Carroll County

Cpl. Clifford W. Olerich




Clifford Olerich, who was employed at Flint, Mich., until his induction into the army about a month ago, is at Camp Rucker, Ala. He is a son of Otto Olerich, of 112 East Seventh street. His address is: Pvt. Clifford W. Olerich, Co. B., 298th Engr. Comb. Bn., Camp Rucker, Ala.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, May 5, 1943



Pvt. Clifford Olerich of Camp Rucker, Ala., came Thursday night to spend a ten-day furlough with his father, Otto Olerich, and family. He is with the engineers division.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, July 24, 1943


Cpl. Clifford W. Olerich, son of Otto Olerich, is reported missing in action since October 2, in Germany. He has been serving with the Second army of engineers after being inducted into the army in 1943, and has been overseas since 1944. He graduated from C.H.S. in 1936.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, October 30, 1944

Cpl. Olerich Is German Prisoner

Otto Olerich received a telegram from the adjutant general’s office today stating that his son, Cpl. Clifford Olerich, is a prisoner of war of the German government. The message also states that a letter of information will follow.

Cpl. Olerich had been reported missing in action since Oct. 2, 1944, in Germany, where he was serving with the army engineers.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, January 15, 1945

12 Iowans on Gripsholm

Washington, D. C.—(AP)—
Twelve sick or wounded Iowans are aboard the Gripsholm, Swedish exchange ship, which is due to arrive in the United States next week, the War Department announced Thursday night.

Aboard the Gripsholm are 463 Army officers and enlisted men, 665 United States civilians and 78 Canadian military personnel, the War Department said.

The soldiers were exchanged in Switzerland for German prisoners of war.

The War Department said that leave or furlough would be provided for those physically capable and hospital treatment would be continued for those needing it.

Pay accounts of the soldiers and officers will be settled, necessary clothing will be issued and awards and decorations made to those who have been designated to receive them.

Next of kin of the following Iowans have been notified they are returning aboard the Gripsholm:

Cpl. Hollis E. Baker, Inf., Carbon, Iowa;
Pfc. George C. Barger, Inf., Laurens, Iowa;
Second Lt. Clyde V. Cassill, AC, Lenox, Iowa;
Cpl. Clifford M. Olerich, CE, Carroll, Iowa;
Staff Sgt. Edward E. Cussen, AC, Sioux City, Iowa;
Lt. Laurence B. Higgins, Inf., Clarinda, Iowa;
Staff Sgt. Sam D. Humphrey, AC, Clinton, Iowa;
Staff Sgt. Winston E. Lowe, AC, Cedar Rapids, Iowa;
Staff Sgt. Thomas R. McDonald, AC, Cedar Rapids, Iowa;
Pfc. Rufus P. E. Nanke, Inf., What Cheer, Iowa;
Second Lt. Warren L. Van Eschen, AC – Mrs. John Van Eschen, mother, Ackley, Iowa;
Pvt. Jack M. Wickey, Inf., Sioux City, Iowa.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, February 16, 1945

Cpl. Olerich’s Ship at Dock
Cpl. Clifford Olerich of Carroll was among 509 American soldiers and merchant seamen who were prisoners of war in Germany and were brought home on the exchange liner Gripsholm today. According to an AP dispatch, the liner nosed into her pier at Jersey City, N.J., at 11:35 a.m. today. The 1,209 repatriates lined the decks of the 18,000 ton ship, painted white and bearing the yellow and blue colors of neutral Sweden.

Army officials and nurses waited at the pier to take the 463 American officers and enlisted me in ambulances to Halloran General hospital at Staten Island.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, February 21, 1945

‘Red Cross Food Saved Us,’ Says Cpl. Olerich

Cpl. Clifford Olerich, Carroll’s first repatriated serviceman, is home. At first glance, he shows no signs of wounds received in his left shoulder from a German machine gun bullet that left him lying on a battlefield, October 2, 1944, to be taken a prisoner of war. But his left arm is partially paralyzed.

He will be here with his father, Otto Olerich, and family for 30 days or longer, when he will return to Halloran General hospital on Staten Island for further treatment and possibly an operation on his arm.

Cpl. Olerich, who served with the combat engineers of the 7th Corps under Major General Collins, holds the Silver Star medal and the Purple Heart. He was one of 10 servicemen who were presented with medals of different kinds in the auditorium of Halloran General Hospital. He said he was surprised when someone came to his bedside and told him he was wanted in the auditorium, the idea of the bestowal of an award never occurring to him.

