now, I understand so much more about why he did the things he did. Kinda understand.....
Next chapter another time.
Discharge Documents, Passes and more...
"I remember he told us he only spoke German when he started school, so he learned English in 1st grade. He made sure we all had an education. He said going to school was a privilege. He read all the time. I guess you would say he was self-taught & had a photographic memory."
The document below was taken from an engineering test that he took.
"The test he had to take. He said he studied & studied, the others guys partied, but he only had an 8th grade education so it was harder for him. He got 100% on it and I'm sure that's why he kept it!"
Demolition Rules & Formulas
Overseas with the 359th
Various documents of interest
Army Service Force, HQ ETOUSA Com Z Patch & Communications Zone document
Pup Tent Poets
First Birthday Parade - 359th Eng Reg - 13 February 1944 - Nottingham, England
German souvenir document
The second photo from top on left had the following words on the back:
"Thank you for the liberation. Charles Lambarte - Lierochs Meennoug - Mortel, Belgium
The third photo from top on left said this:
"Ensouocnin(?) a Robert 24-6-45 josi(?)
The photo on top left is where Nancy's dad either worked out of or had something to do with this building. Some of the pictures of the guys were taken outside of it.
Info on the 359th from The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany