Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Wednesday, April 01, 1945

Boys Still Smile After 38 Months of Fighting








Plenty of medals, ribbons and smiles were present when six returned 34th division men
got together to talk it over. They are, left to right, Pvt. Charles Baker (seated), Pvt. Lloyd
Pritchard, Staff Sgt. Max Shepherd, Sgt. Kenneth Torkelson, T-5 Robert Buckley, and
Pfc. Donald Krug. The six horizontal bars on their sleeves each represent six months
overseas and on the left shoulders are the famed “Red Bull” division patches. All the men, with the exception of Sergeant Shepherd, will report to Jefferson Barracks, Mo.,
on the completion of their furloughs at home and then return to their unit in Italy.
Shepherd will be assigned to another unit. (~ Waterloo Daily Courier photograph.)



By Evelyn Rohde
Courier Staff Writer

It was a big assignment!

I had written about the same group of boys before, but this was different.

Instead of sifting the important facts from army headquarter dispatches there was the real thing!

Sic of the veteran veterans from that famous 34th division had arrived back to their homes in Waterloo after 38 long, grueling months of duty across the Atlantic – and I was to interview them.

H-hour finally arrived and so did the rugged group of men. There was Staff Sgt. Max C. Shepherd, Sgt. Kenneth Torkelson, T-5 Robert H. Buckley, Pfc. Donald Krug and Pvts. Lloyd W. Prichard and Charles Baker.

They looked different from the pictures I had seen of them but that was to be expected for those pictures were taken before they had experienced the fighting at Hill 609 in Tunisia and at Salerno, the bloody crossing of the Volnurno, storming ashore at Anzio and many other battles that will adorn the pages of history.

The newsroom no longer held only the sound of typewriters, but became alive with the shouting and “hellos’ of the men getting together with their girls and wives for the first time since arriving home. The telegraph editor, busy with the wire copy of the hectic rush into Germany, and cognizant of the strange hullabaloo, glanced at the men.

After recognizing the “Red Bull” patches and service stripes he calmly returned to his work, muttering, “I guess I’ll have to dig me a foxhole” – and those men could have showed him how.

Reticent on Combat.

Getting them partially quieted down was only half the job.

They were hesitant about speaking of their combat experience.

In answering, “What was the toughest battle?” they agreed that “All combat is the same, it’s rough going wherever you are.”

They spoke sadly of the Irish mongrel, “Hawkeye” that had adopted the men soon after their landing in Ireland in January, 1942. He had been run over by a truck. Yes, through all the blood and death they had come through, that dog remained in their memories.

Three Long Years.

“Hey, let’s go,” Sergeant Torkelson suggested. He was anxious to leave and join his wife Imogene. They were married only a short time before he left for overseas [Page 13] and then they didn’t realize it would be three years before they would be together again.

But his suggestion was lost in a volley of laughter and joking. “Shepherd, tell them about the time you surrounded the Casbah; that would really make a story,” someone said. But that idea was vetoed.

“How did you feel when you first got a glimpse in the States,” I asked.

Kissed the Soil.

“I was so happy I knelt down and kissed the soil of the good old U.  S.,” Private Pritchard admitted. Others added, “The whole gang looked sad, yet inside we were probably the happiest men alive. You couldn’t talk, the words choked up inside of you, you couldn’t realize you were actually back.”

They had varied opinions on the questions regarding the home front celebrating victory day in Europe.

“If they want to celebrate, go ahead, but my suggestion would be to keep right on working,” Private Baker said.

“I don’t have anything to say about it,” Sergeant Torkelson said, but followed with, “Just because one country quits, that’s no cause to celebrate. They’ve got to keep things rolling and get the whole mess cleaned up.”

Well-Earned Medals.

Their uniforms were proudly decorated with their battle ribbons, the pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon, for they entered service way back in February, 1941, with the national guard units; and the campaign ribbon with three stars, one each from Tunisia, fighting from Salerno to Naples, and from Naples to the Gothic line in northern Italy where they were with the Fifth army just before starting home. Several of the men also wore Purple Heart ribbons.

Sergeant Shepherd was platoon leader of an anti-tank unit when he left to come back to Waterloo. Coming back for him was a different story, contrasting with the time he first went to Ireland in January, 1942.

Then there had been three; the sergeant, his father Maj. Loyd M. Shepherd, then battalion commander and now training officer at Camp Wheeler, Ga., and his brother, Cpl. Robert L. Shepherd, who was killed in action in Italy Nov. 12, 1943. Major and Mrs. Shepherd arrived Saturday at their home at 427 Kingsley avenue to get reacquainted with their sone.

Sergeant Shepherd is home on a 21-day furlough according to the rotation plan. He will report to Hot Springs, Ark., and after a two weeks’ rest will be reassigned to another unit.

An Anzio Victim.

Anzio beachhead holds great memories for him as it was there on Apr. 29, 1944, that he was wounded in the left shoulder and leg. He spent 30 days in a hospital recovering but finally caught up with his unit again.

Sergeant Torkelson, who is 29 and the oldest of the group, also wears the Purple Heart. He earned his Nov. 5, 1944, while fighting at the Gothic line. Wounds in his left hand and right hip kept him in the hospital two and a half months. He is on 45-day furlough and will report to Jefferson Barrack, Mo., and then return to duty in Italy with his same group. He is visiting his wife, Imogene, at 718 Kirkwood avenue.

His brother, Pfc. John Torkeson, was not granted a furlough but is still over there fighting with the 34th.

Bat Boy Among ‘Em.

T-5 Buckley, one-time Waterloo Red Hawk bat boy, who says his ambition is to some day be a sports writer, is small in stature, but his job as an infantryman was a big one. He is visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Buckly, 622 West First street.

Private Baker, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Baker, 212 Polk street, was a truck driver in a service company, hauling the vital supplies to the front lines, and keeping the men supplied with food and ammunition. His wife lives at 1811 Franklin street.

Serving in the 185th field artillery battalion was Private Krug, whose wife live in the Hillcrest apartments. He was given the Purple Heart for wounds suffered at San Pietro in February a year ago. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. F. Krug, reside at 342 Oak Lawn avenue.

Third battalion headquarters was Private Pritchard’s address when he was overseas. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Pritchard reside at 385 Vine street.

A Long Time Away.

It has been a long time since these men began national guard drills, entered the army and finally marched away to train at Camp Claiborne, La.

[illegible] these six men, it has meant rediscovering the comforts of home, the feelings of loved ones about them. [illegible] they should reverently kiss the good earth of their native land.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Wednesday, April 01, 1945, Pages 9 & 13

Note: The "Red Bull" insignia was designed by an Iowa artist, Marvin Cone.