It's a wonderful feeling when I'm able to bring people together and such is the case below.
Pete was able to save his uncle's mementos from the junk pile (seems no one else in the family was interested), and in turn wanted to know more about his relative's ETO history. So began his internet search, him finding this site and in turn his email to me.
As soon as I read his letter, I was able to say, "Aha! I know just the people to introduce you too.", and sent an email to Bill Douglass, also of the 1301st. I then contacted the Jerry, son of Joseph Elias and so our story unfolds.
Some of the correspondence between Pete, Bill and I over the last week.
I noticed you had some postings related the 1301st. My uncle was in that unit and, since I am the only one in the family interested in history, I have a number of pictures and stuff that I have saved from the garbage heap. I'd love to get in touch with some other vets of the unit and share some of the history. Thanks.
I will be more than happy to forward your mail to Bill Douglass, WWII vet (really cool guy and loves to talk and share) and I will also forward your letter to Jerry Elias, son of Joseph Elias. Bill and Jerry are already corresponding and I know they would love to have you join their ranks too.
Let's do a page for you uncle soon. I will look forward to hearing back from you. Glad to hear you saved his stuff from the heap. Thank God!
Marion J Chard
Proud daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Combat Engineer WWII
Thanks for the quick response! I appreciate you taking the time to forward my email. That will be great. I'd be happy to send you some stuff for a page on my Uncle. Very cool! Thanks.
Through the powers of the internet, Ms. Chard has been able to do in a few short weeks that I haven't been able to do in 60 years. I have gone from no contacts to at least four former unit members.
I was in Co "B" and have rosters of the H&S Co. and "B" Co. If you get a chance, drop me an E and let me know what Company your uncle was in.
Just a few notes: to the best of my knowledge, there were only three such regiments, the 1301st, 1303rd and 1306th, all of which had their basic training at Camp Ellis, Illinois..............went to Europe and served with Patton's 3rd Army and then shipped direct to the Pacific. While en route, Pres Truman had the intestinal fortitude to use the BOMB, so we spent all of our time trying to get home.
Would be glad to hear from you and exchange information.
Bill Douglass Sr
What a pleasure to hear from you! My Uncle, Steve Paulson (Pawlikowski) was in D Co. He left behind a small album of photos, a diary and his prized possession; an accordion. Apparently, when he was in the Pacific, he was part of a band. I'll send you some photos after I've had a chance to scan them. One of his photos is of a person who looks a lot like Joseph Elias from Marion's website. I'll forward some pictures to her as well.
Thanks for the info and looking fwd to the pictures. There was very little interaction between companies,except when the entire regiment got together to build the President Roosevelt Memorial Bridge over the Rhine River at Oppenheim, Germany, A tremendous effort; a 2 way fixed bridge with 90' navigational span completed in 12 days and opening on April 12, the day the president died, hence the name. (see photos below)
Glad to have made contact with you and look fwd to additional meetings on the Net.
Bill and Marion,
Here are some photo's that I scanned. There are many more. I have the accordion and case that you see in the pictures. I'll have to get a photo of that as well. Enjoy!
Dear Bill and Pete:
I am so delighted that by the grace of God, I was able to bring you together. I am just overjoyed this afternoon and share in your happiness.
Oh, but there is even more to share and the two of you won't believe this. Are you ready? When you are done reading this, tell me that this is just a mere coincidence!
About 4 or 5 days, my historian friend Richard Horrell, wrote to me for some assistance with a research project. He has a business, along with a website that is dedicated to performing research for individuals who are trying to find answers to their loved one's WWII histories. Anyway, he wanted to know if I had any photos of the Roosevelt Bridge. Off hand I didn't know if I hand any in my personal collection, but I sent him a few links hoping that I could help.
Well and you already know where I'm going with this now... I get this email from you today Pete, and included amongst the photos you sent me is yes, a photo of the ROOSEVELT BRIDGE. I have Goosebumps. I was so excited that I immediately typed a letter to Richard and sent him the photo. Tell me that someone isn't looking out for all of us.
I have had several coincidences like this one, but I think that this one takes the cake. I am just sitting here shaking my head in disbelief.
Well to a long and lasting relationship. I look forward to our continuing friendship Bill. And Pete, I look forward to getting to know you. Thank you for writing to me. It just keeps getting better and better all the time.
Hugs to you both,
PS. Bill thank you for your most kind words. Can't tell you enough how much you mean to me.
Photos from the war...
The photos below were taken of the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge that was built over the Rhine at Oppenheim, Germany. The bridge was completed on April 12, 1945, the day President Roosevelt passed away, thus the name. The entire 1301st took part in the project and completed the 2-way 90' span fixed bridge in just 12 days.
Bill just sent us this letter...
Hi Peter and Marion:
Thanks for the pics Peter. In the #2 pic, there was an Antiaircraft battery behind the trees on the left on the far shore. As the project went on 24 hours; it was lit up like a Xmas tree at night. Men on generators, with phones, could quickly kill all lights when Jerry made a late night run. Then the Ack Ack would work on him. In pic # 3, the old steam powered piledriver was scrounged up and made operational and really put to good use driving piles. There's no telling how long it had set idle, but the engineers got it fired up and going. The pontoon bridge stayed in operation during the construction of the big bridge. I was surprised to see the Navy in attendance during construction. I had no idea they were involved in that part of the country, but they were there in small boats.
I am here to tell you, this country had this war in hand early on. With the home front turning out equipment at a rate never before heard of ;and the best, well trained and equipped troops in the world; it didn't take long for Germany to find out that they had bit off more than they could chew. Their face-saving effort was a loser from the day our country entered the war.
Keep digging out the old pictures Peter; they are priceless.
I cannot believe all of this has come about through your efforts Marion; how proud you must be!
If the above made our efforts seem easy, forget it. There are too many white crosses in Europe, marking the graves of Americans who made it all possible.
Steve arrives home...