Thought there have been movies and documentaries made about the events of World War II the story of the common man has been underrepresented. Movies like Pearl Harbor glamorize the hero and his epic love story. Untold are the graphic accounts and emotional stresses that were experienced by the common soldier.
Henry Wedman was born December 10th 1922, in the small town of Arkansas City, Kansas. Spending most of his time working on the family farm he barely had time for school let alone time to pursue the love of his life, Laverna Adler.
Wedman eventually accomplished his goals; he graduated high school and married Laverna in 1941. Wasting no time the two gave birth to their fist child Shirley, shortly after they were married. While Wedman was starting his family the war was starting to effect American soil. The Bombing of Pearl Harbor sparked the mobilization of the United States.
Henry’s budding family was put on hold when he was drafted in October 1942. He completed his basic training at Ft. Riley Kansas. Ft. Riley was not too far from his home of Arkansas City. Leaving his beloved wife Laverna and 1-year-old daughter Shirley behind, Wedman crossed the Atlantic arriving in Italy.
Wedman’s first action was on the hills of Mt. Della in support of Company “B”. Wedman describes the movement down the slope and up the far side attempting to reach the crest of the mountain. “It was like I was wearing blinders, I had no peripheral vision I just kept moving.” said Wedman, “The sounds of gun shots and mortars pressured me to focus and continue up the mountain.”
Dangerous as it sounds Wedman survived his first combat experience unscratched. After the action on Mt. Della, Wedman had time to write to his wife in Kansas. The two wrote as frequently as possible which eased Wedman. “Being on the other side of the world I could not help but worry about my family and my farm.” said Wedman, “Luckily our small town did what it could to help out.”
Wedman spoke of the help the community did for his family. Laverna in Kansas could not raise a child and work the farm. His neighbors, his parents and his sisters all pitched in and worked extra hard to keep the family farm running. With the war across seas and the absence of some of the town’s men Arkansas City faced much hardship. It was a heavy load for them to carry but they knew they had to and they knew eventually everything would be okay.
Wedman did not stay in the Mt. Della area for long. He was shipped to the Po River Valley in Italy. Wedman’s time in the Po Valley was not spent in combat like that of Mt Della, but was spent building a bridge that crossed the river so troops and tanks could continue moving...