GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Herman Van Beckum was drafted in the Army back in 1942, just one year after graduating high school. He would go on to be part of the 264th Medical Battalion as as staff sergeant.
“I did a job, what I was told to do,” he said. “I did it the best I could.”
His first trip overseas would take him across the equator to New Guinea. Then they were sent to the Philippines to the Island of Luzon, and then Manila.
“The battalion, they had three companies,” he said. “Company C was attached to an engineer outfit. They were called amphibious forces, and then they were named an engineer brigade. We were attached to part of that unit as a medical personnel.”
His company was responsible for the transportation and evacuation of wounded troops.
“All the patients were already treated,” he said. “They had body casts and everything on. We collected the wounded that were taken care of, hold them, then load them up onto the airplanes.
“I would get the information that I got patients to take to the plane, that’s when I got my men ready to do that. Seeing that they were in the right place at the right time.”
The 97-year-old never saw combat and feels for the other soldiers who did not make it home.
“I think of how fortunate that I’m here to this day,” he said. “I’ve seen and heard so many people getting killed just trying to get from one point to another to advance on the enemy. and I was fortunate that I didn’t have to do that.”
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