by Larry Miller
We’re approaching 75 years since the end of the Second World War, the six-year war that – in terms of lives lost and destruction of land a property – was the worst in history. Most of those who fought in that war, or even remember it, are gone. Their stories are not.
Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally on May 8, 1945, which is recognized throughout much of the world as Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day). Three months later, the war in the Pacific came to an end, and Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) was proclaimed on August 15.
|Private First Class Warren Umshler, USMC|
But to understand and appreciate Umshler’s story, it’s necessary to start at the beginning, in the small east Nebraska town of Shelby, about a one-hour drive west of Omaha. That’s where Warren Hardy Umshler was born on January 3, 1923, the first of seven children born to Walter and Vera Hardy Umshler. Warren’s father worked as a railroad depot agent, and his mother was a talented musician.
|Umshler, a Junior in 1940, played for the Osceola "Bulldogs" (#4 front row at left)|
They moved to Columbus, Nebraska for a couple of years before settling in the Polk County community of Osceola, where Warren attended high school and played basketball. He was also a swimmer – but perhaps his most memorable experience was meeting and dating Genevieve “Jen” Hartson. They soon became high school sweethearts.