Memory Lane: March 1, 1994


From the March 1, 1994 edition of The Wayne Herald 

College brought soldiers to Wayne

"Fifty years ago on March 2, I was one of about 200 men who came to Wayne State College to train for the Air Corps," said Roy Sommerfeld who was recalling the anniversary of his coming to Wayne to prepare to serve in World War II. Sommerfeld, a native of Chippewa, Wisconsin, was drafted into the army in Oct. 1941. "At this time, the United States' Armed Forces was really non-existent. This was before the bombing
of Pearl Harbor," said Sommerfeld.

He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. "This was very boring. I was a jeep driver but there still was very little to do. The only way to get away from there was to join the Air Corps, so that is what I did," said Sommerfeld. Sommerfeld was sent to Sheppard Field, Texas. There, he received a list of who was going to be sent where. "I got on a bus and next thing I knew, I was in Wayne, Nebraska.

Before that, I had never even heard of Wayne and knew nothing about it. At that time, Wayne State College had been converted into a training camp for the Air Corps.

"There were only about three or four civilian men who were going to college here. Pile and Neihardt Halls were girl's dorms but everybody else on campus was a soldier," Sommerfeld said. The training was to last six months and after that, the soldiers would be able to fly small planes at the Wayne Airport. From Wayne, Sommerfeld was sent to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and became part of the 97th Infantry. There the soldiers trained for combat in Europe. While he had been at WSC, Sommerfeld had met a local girl and had gotten married in June of 1944.

When he first returned to Wayne, he sold milk and cream for Ed Seymour. He later became a carpenter and put many of his war memories out of his mind. Only recently, after retirement has he renewed his interest in what happened during the four and a half years he served in the Army.