Friday, April 4, 2014

Letters from the Front Lines

For the next book.

A letter from my Mother    

We have this one letter from my mom because I wrote to her on the back of a letter she had sent me.  At the time it was the only stationary I could find. This is a very precious and tells how Ma and Pa always kept us in their prayers and hearts. This meant everything to us. The letters we got from home were not kept because we could not carry them around during the fighting.

Dear Verdie,                       November 3rd, 1944

Were we ever glad to hear from you again today and that you had landed safely means so much for you and all of us too. We were thinking that maybe you would land in England but understand that you went to France instead. It sure was nice that you didn't get seasick on the way as that must be pretty tough to be sick on a ship like that. How many days were you on the water? Maybe you can’t tell us that. I bet it is strange to step off the ship on the other side of the big waters. Our prayers are and we know yours are too that God keeps his protecting hand over you and brings you safely across and coming back home again. It is going to be a great wonderful day when all our loved ones return and there is peace all over the world again. It can’t come too soon. We were so happy to hear from Earl again after waiting six long weeks to hear from him. He can’t say where he is but that he is all right is the main thing.

We are worried that he is in the Philippine Islands someplace and that is a pretty bad place now. We had a letter from Roy today too. He is still on Saipan and was all right which means so much too us all. Roy said he was waiting to hear from you again so you if you have time write him again soon.

Say Verdie if there is anything you want you have to request because we can’t send anything other than Christmas packages without a request from you. We will be glad to send anything you want just let us know. ( Notice in later letters that Verdi requests several items, candy, rubberized gloves, wool socks, the newspaper, cookies, hunting knife…)Verdie, I know you would like to get the Montevideo American but you have to request that too.

We hope you have good eats there and get a nice Thanksgiving dinner too. Wish I could send you pheasants and lefse like I did last year but I guess that’s out of the question now. Hope and pray you boys are all home when next Thanksgiving comes around. Then it’s going be a real Thanksgiving Day. May God grant this to us very soon. We are all the same as ever.

So long then Verdie and God bless you. Greetings from all

Love, Mother

1944 Monday November 20th         


 A gopher has nothing on me.

Dear Mom and all of you,

You should see the super deluxe foxhole I have. I am sitting in it right now. Some of the foxholes I’ve had have even had running water. Pretty nice eh? A gopher has nothing on me. In fact he better be a fast digger if he ever expects to catch up with me. When I get back home I’ll have to dig me a hole in the woods so I will feel at home. To tell the truth a foxhole is a pretty welcome thing to crawl into up here. Things do get a little rough up here sometimes but I guess that is to be expected. I am perfectly okay though so don’t worry.


Wednesday November 29

Written on V mail


Dear Folks,

I am writing this in the kitchen of a French farmhouse. I slept in their hay mow last night. A haymow is really nice after being in a foxhole. Most of the people are pretty nice at putting up soldiers. They invited us in to the kitchen this evening. I’ve slept in French houses and barns quite a few nites. I’ve had a few days of rest now. I suppose everybody was home for Thanksgiving as usual. I had turkey for Thanksgiving too. It was kind of a dreary day but I was thankful anyway. We have so much to be thankful for even if the war is still going on. We had services today. How is everybody back there? Fine I hope. Don’t worry about me. I am okay. So long and God Bless you, Love, Verdie   


Dear Dad,                                    Wednesday January 3rd, 1945 France ( Hottveiler)

Happy New Year to all of you. I’m a little late as usual but you know what a doughboy is like. How did you celebrate New Year’s? I imagine things were pretty quiet. New Year came in with a bang here.(ha ha)  Operation Nord Wind. Lt Nicholson) I saw the New Year in too. I think we all celebrated by saying a prayer to God that this year will be a peaceful year.

            I received your letter the other day and got Mom’s mailed December 23rd. Thanks a million. Oh I have to tell you I got the combat infantry badge the other day. I’m kinda proud of that. To get it you have to see action under small arms fire like rifles and machine guns and also artillery fire. I feel that I’ve earned it too because I’ve been on the front lines for 63 days now. I didn't do anything heroic to earn it though. I also get a $10 a month raise so I get $74.80 a month now. The badge is something us infantrymen get when we’ve seen action. Maybe you have seen pictures of them. It has a silver rifle on a blue background with a wreath around it. I am planning on sending it to you to keep for me. I never get a chance to dress up over here so I don’t think it’s any use to keep it over here.

