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Jeff Thomas

info on 363rd and 369th Engineers

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My Grandfather Orval Covert Herbert is the only person I know in this large group photo. The only way we will ever know who anyone else is by name, is to track down a roster that goes with this photo (if one even exists), or by individual family identification (which could take forever).

 

Glad you all liked it.

 

David

P.S. Jean, I will try to scan and post some additional photos when I get some free time.

regards

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David: Well we certainly hope that anyone searching for info on this unit, will stumble across this post and be able to help us fill in the blanks (and there are a lot of them). But we seem to be blessed with info and I wouldn't doubt that someone will be able to assist you in your quest.

 

:pdt12:

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I received this today and was able to supply her with the document in the above post! YEAH!

Hi Marion and All! I'm Pete Fenzel, son of Capt. Alfred J. Fenzel, who at war's end was the battalion commander of the 369th Engineer Combat Battalion, ex the 215th AAA Gun Bn. Dad is still alive at age 99 and a half. His mind is sharp as a tack and his war recollections are vivid. Of course, we in the family have heard the stories a few hundred times, but that never lessens their significance.

Dad enlisted in the US Army Reserve right after the Munich Conference, in which Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement gave the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovalkia to the Nazis without firing a shot. Dad figured that weakness invites war so he decided to get in early and get some rank. He was activated at

Camp Upton few weeks after Pearl Harbor in the 508th Coast Artillery, which became the 215th AAA Gun Bn (semimobile), 7th Army, on January 20, 1943. The 215th AAA Gun Bn was disbanded on December 31, 1944 and its personnel formed the new 369th Engineer Combat Bn at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day outside Marseilles.

One of Dad's recollections is of Easter Sunday, April 1,1945. The 369th had crossed the Rhine near Mannheim that day and towards evening they pulled into a village east of the river. (I'll get the village name.) Around 3pm Dad had his sergeant go find the local priest to provide an Easter service for the men. The local priest turned out to be a Jesuit, whom the Nazi's had neglected to murder. He spoke perfect English and was ordered to conduct a service at 5pm and to see that there was no fraternization with German civilians in church. About 35 men of the 369th took the opportunity to attend. When the Americans, dirty and discheveled, carrying their weapons, entered the little church it was ablaze with every candle lit and a boys choir signing hymns in Latin. For Dad it was a very spiritual moment, where a bit of heaven was found in Nazi Germany. He still finds awe in that moment to this day.

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I just loved your dad's story. Even in the midst of hell, a little bit of heaven shown through. Touching!

 

So glad you joined and are willing and able to share this with us. Can't wait to hear more.

 

:pdt12:

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Thank you for the story. I'm Catholic and can imagine the scene - very nice.

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Yes, I am Catholic too.

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