From Paullina Times-Sutherland Courier Thurs. July 18, 1985
The two army buddies were separated in February of 1944 in Hawaii and neither knew the whereabouts of the other until this May although they lived in Iowa since they returned home from the service in 1945.
They discovered each other was alive when there was an article in the Disabled American Veterans Magazine about their old company planning a reunion. Mayer contacted the organizer in Tennessee and got Meyer's address and phone number. He called Meyer about six weeks ago and immediately set up a reunion of their own. "I wanted to see him immediately," Meyer commented.
What was the reunion like?
Mayer's wife said Ludvik was pacing the floor anxiously awaiting the arrival of his old army buddy Friday afternoon. Finally the Meyer's arrived.
"The looked like two Christmas trees that just had been plugged in," commented Meyer's wife, Nell, Saturday morning. "They shed a few tears and have been smiling ever since."
"Too bad I had to give up drinking," commented Meyer, noting that they had enjoyed a few drinks together in the Army.
"They are so tickled to see other," added Mayer's wife, Evelyn, "That makes us happy. We are learning a lot of interesting things that we did not know before."
"I've just met these people (the Meyer's)," Evelyn added, " and I feel like I've known them all my life."
Mayer and Meyer are a couple of the fortunate soldiers who survived the Pacific Theatre battles. their old army unit, Company K of the 27the Infantry Division, had 75% casualty.
Mayer and Meyer both were inducted into the Army at Camp Dodge in Des Moines in October of 1941 and became best of friends during boot camp at Camp Walters, TX. Norman entered the service on Oct 6 while Ludvik entered Oct 20.
They had not yet finished training when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. They were almost immediately transferred to Fort Ord, CA for further training for about two weeks and then on to San Francisco where they boarded the USS Lurine, a passenger ship converted into a troop ship, to begin the 5-day trip to Hawaii.
They spent seven months on the big island, Hawaii, in additional training and then another seven months on Oahu where Honolulu is.
"We were among the fist troops to go overseas after the war broke out," Mayer commented. He noted that when they arrived at San Francisco they joined Company K of the 27th Infantry Division which was originally the New York National Guard.
Both men carried the Browning Automatic rifles (BAR's) which was a small machine gun. "Our gun and field packs weighed 78 lbs," Mayer recalled.
As they were loading up to attack the Japanese on the Marshall Islands, Meyer cracked an ankle, loading artillery shells onto the ship. That day, in mid-February of 1944, was the last he saw of Mayer who departed while Meyer had to stay behind to recover.
Mayer was injured during the battle of Emiwetok Atoll Island between Feb. 18 and 24, 1944. He was on the hospital ship when Company K returned to Hawaii and then left again this time with Meyer leaving to join the battle while Mayer recovered.
Mayer was in the Army hospital at Hawaii for three months as gangrene had set in. That infection left his trigger finger stiff and he was never again in battle.
"I really wanted to join the rest of my company on the front lines, but with a stiff trigger finger, they would not let me go," Mayer stated. For the rest of his Army career, Mayer was in the detached service working in the Army PX in Hawaii.
He was awarded his purple Heart on Jan. 5, 1950, but didn't receive his Bronze Star until April 19, 1984, after writing for it.
Meyer injured twice
Meyer, a life long resident of Germantown, 7 miles southwest of Paullina was wounded twice. He was fist hit in the Western Pacific Theatre on Aug. 23, 1944, on Saipan Island. One week later he was back on the front line. He earned the second purple Heart when he received a concussion on Okinawa on April 19, 1945. After 10 days in the hospital he was back on the front line again until the war ended.
Both men were processed at Jefferson Barracks, MO, when they were discharged in October, 1945, but their paths didn't cross again last Friday. Meyer was discharged Oct. 2, while Meyer was discharged Oct 6, just 2 days short of 4 years. He noted he never had a furlough during the entire time in the Army.
What are some of the memories that they hashed over last week end?
Both vividly recall seeing the disabled U.S.ships in Pearl Harbor in 1945.
Other than their injuries, they also recounted some good times while in training and their first arrival in Hawaii.
"It was like paradise," Mayer commented. Meyer has since returned to Hawaii and finds it still very beautiful but far too commercialized. Both would like to return to the Islands where they were wounded.
Meyer recalls 19 straight days of rain without shelter other than his foxhole while on the front line. After many days of wet socks and shoes, he finally got a dry pair of shoes. When he took off his wet socks, his skin on the bottom of his feet came right off with them, due to being wet so long. As he was walking to the canteen a short time later, they were nearly hit by enemy fire so he had to jump into a ditch filled with water up to his chest. That was the end of his dry shoes.
"What I hated most was th nights," Meyer recalled. "I just dreaded it and hated going back on the front line after being wounded. I just wanted to get out of there."
Mayer said one of his most vivid memories was when he jumped into a former foxhole and landed on something soft. Thinking it was a Japanese soldier, Mayer said he got out of the foxhle just as fast, only to find it was only a field pack left behind by the enemy.
After leaving the service, Mayer returned to his hometown on Chelsea to resume farming. He and Evelyn married in March of 1951 and lived in their Chelsea home ever since. "I was a town farmer," Mayer noted.
They have two daughters They have four grandchildren.
Oddly both men had heart problems the same year.
Mayer had heart surgery in 1976 and Meyer had a heart attack in 1976.
Meyer returned to his hometown of Germantown where he operated a truck business for 27 years before retiring in 1971. He met his wife, Nell, a Calumet telephone operator, shortly after returning home and they were married in 1946. They have five children and 10 grandchildren.
Looking back to when he first came home, Meyer said he was at first glad to be home but then was very homesick for his Army buddies.
"I wanted to get back with the boys," he commented. "on my first day home I could have gone back with the boys if we could have all been together again."
Mayer said he felt the same way and his wife notes that since they were married he has commented often that he wished he could get together with his Army buddies.
Meyer is planning to attend Company K's reunion in Tiptonville, TN Aug. 16, 17, and 18. Mayer would like to go but notes his wife is saving vacation time for when their daughter gets married in September.
The Meyer's were treated to great hospitality by the Mayer's.
Transcribed November 2014 by Kris Meyer