Lichtenberger wrote poetic memories of World War II from his heart

Authored by Jim Langham on Jul 2, 2010

When Adams County resident Lloyd Lichtenberger felt overwhelmed by the surroundings of World War II, he would often take out a pencil and paper and jot down the feelings of his heart.

“He was my buddy, the swellest buddy,
As nice a buddy as could be found.
Whenever I went, went with my buddy,
Then the Army moved us around.
My buddy and I were parted,
In tears we bid each goodbye.
I will never forget my buddy,
Whether he may live or die.”

Lichtenberger jotted down words of rhyme in describing the separation of a close friend while he was in England in 1944.
“Written in memory of my buddy,” he noted at the bottom of his poem.
The World War II veteran, a graduate of Pleasant Mills High School, was drafted from the family residence east of Decatur in 1943.
In preparation for service with the 12th Army Group, he was first taken to Camp Perry, Ohio, then to Fort Harrison, and finally to Barkley, Texas, for maneuvers. By that time, he knew that he was going to be serving in a medical unit and would be delivering supplies to various areas of need throughout Europe.
“Camp Barkley was a medical corporation,” said Lichtenberger. “That, and mp’s and tanks.”
Concerning his stint there, Lichtenberger wrote to his mother, “I didn’t like it for it was bad, but just the same I gave it all I had; mud, mud, mud was all I could see, For guard duty they picked a guy just like me.
“We built a fire and slept in a tent, They have us our rations, so no money we spent; it rained, it snowed, and then it froze, we got cold and red as a rose.”
Lichtenberger eventually was shipped overseas out of Camp Shanks, New York. At his first stop, Glasgow, Scotland, he noted that everyone was asked to write a letter to their mother.
“I told her that I was going to walk in the house on Christmas Day, 1945,” said Lichtenberger. “As it turned out, I walked in the day before.”
Lichtenberger next traveled to London, where he typed and proofread top security information.
Once he arrived in Europe proper, the Adams County veteran provided various types of assistance jobs with his group, including taking care and delivering supplies to various missions.
“We would get an assignment to deliver things; once we were done, that one was over and we would move on to our next assignment,” said Lichtenberger. “We worked along the Red Ball Highway through France and Germany. I mainly delivered mail, ran post exchanges with changes of money, and ran supply runs. We had 29 troops that we had to take care of.”

“We had many good times together,
always had loads of fun each day.
The days are much gloomier,
For they have taken my buddy away.
It was hard but we stood up and took it,
There was a lot we didn’t like,
But we were preparing ourselves for the time,
When against the axis, the allies would strike.”

Lichtenberger’s verses from his poem became prophetically true when he suffered a leg injury while passing through a small German village. He noted that his body still carries the scar from what he referred to as a, “near brush with death.”
“When airplanes flew over and dropped bombs, there wasn’t much of anywhere for us to go,” said Lichtenberger. “It got pretty close sometimes. It was tough when you would see some of those around you fall.”
Lichtenberger said that one of the things that kept him going through the war was friendships he made with children along the way. He especially remembers a young boy in Germany that would stop by and visit with him.
“One day I had to deliver some mail. He walked part way with me; when we got as far as he could go, I told him to stay there and I would see him when I got back,” said Lichtenberger.
“I got tied up inside the base and had
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to do some other things. Suddenly, I happened to think of that little boy. Two hours had passed but I thought I had better check to see if, by chance, he was still standing there,” continued Lichtenberger.
“I walked out and sure enough, he was there,” added Lichtenberger. “He started to cry and I started to cry. I’ve often wondered that if we were to meet somewhere today, if he would remember me. I still think about him.”
Lichtenberger said that he was at the Battle of the Bulge; during that time, and that a person he knew from Pleasant Mills was killed.
These days, Lichtenberger loves to browse through his album of pictures and papers from his military service. One letter from Brigadier General Charles Doran praised Lichtenberger and those with him for their outstanding service with the 12th Army Group.
True to his word to his mother, Lichtenberger arrived back in Indiana on Dec. 24, 1945.
“I bought a ticket for a train ride from Indianapolis back to Fort Wayne,” said Lichtenberger. “I figured I would get into Fort Wayne and then get back to Decatur.
“I fell asleep; when I woke up, I saw a sign that said, ‘Decatur’,” said Lichtenberger. “I started throwing my bags and they asked me what I was doing. I told them that this was my town and I wanted out now. I didn’t realize that the train was actually going to go through Decatur.”
Lichtenberger said it was 4:30 a.m. and he was walking by a bank when a police car pulled up and asked him what was going on.
“I told them that I was home from the war, that I was going to wait until daylight and get a ride somehow,” said Lichtenberger. “He told me he knew a guy at the county garage that would take me home.”
Lichtenberger said that as he was riding home, the gentleman transporting him kept asking him all about the war and seemed emotional because he was so happy that Lichtenberger was back.
“As I climbed out of the car, I thanked him and he said, ‘I just wish that I could take my boy home, he was killed in the war.’ Boy did that get to me,” said Lichtenberger.
Following his return, Lichtenberger married Lorena Nussbaum and they had five children. He spent most of his life working at Central Soya.
“I think of that fellow that lost his son. I know that a lot of them didn’t come back,” said Lichtenberger, with emotion. “The war made me more of a man. I am so thankful that I could serve the country.
“There was a guy that didn’t want me to go. He offered me a job working for him,” said Lichtenberger. “I said, ‘no, I’m going to the Army.’ I’m sure glad that I did.”

“When the war is over and peace is restored,
Toward all nations we must open our doors.
We can all go home and start over again,
Where we all left off before,” wrote Lichtenberger.

“If something should happen that we can’t meet,
Which would really be a shame.
Then one buddy will act as both buddies,
And carry on as buddies just the same.”

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