When Jim met Trudy on that street car, he was a long way away from his hometown of Newton, Iowa. His journey to Vienna started after his 18th birthday, in September of 1944, when he was drafted. Despite a possible farm deferment, and his father's encouragement to join the marines, Jim was inducted into the army at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. This was soon followed by infantry combat training at Camp Robinson, Ark. Jim recalled training on how to handle explosives, night exercises (often in the cold and wet Arkansas mud). There were long marches, night live fire exercises and watching the now classic film series "Why We Fight." After a brief leave back home in Iowa, Jim reported to Fort Meade in Maryland before being transferred to Camp Miles Standish near Boston. It was from Boston that Jim boarded the Mariposa, a Matson liner that sailed the Atlantic alone and not with the protection of a convoy.
Jim remembered an interesting event in the middle of the Atlantic while below decks watching a poker game. The submarine alert sounded and the water tight doors slammed shut. Nerves were rattled, but the poker game continued. When the all clear sounded, Jim recalled everyone sighing with relief. The first days of the voyage were stormy and many were sea sick in the tight quarters of the ship. The ten day trip ended in Marseilles, France. Everyone on the ship were trucked a few miles outside of Marseilles to a large camp called CP#2. There they remained for a few days before being transferred by rail boxcars to Worms, Germany. The war ended a few days after Jim's arrival in France.
En route to Worms, Jim recalls seeing hundreds of Wehrmacht prisoners being marched back into Germany. Living in a rolling boxcar with straw on the floor, duffle bag and rifle, with about two stops per day, was an interesting experience. Jim said that the three or four days he spent on the train was nothing that his Iowa upbringing couldn't handle. "We had to be creative in passing our time, and if any of us had to use the bathroom, well, we became friends quickly," Jim said over the phone from his home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. However, Jim wouldn't start his personal trail of the Rainbow until late June of 1945, after his stint with the 103rd division in the Vorarlberg region of Austria ended.
Meanwhile, Trudy was growing up in Vienna with her two sisters and brother. Despite a city plagued with war wounds, she recalled Vienna's beauty and it always being a city of intriguing people and cultures. "It was a confusing time though," she admitted. "People we knew were disappearing and friends were shot. But that is war."
Before the start of the war Trudy was attending business school. It was eventually closed. She was ordered to work in a factory that had been converted from producing pots and pans to war production. "I did different things at the factory. I was a teenager and I wasn't serious about the job I was given," she said. "I was just so disappointed that the school was closed." At one point, Trudy was told to spend her shift inspecting tubes meant for the completion of rockets. She was to put the tubes into buckets of water to see if there were any holes. Trudy admitted that she spent more time talking to other workers than looking for air bubbles. One day her supervisor called her off the production line and into his office. "He asked me why I was making so many mistakes. He accused me of being a spy." She said that even after all these years, she can still remember how afraid she was when her superior told her she would be going to concentration camp. "He was going to fill out the paper work and I was going to be sent there right away. Then the cuckoo sounded on the radio." The cuckoo, Trudy explained, was the air raid alarm. When the alarmed sounded that day, Trudy's superior told her they would finish the paper work after the raid. As he and the other factory workers went to the shelter, Trudy ran home and never looked back. "That alarm saved me that day and thankfully, they never came looking for me. There were bigger worries than me." After the war Jim, ironically, would stand many guard duties in that same factory, as it was used to store tons of dried beans and vegetables rationed out by US Forces to feed starving Viennese citizens in the American and perhaps Allied Zones.
When Jim and Trudy met on that street car in February of 1946, Vienna was experiencing a new sort of war. Jim described a Vienna involved in a power struggle under the occupation authority of Four Great Powers: France, British, Soviet and America . There was major tension between the Four Powers, which often erupted in violent incidents. The Viennese struggled to recover their economy with severe shortages of food and medicine. But, Jim said despite all the setbacks and hardships, the Viennese people were always hopeful for a better future. "People were scared," Trudy echoed, "but we were trying to live our lives and get back to some kind of normal."
Keeping with that mindset, Jim recalled a particularly lovely summer day in August of 1946. His stint with the army was coming to an end and he would soon be assigned to the Headquarters US Forces Austria as a USG civilian employee. Jim, Trudy, Trudy's friend Gretel, and Gretel's boyfriend, set out to enjoy a day in the hills of Nussdorf (located in an outlying district of Vienna). It was easy to see the Russian Zone from Nussdorf. The foursome wandered through orchards and vineyards on a sunny Sunday morning along the wide bank of the Danube in the American Zone of Occupation. They decided it would be a perfect day for sunbathing on the manmade inlet and port running parallel to the Danube called Kuchelauer Hafen. The beach, located in the American Zone, was used frequently by the residents of the area. "Spending the day on the beach, what could go wrong with that?" Jim asked.
