Date of Interview
Walt Mainerich was born 15 October 1922 in the Iron Range town of Chisholm, St. Louis County, Minnesota, one of nine children of Croatian immigrant parents. He grew up in Chisholm, graduated from Chisholm High School in 1940, and then went to work in the areaâ€™s iron ore mines. Walt enlisted in the US Army in December 1942 and, following basic training, volunteered for the paratroopers. Advanced training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, followed, before Walt joined his new unit, Company I, 501st Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne. In early 1944 Waltâ€™s unit left for England, joining the many thousands preparing for the invasion of France. When D-Day arrived, on 6 June 1944, Walt and Company I were among the first Americans involved, being dropped behind Utah Beach in the early morning hours. Months of difficult combat in France followed: Walt was at subsequent engagements in the Netherlands (1944), at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, in eastern France, and southern Germany (all 1945). Walt then spent August to September 1945 in Sens, France, before being rotated back to the US and, in December 1945, discharged. Once again a civilian, Walt returned to Chisholm and spent a year drawing ex-serviceman benefits before returning to mine work. He married in 1949 (wife Bernice), then worked several more years in the mines before becoming a rural mail carrier. Walt retired in 1986. Walt provides an unfiltered account of basic training for the paratroopers, combat experiences, everyday life as an enlisted man, and the sometimes difficult adjustment back to civilian life after the war ended.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Walt Mainerich" (2002). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 140.