Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

November 11, 2012

Recollections (of war)

Veterans remember defining moments

On Veterans Day, as the United States commemorates those who have served in the military, three area residents share their recollections.

Day one: D-Day

Jeanne Maas was 23 and living and working in Detroit as a hospital dietitian when she enlisted to serve in World War II.

"I had a couple of friends who had gone in and they said they needed us desperately, so I quit my job and joined," said Maas, who began working with the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1944. "I was excited."

After six months of training in Massachusetts, she shipped out to Europe accompanied by a fleet of destroyers. From Scotland, she made her way to a large general hospital on the outskirts of London, where her first job was on D-Day.

"After D-Day, we had all these poor fellows who had been wounded," recalled Maas, now 93 and living in Acme. "They all came from the European continent through London before they could go home. They hung together in all kinds of casts, hurt in one way or another, but they were quite wonderfully brave.

"There were a lot of things wrong with people's mouths and throats, they had trouble eating. You can't believe how busy we'd keep. We had a great huge kitchen and we had to feed 2,000 people. When I got home I got married and my husband used to tease me because when I started cooking I'd divide my recipes for 2,000 for two."

Back in London, Maas lived in a Nissen hut with seven other women, many of whom she kept in touch with after the war.

"We were right outside London during the (Little) Blitz, several months when they were trying to obliterate London," she said. "You'd get (V1) buzz bombs all the time and you didn't know whether you were going to get hit. We just hunkered down in our barracks. We were all in the same boat, so I didn't think much about it. But it's sort of a weird feeling when you think those people are trying to kill you if they could."

After her discharge in 1946, Maas returned to the Detroit area to marry and raise a family. Eventually she and her husband built a summer home on Elk Lake.

Though she's outlived most of those she served with, she hasn't forgotten the war.

"It was one where everybody knew that we had to win and we would change the world," she said. "Unfortunately we still are having these ridiculous wars. They're not doing any good and we're wasting a lot of money, lives, time and everything. War is one of the worst ways to solve questions."

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