I was born in 1941 in Long Prairie, Minnesota and my father was a World War II Combat Medic in the Pacific Theater of Operations with the 706th Tank Battalion of the 77th Infantry Division until he was released on points at about Easter 1945. Dad was there on Ie Shima when Ernie Pyle was killed, and as a small boy his exploits on Guam, Leyte, Luzon and in the Japanese Ryukyu Islands held me spellbound. His trunk of war relics fascinated me for years. My mother was involved in war work of various kinds on the home front and had her hands full raising a batch of kids.
The coming Civil War Centennial captivated me in the 1950s and in November 1959 I enlisted in the US Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class in concert with college. In February 1962 I was discharged for medical reasons as a result of an accident, but I studied and continued to collect military things as time allowed. In 1968 I bought my first of many American World War II Willys and Ford jeeps.
I restored that jeep over a period of several years while building an importing and exporting business, traveling heavily in Asia and in Europe. The jeep restoration required a lot of research as there was a dirth of accurate information in print about old jeeps. In the mid 1980s I wrote a two-volume set of books about the history and restoration of those old “quarter-ton trucks.” The books still sells briskly decades later and have been translated and published in the Japanese and Czech languages.
In the 1980s I was traveling heavily in Europe building my business and visiting anything connected to World War I and World War II. In 1984 I organized the first of what would be many World War II History Tours of Europe for American World War II veterans. On that tour I met Josephine van Nierop, one of two Dutch guides provided by tour bus contractor and it did not take long to see that our mutual interest in people and history would help draw us together. Josephine, daughter of survivors of the World War II German occupation of Holland, worked for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for a few years and then came to Minnesota to live and run our tour business. Together we built it into a great success over 16 seasons. We sold the business in 2000 and some of our former passengers were inspired enough to start their own businesses touring the battlefields of Europe.
During our years of touring the Europe of World War II we uncovered material for several illustrated books and dozens of magazine articles related to World War II. The books were very successful and we helped other aspiring writers to get their work in print. We were members of Don Patton’s World War II History Round Table which met monthly at Fort Snelling, Minnesota where we met many people that shared our interest. In 1997 we moved to the Black Hills where our only remaining business is selling rare military history books on the internet.