Writer's Note: This story is part of our Spirit of 45 feature, but it is such a nice story we wanted to post it here for all to enjoy. We invite you all to visit our http://www.Spiritof45nevada.org site and see what this program is about as well as learn about all of the events we will be producing over the coming months.
It was 1940, and George Callahan had just graduated from high school in Somerville Mass. The news was full of a war in Europe and to a young man, it may have sounded adventurous, perhaps that was why George Callahan joined the army signal core. I doubt that George ever thought at 19 his destiny was a military career such as he had.
In 1943 he was sent to the South Pacific, to Peleliu to be specific. Thousands of US troops were training to invade Japan George told us. In retrospect, many of them thought that if they were actually sent on that mission, few would return alive. We asked George if he remembered if he or his friends were afraid of odds like that and instantly, this incredible man, so small in stature said, we didn’t think of fear, we would do what needed to be done. The good news was however, his unit never did go to Japan, the war ended before they ever left that region.
After returning home with the hundreds of thousands of other troops, George Callahan was more certain than ever that civilian life was not for him. He re-enlisted almost as soon as mustered out at the end of WWII determined to have a military career. George asked to be stationed in Germany because his uncle had been there and he was fascinated by the region. It was in Germany that his life was about to take another dramatic turn.
Set up by a friend on a blind date, he was introduced to a lovely, petite girl named Trudy who, like George owned a Dalmatian dog. What more could he ask, she was beautiful, a dog lover, and even the same breed of dog… It didn't take long for the two to fall in love, but there were some obstacles to overcome.
Trudy’s sister who felt since she was five years senior to Trudy, she was more wise to the ways of the world. She was sure that an American who was already a Master Sergeant at 27 must surly have a wife at home. George wrote to his mother and told her all about Trudy begging her to please write and set her straight, there was no wife, no fiancé, he was really available.
With that out of the way, all George and Trudy needed was for the law to be on their side and as luck would have it, it soon was. There had recently been a change in the law allowing American servicemen to marry German women, if he wanted to, and Trudy said yes, George could have his “war bride”.
George soon took an American magazine to Trudy and proposed, showing her photographs of wedding and engagement rings and asked her to choose what she liked. The answer was YES and the ring chosen, next the page was dispatched to George's mother in the US and in no time at all Trudy's future mother-in-law had purchased the ring.
Now it seemed a bigger problem was at hand, how to get the rings to George and Trudy. It seems that mailing diamonds to Germany was not allowed at the time, even though the war was long over. But never fear when a determined woman sets her mind to something.
George's mom must have loved James Cagney movies because she decided to bake a fruit cake and inserted the rings right in the middle. She then put a note in the box warning George to be careful how he cut the cake.
On August 26 George and Trudy were married in city hall and then on August 28th the American army chaplain repeated the ceremony.
In 1950 George was sent to Korea to fight in the Korean conflict and did not return home until 1956 after which he was sent to Italy to Fort Darby where their daughter Kathy was born. George and Trudy were able to get special permission to have Kathy baptized in the church at Pisa.
Now before I tell you about the next stop in George Callahan’s military career, I must give you a more visual picture of this man. George was, at the time 127 lbs, and stands 5’7” tall. I know, I know, they say never mess with a Green Beret, but still he was a little guy and not one with, as “they say” a “Napoleonic complex. He is a soft spoken gentleman if there ever was one.
The Next stop was Fort Bennings Georgia where at 43 years of age George decided that being a paratrooper seemed like the thing to do...... So, that is what he did, back to training and went off to Viet Nam with the 1st Cavalry Division sent there as a Green Beret.
Vegas Voice salutes you George Callahan, you are what the Spirit of 45 is all about!