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3AD Association Reunion - July 16, 2004

Speech by Paul R. Muenchow
Son of 3AD WWII Veteran Edward Muenchow (Serv Co/33rd AR)


"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 Chicago, Illinois.

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 a pre-teen.

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 in Europe.

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 Greatest Newspaper."

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 Thompson.

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 from Chicago?'

"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
Frankfort, Illinois

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