John E. Schulze
Seaman 2nd Class
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 12/15/1941 - 02/1947
45 Infantry Division, 45 Infantry Division

Born in Chicago, Illinois, John graduated from high school in January of 1942. "I didn't even get to go to graduation because I had been called up to military service," he recalls. Because he attended a military academy, he entered as a second lieutenant. He was assigned to the 180th Regiment of the Forty-Fifth Infantry Division, primarily composed of National Guard troops. "About half the people were Native Americans," he says of his buddies, many of them Oklahomans. In North Africa he saw General George S. Patton, Jr. deliver a speech while wearing his polished helmet and pearl-handled pistols. "It was sunset and he stood right in front of this and you looked into him. It was as if God himself had taken over," he recalls. Patton's profane speech and subsequent prayer thrilled the men, John says. "You know the guys would have followed him anywhere," he states. The Forty-Fifth made the landing in Sicily, with John serving as a platoon leader. He remembers constantly attacking German positions. "This was Patton's strategy," he recalls. "He says just hit them, hit them again, hit them again, and this is what happened." Meanwhile, the company kitchen kept up with the infantry, serving one hot meal a day. "I pitied those cooks, because they were just enough back where they caught the artillery fire," he says. The Forty-Fifth invaded Salerno on July 10, 1943. In attempting to capture a farmhouse, he was wounded by a grenade and taken prisoner. "When I woke up this German was sitting there with his gun to my head. That was the end of the war for me," he says. He was interrogated and sent on a hospital train to Rome, and then to a hospital beside Lake Como in northern Italy. He spent a month in a hospital camp in Nuremberg. John, believing airmen got better treatment, told his captors he was in the Air Force. They sent him to Stalag Luft Two where he received American Red Cross parcels. "We were eating better than the Germans," he says. He was held there from January of 1944 to May of 1945. He came home in June of 1945. After a sixty-day leave he was sent to Camp Wheeler near Macon, Georgia, to train recruits. By mid-October Captain Schulze had earned enough points for discharge. He earned a degree from Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota on the GI Bill, while marrying in his junior year. "We got a hundred and five dollars a month for living. It cost us something like sixty for housing. As I said we lived better during that period than any other time in my life," he says.