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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Memorial Wall

I don't have much to add, as this list really speaks for itself. 

I grew up hearing my Grandpa Stephens (Noel) tell funny stories about his time on Guam, how seasick he was on the boat ride there, the horrible sunburn he got collecting shells when he got a day off, and the B-29 unit he was with that only lost one plane while he was with them. He told us that he only joined the Army in the first place because he was inspired to do so while watching the film Mrs. Miniver. He talked about marching up and down the Atlantic City Boardwalk in a gas mask during Basic Training, and a year spent studying engineering at University of South Dakota (where he met my Grandmother, Shirley). He talked about infantry training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, back when it was still mostly farmland. He talked about the Air Force Base in Nebraska that was rumored to be under increased threat, and the crazy guy who freaked out on guard duty and shot the plane he was supposed to be guarding because he thought it was an intruder. From drunk men counting their way to their beds at night to coffee and two eggs for $.24, he had stories about all of it.

My Grandpa Greenplate (William F. Sr.) didn't tell stories. When we asked, he talked about the Christmas he spent in a Belgian family's basement eating C-ration canned spaghetti. He didn't tell us that he had left his wife and three young children (Alvin, William F. Jr., and Liz) back in Delaware. He didn't tell us that his unit got surrounded in Bastogne with the 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge, one of the most brutal campaigns in the European theater. He didn't tell us about the railroad tracks that stood perpendicular to the ground after the bombings, looking like ladders to nowhere. He didn't tell us that he was part of the self-named "Team Snafu," a mismatched group comprised of those who had survived the constant onslaught of Germans. While Team Snafu did have a few soldiers like my Grandfather, who was a tank mechanic and an expert marksman, they grabbed anyone who could handle a rifle. These men were thrown together into a makeshift combat unit as a last desperate attempt to keep the Germans from taking Bastogne. He didn't tell us about marching in to liberate the concentration camps. He didn't tell us about the carts overloaded with the emaciated bodies of those they were too late to save. We pieced all of those things together from photo albums and documents found in his home after he passed away in 1994.

In our house, America was sacred. My little sister got yelled at for intentionally singing the National Anthem off-key. We were taught the Pledge of Allegiance before we ever set foot in a classroom, and sang the music of George M. Cohan in our car. 

Flash forward to college: after three semesters at Truman State University in Missouri, I still felt like I had no direction. Then one morning I walked into the Student Union Building, and my life changed. An Army Reserve Recruiter invited me to sit down, and I did. The rest, as they say, is history. My history. My family's history. America's history. 

Nathaniel Greenplate: PVT – 166th PA Infantry 1862-1863
John Greenplate: PVT – 9th PA Cavalry 1864-1865 fought in Carolinas

Guy A White – USN WWII
William Morris – US Army Europe WWII
Frank Morris – US Army Europe WWII
Norris Greenplate – USN South Pacific WWII

William F Greenplate Sr: SSGt– 12th Armored Group, 9th Armored Div. Europe (Longvilly, Bastogne) 1944-45 (my grandfather)
William F. Greenplate, Sr, far right
William F. Greenplate, Sr, left

Alvin E Greenplate: NCO – Delaware National Guard 11 years (50s & 60s)
William F Greenplate Jr: Spec 5– 577th Army Combat Engineer BN, Tuy Hoa, Vietnam, 1967-1968 (Tet Offensive)

Benjamin Greenplate: SSG - Huey Mechanic, killed 17 June 1989 in a crash during a training mission.
Jimmy Greenplate: MSG – Delaware National Guard – Construction Engineers Deployed to Iraq at least once.

John Greenplate: CPT – 1863rd Medical Detachment, 44th Medical Command, Kandahar Afghanistan 2002-2003 (my father)
John T. Greenplate, right
John T. Greenplate with Afghani children
Proud Grandpa, weeks prior to deployment
Same Grandpa, same baby, post deployment

Virginia (Greenplate) Kruta: SPC - US Army Reserve 1999-2005, US Army Medical Command (Active Duty) 2005-2010 (me)
Xray school graduation with Brooklyn, now 5
Veteran's Day program at Good Shepherd Lutheran School, 2011
My husband Jim, who by my standards qualifies as a veteran 
for all he did for me while I was still enlisted.

Noel C. Stephens: SSG Army Air Corps, 1944, Guam. Received Bronze Star for meritorious service. 2LT US Air Force Reserve, 1948(my grandfather)
Noel C. Stephens, 2nd from right
Noel C. Stephens, circa 1944

William Stephens: Air Force, post WWII
Fritz Stephens: USN
Wayne Stephens: 100th Infantry Division, wounded in France. 

Charles (Casey) Kruta: captured during the Battle of the Bulge and executed by the German Army
Joe (Peppy) Kruta: USN
Frank Kruta

Pete Dochwat: WWII
Joseph Kuhach: buried at Jefferson Barracks

Arlen Edmisten: USMC, 1947-1949
Charles Edmisten: Army, Vietnam
Thomas Edmisten: USMC
Donald Edmisten: died in Giessen, Germany
James Edmisten: Army

Philip Hicks: SPC, Army. Currently serving in Okinawa, Japan.
Phil and Becky Hicks
Phil in full gear.

Thanks to my family for instilling in me values that are worth protecting. Thank you to all those who went before me, who stood with me, and who will come after me. America is better because of your sacrifice, no matter how small.


  1. Ginny I was very moved by you relating your knowledge of your Grandfather who fought with team SNAFU at the Battle of the Bulge. I am a military Historian/Author currently writing my second account of the Battle of the Bulge. With your permission I woulf like to include your Grandfather in this book. Many blessings Martin King 'Voices of the Bulge'

    1. I am definitely interested in helping you - my father actually has quite a bit more information than I do on the subject, and we also have his album of photos taken while he was in Europe. Please feel free to email me directly at