Recognizing the military service of men and women from Arenzville, Illinois.
My name is Leland W. Nicol. I just read your Web Page and would like to tell you about what happened to me in WW II. I graduated from Arenzville High School in 1942. My class had only 17 in it, of which only 6 were boys.
I was drafted in May of 1943 and sent to Westover Field, Mass for training with the Air Borne Engineers. After 3 months I was sent to Richmond, Va. where they were forming a new engineer battalion. The 1896th Aviation Battalion. I spent the rest of my Army career in this battalion.
We left Richmond on January 1944 to go overseas. After 27 days at sea we landed at Port Morsbey, New Guinea. We spent 5 months in New Guinea in the Lae and Nadzab campaigns.
Next we took part in the Biak, Dutch East Indies campaign. We spent 5 months there. We left Biak on Christmas Day 1944 for the invasion of Luzon, Philippines.
I did have a life jacket and was finally rescued from the sea by a ship going the other way. After being on several different Hospital Ships, I was taken to the 61st General Hospital in Hollandia, New Guinea. This is where the unlikely happened. I knew the APO number for Hollandia was the same as Dean (Butch) Zulauf's. I told one of the nurses about this and a few days later, I looked up and there was Butch. It's hard to believe that 2 boys out of a class of only 6 boys, would meet in New Guinea. That night Butch wrote to his mother and told her that he had seen me, that I was badly wounded, but would be OK. My parents didn't get the telegram that I was Missing in Action till one day after Butch's mother got his letter, so they knew I was alive.
After I was discharged from the hospital, I made my way back to my outfit, in the Philippines. After having been burned over so much of my body, the sun kept burning me over and over, so I spent most of the next 3 months back in hospitals. By this time Manila had been captured and we were there waiting for replacements. Believe it or not, Dean (Butch) Zulauf and I ran into each other there in Manila.
After we got replacements, our outfit loaded on ships for the invasion on Japan. After the A Bombs were dropped and the war ended, we went to Japan as occupation troops. I had enough points to come home and was discharged on December 17, 1945. Out of the 185 men in my Company, who went overseas only 34 of us came home, and all but 8 of them had been wounded or missing or both.
My family moved to Savanna, Illinois in 1945, while I was in Service.
Leland (Lee) Nicol, July 2001