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Coming Home:

In July 1945 Joe returned to his home in Massillon, Ohio. Just a couple of weeks before his return home, Joe found out that he had become the father of a daughter called Paulette-Jean.
Joe describes entering his house in the middle of the night, how he quietly sat down at the end of the bed to have a look at his wife and daughter…..Finally Jean woke up and thought she was dreaming. Seven months after she was born, Paulette (now and days called Polly) met her father for the first time. Within 2 weeks after his return from Europe, Joe was working again, after all he had a family to care of.
Joe started working at the post office, but soon he would have problems with his shoulders and back.
In 1946 Joe went to the Dover Clinic, where he was diagnosed with arthritis, diarrhea, ear trouble and malaria.
He was send to the Veterans Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, where he spent three months and then send back to Dover, Ohio for another exam.
Finally Joe was diagnosed also with osteoporosis, degenerative changes in his spine and a broken shoulder (!).
Joe had to deal with these problems for the rest of his life.
Joe kept working at the post office as a clerk until 1953, and because of the cold weather, he and his family moved to California.
After several treatments in the veterans hospital, Joe also started to get troubles with his nerves. In 1960, at the age of 38 years old, Joe got a disability annuity from the U.S. government. In San Diego Joe worked for about 2 years as a car mechanic in his own service station. But Joe’s health got worse, his arthritis was giving him lots of problems, so the family decided to move to Sedona, Arizona, where the climate is a lot dryer.
His whole life, Joe had to deal with his physical and above all, his mental problems. The memories from his time in the E.T.O. would haunt him. Needless to say that this had also an effect on his family. Nevertheless his wife Jean always stayed at his side, although Joe wasn’t the same man she met before the war. Joe felt an enormous amount of quilt for being alive. When Joe was interviewed by Gregory Orfalea for his book “Messengers of the Lost Battalion”, he describes how he, Joe’s wife Jean and Joe talked about Joe’s problems, when Jean says: “I’m sorry Joe, I have to say it. Joe never got over the war. He has been guilty for all these years that he led his men into an area where they were all killed”. Joe stood up and walked out the room…..Joe’s love of his life, Jean, passed away in 2004 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


Back in those days there wasn’t much known about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The time Joe spent as a Prisoner Of War still haunts him till this day. After more than 65 years, Joe still has nightmares about being a P.O.W. and about the things he did and saw during the war.
We spent a lot of time with Joe, we got to know the man pretty good. We spent hours with him, talking in the middle of the night after one of his nightmares, we saw what the war did to Joe. We saw how everyday things in life and behavior is effected by the war. And you know what, he still makes it, everyday, no matter what the pain, physical and mental.
Nowadays Joe lives in a quiet town near Phoenix, Arizona, called Sun City West. He still lives by himself and has a great friend in his housekeeper, called Betty.
His daughter Polly lives in Flagstaff.
Joe also had a son after the war, called Mike and he has several grandchildren and great grandchildren.