AFTER THE WAR
By Robert Kurlander
D Co, 354th Infantry
The war in the ETO was over and we were in convoy heading back to LeHavre. Amours were that we were destined for the Pacific. However, we ended up back in good old Lucky Strike as the war in the Pacific ended while we were traveling back to LeHavre. Our job was to re-deploy troops home who had accumulated the required amount of points to go home. I did this for a while and then as I did not have enough points to go home I and many of my buddies were transferred to other divisions, as the 89th was to be de-activated.
My first transfer was to Linz, Austria with the 83rd Ohio Division where my duty was to guard 5.5 four on and four off. This was a bummer and I really hated it. It was cold and damp and we were up in a guard tower for 4 hours trying hard not to fall asleep. As luck had it I was then transferred to the Rainbow 42nd Division and was stationed in the outskirts of Salzburg, Austria. I was now back in the regular Army with reveille in the am. and taps at night. I soon adjusted to the old routine. My duty was mostly rounding up known Nazis and S.S. troopers during the day and in the middle of the night then turning them over to the OSS for interrogation.
General Mark Clark was to arrive in Vienna and my company was to send an honor guard to meet the plane at the airport. I was selected with a group of other soldiers to be trucked via the old Red Ball express 2.5-ton trucks to Vienna. We were all spit and polish when General Clark reviewed the honor guard. The event took about a half an hour and we were back in the truck to return to our billet outside of Salzburg. Upon my return I found a note on my billet bulletin board that said. "This billet is restricted no one will leave." I was not aware of what had happened when I was in Vienna, however I did not believe it pertained to me so I took off to town.
When I returned about midnight my sergeant was sitting on my bed. He asked me if this was my bed and if this was my billet and did I read the sign that "the billet was restricted." My answer was, "Yes, but I was on honor guard in Vienna at the time and felt that the restriction did not pertain to me. This was no excuse so I had to accept company punishment and was to sign in at the orderly room every hour and stay in my billet. Feeling that the punishment was unjust, I went to the orderly room and signed for the whole day and took off to town. Upon my return that night my second Lieutenant was sitting on my bed. I again went through explaining to him what had happened and that I was on the honor guard to Vienna. My plea did not help. I was asked if I wanted a court marshal or company punishment. Of course, I accepted company punishment and again I was ordered to sign in at the orderly room every hour for three days and was confined to my billet.
On the second day I was ordered to be at the orderly room at 1500 hours as the company commander who was a captain wanted to see me. I reported in a strict military manner not knowing what to expect. The captain said, "Soldier you're on company punishment arenít you?" "Yes sir," was my reply. The captain said, "Do you know what I have on my desk Soldier?" "No sir," was my response. The captain said, "I now have your papers to go home and I do not have to process them as you are on company punishment" I didn't move, I didnít blink an eye and remained at attention. The next thing I heard was "Get the hell out of here. The truck will be leaving for Bremahaven at 6:30 a.m. You be on it. Good Luck and have a good trip".