Al Brodbeck, The man who died by mistake
Grave 5 in the 18th row of box C is the final resting place of soldier 1st class Alvin A. Brodbeck, a family man from Louisville, Kentucky, who by an administrative error was called under arms and go sent by mistake-then-again to Europe in 1945, where he was killed by a bullet from an SS rifle.
Al, or Butch, as he was called in his family, was 24 years old and had a postponement from military service because he did important work as architectural designer for an American lifts factory.
He was married and had a two-year-old son, that was also called Butch.
The Brodbeck's had a piece of land purchased in Louisville, Kentucky, where they wanted to build a cottage. They had already started with the drawings when in July 1944, he, to his surprise, got called up for military service.
What turned out to be? The administrator of his company had forgotten to submit the usual forms for the periodic renewal of his reprieve. There was nothing that could be done about it.
A month after d-day Butch had to report at Camp Hood, Texas, for basic training as an infantryman. After basic training he was told he would be admitted to the school for officers at the mapping authority in New Jersey, where he would have to draw ordnance survey maps.
But first he was allowed to go home on leave.
He hadn't seen his wife Mildred and his little son for over 4 months. In the ten wonderful days that they were back together, they decided that Mildred and little Butch would move to New Jersey once Al had found a home in his new place. When his leave was over Al boarded the troop train that would bring him to his new destination.
En route to the East Coast it turned out that one of the conscripts had mumps. The whole trains had to go in quarantine and was side tracked.
This would turn out to have fatal consequences for Al, because the wagon was mistakenly linked to an army train with reserves for the front that took the soldiers to New York.
Despite all protests, they were brought there and had to board the Queen Mary and were sent to Europe.
Instead of drawing army maps in New Jersey, he underwent his baptism of fire as armored infantryman in the French town of Nancy. Al Brodbeck was was sent to the 44th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 6th Armored Division of the 3th Army.
After fighting its way through France and into Germany the 44th Armored Infantry arrived at Groitzsch in april 1945.
It was in this town that Al would killed in action on Friday the 13th when he was shot by an SS unit during a night time action for which he had volunteered.
Shortly thereafter, Mildred received a telegram that began with the sentence "We regret to inform you ...".
"My world was crushed, "says Mildred. "Our son was almost three and I can still see his face with those frightened eyes, every time he asked, Mom, are you going to cry again now?
After the war I had a difficult time. All around us there were families that were happily reunited but I had to go on alone.
Mildred later became a journalist for the Douglas Daily News-press in Castle Rock-near Denver, Colorado and in her spare time made name as balloon sailing star.
Al Brodbeck, who initially got a temporary grave in the East German Brenau, was reinterred in Margraten, Holland after the war.
His wife visited him there for the first time in 1967, along with Mrs Liberthe J-de Graaff from Heerlen, who had adopted the grave as a 14-year-old schoolgirl. "Because Margraten too far away," Mildred ways, "every year on Memorial Day we go back to Louisville, where his name is mentioned on a memorial for the fallen of that place. That's pretty much our own Margraten ".
The San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) 3 May 1981 • Page 34
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