The citation accompanying the Silver Star medal awarded at that time reads: “For gallantry in action and disregard for personal safety displayed on July 21, 1944….which reflects highest credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States.”

Many experiences are wrapped up in the weeks between October 2, 1944, when he was wounded, and Feb. 21, 1945, when Cpl. Olerich arrived at Jersey City, N. J., on the Swedish exchange ship, the Gripsholm. While on the Gripsholm at Marseilles he was awarded the Purple Heart by Brigadier General Ratay.

After he was wounded south of Auchen on October 2, Cpl. Olerich said that he lay in one spot for perhaps an hour and a half or two hours before he was picked up and carried about six miles. He was injured in the morning, but he thinks it was late afternoon before he got to a front line hospital in Germany, by way of horse and cart. There he was put under ether and a long tube was inserted in each of his wounds.

After a two-day stay in this hospital, he was taken by ambulance to a second hospital—a large German Catholic institution. American planes came over one day and the concussion blew out all the windows, with some of the plaster falling down on the beds.

“The Germans looked at me, pointed up in the air, and hollered ‘comrades’,” Cpl. Olerich chuckled. So far as he knows, no one in the hospital was injured. It took the Germans the rest of the day to clean up the place.

Fair Care.
Cpl. Olerich said he was given “fair care” in this hospital. He was in a large room by himself until two wounded United States infantrymen became his companions.

Following three or four days in this hospital, Cpl. Olerich, his two roommates and wounded Germans were put on a German Red Cross train and taken to Reserve Lazarette Schmorkau, a little south of Dresden in Leipzig, where Cpl. Olerich stayed until he was repatriated in a period of about three and one-half months. He left there Jan. 21.

At this lazarette, or hospital, which is in conjunction with prison camp Stalag 4-A, he was doctored by a French major and a New Zealand captain, who, in Cpl. Olerich’s words were “really nice.” It was through the French major, who was in charge of the lazarette, that Cpl. Olerich was recommended for repatriation. While at the lazarette, his chest and left shoulder were placed in a cast, which was removed just before he left Germany. He was then given an ordinary hand sling to wear, but he took it off and put it in his pocket.

The food at the lazarette was “very poor.” In fact, Cpl. Olerich said, a person couldn’t survive on it. “The Red Cross parcels that came in are what saved the men.” He stated that he was given half a Red Cross parcel every week. “We were each supposed to get a full one, but the Germans claimed they couldn’t get them in,” he added.

After being taken off the Gripsholm at Jersey City, Cpl. Olerich was moved to the Halloran General hospital in the hills of Staten Island, and from there he came home yesterday.

When questioned about his achievements on July 21, 1944, that brought about the conferring of the Silver Star medal, Cpl. Olerich said that the only way he can account for it was like this: “Our company was in a small town in France, and a lot of our engineering equipment was destroyed by German artillery fire. The Germans zeroed in that area where we were bivouacked, and they put a lot of the engineering trucks, caterpillars and radio equipment out of commission. A fellow from Detroit, named Ralph Schmidt, and I remained behind with two fellows who were quite badly wounded and got an ambulance for them.”

Cpl. Olerich saw all of his overseas service with the same outfit, which is now largely made up of replacements. After landing in Scotland in the forepart of January, 1944, he went by train immediately to a town in southern England, remaining that area for four or five months.

In D-Day Invasion.
He took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, his company landing on the Omaha beachhead in the afternoon of June 6. From there they went down around the Cherbourg peninsula and the Brest peninsula and up to Alencon. Then they advanced to a town a little south and east of Paris, bridged the Seine river, went through Chateau Thierry, on into Belgium, bridged the Meuse river at Dinnant, crossed Belgium into Germany and thence to the spot south of Aschen, where he was wounded on Oct. 2.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, March 8, 1945 (photo included)

Cpl. Clifford W. Olerich, who had been home on 60-day furlough following his return from Germany on the Gripsholm, left last night for Staten Island, N. Y., where he is re-entering Halloran General hospital. He may be addressed there: Cpl. Clifford W. Olerich, Halloran General Hospital, Staten Island, N.Y.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, May 3, 1945

Sgt. Clifford Olerich is home on a 30-day furlough from Halloran General hospital, Staten Island, N.Y., where he has been receiving treatment for several months. He flew to Des Moines, where he spent a few days with his uncle and aunt, Dr. and Mrs. D. A. Sloan, before coming to Carroll.

Source: Carroll Times Herald, September 24, 1945