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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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World War II Soldiers on The Mysterious Ride

Issue Date: May 27, 2021

by Abraham French of Pembine



Ray Schlais couldn't wait for his train to get to Milwaukee, where he'd board another train for his hometown of Pembine, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, his idea of going home and the US Army's idea of going home were on two different tracks.

He was returning from being in the Army in the European Theatre. With the German's surrendering, he was excited about going home. Everything was going well until they (him and his Army buddies) got to Milwaukee. The whole train was full of soldiers, it appeared there was no civilians on it at all.

As soon as the train stopped, the Sergeant in Ray's car stood up and informed everybody not to get off. Ray looked at the Sergeant and said to him, "But I'm going to Pembine." Not today you're not! he replied. All of a sudden the train took off, with everybody but the NCO, in total bewilderment.

Somebody else spoke up and asked, "Hey Sarge, where are we headed?" "Can't tell you," was his reply, "can't tell you!" Ray looked at another soldier and exclaimed, "I don't know where we're going, but it's straight west."

Pretty soon, (actually 3 hours later), they were surrounded by huge farm fields on both sides of the track. It was here that the train stopped. The Sergeant ordered everybody in the car outside and told them to take a baseball bat, ball, and bases (which were in the car) with them. He told them to choose sides and play a full nine-inning game of baseball. They asked him why they were doing this. His reply was "top secret."

After about 2-1/2 or 3 hours the sergeant ordered everybody back on the car with their baseball paraphernalia. He made sure they didn't forget this equipment. With all the soldiers back on board, the train took off again, still heading straight west.

They slept in the car that night, all the while getting hundreds of miles away from Milwaukee and their beloved Wisconsin. They started worrying about what was going on, all kinds of things raced thru their minds. One soldier, after consulting with his fellow peers, asked the sergeant, "Are we going to Japan to fight the Japanese?" The sergeant looked at him and said, "Can't tell you, son!"

The next day was bright and clear and the train lumbered again in between two large fields. After stopping, everybody on all the cars was ordered outside. And you guessed it, with their baseball equipment. Each car had their own baseballs, bats and bases.

They did this same thing for four days; finally the train stopped in California. The sergeant looked at everybody in the car and said, "Well men, were heading back to Milwaukee." The war is over, the United States just finished bombing Nagasaki, two days after it bombed Hiroshima. Japan has surrendered and you guessed it, you men were headed to attack Japan. The U.S. government figured they would need 1-1/2 million men to attack Japan; seeing the Japanese women and children were more than willing to help fight till their death for their homeland. The sergeant continued, "U.S. casualties would have been very, very high, possibly much worse than the D-Day landings." After bearing that last bit of information, the men shouted for joy, and were glad to be heading back home, minus playing the baseball games, of course.


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