Heaven and Home
Now was the time for me to exchange patches and leave the 76th and join the 4th; the 4th on my left shoulder, the 76th on my right. A train of box cars took us to LaHarve, France by way of a long cut. I no longer was with any G .I.'s I knew. Most conversation was superficial as each of us dreamed of Heaven and Home. God takes vows very seriously and I had made one. II What ever it takes for my Dad to experience God's plan, as I had, I would do it." While in battle, M.I.A. at the peak of effort when I was fully committed, a Western Union Telegram was delivered to my parents. "The War Department regrets to inform you, your son is missing in action". Mom read this to Dad, as he couldn't read with his limited education (3rd grade in Sweden). My Dad went to his bedroom as Mom sat at the table to write me a letter. Kneeling at his bedside repenting, he experienced salvation and made his commitment to the Lord of the Universe.
(Dad spoke to me later saying. "I know where you're going and I want to be there")
Next morning, Dad was on his way to work and stopped at the corner mail box in front of the factory. Being the Boss, not all of the employees liked Joe Lindberg, but they surely did respect him. As the whole crew of workers observed, my Father held the letter Mom had given him, and prayed as he posted it. Because these 125 men knew me, I'm sure they prayed too. A week later another telegram came, "The War Department is pleased to inform you, your son, PFC Lindberg, is back with his unit".
Some men had discharge points and were looking for a quick discharge. I had no such thought. We again traveled by train slowly through France at 35 MPH. At each stop we were greeted by selfish people who wanted to barter or steal from us. On one such occasion, one of our G.I.'s put on an M.P.(Military Police) band and confiscated all that the French were taking and had the goods thrown back onto the train.
Imagine being in a pup tent sitting around a small fire on top of a hill overlooking LeHarve. The French were not at all friendly. I went into town once during the week I was there. I would have enjoyed having some coffee and sitting at one of the quaint tables. A waitress was so nasty, I got up and headed back to the hill above all of this.
Returning to England I found I would be here for about 2 weeks without a uniform, only fatigues. I was in Liverpool and would have visited Jean Allen on this return trip. I think it providential that I didn't have a uniform. One evening I used the phone and called Jean. To hear her voice and carry on a conversation was somehow very disappointing. She spoke of trivia and seemed very juvenile, sweetsy, no less. I asked her to "Guess what?" She said, "You're going to Japan!" She surely had guessed it. There was little more to say. I was satisfied there would be new horizons and a beautiful girl in my life. It didn't have to be her.
Boarding a Liberty Ship on the trip home, was a new experience. This was just after the "A" bomb was dropped on Japan and a new celebration was beginning. The atomic bomb was a large surprise to every one of us. From the time it was tested in New Mexico until put into use twice in Japan, could be measured in just a few weeks. At that time no one questioned should this bomb of mass destruction be used. Use it or sacrifice hundreds of thousands of our prime men to defeat a suicide oriented godless enemy. The answer was obvious and should not require any discussion. I would like to have thanked our president Truman personally.
In a small park, people milled around cheering, waving flags, embracing, etc. I stood on a curb looking at the crowd. A young girl came running up, threw her arms around me and planted a big kiss on my lips. It's true, I had no experience quite like it and somehow I felt like I should use a mouthwash.
Meanwhile, I went back to the ship. I think it took twelve days to cross the Atlantic. Being August, I found a coil of rope in the bow of the ship and this became my bed most of the nights. On board were about 2000 Air Corps. men who had been stationed in England. They showed us a lot of respect, as we were only 100 infantry and all had been wounded.
Built of cement and covered with steel plates, Liberty ships were not very large or attractive to look at. Because the ship was heading west of Liverpool the incentive to board was great. On board everything was minimal as this was not a cruise ship. An announcement was made that we (Infantry) would be relieved of any duty enroute. The Air Corps would be our hosts. Not until years later did I realize I was included with the wounded. I had not received a Purple Heart (some didn't come through) so I didn't consider myself as a handicapped. Why was I here? Somehow my service record must show things I'm not aware of. On the deck we sat on bulkheads with officers (high rank) and most military protocol was relaxed. After five days the weather became severe. The sea became black as ink. I stood along a rail and reached out to try to touch the water. A sailor saw me on deck and turned white with fear because seeing me was a total surprise to him. Now I realized I should not be on deck at all. The heavy storm ended and sailing was smooth for a week. With nowhere to go and nothing to do my body started to relax and a nap was possible. I had not felt this way since my preschool days as a child.