I am glad to hear you are okay. I am just fine. I’ve got it pretty nice now so don’t worry a bit about me. I get a chance to stay in a building once in awhile and that really helps. I’ve gotten so many good clothes too now. I’ve got a fur lined overcoat and wool lined pants. I’ve also got shoes that look just like those hunting pacs. I’m really waiting for those gloves and socks you sent though. I realize how hard it is for you to get rubberized gloves so don’t worry about that. It isn’t raining now so I don’t suffer any.

Well we had white New Years anyway. Not much though. I heard that it was 8 below in Minn. It’s been kinda cold here. I am in the 7th Army so you know about where I am.

There are a couple of cows in one of these barns and I was kind of figuring on going out and milking tonight. I’m hungry for milk. I think the farmer moved out today. I think he milked them tonight so I will have to wait awhile until some more milk has come in. (ha ha) I supposed I’ll get kicked but it’s worth the chance.

            I have more letters to write tonight so I better close now. I will tell you next time whether I got the milk or not.

So long, and May God Bless You all. Good nite. Love Verdi

Tell Shep Hi

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Order Information and Photos from Verdi..the Book

The book "Verdi" is now published and ready to order. The best deal you will get is to contact Verdi at 320-269-6122 or look for him at Valentino's in the morning. Next you can try Keith at 859-893-1020. When you order from the author you will get a signed copy. Price $21 includes shipping.
Checks to Keith Gilbertson
101 Cherry Road, Berea, Kentucky 40403
If you want to order from the publisher go here for details.

Click on any photo to view a larger slide show.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thank You to the Honor Flight Leaders

Verdi presents a copy of his autobiography to Honor Flight trip leader, Terry Gulden.

The book is about his life and includes several stories of Verdi's days with the infantry in the 100th division as they advanced through France and Germany

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Big Fish and a 34 Ford Coupe

We brought back a stringer full of fish from the Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota.
Back in summer of 1946 Merald Folkestad and I decided it would be fun to fly the Stearman up to Ely to fishing walleyes and northerns. So we could catch the biggest fish we hired a bush pilot to fly us into a very remote lake near Canada. The plane of choice was Nordyun Norseman float plane. The six hundred horse radial engine powered us on our fishing expedition.
After a about a one hour trip into the wilderness the pilot dropped us off near an island. He told us that would keep us safer from any bears that may be hungry for our food. I bet the bears might have decided to swim out to get us if they got hungry enough. I was somewhat prepared for that possibility because I was carrying a 9 mm German pistol that I had acquired in Europe a year earlier.
The fishing was fabulous. One of the days we were catching fish and we stayed out a little too late. It got dark and we were running into a little trouble finding the island where we had set up camp. Luckily we had a good flashlight with us and as we investigated one island after another we checked them off the list until we finally got back to our campsite.
We wanted to bring back the biggest fish so we made rock pens near shore to keep the first big northerns and walleyes we caught. We figured we would let them go if we caught bigger ones. the fishing was great so some of the earliest walleyes and northerns were lucky enough to return to the lake to grow bigger for the next fisherman.
To get ready for the trip we shopped in the Ely Grocery store and made up a foodpack. Somehow when we got to the island we discovered that some of our cooking utensils had been left behind on the dock. When the pilot got back to the base he discovered that we were with out a coffee pot and frying pans. The plan was to send another pilot in a J3 Piper Cub float plane to bring us the tools we needed. We never did get our coffee pot because the pilot could not find us. This was an emergency without a coffee pot but some how or other we got by. Not without coffee though because we used bean cans or something to brew some. I had gone at least one too many days without coffee while i was in Europe. We did intend to let this happen up in the north woods while we were fishing.
When we got back from the island and in Ely we brought our fish to a packing place to put them in dry ice. We had them shipped to the train depot in Montevideo, Minnesota.
We flew the Stearman back to Montevideo during the day and the next afternoon we went to the station and found our fish ready to take home, clean and eat. When I pulled into the farm in the 34 Ford Coupe my sister Clarice took a picture of me smiling while posing with the big fish.
When I was up there on the float plane I was thinking that it would be a fun job to be flying fisherman into the wilderness. I thought then that I wanted to be a bush pilot. Thinking it over it seemed like there wasn't to much future in this. It seemed like there might be more practical jobs so I went ahead and got a job with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company. I have never got over it and I still would like to be a bush pilot.

Montevideo American Article for Veterans Day 2010

Click on the article to enlarge.