When they arrived at the beach, they noticed two Soviet river gun boats tied up on the opposite bank, about 50 yards away. Jim recalled seeing Soviet personnel on board, wearing their traditional hats and long coats, and he decided to take a picture with his camera. "Let me say, I started to take a picture," Jim said. As he brought the camera out, there started a great commotion aboard both Soviet boats and the sailors started yelling and gesturing towards Jim and his friends. "Remember, this was a very politically heated time, and the Soviets were often easily excited and rambunctious," he said. The Soviets immediately mounted the guns aboard the boats and aimed two rather large guns directly at the foursome, along with automatic weapons. "I put the camera away," Jim said. Despite the uncomfortable situation, the group decided to put on their bathing suits and enjoy the day on the beach. After all, they were on the American side and the Soviets on theirs.
This wouldn't be Jim's last encounter with the Soviets while living in Vienna . One afternoon, he and Trudy attempted to get off a street car when a Soviet soldier put a gun in Jim's gut and told them to get back on the car. They did. " Vienna was sort of like the wild west," Jim said. "Relations between the Russians and the US were not friendly and it made it difficult to do ordinary things, like riding a street car." Trudy echoed Jim's opinion saying: "And I was involved with the Americans and that made it dangerous for me and my family. I started to think that I may have to leave Vienna." In 1948, just before Trudy and Jim married, one incident was enough to convince them that they needed to in fact leave. Trudy was walking down a street when she noticed a man taking her picture. It was a possibility that the Soviets knew that Jim was then working for the CIC and was often times disguised as a Viennese man riding a bicycle behind Soviet lines. He would wear a suit belonging to Trudy's father and with the help of Trudy, learned the Viennese dialect. "When Trudy told me, my first thought was that our pictures were in some office in Moscow. I knew we had to go," Jim said.
They left Vienna and went to Iowa, and then to Washington, DC, where Jim joined the Foreign Service. In 1954, Jim received his first overseas assignment, moving Trudy and their two sons to Rome. They went on to live in Sicily, Cyprus, Beirut, and Bonn, Germany, then in 1975 it was off to Monrovia, Liberia to name a few of the places Jim worked or they visited. Their daughter Karen was born before they went to Bonn. She graduated from high school in Monrovia – the American International School – where students of some 16 different nationalities also attended.
Living overseas was often an adventure. While living in Cyprus in February of 1964, Trudy and the children were evacuated to Beirut, then called the "Paris of the Middle East", after the American Embassy Nicosia was bombed by explosive devices at about 9 p.m. one evening. When Jim arrived home in the morning, after a long and chaotic night, he found Trudy and the children packed and ready to leave. "They needed to send us away for our safety," Trudy said. "We were only allowed to take clothes in a few suitcases." As Trudy and the children were about to board the Panam evacuation flight to Beirut in late afternoon of that hectic day Jim gave Trudy the box of Whitman's Valentine's Day chocolates he had surreptitiously removed from their quarters as he went back to work that morning. Every Valentine's Day that very same Whitman box, fresh chocolates, of course, grace their dining room table. Trudy and the children had to stay in Beirut while Jim remained in Cyprus until April of 1964. Trudy remained in Beirut until the two boys finished their school in late May, then they returned to the U.S. After a few months in Washington, Jim received orders to Germany. "Every couple of years we were off to some place new," Jim said. "It made for exciting times," Trudy said. "The children enjoyed living overseas too. Our family made friends with USG civilian and military personnel all over the world."
In 1974, Jim finally completed his degree from the University of Maryland and then the family was sent to Africa in 1975. Jim retired from the Foreign Service in 1979. His retirement was short lived; he went on to have a career as a logistics management specialist and tech writer on challenging and interesting defense department contracts
Starting in the 1960s when he was on assignment in Nicosia , he filled what spare time he had as an actor, gracing the stage in productions such as "Three Men and a Horse" and later, "Our Town." Acting, like writing, was something that has always given Jim great joy. As a youngster in Newton , Iowa, Jim was fascinated with Hollywood icons Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth. Jim's mother, a trained schoolteacher, passed her love of music onto Jim and his younger brother and sister. "I loved reading and listening to music. I loved history," Jim said. "And I also enjoyed driving a tractor." For Jim, acting and doing shows at first was a bit tedious. He worried he would forget his lines. But once he stepped foot on stage, his worries seemed to disappear. "It's another world on stage. The other actors, everyone just covers everyone else. Like the Rainbow, it is a like a family."
And for Trudy and Jim, the Rainbow has become part of their extended family. "It is always so nice seeing everyone at all the gatherings," Trudy said. Jim, who is the RDVMF President/Memorials Officer, agrees with Trudy. "I like staying involved in the Rainbow organization. I think I would be very bored without it. I think it is better to be doing things than to not be doing things."
As for the soldier and the girl he met on the street car, they have returned to Vienna many times. "I try to get Trudy home every so often," Jim said. And her home has changed since the couple fled in 1948. During their assignment in Africa, Jim and Trudy took a month's holiday in Vienna. "It was nice to live like a Viennese again," Jim chuckled. "It was nice to have Trudy's family nearby. We always made it a point to visit." He said that while he was in the army, he remembered a flack tower in the middle of Vienna, a large, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse used to defend against Allied air raids during the war. "During that particular visit, he said he and Trudy were interested to learn that the flack tower was now being used to house offices for the Austrian government and military. "It just shows you that life goes on, even after war," Trudy said.