Elden Grabau served with the famed Second Armored Division
By Charles PautlerMonday, May 21, 2001One morning last February my fiancee and I decided to go to the VFW pancake breakfast in Spring Valley. This combined two of my favorite interests; eating and talking. I haven’t lived in Spring Valley for four years, so every time I go to one of these breakfasts I always make it a point to make new acquaintances. One new friend I met that day was Elden Grabau, who came over to our table to make us feel welcome and keep our coffee hot. As he walked over to the table, I nudged Mary and whispered, "I bet that guy was at the Bulge". She is so used to this by now that I think she said something like, "maybe he was, but don’t ask him too many questions."
We talked with Elden for about half an hour, and found out that not only was he at the Battle of the Bulge, but also the invasion of North Africa, Sicily, and Normandy, as well as the months of combat which followed each invasion during World War Two. I was lucky enough to be invited over to his house and talked with him in depth the next week, and like most veterans, found him to be generous, informative, and very honest in the stories he told. I could easily fill up a book with his stories, but here are a few experiences he shared with me.
Born in Forestville, Minnesota to Adolph and Anna Grabau, Eldon was the oldest of eleven children; nine boys and two girls. He grew up in Forestville, and was inducted into the army in February, 1941.
"I was still single and 23 years old," Elden said. "I had basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and it was the first time I had been so far away from home. Of my eight living brothers, six of them were in the service, and three of us saw combat. I was in the 67th Armored Regiment of the Second Armored Division. Our nickname was ‘Hell On Wheels,’ and we were commanded by General George Patton."
Once in the army, Elden was sent to a special school where he learned how to drive and fire tanks.
"In a tank you could have four or five guys. You had a driver, assistant driver, tank commander, gun loader, and radio man. Sometimes depending on the situation we had four and the radio man and loader were the same guy. If the radio was tied in to Battalion then we had to have another radio operator, then we would use a fifth man. When I first started driving a light tank we had no intercom within the tank and used .....[Read the Rest]