"Land Ho" was sounded and I started moving 100 MPH, up and down. We leaned on the deck rail and late in the afternoon could see a beautiful "Lady in the Harbor".
(My Dad spoke of leaving Sweden, going to Oslo, Norway for a year and then on to America in 1920. His goal was to go around the world. Here in New York I'm sure he was impressed with Elis Island. He became flat broke when he arrived in Chicago. A Swede at the train depot showed mercy and helped him contact an uncle in Minneapolis. My Dad was always grateful to live in this country. He became a citizen as soon as he qualified. The story is told that my Mom didn't believe in long engagements. Therefore, Mom and Dad married after six weeks. It was then Mom taught Dad "English", so they would have a common language. So good to greet them on their 50th.)
Our ship turned south as we passed the "Statue of Liberty" while heading for a dock in New Jersey. Darkness fell quickly and we observed car lights and vehicles moving. On a hillside, a simple neon sign lighted up in blue with Large letters. It said, "Well done". This was the second time I cried.
The ship docked and a gang plank lowered. Ships' deck was crowded to the max. and I found myself with the rest of the Infantry being shoved to the very back. Ladened with duffel bags, our commanding officer, only a Lieutenant, called us to attention, and we snapped to. He next shouted the order "Forward march". Single file we moved through the rest of the troops and became the first ones to disembark. On the dock, after walking a few feet, my knees collapsed and I assumed a posture of prayer. It felt so good, I can't tell you...God is good.
Next couple of days were busy as I went to the soda fountain and sucked up a vanilla malt. Mmmmm, Mmmmm, good! New uniforms were issued and I was carefully fitted with a new jacket complete with appropriate patches. My E.T.G. ribbon (European Theatre) had three battle stars (most had one) and above it my prize possession, the Combat Infantry Badge.
Two of us traveled to New York City one evening. It was not too productive, we mostly just walked the streets. At 1:00 a.m., the Empire State Building was closed, so we went back to base. Thinking of travel by train would have been fine, but instead I was being treated to flying in a cargo plane to Los Angeles. In those days we flew very low and felt a certain amount of turbulence. Landing in Palm Springs became necessary, because of fog in L.A. Soon the bus from Palm Springs arrived at Ft. MacArthur and I had completed the round trip in a year and a half. Processing was short as I received my furlough papers and was ready to go home to Alhambra about an hour away, by hitch-hiking. I took a bus a short distance to Long Beach, looked around, went to a corner drug store and looked at these now unfamiliar sights. A feeling of guilt came over me and I felt somehow violated. My body seemed unclean. I was suffering a sort of culture shock, but didn't understand it. Going down the street I noticed a nice hotel and got a room for the night. In the afternoon I walked around a corner and found a steam bath establishment. For the first time in my life I took a steam bath and showered. It felt good to symbolically wash off all that foreign crud. I slept O.K. that night and the next day I went on to the beach and after swimming I laid on the sand. A pretty girl came along and flirted and in time we rode on several of the amusement rides, i.e., Ferris Wheel. After a while she left and I returned to reality, having maintained correct behavior. Back to the hotel, and my shallow life alone put me in a mood to go home, regardless of feelings. I was in need to see Mom and Dad, Ray and Karen. Early in the evening I quickly got a ride within two blocks of home. Running up on the porch, my heart pounding as the door opened. I had arrived; praise God! It was as though I had a wide angle lens. I tried to take in the whole room as we all embraced. Dad went to work next day. Mom and I sat around and caught up with some happenings at home. I had not corresponded for the month it took for me to get home. That evening I rambled some as I tried to explain what my life had been like and had been lived all day and all night, especially during combat conditions.
Next day I got ready to visit my Sunday School teacher, Mr. Wilson, Dewayne's father. He worked in a high technology color photographic company, which he owned. Mom told me not to expect too much from Mr. Wilson. Upon visiting him after shaking hands and big smiles all around, he quickly said, "You'll have to draw your own conclusions". Wilson was referring to living with a girl about my age involved with the class. He had left his wife and three kids. Such a heartbreak for Dewayne, and I also felt a loss. In the forties, it was considered the worst kind of behavior.
In the evening at home with my family I was hurt again, as my Dad made it clear that I needed to avoid any reference to the Army and now I was without a valve to release emotions. At the time I accepted this and didn't let on the pain I felt. This would be normal for our family. We held back as though this would demonstrate inner strength. Emotions were not important.
During my furlough I found out that I was to report to Ft. Ord, California and train troops going overseas for occupation. Going back to basic training had no appeal to me at all. Because I enlisted, however, I felt duty bound.
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