"Hey Mac, are you from Chicago?" That's a typical
greeting you might hear among the World War Two Third Armored
Division Spearheaders. It sort of sums up the nature of the men
who served from about 1940 to 1945 in the U.S. Army. My father,
Edward Muenchow, was such a man. He was a lifelong resident of
I started attending these reunions about three years ago.
Even though my father wasn't active in the Association, he was
a member and received newsletters from the national organization
and from his company, Service Company, 33rd Armored Regiment.
During his time in the service, he was a driver of a two and
one-half torn truck, a "deuce and a half."
I started attending first of all because I was a World War
II buff or "nut" of sorts. I was always fascinated
by the story of the American Army in Europe, from Normandy to
the Elbe. And I remember my father's khaki colored Division history
of the Third Armored, which I used to page through when I was
He passed away in 1995, and among his possessions was his
Third Armored Division ring. Somewhere along the line, I started
wearing his division ring, partly because it is a handsome ring,
and mainly out of respect to all you World War II veterans. When
I attended the reunions, I met men from all over the United States.
Some of these men were tank drivers, gunners, half-track radiomen;
some were officers and some were enlisted. But they all had something
in common, a certain bearing, a certain gentlemanliness, a certain
hidden pride. A pride to have done the job in Europe to save
the world and our country from perhaps the worst dictator and
police state in the history of mankind.
This pride was tempered with modesty. If you're from my generation,
and you talk to these men, you get the feeling that they did
all that they did, suffered all that they suffered, just to get
the job done and get back home and live ordinary, peaceful lives.
Some never came back and are still near the far battlefields
where they fell. Many who survived the war have now passed away
and each year we remember them at these services. We now meet
with the men and women who served our country in the Cold War,
the Vietnam era, and Desert Storm.
The question for me becomes how do we of our baby boomer generation
and those of the generations that have since been born, honor
and remember these men? I believe the highest honor we could
give is to pass on, to the next generation, the stories we hear
at these reunions and our personal family stories.
So I brought my 10-year-old son, Calvin, this year, and if
you bear with me, I have two stories to tell him. One, Calvin,
is about a Christmas card, and one is about a newspaper article.
Your grandfather's Christmas card was written in December
of 1944, just before the division was engaged in the Battle of
the Bulge. It was on printed stock, with "Greetings from
Germany" written in script about the 3 Armored Division
logo (or patch). Below was the division name, "The Spearhead
Division." Inside the card, with the printed greeting your
grandfather had written in his script-like printing, were the
various campaigns in which the division had engaged since landing
The inside of the card read, "Via England - Igigny (in
Normandy), St. Lo Campaign, Mortain, Falaise Gap, Alencon, Laon,
Soissons, Mons, Namur, Liege, Carlerio, and at the bottom, "Chicago
in 1945." Grandpa, like most of the citizen soldiers, just
wanted to get the war over with so they could get back home.
The second story takes place in March of the following year.
After the beginning of the new year, 1945, your grandmother had
not heard from your grandpa for several weeks, probably because
the division was moving so fast, it was hard for the mail to
keep up. After a particularly long time with no communications,
and worrying about my father's well-being, my mother one morning
in March, 1945, boarded her usual streetcar on her way to work,
and started reading her newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune's banner proclaims it is "The World's
The headlines were ablaze with the stories of the Allied armies
having crossed the Rhine River, the last great barrier to carrying
the fight to the heart of Germany. Some of the news stories were
written by the Tribune's correspondent on the scene, John
At the bottom of the front page of that edition of the Tribune
that March morning, under a small column entitled "Sidelights
on the Road to Berlin," appeared the following story, with
John Thompson's by-line: "WITH U.S. 1st ARMY SPEARHEADS
ON THE ROAD TO BERLIN, March 26 [Delayed] - It's always been
the reporter who asked, 'Anyone here from Chicago?' Until today.
"While I was leaning against a tree on the Rhine, waiting
for traffic to clear off a bridge, a truck slowed beside me.
A soldier, seeing my insignia, asked laughingly, 'Hey, Mac, you
"He and his driver, both from an armored unit, were Pvt.
Henry V. Zegan, 2147 Shakespeare ave., and Pvt. Edward Muenchow,
5630 Eastwood ave."
Needless to say, my mother was ecstatic that her finance was
safe and sound. The war in Europe was to last about six more
weeks, but she knew in her heart that grandpa would come back
safely to her.
Spearheaders of World War II. We of my own generation, and
Calvin's generation, solemnly promise to you - you that survived
the holocaust known as World War Two that:
When the last widow's tear, falls upon the last gravestone,
Of the last World War II Spearheader to pass away,
And when all the widow's tears have dried,
And when all has passed away,
We will remember you.
We remember the modest gentleness, the hidden pride,
The easygoing nature that defines, "character,"
That belongs to those who "Just wanted to get the job done,
and get back home."
In that way, at least in our minds, you have, immortality.
By Paul R. Muenchow