Veterans Day is upon us, which prompts me to tell you about a decorated World War II veteran by the name of Alfred “Al” Myhill, who has been designated Fulton’s Veteran of the Year
Al shared with me last summer his large collection of memorabilia from his wartime experience with the 2nd Hospitalization Unit, 53rd Field Hospital. I had put it aside, however, to write about it at this particular time.
Thus, I was pleased to learn that the local Veteran’s of Foreign War, the American Legion and the Veteran’s Agency will bestow on him this well-deserved honor at a ceremony on Veterans Day — tomorrow, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at city hall.
It was a young Mr. Myhill who went off to war back in the day when I was just a little girl watching the newsreels at the State Theater with my parents and listening with them and my grandparents around the radio in their living room.
Al was only 17 when he enlisted in the Army in February of 1943 and had to wait until his 18th birthday in April to begin serving. He was then “picked” to attend specialized training to become a nurse – “the same thing as a nurse,” he said during a recent phone interview. “The training was for five or six months.”
He eventually shipped over to England, where his platoon “bivouaced” (set up a camp of tents) until D-Day June 6, 1944 arrived, when Allied troops landed in Normandy, France to fight the Germans. His unit followed to treat casualties. “We set up portable hospitals, he said.
Al was in the Battle of the Bulge as well. He said they were “setting up on a high spot” when they were told to “get the hell out of there!”, as the German’s had broken through the lines. It was the bloodiest combat of the war.
Following that horrific battle with casualties in the eighty thousands, and as the Allies slowly inched their way across Europe in victory after victory, his unit was sent to Holland, then Belgium, and onward, right into Germany. His outfit was but 20 miles out of Berlin, he said.
When the war was finally over, Al returned to his hometown of Fulton, married his long-time sweetheart Marion — whose picture he had carried with him all across the battle zones — and settled down to a new era in the US that offered help and funds (the GI Bill) to buy homes or go for higher education — opportunities never before seen in American history. (I think that’s when the “middle-class” was born, and raised high hopes that each new generation would have a better life than the one before.)
Indeed, Al and his wife, along with their daughter Joanne (Hicks), and sons Terry and Paul, were able to partake in “The American Dream.” Al received apprentice training to become a machinist and a good paying job at Dilts and stayed there for 46 years, and he and his wife were able to buy a nice home on Utica Street and enjoyed family life until she passed away a couple of years ago. Today, Al lives part time at home and part time with his daughter in Waterloo.
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